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A new year – reflecting upon what 2019 threw at us!

2019 brought new challenges and changes for Lingua-World UK, some expected and some entirely unexpectedly.

The Brexit Vote – a fight for the right to stay

After nearly 3 years of squabbling, the UK government has now intensified its registration scheme for the nearly 3 million EU citizens currently living and working in the UK, as it appears we will finally be leaving the EU. Naturally, we have seen a rise in anything from birth, over marriage, to death certificates, often that have required urgent translations due to people applying for the UK Government registration scheme for EU citizens living in the UK.

As a company whose founding strength comes from people who have moved across the globe and learnt another language, and as EU citizens in the UK constitute a large amount of our staff base and translators, we owed a special debt to these citizens to get them their documents translated as fast and as efficiently as possible. We are proud of what we have achieved here, and are happy that we played a small part in keeping EU citizens in their homes and thus kept Britain a place that welcomes and celebrates diversity.

The Lingua-World Frankfurt girls are the festive winners of the year.

The Lingua-World Frankfurt girls are the festive winners of the year.

Machine Translation – the end of the translation industry?

Among other things, artificial intelligence (AI) and neural machine translation (NMT) smashed onto the market, rocking us slightly and forcing us to make some serious changes to our model in order to stay a competitive influence upon the market. Was this the beginning of the end of the translation services industry? The question on all of our minds. How wrong we were!

Every change holds a great opportunity, as Lingua World Managing Director Nelly Kostadinova knows.
While many translation service providers view the developments around AI and NMT with great concern, Nelly Kostadinova sees the changes as a challenge that Lingua-World can grow with and ultimately benefit from. Today, NMT can deliver very good translations. But it cannot compete with human translators for longer texts, scientific papers or creative marketing texts. Only true linguists can ensure that complexity is maintained, coherence is guaranteed, terminology is accurate and creativity is not lost.

Our new staff member Tibor (r.) and Matthias

Our new staff member Tibor and experiences customer project manager Matthias talk about their customer expansion strategy.

Artificial Intelligence and Human Emotionality

The advancements in speech recognition software has absolutely skyrocketed in recent years. Gone are the days when you would ask Siri for the “ATM location” and you would be directed to pictures of “an ancient Dalmatian”. Speech recognition software is now travelling at a speed where you can ‘touch to talk’ and translate live speech as it happens between two people.

This might be a great way to manage your average street conversation (like finding the nearest ATM), but speech recognition interpreting is still miles away from being what is required for our clients.

For small appointments, such as a doctor’s visit, it is vital that diagnoses are communicated effectively and exactly – this could be a matter of life and death. For our conference based interpreting sessions, our customers may be dealing with complex topics way beyond the skills of a machine. For example, we recently ran a project regarding the ‘typical chemical form of natural uranium after conversion from mined concentrate as well as the chemical form of EUP’! Given that we have absolutely no idea what that meant when we received it, it is almost certain that Google wouldn’t, and thus we recruited the services of one of our best interpreters who has experience as a physicist and nuclear scientist!

Only interpreters can also provide the emotional nuances essential for interpreting important business negotiations and consultations, government interactions, conferences and, of course, major private events. They can detect and react to the slightest changes in tone, choice of words and, of course, in the facial expressions and gestures of their conversation or negotiation partners. They know the context of the situation in which the communication takes place and can react sensitively and appropriately to it. No simultaneous interpreting tool, however good it may be, will ever be able to provide this human component.

Our CEO recognized the signs of change early on and initiated restructuring at Lingua-World through targeted change management. Translators are now increasingly being used in post-editing for neural machine translation to ensure the absolute quality of our technology-based tools.

Some of Lingua-World UK visited our Cologne offices for some festive fun

Some of Lingua-World UK visited our Cologne offices for some festive fun.

Restructuring and competence expansion

At the same time, Lingua-World is now focusing more on interpreting. All requests at Lingua-World UK are handled by a specialized project manager. Today, two employees at the London headquarters take care of interpreting requests from business customers, authorities and private customers. In addition, the branch managers have received intensive training so that they can now also directly provide interpreters to worldwide locations on request, bringing us all a little closer together.

This has vastly improved our ability to provide interpreting off the British Isles. In the past year alone we have organised interpreting events in Spain, Germany, France, Gibraltar, and even as far as Dubai, Azerbaijan and Russia!

This restructuring has turned out to be an enormous success. Sustainable partnerships have been established with business customers and we are now developing long-term relationships with them through providing interpreters they now feel comfortable with through exposure to a sustained and high-quality service. In 2019 Lingua-World has recorded an increase in turnover of more than 20% in the interpreting sector. Aced it.

Some of the team, new members and old, join together to wish you a Merry Christmas!

Our biggest office is in Cologne, Germany. Some of the team, new members and old, join together to wish you a Merry Christmas!

Change in all areas

There have also been great changes in the Lingua-World workforce, mostly over at our German sister offices. We are delighted to announce the birth of three children and as many weddings to boot.

In addition, Managing Director Nelly Kostadinova has published her book “Ein Koffer voller Wollen” (“A Suitcase Full of Dreams”) and is a sought-after speaker – a groundbreaking development that her employees are delighted to share with her! In addition, we have expanded our workforce with more project managers employed, in order to meet the increasing number of customer inquiries.

The courage to change is worth it! Lingua-World will continue to meet the challenges of the times in 2020.

Merry Christmas to you all, and may you have a Happy New Year!

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