Traveling to Antwerp is best done by train, as traffic jams can get really crazy on the ring road and the center of town is maze of tiny streets with lots of traffic lights, trams, buses and zebra crossings with slow pedestrians dragging suitcases or holding up their cameras, oblivious of the stress that is going on around them.
On the right track for success
Also, the central train station in Antwerp is something any tourist should see. As there was no space to expand horizontally, the tracks were stacked on top of each other in three floors. Getting from one train to another is mainly done by taking the escalator up or down. It has been a massive project and now that it is completed the Antwerp Central Station is a match for all other famous train stations on this planet.
Diamond quality solutions
One thing that strikes the first visitor is the amazing number of diamond shops lining one of the sides of the station building, with at least as many diamond shops on the other side of the street. This part of town has always been home to a large community of orthodox Jews, who are in the profitable business of selling diamonds. And indeed, the conference hotel, at a stone’s throw distance from the Central Station, boasts a Diamond Room, where we had our coffee and lunch breaks. No free diamonds, unfortunately, but lunch was very well prepared and appreciated.
The audience was small, as it was in Eindhoven, but dedicated. This time, there were a lot of people from the translation business, as this is one of the strong areas in Belgium. With a small language (Dutch is only spoken by about 20 million people on this planet, and the Flemish have a myriad of dialects) and the capital of the European Union, there are reasons to achieve excellence in translation technology.
One of the presentations, by Eef Blommaert of Yamagata Europe, gave a totally new perspective on this type of work: having input by users in 22 different languages translated on the fly into one language that the technical support center can understand. More than grammatical correctness, the understandability rate of the partly machine-translated texts is the main measure for quality.
Pragmatics seems to have the final word in the business world. After all, what good is a grammatically perfect sentence to you if you cannot understand what the other person is trying to explain?
The discussions in the breakout sessions were lively and gave the audience lots of food for thought, as usual. Also, the panel discussion, led by Brigitta Meex of the recently established Belgian tekom country group, was informative and offered interesting new viewpoints about our profession. All in all, the Antwerp event was a success.