The Linguist

The Linguist 57,1 – February/March 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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16 The Linguist Vol/57 No/1 2018 A TRANSLATOR'S BREXIT M any small and medium-sized translation companies in the UK serve mainly British companies that do business internationally or are preparing to do so; or they serve publicity, design or public relations companies which, in turn, do work for these internationally active clients. Directly or indirectly, the fortunes of these small and medium-sized translation companies are dependent on the level of trade between the UK and the rest of the world. In particular, in the last complete year (2016) about 43% of UK exports in goods and services went to fellow members of the European Union (EU). This trade amounted to some £240 billion out of £550 billion total UK exports. So the question is this: since the Brexit vote in June 2016, have small and medium-sized translation companies in the UK been bounding ahead, given fresh momentum by the fall in the pound and the consequent favourable exchange rate for British exporters? Or have they stalled and declined, reflecting the nervousness and uncertainty in the UK business community? In November, I asked the bosses of companies with annual sales in the £1 million-£2 million bracket for their views on the situation following the EU referendum. Company 1: Atlas Translations Based in St Albans, Atlas is a well-established business, certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 17100 and a member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI). Its Director, Claire Suttie, told me that following the Brexit vote the British market "fell off a cliff". She cited a telling example of an immediate effect of the referendum vote. Since the mid-1990s, Atlas has worked with an aerospace company which, for many years, had an annually- renewed contract with a French partner. In How has the EU referendum result affected UK-based translation agencies? Paul Mason investigates A sense of agency Rose Newell I live in Germany and specialise in German to English translation and copyrighting for high-end, high-tech companies. Perhaps because I'm based on the continent and work exclusively with direct clients – the majority German, a few Swiss and Austrian – my rates have continued to go up. I work with large companies; they market themselves the world over, so they still need translation into English. My clients have reassured me that they will work with me wherever I live. I did fear that British English might lose its status post-Brexit, but I already work into American English for some clients so I am comfortable with that. I had been planning to buy a house in the UK and move back there, so I'd been trying to get more UK-based copyrighting work. I abandoned that plan when the currency dropped. My potential clients backed out because the fall in the pound meant I suddenly got more expensive for them. I do worry about cheap British-based competition. My husband and I were put off investing in the UK because of the currency and single market issues, so we continue to rent in Berlin. The problem is that no one knows what's going to happen. As with the other Brits who have become trapped in Germany, it's emotionally upsetting. I'm very close to my mother and I wanted to spend more time with her. POST-REFERENDUM STORIES June 2016, the contract was not renewed but awarded to a new non-British partner instead. The translation of tenders and contract- related documents was no longer required. So that British client of Atlas has disappeared – at least for the time being. Atlas has picked up some extra business from continental European translation companies, but this is naturally low-margin work and does not make up for the loss of business with their regular UK clients. Many of these clients are putting projects that require publication on hold, waiting and watching to see whether or not the UK government is likely to negotiate a satisfactory trade agreement with the EU. Clare Suttie summarised by saying that Atlas is really missing out on those large, regular jobs which are needed to keep profits up. But she concluded that she thought the British market was "coming up again", so there is reason to be hopeful.

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