Thursday, December 10, 2009

Localization and Translation Thailand 2009: A Great Event!

Sometimes I think that my job is participating in translation and localization events. Although I really enjoy the networking and the content, I must confess that there are too many and several of them just copy each other (but this is the topic of a future posting).

But every once in a while, in the most unexpected places, even a veteran like me can be surprised and re-energized by the contents of an event. For me, 2009 was the year of the small and unpretentious events culminating with Localization and Translation Thailand last week in Bangkok.

In the same line as the 6th Language and Technology Conference, in Córdoba (Argentina), and the ELIA Networking Days, in Vienna, the Thai event attracted fewer than 100 people, which made it a perfect venue for in-depth conversations, real networking, and the development of excellent business opportunities.

The highlights of the event were the keynote presentation by Andrew Rufener, the COO of Lexis Nexis Univentio, and the panel on new developments in localization R&D.

Andrew Rufener reported on his experience in implementing large scale machine translation in patent information services. A real case study by a group that thoroughly evaluated seven MT solutions and ended up selecting Asia Online's solution.

Philip Köhn, from the University of Edinburgh, showed some data on the performance of "monolingual translators" post-editing MT output compared to generic human translation. The concept of a monolingual translator is revolutionary enough, but the fact that industry domain experts perform better than professional translators in post editing tasks was viewed as heresy by the weaker souls in the audience.

My friend Hans Fenstermacher, representing GALA and, made a compelling presentation about the challenges that localization has to face because of the way content is developed and handled.

Dion Wiggins, the master of cerimonies and the brains behind the whole event, unveiled some of the accomplishments of Asia Online's new technology and how the world will view language technology differently in the near future.

Finally, I really enjoyed Biraj Rath's presentation about the untapped opportunities about the Indian market. I was amazed at how much I didn't know about India.

All in all, an outstanding event that exceeded all my expectations. For 2010, I am looking forward to Think Latin America in Búzios, near my hometown of Rio de Janeiro, and to ELIA's Networking Days in Istanbul. Both events will be in April and I am really impressed with the line up of speakers and topics (full disclosure: I am helping both events with their programs).

And if you want to follow the Twitter activity of several of the participants with quotes and comments from the speakers and panelists, click here.


  1. Thanks for the run-down, Renato. It sounds like a good conference.

    One comment ... I am not surprised at all at the finding that domain experts do a better job of post-editing (at least on scientific and technical documents) than do linguists. Even better, however, would be to include both language and domain experts in a collaborative approach to post-editing. Another nail in the coffin of TEP?

  2. Thank you for the wrap-up, Renato. It was good knowing a veteran in the industry, up close in person.

    On the conference: it was an eye opener regarding machine translation. Man and machine in harmony for the glorious thing called "productivity", and maybe quality... :D