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Where to from here? FIT president Henry Liu on the future of translation and interpreting

On 3 May 2016, the IUED Institute of Translation and Interpreting welcomed a very special guest: New Zealander Henry Liu, President of the International Federation of Translators (FIT).

Talking to an appreciative full house of students, teachers and language professionals, the charismatic speaker presented his own view of the future of translation and interpreting, the second oldest professions. What does the future hold for language specialists in a digital world of automated translation dominated by global English? He repeatedly stressed the commoditisation of translation due to the disconnect between translators and their clients. Unable to judge the true quality of translation services, client choices are guided by product pricing alone – creating a downward spiral of increased automation, falling prices, shrinking text diversity, declining standards and dwindling income for language professionals, in spite of growing demand. Although Henry Liu has no easy remedies, he does have some suggestions – heightened user awareness of the ecology of translation and interpreting, greater quality differentiation, increased domain specialisation and targeted positioning in high-end market segments. Most of all, however, we need a voice, and Henry Liu is patently giving us one!

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