The Translator as a Sturdy Bridge, and More — the Translorial Fall 2017 Edition

Translorial Volume 39 no. 2

NCTA members can now enjoy the latest edition of the Translorial in print and downloadable PDF versions, covering a variety of topics.

If you are not an NCTA member, you can join here.


Table of contents of the Translorial Fall 2017 edition, Vol. 39, No. 2: → continue reading


Vice President Sonia Wichmann and President Paula Dieli present Connie Archea with the Volunteer of the Year award.

A first time attendee reflects on our collective, the assimilation of knowledge, and the benefits thereof. BY NOEMI GONZALEZ

On December 10, 2011, I attended my first General Meeting of NCTA. I left the conference a few hours and several discussions later with two lingering thoughts: First, the General Meeting is the perfect forum for the NCTA to reiterate the reason for its existence, la razón de su existencia, le raison d’être. The other was that the activities the organization undertakes to optimize its knowledge base, how it gathers and disseminates information, form a perfect blend of the Borg (of Star Trek—The Next Generation fame) and TQM (Total Quality Management) philosophies.

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Association business, literary translation & business pointers are all covered at the September GM. BY NORMA KAMINSKY

Margarita Millar and Anne Appel on literary translation

Margarita Millar and Anne Appel on literary translation

The Fall NCTA General Meeting was held on September 12 at The Center. First on the agenda was the approval of an amendment to the NCTA By-laws, Article 11, covering Voting and Elections. The text in bold was added to the existing article: “Each member in good standing shall be entitled to one vote cast either at General Meetings of the Association, cast electronically or sent by surface mail in the pre-addressed envelope attached to the Notice of the Annual General Meeting. The Board shall decide which of these methods shall be used for voting. Proxies shall not be recognized in any voting.”
This change means that members will now be able to cast their votes electronically in NCTA elections. Fewer resources will be used and our voting system will be more environmentally friendly.
The proposed amendment was approved by a vote of 22 to 0 with 0 abstentions.
After the vote, we had interesting and varied feature presentations. In the first part, two translators shared some of their experience and insights into literary translation. → continue reading


Two of our earliest members look back to the very beginnings of NCTA—and before.


Roots …

Back in the dark ages of 1978, many talented translators in Northern California toiled in isolation. There was no forum, no place to be heard, nowhere to share knowledge and resources, opportunities, encouragement, and friendship. ATA accreditation was out of reach unless you could afford traveling to the annual conference.

When I arrived in San Francisco in 1975 with my husband and a two-year old daughter who had moved nine times in her short life, I wanted to settle down and resume my freelance translation career. It looked like an uphill battle. What do you do when you don’t know anyone?

No local association meant no local seminars, no roster of colleagues, no built-in exposure to potential clients, and no standards and ethics committee … all the things we now take for granted. Networking was a slow process. There was little reaching out, you might be viewed as a competitor, and even the good translation companies were not in business to help you meet other potential clients. It was you and your typewriter!

I count myself very lucky to have stumbled almost immediately upon The Lanfranco Institute, which would later become one of NCTA’s first corporate members. This led to meeting Tom Bauman, then head of the translation department at Wells Fargo Bank, and ultimately to a good in-house job. At the ATA conference held at Stanford in 1976, Tom was the de facto representative of the Bay Area translator community, most of whose members did not know each other. The idea of starting a local association was gestated during those brief days of learning and networking together.

A colorful crowd of 60 to 70 people attended that first meeting at the Chinatown Holiday Inn on March 4, 1978 in an upbeat mood. Our motives were as varied as our circumstances. Not all the talk was positive behind the scenes. There were the altruists, the self-interested, the simply curious, and the defeatists who predicted failure. This last group was soon out of commission as of course the NCTA thrived thanks to generous and competent leadership. Among others, Hélène Riddle, Kelly Gray, Deolinda Adao, Greg Eichler, and Irene Vacchina were decisively instrumental as early Board members and language group coordinators. Steve Goldstein took on the crucial role of editor of Translorial, which glued the membership together from the start. Read about them in the first few issues now starting to be available at the website. MLB

… and branches

The Saturday March 4 entry in my 1978 appointment book reads: “2 PM-6 PM Thomas Bauman’s North. Calif. Xlator Assoc., Washington Room, Holiday Inn, Chinatown.” Thus it came to pass that I was present at the creation …

I recall a very dark green room and a modest attendance. I don’t recall what was said and vaguely recollect some of those who were present. I left thinking that it was a good idea, but not for me, only a part-time translator on occasional evenings. Which is why I did not get to sign the association’s charter. But having signed in at the meeting, I eventually received notice of upcoming meetings, one at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, and subsequent ones on weekend afternoons in a room at the Main Library.

George Kirby, who was president after the initial period, recruited me to the board of directors. When the library room became unavailable, Edith Fried, a founding member, offered the haven of her dining room for the board meetings. My appointment books provide only vague details for the 1980s, but I well remember the realization that we were laying the building blocks of a vigorous organization. We continued Translorial, we published a directory from a rudimentary database, we hired an administrator, we defined our responsibilities, and we organized events.

These events included the formal annual General Meetings, held at the University of California Extension, and my favorites, the Post-Christmas Christmas parties with their buffets of national dishes brought by the guests. These were traditionally held at Ines Sweeney’s house in Oakland, and later at our house in Palo Alto, with truly impressive turnouts. There was also a memorable (10th or 15th?) anniversary banquet in Chinatown, attended by the ATA president; and a party with entertainment held at the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco.

I served on the board for about 10 years that included two terms as president, during which time we became a chapter of ATA, evolved to adopt current technologies, and saw our membership grow from about 50 to about 500.

It is a tribute to the founders that their vision bore such fine fruits. TR

NABE Welcomes Translators

By Shayesteh Zarrabi

Volunteering for the ATA booth at the National Association for Bilingual Education conference brought with it a fresh look at the translation business. The exhibit hall of the NABE 2007 conference was all about innovation, culture, and networking, as well as teaching and learning. You could not stop by a booth without instantly getting a private ‘tutor’ to explain everything that that organization offered.

Publishers, school district representatives, teaching aid companies, language and academic institutions, and of course ATA created a vibrant atmosphere in McEnery Convention Center in San Jose. As a translator, you could see how nicely you would fit in to all activities. This notion worked in reverse, too, and was remarked upon by a number of conference participants and exhibitors. Whether they visited the ATA booth, or we went to them, they would relate that they were doing translations for years without realizing they could join an association, or were already using translation services for their companies, or were suddenly able to consult an online directory of translators and interpreters when they needed translation services.

At the ATA booth, next to ATA brochures and The Chronicle, NCTA materials proudly showcased the activeness of our association and called for participants for the November ATA conference in San Francisco. “It will be a dynamic conference with various activities,” I told a vendor of handmade comfortable clothing—perfect for home-office settings.

Needless to say it was thrilling for me and fellow NCTA-er Farah Arjang to get a chance to talk to Marian Greenfield, president of ATA. Listening to Marian sharing her life story in Spanish with a teacher from Spain is a memory to be cherished. All in a day’s work at NABE! 3

The February GM: Taxes, Awards, and Elections

By Raffaella Buschiazzo

A particularly eclectic lineup of events greeted attendees at the February General Meeting. From discussions of amendments to praise (and requests!) for volunteers to the appearance of a special guest—and these were not even our main subjects—the meeting provided information and inspiration to all.

The NCTA General Meeting that took place on February 10 at The Center was particularly rich in events and information. We also had a special guest attending, ATA President Marian Greenfield. NCTA President Tuomas Kostiainen opened the meeting at 1:45 pm with an announcement of the association’s upcoming events and workshops. He then called for volunteers, stressing the importance of their role in an association that currently counts over 600 corporate and individual members.

Because NCTA is the most active ATA chapter, with more workshops and events than any other, it needs more volunteers to help the board organize these activities. This year, NCTA will have an even busier slate of activities than usual because the ATA annual conference will be held in San Francisco from October 31 to November 3. As the local chapter we will provide ATA with our support in organizing what we are sure will be another great conference. This requires, though, even more volunteers to gather information in advance and to help with shifts at the NCTA table during the conference.

Tuomas and NCTA Vice President Yves Avérous continued the presentation by thanking a long list of volunteers whose contribution to the Association and Translorial was extremely important in 2006. Marian Greenfield underlined the importance of serving as a volunteer. She said that doing work for the association allows volunteers to receive a bit of well-deserved recognition. She is a good example herself, having been on the ATA board for 10 years and a freelancer since 2001. She said that the extent of her marketing is the Association.

Recognized members
NCTA gave awards to three members who distinguished themselves by their zeal and good work for the association: Barbara Guggemos received a lifetime honorary membership for her four years as Treasurer and several years as a very active volunteer; Brigitte Reich received a one-year honorary membership for her great contributions as Webmaster and her willingness to help out over the years; and Afaf Steiert was awarded Volunteer of the Year for her personal initiative in organizing a monthly NCTA lunch for all of 2006, and also received a one-year honorary membership.

The Board proposed an amendment to the NCTA bylaws which was approved by a majority of the audience (37 votes for and two votes against). The amendment will modify the length of the grace period, if a member’s dues are not paid, from three months to one. This will make it easier to administer our new membership system, which switches from a calender year to rolling renewals.

After the amendment discussion, the final vote count for the annual board election was ready, and Tuomas introduced newly elected board members Alison Dent (85 votes), Michael Schubert (109 votes), Raffaella Buschiazzo (118 votes), Yves Avérous (123 votes), and himself (131 votes). Afaf Steiert, the sixth candidate, got 53 votes. The five elected members will serve on the Board for two years.

Tax Presentation
The highlight of the meeting was a presentation on an excruciating topic: taxes. Elizabeth Shwiff, a CPA in the firm of Shwiff, Levy & Polo, LLP, has been in the public accounting business for over sixteen years. Now, as Senior Partner in the firm, she focuses mainly on the company’s business development aspects. Among her many talents, Elizabeth speaks fluent Russian and German. She has years of experience in due diligence and fraud investigation.

Elizabeth started her presentation by gathering some information from the audience. Along with information that our members provided in a pre-meeting survey, she was able to offer many practical examples of what translators can deduct on their tax returns (from gasoline to an office space in their home), how they can keep their books efficiently, and how they can be prepared in case they get audited.

She explaned how to do taxes in today’s environment, and how to deal with very complicated terminology. Elizabeth provided important tips such as keeping tax-related papers for three years and having a calendar on which to write down all expenses. After the meeting she stayed around to individually answer questions from members. Thanks to her enthusiasm, the presentation on this painful subject was extremely lively and full of humor. Thank you, Elizabeth!

Winners all around
Before concluding another successful general meeting, there was a drawing for a $150 gift certificate for services at Shwiff, Levy & Polo, LLP, won by Stacey Ramirez. We ended with a delicious buffet of refreshments, organized for the first time with the help of new member and new volunteer Paula Dieli, who is supporting me in this task.3