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The 6th edition of the Nordic Translation Industry Forum, Malmö

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Asta Rusakevičienė, CEO

The 6th Nordic Translation Industry Forum (NTIF) was held on 24-25 November in Malmö. NTIF organizers Anne-Marie Colliander Lind and Cecilia Enbäck decided to come back to the city where everything started six years ago and thus to close the Nordic loop and to complete the series of NTIF events. So, #NTIF2016 had to be the last event of this kind. In fact, bearing the popularity of this event in mind, it is hard to believe this, however, this was the message that the organizers of the event announced to us. Fortunately, this information was immediately updated. Due to the high success of the event, the organizers changed their minds, and therefore, the NTIF will continue to be organised and we will be able to meet again next year. By the way, the organisers could not yet announce the place and time of the next event, but promised that this information will be available soon. We can easily predict one thing – the event will take place somewhere in the Nordic countries and, of course, in autumn (probably in late autumn), because, after all, this is the Nordic forum, so we have to enjoy all the Nordic pleasures. 🙂

Generally, events that are organised for a longer period of time experience ups and downs. If you take part in several of them in a row, you start comparing and evaluating them willy-nilly. You compare speakers, infrastructure, and the possibilities of networking with other participants in the conference, etc. This NTIF was my 5th. Diskusija has taken part in all six NTIFs, but I did not attend the first one – my colleague Jurgita Kielienė did. Strange as it may seem, the sixth NTIF did not appear to have exhausted all the possibilities and it did not just rely on the glory of the previous events to attract participants. In my opinion, this event was one of the best; therefore, the organizers’ decision to continue to hold NTIF conferences is logical. In addition, NTIF2016 attracted the biggest number of participants: 168 from 32 countries. It is impressive! Thus, the Nordic forum, the primary objective of which is to bring together representatives of the language industry of the Nordic and Baltic countries and to discuss their regional market issues, has already become an international event. However, it has certainly not lost its Nordic taste.

From Nordic Noir to laughter to tears

The NTIF is an event that has always had a unique aura. We were immersed in the grey and gloomy atmosphere of Nordic Noir in Hilversum a couple of years ago, and it is probably not just me who heard the harrowing soundtrack of the TV series “The Bridge” (“Bron/Broen”), popular in the Nordic countries, ringing in my ears for a long time (the TV series was presented at the conference and, as a result, all the participants probably watched it) and experienced Scandinavian grey with my own eyes. This year, however, we were no longer in that dismal mood, despite the fact that many of the participants had to cross the famous bridge between Sweden and Denmark that plays a key role in the film in order to come to the event. This time we had the opportunity to look at the Nordic tribes from a different perspective and received a good dose of laughter. Michael Booth, the keynote speaker at the event and the author of the international bestseller “The Almost Nearly Perfect people”, presented five Nordic tribes: Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and Icelandic, and told us the most vital myths about them. The audience just dissolved into laughter. It was fun both to hear the speakers talk about the traits, habits and hobbies of the tribes, which were, of course, a little bit exaggerated, and to see the representatives of the tribes concerned laughing together. This means that the author hit the mark exactly.
I am unable to resist quoting my favourite description of Finns: “There are two types of Finns – introverts and extroverts. An introverted Finn looks at his shoes when talking to you; an extroverted Finn looks at your shoes.” 🙂

We know that myths and stereotypes represent an exaggerated evaluation of something/someone and we should not follow them. However, we can get to know and understand each other better and it is easier to come to a mutual understanding based on them. So, the audience had fun, and the photographer of the event, Martina Wärenfeldt, did not waste any time. I have participated in many industry events and seen many photos of various events, however, I have doubts if anyone has ever managed to capture so many funny moments of one event. Therefore, I am daring to borrow a few photos from Martina Wärenfeldt, since I myself would never be able to convey a moment capturing the atmosphere of the event so well.

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Mingling. Mission possible even for Nordic people

It is well known that the purpose of participating in industry events is dual: to find out the latest industry trends and to network with industry peers. However, an NTIF participant should not forget that they will have to communicate with Nordic people at this event, and they are not like openhearted southerners who have free communication in their blood. However, while participating in five NTIFs in a row, I myself noticed the change in the participants of the events. Whereas in the first events I used to hear participants talking in groups in their own languages (and they find it really easy to communicate with each other, since Swedes, Danes and Norwegians understand each other without interpreters) and used to gambol around trying to decide whether to interfere with their conversation and make people change the language of communication into English, I did not experience anything like this in the 6th NTIF. It may be due to the fact that the event no longer fits into the regional frame and has become international, or this might be the merit of the organizers who rightly chose speakers and proved through their voice that one of the most important values of the event that participants can take advantage of is networking. Last year in Reykjavik, keynote speaker ?órd?s Lóa ?órhallsdóttir emphasized in her report the necessity of networking with industry peers for the successful development of business, and this year this issue has been examined in essence: in his workshop “Managing the mingling”, John Dirico not only gave a lot of advice on how to prepare for an event and what to do at it in order to establish as many useful contacts as possible and at the same time feel great, but also gave a wake-up call to the audience making them actively participate in the workshop. I think this lesson was useful to the Nordic audience and was learned by them, since, at the end of the session, the entire audience were gabbling and communication became even more relaxed.

Uber has not been discovered in the language industry yet

In fact, every industry event features discussions about changes shaking up the language industry, the necessity for language service providers to be prepared to adapt to changing customer needs, the mergers and acquisitions of companies, disruptive innovations, the need to refuse the word count in calculating translation, etc. In this regard, this NTIF was not an exclusive event and all of these issues have been touched on at it as well. However, my most important takeaway from this event is that Uber has not been discovered in our industry yet (quote from the report “The Language Industry Stories that shaped 2016” by Florian Faes). So, some companies are innovators, while others are followers, however, the market still does not have any actors capable of substantially shaking up the industry.

Power goes to a translator. This is one more takeaway from NTIF2016

At this event, we have repeatedly heard that our customers want more transparency from the service provider. It is no longer enough for them to communicate only with a representative of the language service provider as they want to get to know the linguists working for them and communicate with them. Besides, in some cases they are even willing to wait until a linguist of their choice is available to work for them. For a long time, most language service providers were not used to disclosing the names of their translators to their customer, but now they may have to change their policy. By the way, it complicates the work on a subcontract basis when several language service providers line up in the service chain. Translators that used to be at the bottom of the chain start gaining power slowly again.

My final conclusions and recommendations

If you are too lazy to take notes during the conference, go to NTIF as we have a sketcher there doing it for us.
If you want to have a good time with nice people, go to NTIF as the dance party there is the best in the industry.
If you want to discover Nordic Noir, experience an Icelandic “after-work”, or get to know the Nordic tribes better so as to be able to do business with them, go to NTIF.
I hope to meet you there in 2017.

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