The last few weeks have rocked the world. The concept of war, a relative unknown for many of us in the West, has once again reared it’s ugly, indiscriminate head. However, this time, the impact seems ever closer to home, as we see industry colleagues and friends directly affected by the conflict in Ukraine. And with that knowledge comes a greater sense of responsibility to reach out, to offer support in whatever way we can.
It’s currently estimated that 75% of all Ukrainian translators are unavailable for work. Though many are keen to continue working and providing for their families, their current situation makes this almost impossible. Those trapped in bunkers or in cities that have been heavily shelled have limited Internet access, while others are currently in transit, making their way to safer countries or areas of Ukraine that are less heavily impacted by the fighting.
Language is power
Though it may seem that the power of the language industry can do little to improve the current situation, showing support for the language is a surefire way to drive investment to those who need it most right now. As Jan Hinrichs, CEO of Beluga, recently commented, “Supporting a language is a powerful sign of long-term commitment towards stakeholders as it helps to build brand value, trust, and social equity”.
Not only that, but without the work of our industry colleagues, it would be difficult to get information to people who are currently residing in other countries or still in Ukraine. This communication gap is CLEAR Global is eager to draw people’s attention and support through their fundraising campaign.
Henry Dotterer, President of ProZ.com, is also encouraging language agencies and other corporate enterprises to speed up payments to Ukrainian translators and to waive the usual fifteen or thirty-day wait period between receipt of invoice and transfer of funds. Not only that, but the organization is also coming up with ways for these individuals to be paid safely since many of the usual channels are currently unavailable to this specific collective.
The company is also working to contact each and every Ukrainian translator registered on their site in order to get an update on their current status, find out whether or not they’re in a position to receive new translation requests, and if they have or need a place to stay. Smartcat has taken a similar approach to the crisis by relocating its Ukrainian workforce and attempting to connect linguists in their network to new jobs and opportunities and giving them increased visibility.
However, for the thousands of displaced Ukrainian linguists, the main stumbling block is that many of the opportunities currently available to them are voluntary. Of course, with thousands of NGOs across Europe in need of language support for the country’s now over two million refugees it’s easy to understand why, yet if demand for paid work all but disappears the country’s 50,000 translators and interpreters will be forced to find new jobs in order to support their families.
Adding Ukrainian to your portfolio
Though translation budgets account for a relatively small percentage of the average corporate balance sheet they do account for something. What does this mean? Well, simply put, providing Ukrainian language support on a corporate website will not only help to provide much-needed paid work to our industry colleagues right now, but it will help them rebuild their lives further down the line.
So, the question is, how do we suddenly create demand for these language combinations overnight? It may seem illogical given the fact that many Ukrainian businesses have been destroyed in less than a fortnight, but it’s far from impossible. With thousands of refugees flooding into Europe in search of a safer, brighter future, demand for services in their mother tongue has far from disappeared, it has simply been relocated.
Endless ideas have been floated in recent days, although perhaps one of the most viable is the idea of encouraging global businesses to localize their content to Ukrainian. The ingenious concept, which was put forward by Dotterer in a recent post on LinkedIn, would serve as a means of directly supporting Ukrainian translators, as well as making the country’s refugees feel welcome in places thousands of miles from their homeland.
It goes without saying that there’s no easy solution to this current crisis, but by pulling together within the language community we can come up with effective ways to support our Ukrainian colleagues and ensure that they are able to continue building a brighter future and providing for their families.
If you’re a corporation or LSP that’s able to add Ukrainian to its portfolio or support the work of the country’s translators and interpreters, then you’re encouraged to use the #languagepledge hashtag followed by the language name (e.g., #ukrainian) to boost the visibility of these opportunities and keep service providers in business during these difficult times.
Beluga helps fast-moving companies to translate their digital content. With more than a decade of experience, professional linguists in all major markets, and the latest translation technology in use, Beluga is a stable partner of many of the most thriving enterprises in the technology sector. The business goal: To help fast-growing companies offer their international audiences an excellent and engaging user experience.