Featuring translators into the new year

Heading into the new decade of 2020, we can be sure of one thing: translation as an industry is on the rise, and is projected to increase further.

Translation, of course, is the life blood of global commerce and what we do. We acknowledge it, but don’t always actually feature translators when we talk about globalization. However, a coffee table book featuring translators called Move the World with Words is out from Smartling, and I like that Smartling has chosen to showcase these linguists in their brand strategy both online and offline.

For example, when you land on their Move the World with Words webpage, the company features freelance translator Oana — only her first name is given — who lives in Southern France. Like many other freelancers, she’s chosen to travel; she’s learning Spanish during trips to Spain, she says. She’s interviewed and beautifully photographed in the Pyrenees. Between the style of the prose — the first-person essay interview style popular with high-end celebrity profiles — and her first name (not Beyonce or Sia or Cher, but Oana), as well as her photos, I could imagine her being some kind of celebrity. And I don’t think this is accidental.

I had a couple of questions, and Adrian Cohn, director of brand strategy and communications at Smartling, answered them for me.

How did Smartling choose which translators to feature in the book?

We have built relationships with so many amazing translators worldwide — the people featured in the book were selected based on their experience, their customer base and their location. We wanted to showcase the way people live in different parts of the world, and with different lifestyles (urban and rural, single and family and so on).

Why is it important to feature the lives of translators?

Translators are the heroes behind global commerce. For too long, they have gone unrecognized for their part in making global businesses successful. It also helps to show there are real people behind the solution. Especially for those unfamiliar with translation, we wanted to demonstrate that while the translation process is automated, there’s still a person that we depend on to get the message right. Machine translation is certainly on the rise and a big part of how we think about scaling content for the enterprise, but humans will always play a big role.

Katie Botkin
Katie Botkin is a freelance writer. She has a master’s degree in English with an emphasis on linguistics and has taught English on three continents.


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