Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Riverstone and Interpret the Future team up again with OpenKnowledge at the Social Business forum 2016

Now in its ninth year, the Social Business Forum, Europe’s premier speaker and networking event dedicated to social business, will take place in Milan on the 6-7 July 2016. Organised by OpenKnowledge, the management consulting company focused on social and digital transformation, and held once again at the Marriott Hotel in the capital city of fashion and design, SBF16 will bring together features a unique offer of visionary keynote speeches, success stories and discussion panels organized in a Free and Premium Conference. The Free Conference includes the keynote speeches in the mornings of July 6th and 7th delivered by outstanding and internationally-known experts.

The theme of this year’s Social Business Forum is the Platfirm Age: Plug your Business – Play your Future. The focus of many of the keynote presentations will be on how platform-companies, such as Airbnb, Facebook and LinkedIn, have revolutionised traditional business models and developed continuously-evolving structures where value is co-created with users / customers.

All the keynotes will be simultaneously translated by Interpret the Future, the Social Business Forum’s longstanding specialist interpreting partners. This year, the team includes ItF founder members Loredana Nano and Alice Bertinotti. Daniela Negru will also be in the booths helping the team to provide a highly professional conference interpreting service. The project is managed by Robert Dennis, director of Riverstone Language & Communications.

Find out more...

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Social Business Forum 2014: Interpret the Future continues to help smash the language barrier!

We are currently getting ready for the 7th edition of the Social Business Forum 2014, to be held at the Marriott Hotel in Via Washington, Milano on 1- 2 July. Powered by Open Knowledge, the international social business consultancy, #SBF14 will welcome over a thousand attendees and will feature more than 70 inspirational speakers, including specialists in social business, enterprise software, customer engagement, management and a wide range of business areas where tech and social combine to help achieve business transformation.

For the third year running, Interpret the Future will be providing an expert interpreting service. All the plenary sessions of the Social Business Forum, including the keynote speeches, will be simultaneously translated into English and Italian.

The Interpret the Future team this year comprises members of our original, core team who will make all the presentations in the Open Conference accessible to both English and Italian speakers.

You can read about the professional experience of our interpreters here.

For the second year in a row, Riverstone Language and Communications has been chosen as a Marketing Service Partner of the Social Business Forum. Robert Dennis, CEO and co-founder of Riverstone will be managing the Interpret the Future team.

You can read a preview of the Social Business Forum 2014 on the Riverstone website here.

Looking forward to seeing you in Milan this July!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Countdown to the Social Business Forum 2013 - #SBF13

Men at Work: Bruno and Ian will be in the booth again at #SBF13
The hours are ticking away – and the 6th Social Business Forum is now less than 2 days away!
As the speakers, attendees and members of the Interpret the Future team make their way towards Milan we would like to give you a snapshot of our preparations for this event.

The Interpret the Future group now has eight professional interpreters who will be providing a feed of simultaneous translation from Italian into English and English into Italian.

Returning from last year we have Loredana Nano, Alice Bertinotti, Lara Warburton, Ian Mansbridge and Bruno Musarra. This year we also welcome three new team members: Veronica Cioni, Daniela Negru and Flavio Lanteri.

The team have been intensively preparing for this event by familiarising themselves with specialist Social Business vocabulary that they have collated using an online spreadsheet in Google Drive.

We are also using Google Drive to co-ordinate all the interpreting activities on the two days of the forum via another spreadsheet which each member of the group has access to and can edit in real time.

Other useful information, links and documents available online have been shared with the interpreters.  

These include two key documents written by OpenKnowledge and published by the Harvard Business Review Italia:
·        Social Business Manifesto – published in 2012, this seminal document provided a clarion call for transforming business during the Social Business Forum 2012.
·        Social Business Toolkit – to be published this year in the HBR Italia, the Toolkit provides a complete set of practices and tasks that can be implemented to help companies become more social.

With a host of top flight speakers at the event this year –  including Sandy Carter of IBM, Brett King, Jacob Morgan, Ray Wang and many more – this looks like being another great Social Business Forum. 

And the highly resourceful translation professionals of Interpret the Future will again be an integral part of the mix.

Looking forward to Wednesday 12th June 2013 when the Social Business Forum 2013 will kick off. Hope to meet you there!

Robert Dennis,

Project co-ordinator for Interpret the Future
CEO and Head of Innovation at Riverstone Language & Communications

Monday, 27 May 2013

Interpret the Future is back at the Social Business Forum 2013 this June!

Interpret the Future demolishes the language barrier at SBF12
Interpret the Future is one year old! And to celebrate we will be returning to the Marriott Hotel in Via Washington, Milano this June for the Social Business Forum 2013.

Following the success of Interpret the Future at last year’s Social Business Forum, OpenKnowledge has asked us again to provide the interpreting service at the leading Social Business event in Europe, which will take place in Milan on June 12-13 2013.

Led once more by Robert Dennis of Riverstone Language & Communications our team of interpreters will be on hand to help make the Social Business Forum 2013 as successful as possible with expert, simultaneous translation both from Italian into English and from English into Italian.

The Interpret the Future team has grown this year: we now have eight interpreters who will be working on both days of the Forum to enable everyone who attends to get the maximum benefit – and not miss any of the pearls of wisdom and business insight offered by the speakers.

Stay up to date with our preparations for this key event in the social business calendar and find out more about what the people in our team have been doing since last year. You can also share any comments, feedback or questions you may have about interpreting, the Social Business Forum and any aspects of translation or language in business. All of the interpreters and other language experts in our team will be happy to share their knowledge and experience – and to reveal some of the tricks of the trade (for example in this post by Lara Warburton).

The Social Business Forum 2012 was a great event and we are confident SBF13 will be even more brilliant with a line-up of top-name speakers – all of whom will be able to get their message across in both English and Italian thanks to the professionals of Interpret the Future.

Loredana Nano of Interpret the Future in action!
Click here to find out all about the Social Business Forum 2013 and how to book your place now.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Translation v interpreting: Freelance translator / interpreter Lara Warburton explains how to spot the differences

Translation and interpreting - they're the same thing, aren't they? No! They're very different: but how exactly do they differ? In this article, Interpret the Future team member Lara Warburton analyses the main factors that distinguish the two activities. She also provides an insider's view of the different skills required and the subtle differences in character between translators and interpreters.


A: Translation deals with written texts, while interpreting is spoken. People sometimes use the word translation to mean one, both, or either of the above, but I think it's a significant distinction to make, if only from the point of the skills involved. 


Language differences go beyond words
Speakers of different languages perceive the world in different ways, and for this reason, languages don't map onto each other word-for-word, or even concept-for-concept. For example, westerners imagine time as horizontal, with the future ahead and the past behind. Chinese speakers, on the other hand, imagine time as vertical, with the past above and the future below. So a translator is dealing with the translation not only of words but of perceptions of the world.

Apart from different perceptions of the world, languages also have their preferred styles of expression. For example, flowery, convoluted language is considered beautiful in French but ridiculous in English, while simple, direct language is considered satisfying and organised in English but brutal and primitive in French.


a) Skills
A translator is above all a writer. She (because more often than not it is a she!) understands what the original writer is trying to express, and then expresses that in the target language, in a style which sounds natural in that language. This will often require some adjustments of style, vocabulary, and structure. The translator is, in essence, creating a new text. For this reason, a translator is, above all, a writer, and is discouraged from translating into anything other than her mother tongue. 

An example: An advert for a restaurant in France publicised the smoking room, where customers could "se donner au plaisir de fumer" - which is a very French concept. No English restaurant would ever talk about a room where you could "give yourself over to the pleasure of smoking". If anything, it would say something like "we are slightly embarrassed to inform you that we have a Room of Shame, where you can sneak a guilty cigarette." So the whole concept of the text doesn't really transfer into English, let alone the individual words, and it takes a skilled writer to make it sound convincing.

b) Character
Translators are solitary creatures, perfectionists who spend inordinate amounts of time at their computers, rewriting and polishing every sentence and researching the topic of the text. Translators also tend to specialise in a specific field - medical, industrial, certificates, etc. 


a) Types of interpreting

Public services interpreting (also called community interpreting) is used in situations such as medical appointments, applying for welfare, court cases, etc. The interpreter is the intermediary between two or more parties, working in both directions between the languages. This overlaps with business interpreting, which is a similar process used but in business contexts.

Conference interpreting is divided into consecutive interpreting (taking notes while listening to a speech, and then giving the speech in the other language) and simultaneous interpreting (speaking at the same time as the speaker).

In conference interpreting, in the majority of cases, the interpreter works into her mother tongue only, because this is the language in which we are most in control and best able to express subtleties of tone and shades of meaning.

Lara interpreting at the Social Business Forum, Milan 2012

b) The process
Just as a translator is first and foremost a writer, an interpreter is first and foremost a public speaker. Her job is not to say “what the speaker said”, because, as we know, that is generally awkward-sounding and frequently impossible. The interpreter’s job is to tell the listeners what the speaker is talking about, and to do it in natural-sounding, eloquent language.

The process is as follows:

(a)   Listen actively to what the speaker is saying. (Try and listen actively to someone for three minutes yourself and you’ll see how unnatural it is.)

(b)   Analyse the speaker’s ideas – not what the speaker is saying, but what he or she means.

(c)   Analyse the structure of the speech, paying careful attention to links – words such as and, but, however, in addition, in conclusion, etc., which signpost the direction that the speech is taking and make it easier for the listener to follow.

Part of the analysis of the structure is differentiating between major and minor ideas (you don’t want to over-emphasise a passing point, nor do you want to detract from an important point), identifying repetition and deciding whether it is important, and establishing the function of the idea within the speech – is it to emphasise the last point, to provide a contrast, to start a new topic…?

You also have to be on guard for contradictions. Speakers sometimes include contradictions intentionally, for example to express sarcasm or to quote somebody else’s viewpoint. So you need to decide whether it was intentional or accidental – and if you are sure it was accidental, you need to decide whether or not to correct it.

Above all, you need to understand – not just the words, but the intention behind those words. The interpreter’s job is to explain to the listeners what the speaker is talking about. And how can you hope to explain something to someone so that they understand if you don’t understand it yourself?

(d)   If you are working in consecutive, you need to take notes.

The notes are not a transcription of the speech. Apart from anything else, who can write that fast? You retain most of the speech in your memory, and the notes – symbols, abbreviations and short phrases – serve simply to jog your memory. (All the more reason to carry out a careful analysis of meaning and structure.) Fundamentally, your notes record the speaker’s ideas and not his words.

(e)   You now need to render the ideas, in a natural, controlled, elegant manner in your mother tongue. If you are speaking from notes, you need to develop the skill of converting a pageful of symbols and isolated words into eloquent speech. You also need to make sure you convey the speaker’s attitude – emotional, angry, neutral, sarcastic*. And if you are working in simultaneous, while you are doing speaking, you need to keep part of your brain free to be listening to and analysing the speech which is still coming in.

(*Note on sarcasm. Being sarcastic involves saying the opposite of what you mean, as in, “What a fantastic idea!” meaning “What a stupid idea!” This is not a universal concept . In many languages, if you say something, then that is precisely what you mean. It is not even universal within English. Americans, for example, do not make frequent use of sarcastic language.

It is a problem if the interpreter fails to recognise sarcasm. She could end up saying, “Yes, chairman, we absolutely agree with you, and we think these measures should be put in place immediately,” when the speaker really means, “That’s a dumb idea, chairman, and if we implement these measures, havoc will break out.”  Do you see the implications of working with ideas, not words?)

And of course, while you’re doing this, you must remember you are a public speaker, so you must not say “Um”, you must not self-commentate (as in, “Oh dear, I’ve lost my place. I’m not doing very well here!”), you must project your voice and engage with your listeners, you must maintain an appropriately formal register, and you must not start speaking until you can finish a sentence. Indeed, the interpreter’s version is often an improvement on the original, because it is an analysed, tidied-up version, and because the interpreter is a trained public speaker while the original speaker may not be.

c) Character
Interpreters, in contrast with translators, are not solitary creatures. They work consists of interacting with people. They are not perfectionists either, because they cannot afford to be. When you are giving a live speech, you cannot stop to go and do a bit of background research (you are supposed to have done all your research beforehand!), neither can you produce a second, polished, draft. In consecutive, you may be able to ask the speaker one or two questions if you have not quite caught something, but in simultaneous, you obviously cannot.

Another difference is that interpreters do not generally specialise in any field. They can be called upon to interpret in a meeting about anything. And when the speaker opens his mouth, there is no telling what is going to come out of it – and whatever comes out, the interpreter must be prepared to deal with it. For this reason, having a vast general knowledge is fundamental for an interpreter, and it is vital to study of the subject of the conference carefully beforehand.

Lara (centre) with the Interpret the Future team at the SBF

A frequently asked question. But, as you know by now, interpreters don’t work at the level of words but at the level of ideas.

If someone is talking to you in your language and you don’t catch a word, does that necessarily stop you understanding what they are telling you? Of course not. You can often still understand the idea, even if a word is missing.

There are several courses of action available if you miss a word. Frequently, the word itself is not crucial to the overall meaning. If somebody is speaking to you in your language and you miss a word, does that necessarily stop you understanding what they are telling you? Of course not. You fill in the gaps with logic and deduction. Otherwise, you can generalise – for example “Production increased by X per cent” can become “Production increased considerably”. You may choose to omit that section, continuing with the next idea, and then when the speaker repeats the elusive word – because if it is such a crucial word, he probably will repeat it – then you work the omitted information back in. And in some cases, the idea can be omitted entirely without doing any significant damage.

In the words of one interpreter I know: “People think that I work for months and months, doing conferences on all sorts of specialist subjects, and then one day, I don’t understand one word! If only!”

Lara Warburton is a freelance translator and interpreter. A native speaker of English she translates and interprets from French, Italian and Portuguese into English. She has experience in translating technical, journalistic, administrative and literary texts. Her interpreting experience includes providing simultaneous, consecutive and liaison interpreting in a range of situations including conferences and meetings. She is very familiar with public-services and charity-sector interpreting as well as in international business contexts.

Lara was a member of the Interpret the Future team which provided interpreting services at the Social Business Forum in Milan in June 2012.

With a BA (Hons) in Modern Languages and Translation and Interpreting Studies from the University of Salford (which included one year’s residence in Portugal and France), Lara also holds an MA in Conference Interpreting and Translation Studies from the University of Leeds, which is an AIIC-approved institution. She is a member of the Associate of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

Having obtained her CELTA (Cambridge Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults), Lara has gained considerable experience in teaching English as a Foreign Language in a number of countries including Brazil and Italy.

Lara’s blog is both a lively and informative diary of her impressions of the countries she has lived in (Zimbabwe, the UK, Portugal, France and Italy, etc) as well as a cultural and linguistic voyage of discovery. You can also follow her on Twitter: @larawarburton

You can contact Lara by sending her an email to: lara_warburton@yahoo.co.uk

Monday, 9 July 2012

Interpret the Future help to make the Social Business Forum, Milan 2012 a great success

Interpret the Future at the Social Business Forum, Marriott Hotel,
Milan, June 2012. From left to right: Loredana Nano, Ian Mansbridge,
Isabelle Handley-Allen, Lara Warburton, Bruno Musarra,
Robert Dennis and Alice Bertinotti. Photo: Karin Vettorel

Our interpreters recently collaborated with social business consultancy OpenKnowledge to provide simultaneous English-Italian and Italian-English translation at the Social Business Forum in Milan, Italy.

The Social Business Forum is the leading European event on employee empowerment, customer engagement and collaborative innovation. With over 5 years of international experience and expertise it has attracted over 3600 participants and 150+ speakers. Attendees can meet international practitioners, globally recognized thought-leaders and experts. You can also connect with a network of vendors, managers and consultants to build long term relationships that will help your business.

Held at the prestigious Marriott Hotel in Milan over two days (4-5 June), the Social Business Forum provided a challenging and stimulating environment in which our team of interpreters had to deal with some very tricky subject-matter as well as provide interpreting services in a range of settings (plenary sessions as well as smaller presentations and discussions, which included question and answer sessions).

To prepare for the Social Business Forum, the Interpret the Future team utilised a number of online resources, including an extensive vocabulary list which they compiled via a Google spreadsheet and worked on collaboratively. They also used Google docs to co-ordinate with OpenKnowledge in organising and scheduling pairs of interpreters for each session of the Forum.

Ian and Bruno in action at the Social Business Forum
Photo: Karin Vettorel 
A closed Facebook group was used to manage day-to-day communications and to act as a focus for the team where information, advice and mutual support could be accessed, provided and shared. The interpreters practised for the actual event by using videos of last year's forum posted on the Vimeo social video site.

Led by social business and communications consultant Robert Dennis the team gained valuable experience of working under pressure to deliver a truly first-rate service throughout the Forum. Feedback on Interpret the Future has been very positive and the team have been encouraged by the comments and support they have received.

Valeria Pensabene of OpenKnowledge, who was responsible for logistic organisation, planning and operations for the Social Business Forum helped co-ordinate the efforts of the Interpret the Future team. We are grateful for the invaluable support and encouragement Valeria provided throughout the project.

Click here to read more about the Social Business Forum on the Milan English blog:
How to "Interpret the Future": understanding Social Business in English and Italian this June

Friday, 25 May 2012

Google Translate, thanks but...

Translating. It should be easy, a job that someone, somewhere in the echelons of silicon valley should have come up with a suitable solution for.

But it hasn’t happened... yet.

The problem with using a computer to translate work is that, computers don’t understand language, or rather computers can’t understand context.

Take this translation from Google Translate.

“Nel nostro Paese chi è garantito è garantito, ma chi ha perso il lavoro o è in cerca di occupazione, magari perché giovane, è in grande difficoltà” 

Translated into;

“In our country, who is guaranteed is guaranteed, but those who have lost their jobs or are seeking employment, perhaps because he was young, is in big trouble.”

Ok, so you get a sense of what is being said here, but does that mean it is correct? Does that mean we can take something true, noteworthy and create our own interpretation and sense from it?

I would argue, no. I would after all, Google translate is being touted as the software to kill off an industry, mind you, the iPhone was thought of killing the phone. It didn’t it made it better, and that’s what something like Google Translate can do for translators and interpreters, make us better overall, but it can never replace our function.

Take my translation of the text;

“In our country, those who have a guaranteed job are ok, but those who have lost their jobs or are searching for a new one, perhaps because they are young, are struggling”

What’s the role of the interpreter for me? Someone who can bring in context and sense, someone who can carve, create, craft a meaning out of a conversation, statement, press release. Accuracy is fundamental, but making it “sing” in the face of the mother tongue reading it... Google can most definitely not give you that.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Hello, this is who we are, and what we do!

Welcome to Interpret the Future! This is a blog created by a group of young interpreters who are
interested in how current interpreting and translation practice is changing rapidly. In this blog you
will find some lively articles and discussions on the art and science of interpreting; how translation
and the skills needed to use new technology are converging; and why language professionals will be
crucial in developing the digital and social economy.

Interpret the Future has grown from a collaboration with OpenKnowledge, an international
consulting firm that specializes in helping large organizations realize their business potential through
open and collaborative approaches based on the Social Business paradigm. OpenKnowledge brought
this group of interpreters together to provide specialist language services and gain experience of
conference interpreting during the Social Business Forum to be held in Milan on June 4-5 2012.

The contributors to this blog will be providing interpreting services throughout the Social Business
Forum. They have also collaborated on translating key documents for the Forum (including the Social
Business Manifesto, a seminal text written by OpenKnowledge and published in conjunction with the
Harvard Business Review Italia).

The contributors to Interpret the Future are:

Gino De Blasio (social media expert and fluent Italian / English speaker)

Loredana Nano - interpreter

Bruno Musarra - interpreter

Ian Mansbridge - interpreter

Lara Warburton - interpreter

Isabelle Handley-Allen - interpreter

Alice Bertinotti - interpreter

Robert Dennis is the OpenKnowledge project manager for Interpret the Future at the Social Business Forum.

Holly Carlile, a freelance translator based in Milan, is translating the Social Business Manifesto for OpenKnowledge.

If you would like to find out more about new approaches to conference interpreting, social
business and how language and technology are driving change, please feel free to ask any (or all)
of the contributors. They are also available for freelance interpreting and translation work and be
contacted via this group.