Making a difference for society’s sake aka: translation R O C K S

For today’s #rainybrandingtuesday I wanted to share something different, some food for thought rather than giving you a practical entry as I normally do. I recently read an interesting piece by Richard van der Laken, a designer working with studio De designpolitie and initiator of the event What Design Can Do. The main theme revolves around the importance of design as something we all perceive, see, enjoy and above all… create and live. So why cannot design help make a better world? Make lives easier? Saver energy, perhaps? Or streamline the way we approach recycling and possibly even save livesThis links back to a concept that I want to be very much the foundation of my business approach: after all, design does things to solve a problem. And so is translation, if we look at our own backyard. The concept of being a problem-solver is crucial to promote ourselves as freelancers: clients nowadays are bombarded by options – they are spoilt for choice, with the never-ending offers that come for just about everything that is sellable via the media, via newsletters or print…, and even Whatsapp (just a few days ago an unknown number messages me and tried to sell me designer bag at outlet prices. Yeah, sure).

All in all, this means that – once again, I must repeat myself – we ought to stand out from this avalanche of people offering the same in a sea of competitors. You may know the Blue Ocean Strategy (a book by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne) where instead of competing with others, we create our own oasis of peace and calm and nurture a pool of uniquely specific clients who want US and US only. In the same way, being a problem-solver for your clients is exactly that: making a difference. Be it the world, be it your community, that IMHO is one of the best ways to show you care and why clients should choose you all over again and again.

Love is the key

Love is the key

How do we apply this to freelancing?

In the same way design is not only aesthetics, translation and interpreting play a key role in society. How? You know all of this already but why don’t we refresh it? Here some of my favourites:

Rock n’ ruling

  • Translating books / literature: we translate work that can shape the culture of children, people and countries alike. And help bring down barriers of censorship and taboos, where possible, too. And we all know how literacy can change the world.
  • Pro bono / humanitarian help: our translation can help save lives – I recently worked on a brochure on how to spot the symptoms of Ebola and what to do on a plane. The accuracy of this work makes all the difference in real life or death cases.
  • App localization: if you’re familiar with my talk on apps and productivity, you may know that the apps on the market now are in the region of zillions. Have you ever thought how important for society and economy to make sure people can read and use all of this in their own native language?
  • Community and education: I recently talked to 150 school girls in London on the importance of not giving up languages after school. This very lively bunch of ladies not only is part of the future of society but now I hope they’re aware of how nurturing their knowledge of a foreign language can widen their horizon and maximise their job skills when they access the job market.
  • Kindness and inclusion: not only having an interpreter to assist speakers of another language is necessary but it is also an act of respect and inclusion that can promote kindness and debunk the fear of the other. And it’s a great feeling to be the interpreter who can convey a message. As little as it may sound, it’s crucial to somebody.
  • Every day life documents: you know that, all the gadgets and white appliances we use? Most manuals are a translation and we all use them.

And this, my friends, is also an extremely good point to raise awareness and show your clients why our job is so important.These are of course just a few of the many examples of how translation and interpreting make a difference in the world. And that does not only mean humanitarian causes.

What do you do to contribute?

What examples of successful game-changing activities can you think of?

Read on:

  1. Blue Ocean 
  2. Innovation
  3. What Design Can Do event 
  4. Making a difference
  5. Save lives in Africa

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