#TranslatingEurope Forum 2016… Towards Technology Acceptance


“Translation is communication and connecting to each other”. These were the opening words of the third edition of the #TranslatingEurope Forum 2016 pronounced by Kristalina Georgieva, Vice-President of the European Commission. The conference, hosted by the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission took place on the 27th and 28th of October 2016 in Brussels.


Around 600 participants, including representatives from the translation industry, EU and national institutions, academia, and students of the European Master’s in Translation (EMT) attended the conference, which this year focused on translation tools and technologies. The event reached a larger public since it could be followed via live streaming.
In line with the spirit of the conference of embracing technology, the audience was encouraged to share opinions and comments through social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The conference was structured in common sessions with remarkable keynote speakers such as Andrew Bredenkamp and Jost Zetzsche, parallel sessions on diverse topics such as Machine Translation, Neural Machine Translation, Translation Technology in the European Institutions, the impact of technologies on translators and MOOCs Online Training, and finally hands-on sessions with experts. An additional session was reserved for EMT students and DGT trainees. As a graduating student of Dublin City University and a trainee of the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg, I had the opportunity to attend this meet up, share and get to know projects involving translation technology, and discuss about how young professionals perceive the deployment of translation technologies.

Interesting aspects have been covered: from the need of volunteer translators to collaborate with the humanitarian organisation called ‘Translators without Borders’, to research on users’ acceptance of translation tools; from Machine Translation and its relating issues such as post-editing and quality, to the recent studies on Neural Machine Translation; from the existing translation tools employed within the European Institutions to their future ameliorations, e.g. IATE 2.

Among the hands-on sessions, the speech recognition system developed by EU-BRIDGE and currently in use in the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology represents an impressive achievement in language technologies. The project coordinator Alex Waibel presented a system able to recognise and transcribe the source language and simultaneously translate it into a target one. This helps international students to follow lectures without the risk of missing content due to language constraints.

The two-day conference ended with the encouraging perspective of Piet Verleysen, Director of DG TRAD of the European Commission, on the future of the translation profession: since the advances in language technologies have become reality, translators should adopt a positive attitude towards the deployment of translation tools. No reason to feel menaced or at risk. To the recurrent question “Will the profession disappear?” Verleysen’s answer was “of course not!” Human intelligence will always drive technology and make a good use of it by recognising its potential and limitations.

To learn more about what has been presented and discussed at the forum, and the full list of speakers, check out the Translating Europe Forum 2016 Programme here.

Written by Giulia Mattoni, Terminology Coordination Unit trainee