About my favourite translation conference

translation conference in Warsaw

A few words about my favourite translation conference in Warsaw

The annual translation conference in Warsaw was the first event that I attended the day after I arrived in Poland four years ago. It was also my first translation conference ever, even though I had been in this business for over ten years by that point. The event marked the beginning of my addiction to conferences, and it was also a huge boost and inspiration for me as I entered the Polish market with my translation office in Warsaw.

Since that time, I’ve become a regular visitor to all the translation conferences in Warsaw (as well as various conferences of other industries) and an occasional visitor to translation conferences all around Europe. There are currently two annual conferences for translators in Warsaw, both of which are organised by the same fine people. There is the Polish conference for translators in September and the international translation and localisation conference in March.

The recent 2019 Polish Conference for Translators (Konferencja Tłumaczy) was no exception and I was delighted to attend it together with one of our employees.

As always, the conference was a great place to meet up with old friends and colleagues and it was a pleasure to see both freelancers and translation agency owners there. Besides Translators Family, I counted five other companies, almost all of which are among the Top 10 translation providers in Poland. Of course, seeing the success of colleagues is a huge inspiration for me to move forward with my own business, and it was also useful to exchange our thoughts on the current situation of the translation market in Poland.

It was great to meet some of the freelance translators we work with on a regular basis, as well as making new contacts that I’m sure will lead to successful new cooperation in the future. I even ran into a manager of an LSP I used to work with when I was a freelancer myself.

As for the subject of the conference, it was pretty similar to what most translation and localisation conferences held around the world at the moment are discussing, i.e. the translation on the wave of changes. I’m sure it will come as no huge surprise if I say that the hottest topic of conversation was the automation of translation processes, including the notorious (or maybe just famous now) MT.

machine translation

The sketch was drawn during a presentation at the conference

It was quite evident during the discussions that most of the translators, and all the translation companies, have now changed their attitudes towards machine translation compared to what I saw at the same conference a year ago. There was no doubting the fact that everybody seemed to have come to terms with the inevitable need to get used to the rapidly-growing market of MT post-editing. During the presentations and debates at this year’s conference, there were hardly any questions regarding the use of MT in our work, but instead the discussions tended to focus on the differences between light and full MT post-editing, the process of MTPE according to ISO, the ethics of not informing clients that MT is being used, the quality assessment of MT, and other practical issues. This shows how translators are gradually making peace with the thought of using MT in their beloved profession.

When one of the members of the audience compared machine translation with IKEA furniture and human translation with hand-made furniture, we came to the conclusion that the profession of translator is not in danger of vanishing in the near future. Human translation will always be necessary as an exclusive service for demanding clients, but many other clients will simply seek cheaper solutions and that’s where MT post-editors will come into their own.

Some interesting questions were raised on the issue of whether or not we need to train MT post-editors as separate professionals. Should we train medical or legal specialists to work as MT post-editors, or provide MT post-editors with the specific skills to practise as experts in those subjects? Should we assign a translator for MTPE or should it be a regular person who knows languages to a certain level? There are still so many questions without real solutions in the MT area.

Although the debates about machine translation dominated the conference, there were also some excellent presentations on very different topics. I found it very useful for my business to learn about certain legal issues in Poland for translators and agencies during a presentation by a lawyer/translator who specialises in legal support for translation businesses. There were also a number of practical presentations and workshops for translators which proved very rewarding. The conference opened with a workshop led by a physiotherapist on how to sit at your desk correctly, and it closed with a session on how to use linguistic corpora. The finale was the presentation of the industry awards. The award for the greatest contribution to the translation industry in Poland was given to Magda Fitas-Dukaczewska, an interpreter who had refused to testify in court and disclose details of the discussions between Donald Tusk and Vladimir Putin which she had interpreted, citing the ethics of professional confidentiality.

Oleg SemerikovFinally, the event came to a close with a superb networking dinner.


So where’s the next conference? Subscribe to our translation blog and keep up to date. There are many more exciting events which I plan to attend this year, and I’ll be writing about them all here.


Author: Oleg Semerikov, General manager at Translators Family.

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