Icebreaker 5, April 2011


Welcome to the fifth issue of ‘Icebreaker’, the STP newsletter.

We are looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones at

the GALA conference in Lisbon on 28-30 March

the EUATC conference in Rome on 8-9 April/p>

the ELIA Networking Days in Stockholm on 13-15 May

the ALC conference in Las Vegas on 18-21 May

Lovely warm locations for breaking the metaphorical ice! Jesper is rehearsing icebreaking techniques for the Speed Networking session in Lisbon, determined to impress … in less than a minute.

Company news


Now we are six!

STP has added a sixth core language to its offering. Over the course of 2010, we put a great deal of effort into expanding our translator base to include over 30 new professional translators working from German into the Nordics and vice versa. As a result, we are now happy to offer our clients translation and revision work to and from German, along with our usual English/Nordic services. Our new language combinations are:

Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish – German

German – Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

We have also supplemented our project management team with three German specialists. In addition to the two PMs introduced below, STP has a native English PM with an MA degree in German Translation Studies and a native German translation graduate coming to do an internship in project management during the summer of 2011

Staff News


Man spricht Deutsch

Robin Drefs, who joined STP’s PM team in January, has an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies, English and American Studies from Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität in Greifswald, Germany, equipping him with a good understanding of the means and correlations of today’s worldwide media systems. An MSc course at Edinburgh University then rounded off his education with a deeper insight into three key areas of Translation Studies: translation theory, translation and technology and German/English language studies.

Before coming to the UK, Robin gained Customer Service and Account Management experience at a major international advertising agency in Germany, handling the administration of print and POS projects as well as market analyses and coordination with offices in Paris and London. He was also involved in the localisation of French and English ads for the German market.

Robin describes himself as a bit of a computer geek who likes to spend time in front of screens. He keeps up with news and current affairs and enjoys discussing them with others. Curious by nature, he dreamt of becoming a journalist but discovered that the intrusive nature of journalism did not suit him. He wanted a career where he could be more on an equal footing with the people he works with, and in STP’s project management team Robin has found exactly that.


Valentina Moldovan first came to STP as an intern in the summer of 2010. She is an MA graduate from the University of Portsmouth, where she specialised in Translation and Technical Communication. She also holds a BA in English and German Philology from the West University of Timişoara, including a diploma in teaching English and German.

A native of Romania, Valentina went to a German-speaking school for eight years and gained a German Language Certificate from the Technical University of Timişoara at the age of 19. She then worked in the UK and USA for two years before returning to Romania to study at university.

Valentina enjoys travelling and experiencing different cultures, learning languages and meeting people from different backgrounds. She has a very international outlook and is thriving in the multilingual environment at STP. She is fascinated by the Nordic countries and intends to make her first visit there this summer, “when it’s warm enough …”.

Industry issues


Masters in Translation

The demand for highly qualified translators is expanding as the total industry turnover is estimated to grow annually by at least 10% for the next few years. By 2015, worldwide translation industry revenue might exceed EUR 20 billion, and though machine translation solutions are widely discussed as a viable solution for the increasing volumes, they cannot replace skilled human input. The European Commission has expressed concern over the fact that better translator training is needed to ensure a good match between graduates’ competences and employers’ requirements.

The Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation (DGT), together with 34 European translator programmes, has taken up the challenge of developing the quality of translator education and the availability of translators in the market through a project called European Master’s in Translation (EMT). The project consists of a steering committee, a working group of 23 members within DGT, a group of eight experts and a network of university programmes. Aarhus University in Denmark and the University of Tampere in Finland, as well as five UK universities, are amongst the MA programme providers involved in the network.

OPTIMALE (Optimising Professional Translator Training in a Multilingual Europe) was launched in Brussels on 29 January 2011. It is an Erasmus Academic Network involving 70 partners from 32 different European countries. The project aims to build on and feed into the work of EMT, extending the geographical scope outside the universities currently in the EMT network. The objectives include the mapping of translator training in Europe, monitoring relevant standards, identifying key training areas and resources as well as working towards greater staff and student mobility between translator training faculties.

The EUATC is a partner in the OPTIMALE project, and the 6th EUATC conference in April is focusing on cooperation and partnerships in translator training and LSP recruitment as one of its key topics. Representatives from the EU, universities, industry associations and recruitment experts will discuss the merits and shortcomings of the translation courses, graduate placement schemes, memberships and recruitment options currently available.

Nordic focus


Nordic Combined

Having heard that Scandinavians can understand each others’ languages, clients sometimes ask us for a combined Danish/Norwegian/Swedish translation. Such translations tend to appear on cosmetics packaging where space is at a premium. The idea is to first translate everything into e.g. Danish and then add any Norwegian and Swedish words with slashes where the reader would not understand the Danish. A hair conditioner bottle could thus say: “Bruksanvisning: Etter sjamponering, klem/krama ut overflødig vann/vatten fra håret”.

In linguistics, the phenomenon of speakers of related languages being able to understand each other without any study or excessive effort is called “mutual intelligibility”. Apart from the three Scandinavian languages, other such language groups are Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian and Galician/Portuguese/Spanish.

Intelligibility between languages can be asymmetric, with speakers of one understanding more of the other than speakers of the second understand of the first. Intelligibility is only characterised as “mutual” when it is relatively symmetric.

So, how well do Scandinavians really understand each others’ languages? During 2002–2005, Lars-Olof Delsing and Katarina Lundin Åkesson undertook a study funded by the Nordic Cultural Fund, where native speakers under the age of 25 were asked to participate in a test consisting of a video, listening comprehension and two written articles (available in Swedish here). The result showed that Swedish-speakers in Stockholm and Danish-speakers in Copenhagen have the greatest difficulty in understanding other Scandinavian languages.

Norwegian and Danish have similar vocabulary but a different sound system, whilst Norwegians and Swedes are helped by the similarity of their sound systems but struggle with the differences in vocabulary. Swedes and Danes struggle with differences in both. Danish differs the most between its spoken and written forms, consequently Swedes find the written form much more easy to understand than the spoken. In Norway, of the two variants of Norwegian, bokmål is closer to Danish while nynorsk has more in common with Swedish.

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