Home > Events > Review: 2nd International BDÜ Conference “Interpreting in the Future”

Review: 2nd International BDÜ Conference “Interpreting in the Future”

Between September 28th and 30th the BDÜ put on an astonishing event full of seminars, speeches, workshops, networking opportunities, as well as a trade exhibition and a job fair for interpreters and translators. Over 1,300 people, both from within and from outside the language mediator business attended the 2nd International Conference „Interpreting in the Future“, held on the premises of the Freie Universität Berlin

This post will give an individual, subjective summary of what I consider important for recent graduates of interpreting or translation studies. This summary is all but extensive and I’d like to encourage all newbies to attend such an event if possible: It is truly worth it.


First of all, what striked me most: Interpreters (as well as translators) are entrepreneurs. Simple as that. Might sound obsolete to some, but it surprised me to see that this very issue was featured several times at high-profile speeches and seminars. We are production site, administration, accounting, marketing, distribution, delivery, quality assurance etc. of one company … in one person. We are entrepreneurs with everything it entails. A recent graduate of interpreting studies should have that very clear. If we do not have the relevant competences, we need to learn them and we need to do so fast. We also need to conduct customer-specific marketing, as well as enhance our skills, and observe the market and its prices, including our own.


Prices, well, Prices are very much linked to the question what my services are worth. Therefore, we need to know what my services are worth, what I am worth, what prices to charge for our services and how this price comes into being. Strangely, for some this seems to be a riddle in the dark. It has, in my opinion, to do with entrepreneur competence maybe, but also with self-assessment and self-esteem. Who wants to translate for 0,02€/word or interpret for 200€/day? Prices of this category won’t enable us to survive, they won’t enable us to live the life that we deserve (economically speaking), and in my view one should be very clear about the following: As recent graduates, as academics, we should strive for the best price possible plus a little something, and also for the best living standard possible. We should aim for the best segment of the market. No more, but most importantly: no less.

Public Service Interpreting

A conclusion not necessarily related to the former focuses on Community Interpeting or Public Services Interpreting. Leaving aside any discussion on terminology and nomenclature, it was interesting to observe a discussion from language mediators and city officials on that very same topic, many language mediators saying they were not able to live from the revenues earned in PSI, although they recognized potential and relevance of this market. At the same time, it was obvious that city officials present were reluctant to hire „professional“ interpreters for their services. As this posts does not intend to open up a can of worms, future posts will be dedicated specifically about PSI and ongoing discussions.

Market development

To older colleagues, the following might sound familiar, whereas to the recent graduate it might not: The market is changing. Conferences get shorter and become increasingly demanding in terms of the specialization featured (and required by the language mediator). Leaving aside the discussion about interpreters being more allrounders or more specialists, this development should be closely observed by any newbie in the professional interpreting world. And if necessary, mindset, price policy or specialization should be adapted accordingly if possible.

For more information on the event, check out: www.uebersetzen-in-die-zukunft.de

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