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Lize Spies aka Lady Vernacular joins Folio

Lize Spies

Nowadays, young adults are pressured to know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives. But the reality is they rarely do. I’m the exception. Remember those origami friendship notes you used to pass on in class? When I started correcting my friends’ grammar in these notes, in Grade 5, with a red pen, I knew that languages had chosen me.

Swartland High School

At school, my enthusiasm for languages – especially Afrikaans, my mother tongue – really blossomed. Both in my mother’s Afrikaans class and outside the classroom on many eisteddfod and public-speaking stages.

Stellenbosch University

After school, I couldn’t wait to follow in the footsteps of my aunt, also a language practitioner. I was fortunate to study at Stellenbosch University with its excellent lecturers and vast resources in the field of translation and editing, and obtained a BA in Humanities and a Postgraduate Diploma in Translation. It was during the course of my studies that I learned the finer nuances of language, translation and editing. I prefer the Afrikaans word “taalversorging” because it describes exactly what we do – we “look after”, “care for” and “nurture” language in a world full of devil-may-care language users. After graduating, I started my career in the language department of a stakeholder communications company specialising in financial and integrated reports for public and listed companies. It is an interesting, dynamic and complex industry; however, something was missing. At first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until I realised: It lacked a human element; knowing that my work had an actual impact on others. 

And that is one of the main reasons why I’m so excited to be part of the Folio team and to be managing Folio InterTel. Our instant telephonic interpreting service breaks through the language barrier so that patients can communicate effectively with medical professionals. At the touch of a button, non-English speakers have access to skilled medical interpreters in 39 languages – a service that not only streamlines cross-cultural communication, but also saves lives.

And that’s my story! For the first time I’m feeling fulfilled as a language practitioner. It’s wonderful coming to work every day and knowing that the work we do and the services we offer have tangible, positive effects on people’s lives.

  herman.botha@foliotranslations.com botha   Sep 13, 2019   News, What's New   0 Comment Read More

Meet our new intern: Anneke Luijk

Like lots of teenagers, my future seemed unclear when I was in high school. Yet, since grade three I have developed a passion for writing. It all started with my grade three teacher complementing me on my creative writing. Since then I have always enjoyed working with languages. I enjoy the playfulness and unpredictability of language. In high school I wrote a lot of short stories. I participated in a few writing competitions and even won one of them. As a journalist for my high school newspaper I gained more experience in writing and editing. Because of my love for languages I knew I would do a BA in language and culture, but apart from that I was still uncertain about a lot of things. I wondered about what career I would follow, how I would be able to incorporate languages in a job, and whether I would be able to earn enough money. Still, I went to Stellenbosch and started my journey in languages, waiting on the Lord to lead me in the right direction.

When we started a module in translation and editing in my second year, I thought it would be a few boring months. Little did I know that translation and editing are anything but boring! We learned about the different approaches to translation, the different roles a translator must play and what to look out for when translating. This was unexpectedly exciting to me and I wanted to know more. When I learned that our university offers an honours degree in translation, I knew what I wanted to do.

Now that my first semester of honours in translation is done, I am well on my way to becoming a professional translator. Yet, the last few months were tough. A translator’s job is filled with obstacles and we have learnt many different approaches we can use to overcome them. Although I am already half-way through my studies I know that I still have a lot to learn. To me one of the most important skills a translator must have is learning from experts’ criticism. Trying to stay positive while a lecturer or another student criticises your translation is difficult but very rewarding, since this helps you to grow and develop.

I am very honoured to study at Stellenbosch University, because our lecturers are experts in the field of translation and editing. They also provide us with some of the best resources for translators and editors. I am really looking forward to the EST Congress 2019 which will be held in September at my very own university. The fact that our lecturers made this possible shows me how privileged I am to study here.

Even though my studies may be finished at the end of this year, I know that I will continue to grow as a translator and editor. I hope to work with texts that include lots of graphics, like advertisements, posters or pamphlets. The reason for this is that I enjoy incorporating my love for art and design in my job as a translator or an editor. Aside from this I would also need to learn what the working environment of a translator is like. This is why I decided to do an internship at Folio. I hope that this experience will help me to grow as a translator and teach me about the other responsibilities in a corporate environment.

  herman.botha@foliotranslations.com botha   Jun 11, 2019   News, What's New   0 Comment Read More

Of bots, bräuhauses and AI: GALA conference 2019

GALA conferences are intense. And the GALA Conference in Munich held from 24 to 27 March 2019 was no different. Whether it be the chock-a-block conference programme, filled with hugely enlightening sessions, networking with like-minded people during breaks, making new friends and laughing with old ones, or staying up until the wee hours contemplating the industry over Reinheitsgebot beer, you always leave with the realisation that you were part of an educational experience like no other. GALA conferences always have one objective in mind ─ creating a space to share ideas, advice and lessons from experts in the field. All to the benefit of the industry as a whole and the attending individuals and companies in particular.

This year’s theme, “The Changing Role of the Human Being in an AI-driven Language Service Industry”, addressed the biggest question in our working lives, namely how can we prepare for the impending onslaught of the machines? To put it bluntly, “How can I make sure that I’ll still have a job tomorrow?”. Although this question has certainly been asked at previous GALA conferences, delegates at this year’s conference had a much greater sense of urgency to have this question answered. And answered in a way that cuts through much of the haziness that we sometimes feel when speaking about AI.

So what are the main things I took away from the Munich conference besides the keynote speaker’s fascinating talk about the hundreds of daily online contracts we enter into without a second thought (all of those lightning Yes-clicks to cookies, terms and conditions, etc.).

  • I quickly realised there is a huge need to better understand what we are talking about when we discuss artificial intelligence, machine translation, machine learning, neural networks and natural language processing. Using these terms interchangeably (as attendees and sometimes even different speakers did) only adds to the confusion and seriously hampers the creation of a strategy for implementation and future-proofing your business.


  • It is no longer enough to just talk about implementation in the future, you’ll have to start swimming with the AI, machine and automation current sweeping across the industry. Either that or be swept away along with everyone who still clings to the idea that machines cannot influence the way they do their jobs. As one speaker put it, “How many of those LSPs who didn’t believe in CAT tools, terminology software or electronic quality assurance checkers are really still relevant today?”.


  • Video remote interpreting as a service is exploding and will only get bigger as people realise the tremendous impact it can have, both in giving access to interpreters around the world and as aid tools for hard-to-reach communities. AI is also having an impact here, as things like vendor selection and technology to enhance quality in the booth are beginning to play a role.


  • AI and automation are revolutionising sales: customer or potential client research, sifting through an overwhelming amount of data and saving time by automation of certain tasks. Having said this, sales departments will have to find a way to use AI and data processing machines to their advantage, without ever losing sight of the end client’s needs. As technology become smarter, preserving the human element becomes harder. But being customer-conscious is often the driving force behind growth so it is non-negotiable.

The 4th Industrial Revolution is here and these are exciting times. With the human aspect featuring equally in discussions on AI, machine learning and neural networks at GALA Munich, there shouldn’t really be any doubt that humans will remain crucial in the shake-ups we are facing in our industry. But, as with any technological change, people have to realise that adaptation is key. Yes, a lot of the current roles, job descriptions and responsibilities will fall away completely as they are replaced with machines. Yet just as many new ones can be created if people and companies are willing to shed their old skins and embrace the endless possibilities of AI, automation and machine translation in the language service industry.

  herman.botha@foliotranslations.com botha   Apr 05, 2019   News, Technology, What's New   0 Comment Read More

Bag jets off to Jo’burg!

Despite being a globetrotter of note*, Bag was slightly nervous about the prospect of flying to the SATI Triennial Conference after reading a story in the news about bees nesting in a Mango plane’s engine, but a cursory glance before entering the plane allayed his fears.

Upon arrival in Johannesburg, Bag duly checked into his hotel at the Emperors Palace and had a good night’s rest in preparation for the conference, which was auspiciously titled “Into the future! Changes and challenges for the language practice profession”.

The next two days Bag learnt all about buzz terms like AI, NMT (neural machine translation), human parity, post-editors and cultural ambassadors, and rubbed shoulders with big names in the translation industry such as FIT President (and master rhymer) Kevin Quirk and dynamic keynote speaker and passionate Kiwi, Henry Líu.

Bag also had a virtual glimpse into the engine room of Chris Wendt, Microsoft’s Group Program Manager for Machine Translation Development, who held a remote presentation from his office in Redmond, Washington. Translator adaptability was the underlying theme of the conference, and if Bag had to give a summary of all the discussions, it would read something like the following: the rise of The Machine doesn’t imply the death of The Translator, but translators who don’t arm themselves with machines are doomed.

On the networking front, Bag enjoyed meeting old friends and potential new ones from the different realms of the translation industry.

The well-organised event was aptly rounded off with the SATI awards ceremony, honouring some of the unsung heroes of translation and – not to be forgotten – lexicography. Whilst on the topic of dictionaries, Bag would like to extend a warm word of thanks to the Department of Arts and Culture’s National Language Services for gratuitously handing out an array of specialised and very rare Afrikaans dictionaries, an offer which Bag gleefully grabbed with both handles.

I think it is safe to say Bag will be back for the next SATI Triennial Conference in 2021.

*Be sure to visit Bag’s gallery.


  herman.botha@foliotranslations.com botha   Oct 12, 2018   What's New   0 Comment Read More