#200 – February

Anniversary Issue

A collage of magazine covers from  the past 35 years are framed by the number ‘200’ in celebration of this special anniversary issue.

Read on!



hirty-five years ago, in 1987, the first product catalogue for the language industry was stapled into existence in Sandpoint, Idaho, the United States. Meanwhile, 4,699 miles (or 7,563 kilometers) away in Goes, the Netherlands, my mother brought me into existence, without the use of staples. We have a lot in common, this magazine and I — most of all our curiosity around language, technology, and culture.

How better to honor this magazine’s legacy than to include several popular topics. We bring you some stellar content from many new contributors on interpreting, life sciences, linguistics, and technology, as well as two feature articles and a column. The discussion around human parity and MT continues and we take a closer look at the Nimdzi influencers watchlist.

Our feature article is an oral history of MultiLingual by its three publishers. We had a lot of fun looking through archives and conducting the interviews. My predecessors served as publisher for 13 and 20 years, respectively, and I will do everything I can to match their long-lived success and dedication to this publication.

Sustainable change takes a longer time to realize, and you may notice this issue again offers more design upgrades and new layout features. We’ve also done away with the focus section — today’s world is not well-suited to hold on to great content until they fit into a specific focus. This should make each issue more interesting to our growing audiences and enable us to cover the timeliest topics every issue. In the coming year we will be sending passionate collaborators into the world to cover the topics that are driving debate in our industry.

We’ve received several emails about recent articles and ideas published in MultiLingual and would like to open our pages to your opinions. Please let us know your thought by sending a letter to the editor for a chance to be included in this magazine. Email us at 

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35 Years, 200 Issues

By Marjolein Groot Nibbelink and Cameron Rasmusson

It’s June, 1987, and a small brick office in Sandpoint, Idaho, reverberates with the monotonous “ca-choong” of staples being driven through 29 sheets of heavy paper. Pushing down on the industrial stapler is Seth Thomas Schneider, founder of MultiLingual Computing. Thirty-five years later, there are two hard copies left of the first issue, slowly turning beige and brittle in another brick office in Sandpoint, a stone’s throw from where they were created.
Schneider began publishing a list of products that support “foreign” languages after getting back from China in 1987, where he’d been researching the market for the Macintosh.


Fast adverse-event reporting turnarounds mean a translation challenge

By Kathleen O’Brien

Workloads in pharmacovigilance (PV) are soaring, and with new medicines constantly entering the global market, the need to track adverse events (AE) from drugs is more critical than ever. Regulators’ demands are unrelenting, and reports must be filed within a strict 24- hour window. This also poses a translation challenge because notifications of adverse effects come in from a wide variety of sources and languages. The mounting workload and tight turnaround times are creating all kinds of risks for companies, including failing to meet the reporting deadline and increased compliance costs.

The story behind Meducation:

By Elena Langdon

Pivotal moments in one’s personal life don’t often lead to improved outcomes for millions of people, but in the story below, that’s just what happened. The spark was connected to a close family member and stemmed from a common immigrant experience. It also considered language and culture from the get-go. The result was increased meaningful language access for millions of patients in the United States, with a side of technology and a lot of innovation.


The Era of Localization Influencers is Here:

 By Stefan Huyghe

People buy from people. Although word-of-mouth marketing has been around since the beginning of time, it is only with the advent of social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram that it truly gained the proper reach to have an impact globally. It now accounts for $6 trillion of annual consumer spending and is estimated to account for 13% of consumer sales. That is a lot of talking power.
The question facing marketers now is: Have you taken adequate steps towards connecting with your customers and leveraging word of mouth? It’s no wonder the localization world is turning more and more to influencer marketing as well. 


This Indivisible Republic of Letters

By Tim Brookes

Early in my carving work on the Endangered Alphabets, I felt more and more strongly that I was carving into the very heart of the tree, as if I were not inserting writing but finding it, revealing it.

Eventually I found myself imagining a creation myth. I saw a deity — Athena, perhaps, or Saraswati, some god or goddess of wisdom — taking a chosen human, well-intentioned and brave but a bit dim, into a sacred grove. She points a finger at the nearest tree and draws it downwards, splitting the tree in half. In the heart of the tree are curious marks, incomprehensible but somehow patterned, intentional.


Now You See Them — Behind the Scenes  with Sign Language Interpreters

By Danielle Meder

In January 2021, the White House announced that all press briefings would have an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter. Just four months prior, in August 2020, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) sued then-President Trump for not providing accessibility during all COVID-19 press briefings. The suit was successful. In October 2020, ASL interpreters were at all COVID-19 press briefings held at the White House.


The Perils of Linguistic Relativity

By Ben Chai

The idea of linguistic relativity fascinates me. Hollywood seemed to like it too, given the somewhat hyperbolic take on the hypothesis in Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016). As a natively bilingual Mandarin and English speaker who grew up in Texas, I’m curious about the idea that my language faculties may influence my own cognition. Does the language I think in have an influence on my behavior?


The Unending Quest for Human Parity MT

By Kirti Vashee

The subject of “translation quality” has always been a challenging communication issue for the translation industry. It is particularly difficult to explain this in a straightforward way to an industry outsider or a customer whose primary focus is building business momentum in international markets, and who is not familiar with localization industry translation-quality-speak.
Since every LSP claims to deliver the “best quality” or “high quality” translations, it is difficult for customers to tell the difference in this aspect from one service provider to another. The quality claim between vendors, thus, essentially cancels out.


KantanStream – A Self-Regulated Solution that Unleashes The Power of The Crowd

In today’s fast-paced world, we strive for ways to innovate, improve, and create efficiencies. The translation industry is no different. We can all agree that machine translation has changed the way we as an industry and our customers see translation. But we are yet to see any impact from crowd sourcing technologies. We all understand that using a crowd for translation or editing is essentially work done by the mob. Where the effort that is needed to vet and QA the crowd and move a task forward can often remove the value, time, and effort balance when compared to other approaches.