Ricarda Essrich was appointed First Chair at the recent general meeting of Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer e.V. (BDÜ), LV NRW or the North Rhine-Westphalia chapter of the German Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators.
Out of the 13 state associations that make up the BDÜ, Essrich’s is the third-largest. Speaking to Slator, Essrich said BDÜ NRW “promotes and represents the general professional interests of interpreters and translators,” and also “the professional and social interests of its members in North Rhine-Westphalia.”
Essrich’s term will last two years during which she will represent the chapter “both internally on a national level and externally to representatives from politics, economics, and law.” She explained many of her tasks have to do with publicity under the purview of Second Chair Ronja Grebe as well as managing the chapter’s board of seven members.
The chapter’s mission, Essrich explained, revolved around organizing educational events and maintaining contact with educational establishments in North Rhine-Westphalia, particularly universities; exchanging information with the chambers of commerce and industry in North Rhine-Westphalia and maintaining contact with trade and other professional associations; informing the public about BDÜ and the professions; member guidance, including how to start a business; and, finally, participating in the creation of rules and regulations at the federal level.
What follows are key takeaways from Slator’s exclusive interview with Essrich.
Slator (S): How were you elected and was it very competitive?
Ricarda Essrich (E): I was asked to run before the general meeting. At the meeting, I presented myself to the members. After that, there was an open vote. There weren’t any other candidates.
S: How many members does your chapter have? And how many does BDÜ have in total?
E: We had 920 members as of January 1, 2016. BDÜ has a total of 7,893 members.
It has been my experience that professional, specialized translators have the best opportunities to successfully position themselves in this market, despite continuously falling prices―BDÜ-NRW First Chair Ricarda Essrich
S: What are your plans during your term?
E: I would like to continue the work of my predecessor, Ludmila Kloss, and get involved with politics, authorities, and the industry to assert the interests of our members. In a market undergoing significant change, I would like to intensify my work toward professionalising our members; for example, by developing interesting learning opportunities in close cooperation with our educational contributors.
S: How do you see the translation and interpreting market as it is today?
E: The market is progressively changing, much faster moving. More and more content has to be translated in increasingly shorter periods for significantly lower prices. New technologies and strong, international competition require constant adjustments and reactions to these developments. It has been my experience that professional, specialized translators have the best opportunities to successfully position themselves in this market, despite continuously falling prices.
S: What do you think about current pricing trends?
E: I have heard of alarming price developments from many colleagues. Due to the large number of competitors, it is becoming increasingly difficult to assert fair rates. Direct customers are often not able to assess the true value of services and many agencies make threatening gestures along the lines of “If you don’t do it, somebody else will.” The objective here is to counteract this by educating potential customers as well as professionalizing and supporting translators and interpreters.
S: Can you share your thoughts on the trends you see in the translation technology space?
E: It is no longer possible to imagine the present-day work processes of a translator without translation technologies. Without CAT tools and machine translation, it would be impossible to stay abreast of the rapidly growing quantity of content that needs to be translated. It is my opinion that translators benefit from supporting the development of these technologies.
Direct customers are often not able to assess the true value of services and many agencies make threatening gestures along the lines of “If you don’t do it, somebody else will”―BDÜ-NRW First Chair Ricarda Essrich
Computer-aided translation promotes consistent use of terminology and saves a great deal of time. And machine translations offer a new area of business in post-editing and an additional opportunity for translators to position themselves in the market. Of course, this only works if the developers of translation technologies, agencies, and translators all meet on equal footing and services such as post-editing are appropriately remunerated.
Image: Ricarda Essrich by Nicole Teuber / Fotostudio Alte Metzgerei