Fifth Translation Contact Network meeting

On 2 April 2019, the Translation Centre welcomed 21 participants from 19 client organisations to its annual Translation Contact Network meeting. The aim was to exchange information of mutual interest, share best practices and strengthen the Centre’s relationships with its clients.

In his opening speech, the Centre’s acting Director, Benoît Vitale, stressed that, since the previous meeting in February 2018, the Centre had successfully implemented a series of large IT projects, such as a fully redesigned Client Portal, a web translation module for websites based on Drupal 7, and a brand-new version of the interinstitutional terminology database IATE.

He also highlighted the fact that the Centre had laid the foundations for its future development by integrating machine translation (MT) into its production workflow and starting to build customised MT engines in the fields of public health and intellectual property case-law in close cooperation with its partner DG at the European Commission and its clients.

He underlined the importance of the results from the external ‘Study on the Translation Centre as the Linguistic Shared Service Provider for the EU Agencies and Bodies’ conducted in 2017/2018, which had enabled the Centre to establish the priorities to work on in the next 2 years.
Finally, he pointed out that the volume of documents translated by the Centre had once again reached a record in 2018 (369 000 pages), which was evidence that there was a lot of interest among the Centre’s clients in upholding multilingualism in the EU in order to reach out to citizens. He said that this was particularly important in view of the forthcoming European elections and the constitution of a new European Commission.

After the welcome and the introduction of the day’s agenda, the participants briefly introduced themselves and presented their organisation’s priorities in the field of translation for the current year. Several clients emphasised how important it was to receive fast, reliable, accurate and high-quality translations from the Centre. Many explicitly pointed out that they were very happy with the Centre’s services and the assistance from the Centre’s staff. Several clients expressed their satisfaction with the subtitling service provided by the Centre, while others said they were looking forward to using the Centre’s new web translation service.

Other topics on the agenda during the morning session included the Centre’s web translation module for websites based on Drupal 7and the implementation of MT in the workflow. The Centre also presented the outcome of the external study as well as its Transformation Plan for 2019/2020. Based on the study recommendations, the plan consists of four pillars: translation technology; quality and client Orientation; human resources and organisation; and interinstitutional cooperation.

The afternoon session was opened by a representative from the Business Communications Service (Customer Department) of the European Union Intellectual Property Office, whose presentation raised awareness among participants of the potential of automatic speech recognition. This is one of the future services that the Center is exploring.

What would happen if the Centre were not there to deal with all the aspects of translation projects? This question was addressed in a presentation on the importance of the Centre’s revision of freelance translations. Based on specific examples, the presentation highlighted the added value of the different quality assurance and other in house activities which the Centre’s linguists carry out on a daily basis.

This led on to a more wide-ranging discussion on the topic of revision. A number of clients revise the translations received from the Centre either with their in-house experts or with a network of national authorities to make sure that the texts meet the needs of their target audiences. Any feedback from the revision is provided to the Centre via the Client Satisfaction Form (CSF) and handled by the Centre’s translators. The meeting participants discussed how this process could be made less time-consuming for all parties involved while ensuring the best possible translation quality for end users.

Another discussion followed on how to best approach the modification of existing documents. Originals and translations often undergo changes at the client’s end as a result of the publication process and thus the Centre’s translation memories do not necessarily reflect the latest status of the documents unless the Centre receives and re-aligns the updated versions. The possible future introduction of a stand-alone alignment service should help to solve this problem.

The meeting ended with a presentation of the main features of the new version of IATE (Interactive Terminology for Europe) which was launched in December 2018.

This year’s Translation Contact Network was once again an excellent opportunity to meet clients in person, including in the more informal setting of a buffet lunch, and to exchange information and best practices with them.