2019 IAMLADP Annual Meeting

The 2019 International Annual Meeting on Language Arrangements, Documentation and Publication (IAMLADP) was co-hosted by the European Parliament and the European Commission, with the support of the Council of the European Union and the Court of Justice of the European Union, in Brussels on 27-29 May 2019. Benoît Vitale (Acting Director) and Thierry Fontenelle (Head of the Translation Department) represented the Translation Centre at the meeting, which was attended by more than 180 participants from over 50 international organisations (IOs).

IAMLADP is the biggest network of managers of IOs employing conference and language services providers – mainly translators and interpreters. As such, IAMLADP represents a community of about 10,000 language professionals. The United Nations Department for General Assembly and Conference Management in New York is the permanent Chair of the IAMLADP.

As in previous years, the Annual Meeting included an Ideas Fair, where participants were able to present ideas, which were then discussed in a plenary session. Ideas included the need to continue investing in neural machine translation technology and promote it as a complement to human translation, which would be in the interest of the language services.

Representatives from various international organisations gave presentations on a variety of topics ranging from language technology and machine translation, to inclusive language, to the new skillsets of translators in our digital world. The Council, for instance, presented its Guide for inclusive communication that aims to combat global unconscious biases through inclusive communication.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) gave a presentation on speech to text activities and its attempt to apply open-source machine learning technology to the creation of a voice recognition and transcription tool for its IP conferences.

One of the highlights of the Annual Meeting was indisputably its ‘peer sessions’. In terms of translation management, it focused on topics such as practices in post-editing of machine translation, and the European Commission DGT's Clear Writing campaign to improve the quality of source documents to be translated. One peer session dealt with the need for IOs to redefine the profile of their translators. With new tasks such as editing, subtitling and the production of audio and video material for podcasts, it is important to identify the new skills required and train translators accordingly.

Another highlight of the meeting was undoubtedly the discussion around the host paper drafted by the four hosting institutions entitled ‘New technologies and artificial intelligence in the field of language and conference services’. During the discussion, it was very clear that high-quality multilingualism is the raison d’être of the EU translation services. The question today is not whether translation services should embrace and use new technologies, but how they can best do so. It is therefore crucial to strike the right balance between too much and too little enthusiasm regarding the progress made by artificial intelligence and language technology. It is essential that we understand the potential of these new technologies, and are able to harness their power and recognise and accept their limitations. This means humans must remain at the heart of operations if the translation services are to continue to guarantee the quality which clients have come to expect from them. 

Useful links

·         IAMLADP website

·         The Host Paper on ‘New technologies and artificial intelligence in the field of language and conference services’