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Translations booked online quickly and easily – like hotel rooms. That is the vision of nativy, a Vienna-based translation agency. How does it work? Anja Drame of TermNet, the International Network for Terminology, has obtained a precise answer to this question.
Josef Brunner, born in 1977, got to know the translation market from a client’s perspective while he was still working in international sales. He was often asked for help when a translation was needed. A business administration graduate, he had studied for some time in Spain, France and the Netherlands and, in addition, had taught himself Russian. So friends and colleagues considered him a language expert.
But everything began to change when his boss showed him a text in Cyrillic script and asked him “what does this say?” Even though it did look like Russian, the text was in Macedonian. But his boss did not understand that.
Lack of understanding of foreign languages within companies, an obscure translation market and the complicated procedure of procuring translations often made his company – like so many others – hesitate to address multilingual communication needs.
“At the time I asked myself why it should be easier to make an online booking for a hotel room than for a good translation”, Brunner remembers. He was convinced that it was technically possible.
And so the idea was born. In 2011, together with a colleague and software developer, he founded nativy, a translation agency that offers good translations in a client-friendly way and at fair prices.
nativy’s founders Brunner (right) and Kerschbaummayr
What sets nativy apart is a special order processing system that generates an offer for the client within seconds. Nothing could be easier: the client uploads the text to be translated, which is then automatically analysed and matched against a complex database of available translators. Additionally, the client can also specify when the translation should be finished. The offer is prepared almost instantly – complete with a price and delivery deadline. Now all the client has to do is choose, and it’s done!
Brunner wants the system to be fair to translators as well. “We regard our translators as our capital. Each and every one of them is an independent professional and must be treated as such. Price dumping and cutthroat competition for the cheapest translation is a trend that will peter itself out. Our translators set their own prices.”
Brunner knows that clients do appreciate this. “For us it is about offering value for money rather than just low prices”.
This distinguishes nativy from many other translation agencies, where the management usually dictates the prices in a “like it or lump it” attitude towards the translators.
With their concept nativy has so far registered more than 1300 qualified translators – including for less common languages such as Armenian, Indonesian or Marathi.
Precautions are also in place to protect the confidentiality of documents. “Simply put, we are not a marketplace where the client’s text is sent all over the place until a translator says, “I’ll do it”.
Only the translator who receives the job sees the text. And the translator can ask the client questions about the text in a separate chat room.
Brunner is not afraid that so much direct contact could mean eventually losing his clients to his translators. “As a client, you always have a choice – you can look for a translator yourself who happens to be available, negotiate the price with them and so forth. If I, as a client, engage a translation agency it is because I do not want to or cannot do that myself. When the client then needs to have a text translated to five, six or more languages, that question no longer arises anyway”.
Quality is important to Brunner. In September 2013 his company was certified for the second time by the Language Industry Certification System (LICS) in accordance with the European Standard EN15038. This standard defines quality criteria specifically for translation service providers.
Among others, it determines what training and experience the translators must have. All translators who wish to work for nativy must meet these requirements. “We communicate this very clearly. And we examine it carefully. Applicants who fail to meet these basic requirements will not be included in our database. Just being able to speak one or more foreign languages obviously does not make you a good translator. But we find out very soon when someone fails to meet the criteria.”
For Brunner the standard EN15038 is more than just a helpful, practical guideline for how to manage his business. For him it is also a clear competitive advantage. “Today there are so many translation agencies that are EN15038 certified. These are very simple quality requirements. If a business is not certified, then the client really has to ask, why not?”
Brunner does not accept the argument that clients are not willing to pay the higher cost resulting from the translation-plus-review principle. “That accounts for just 30% of the price. But in return the client has the assurance that the translation is indeed of high quality and that it will not embarrass them”.
Technologically, nativy is modeled after Microsoft. Project management in the cloud – is that the future? “We are probably the first agency where you can place an order in Microsoft Word 2013, that is, Office 365 – very clearly a global approach. It is still very new, and Microsoft itself has only just started with it and will continue evolving in this respect.”
And nativy, too, will continue evolving. The next innovations are already on the drawing board. Josef Brunner does not want to give away too much yet. But if they are only half as innovative, we have every reason to remain excited.
It is that time of the year again. No, I am not talking about Christmas or New Year. Although I admit, we at TermNet tend to measure the year by TSS. Yes, exactly as I say! Our annual International Terminology Summer School (a.k.a. TSS) in July for us marks the end of one year and the beginning of a new one.
It is felt by the growing excitement of everybody involved, the last adjustments and preparations, the frantic worries that despite all careful preparation something unforeseen might happen that threatens the smooth running. And then there is the anticipation of meeting all the lovely participants (we always feel like we know them already a bit from all the correspondence over the last months and weeks).
This year our TSS enters her 30th year. But admittedly, our annals are a bit patchy, especially when it comes to records of all the earliest Summer Schools some time in the 1980s. So it is give or take a year or two when there was no TSS inbetween. We don’t remember. We don’t really care either.
Let us assume it is indeed 30 years. Wow! Don’t you think? 30 years of training terminologists and related professions is a long time. Some of our recent participants were perhaps not even born then, although it is quite safe to assume that the majority were already :-).
TSS has changed a lot over these years. But, I also dare say it has become even prettier with growing age. She has certainly become more popular as the ever increasing numbers of registrations prove. Some of those who met her once seem not to get enough of her and come back for more. It is nice. Feels a bit like family most of the time. A growing happy diverse amazing family.
And such are the vibes during that special week in July. It is all learning and fun and the spirit of brotherhood across cultures, professions, backgrounds, languages and ages. Another reason why we call it “the time of the year”. It is a special time and hard to describe if you haven’t been there and part of it yet.
And so we look forward to the week from 15-19 July, and we wrap up the final preps and corrections, and we get ready to respond to all the inevitable smaller and (hopefully not!) bigger last minute catastrophes ahead of TSS 2013 in Cologne.
And when all that can be done is done and all last minute correspondence is sent all that is left to do is to hope for the weather to play along as well!
We look forward to meeting you there. This year or maybe the next. But do make sure you do not miss out!
Anja and Blanca on behalf of the entire team
P.S. Visit us on our Website for some photos, the programme and loads of other useful and interesting information
-> strongly supported by TermNet, the International Network for Terminology
by Anja Drame
Roughly a week ago Gilbert Probst – economics professor and manager at the World Economic Forum (WEF), in other words a man who would know – addressed the audience who had assembled at the well-attended CIUTI Forum in Geneva. He was talking about a topic that was obviously close to his heart: Partnerships & Collaboration.
Since this is also an important topic for us at TermNet, ourselves an International Association with the aim to foster and facilitate such collaboration in the language industry sector for now 25 years, we listened attentively.
The mere fact that a person like him only a few days before kick-off of “his” World Economic Forum (and all the other high-ranking speakers – there were plenty!) were speaking at a “language event” demonstrates the special standing CIUTI enjoys, but this is another story and I am shifting off my story.
His talk reminded me that language industry is not so different after all from other sectors when it comes to dealing with the new global challenges. And that we can perhaps learn a thing or two from the World Economic Forum that is currently underway in Davos.
So, Probst was talking about benefits and difficulties we all face during this time of change with its insecurities, old values no longer valid and new challenges ahead which nobody can grasp yet in their full magnitude. And he was talking about a remedy that attentive followers of the WEF talks and discussions (yes, they were broadcast online :-)) also heard of repeatedly.
He urged the participants of that morning session to broaden their approach, to skip the
idea of going the way alone, to embrace partnerships.
Still too many of us fear collaboration because in their mind it is all about competition, about secrecy, and about demonstrating just how strong one person or organization can be without help or support.
But these are not qualities that are likely to get you through this long cold winter that
is also called economic crisis.
Collaboration and partnerships are all about synergies, of making use of strengths and
resources of the other for mutual benefit (the stress being on the word mutual!).
Partnerships can be formed not only within one’s own circle of peers. Moreover, they can –
and should even – reach across sectors.
Public-private partnerships are not new in business and governments. And the ever more important (Corporate) Social Responsibility (CSR) is built upon collaboration between the various stakeholders from all area of society.
Partnerships open one’s mind and show new ways. They also create resilience – another
buzzword one heard all along the recent meetings in Davos. So what does it mean? Resilience is the ability to survive as a system even if parts of the system are in distress. It is more or less like a human being in this season: Even if constantly attacked by vicious
flu virus and other bacteria from those runny-nosed around you, you stand a good chance not to fall ill if your overall immune system is intact. You are resiliant. Yeah, congrats, you have the chance to survive this winter.
And this is exactly what collaboration helps to build in an industry.
However, partnerships and collaboration are not an easy task. Whoever says so has never
really dealt with one. The more diverse the partners, the more different the respective
outlook on life, and the more each partner’s interests differ, the more of a challenge this
And this is where we can build the link back to our playground of terminology, multilingualism, diversity management and communication: In our globalised world, societal multilingualism becomes more complex than ever before.
Not only become our societies more and more multilingual, the combination is constantly
shifting. This makes it abit more difficult to find solutions that are meant forever.
Even in a monolingual setting (but even more so in a multilingual one), changes in
political and economic systems cause a new situation that needs to addressed.
For instance: the health system. As another great speaker at the CIUTI Forum in Geneva, Louis Loutan, argued, there are massive changes ahead in the way access to health and health systems work. Family, peers, social networks and more and more community health workers will reform the face of health systems forever (in case you wonder: this was also discussed at the WEF, among others by Jeffrey Sachs and Rwandan president Paul Kagame who kick-started a programme of 1 million additional health workers for Africa).
Doctors will lose increasingly their status as singular authority on health issues. People
will find their information online, through mobile devises, in social groups. Multiple
authorities on health questions will pop up. Therefore, education on health issues, (multilingual and multi-medial) content on health matters including new priorities for normal citizens is the new keyword.
By the way, Louis Loutan has co-authored guidelines for the dealing of health workers with interpreters which outlines some problems encountered here. It is available online free of charge if you are interested in this topic. And I find it quite aptly named “Other words, other meanings” as it demonstrates a good understanding of the subject. A very good read and highly recommended.
And it does not stop at the challenges posed in a linguistically diverse society. Diversity as such is prone to misunderstanding. Age, gender, different life experience, physical abilities, etc. all make sure one needs the little bit of extra care to ensure communication is successful.
For us terminology and language professionals all this opens up a vast new field of possibilities. But one that can not be taken upon all alone. We need partnerships. We need trust in one another. We need to start listening to others and find synergies. They exist. And there are more people willing to collaborate that you might think.
And this way we will not only survive, but prosper.
If you want to know more about this topic or how TermNet can support you, send me a message to termnet(at)termnet.org. I am looking forward to hearing from you!
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You are cordially invited to participate in the 19th LSP Symposium to be held from 8-10 July 2013 at the Centre for Translation Studies of the University of Vienna. You are invited to submit abstracts for papers to be presented at the conference on the following topics:
- Domain-specific languages (in domains such as law, medicine, business, engineering, etc.)
- Languages for Special Purposes in specific languages, countries, regions of the world
- Professional communication
- Theoretical and methodological issues of LSP research
- LSP teaching and training
- Multilingualism, language policies, and socio-cultural issues of LSPs
- Terminologies in theory and practice
- Corpus-studies for LSP practice and research
- Technical/specialized translation
- Science communication
- Other relevant topics falling under the general scope of the conference
Please find more information here.
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Registration is open now. Come and join us (and tell others :-))!
15-19 July 2013 at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.
Here’s all about it:
(in case you do not know yet: TSS = International Terminology Summer School, and 2013 we’ll have our 30th anniversary! But I swear, we don’t look a day older than 25 ;-))
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Language is also about power. Specialised languages build barriers and elites; they can be exclusive on purpose, and in principle there is no harm when economists use their language to communicate with each other on aspects relevant to their discipline. But it is an entirely different issue, when a specialised language becomes invasive and oppressive and defines how we understand and interpret the world we live in, taking over the way we perceive and verbalise reality.
The full article can be downloaded from The Club of Rome Website