ON ETHICS AND THE GENERAL MEETING

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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HAPPY HOURS GOING STRONG

Happy Hour People
Happy Hour People.

BY ANA DE MORAES

The weather in the Bay Area has been unusually unsettled this year; until recently it seemed that we were all living through a never-ending winter. On May 23rd, however, we were blessed with a beautiful, sunny and warm day, the kind of day we needed to get out of our houses and enjoy the outdoors.

That’s what we did during one more Happy Hour gathering at Mijita’s Restaurant in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. This very casual restaurant has been the chosen spot for a number of meetings now. The Ferry Building itself offers a lot in terms of restaurants and interesting shops, not to mention the wonderful setting, both inside and outside, where the view is spectacular, with the Bay Bridge as background. → continue reading

FACING EVOLVING INDUSTRY DEMANDS

Customized service leads to success for language service providers. BY DEANA SMALLEY

The first General Meeting of 2011 took place on Saturday, February 12 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the San Francisco State University Downtown Campus. Outgoing President Tuomas Kostiainen presided.

Thirty-four people attended, and six newcomers introduced themselves: Eric Rea (Spanish), Elena Ow-Wing (Russian), Hsiao-Ming “Sheree” Wu (Mandarin), Leonor Delgado (Spanish), Kamel Khailia (Arabic), and Miriam Barraza (Spanish). → continue reading

NCTA MEMBERS IN PRINT

BY STEVE GOLDSTEIN

Congratulations are in order for Alison Anderson and Sarah Llewellyn on the publication of their translation, from the French, of the recently released memoir of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, “Even Silence Has an End” (Penguin Press).

Alison, a long-time member of NCTA before her move to Switzerland in 2008, was the work’s principal translator, with Sarah, who is based in San Francisco and is currently NCTA’s Continuing Education Director, collaborating as second translator.

The book is a riveting account of Betancourt’s harrowing ordeal as a hostage of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), which kidnapped her in 2002 and held her in the most appalling conditions imaginable, deep in the Colombian jungle, for more than six years. The book is as much a tale of survival as it is a meditation on the meaning of life itself: fear and freedom, hope and what inspires it.

Within two days of its release, the highly-anticipated memoir reached Number 4 on the Amazon.com bestseller list and went on to achieve a top-10 ranking on the New York Times bestseller list (Hardcover Nonfiction). SG

THAT WAS THEN

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

BY MARIA LUISA BODEN AND TONY RODER—NCTA CLASS OF 1978

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

The Conference by the Bay

By Steve Goldstein, Editor

The 48th Annual ATA Conference
San Francisco
October 31 – November 3, 2007

“The convention seemed to capture the current wave of interest and enthusiasm that is rippling through the translator world, as most convention-goers seemed to sense that the tide is in the process of being turned—that it is perhaps not now unthinkable that our professional pride and prestige will soon take on greater and more justified proportions.”

Those words were written 29 years ago, by a young translator and writer; an emissary from the West Coast to the 19th Annual ATA Conference in New York, who had, just a few short months prior, been a part of the birth of his own local organization, the Northern California Translators Association, in San Francisco.

The President of NCTA at the time—a man who had taken that young translator under his wing in the nascent organization—had just been elected President of ATA as well, and was about to take office at the New York conference. This was an unheard-of and unprecedented occurrence—a West Coast president of what was at the time a largely East Coast organization. There was electricity in the air, and our young translator would get to write about it, in the unofficial conference coverage report. He would also bring back some of that momentum with him to San Francisco, where a small group of his colleagues was already at work building the foundation for what would in time become one of the national organization’s strongest local chapters.

Times have changed since 1978, of course. That NCTA and ATA President, Thomas Bauman, is sadly no longer with us to see some of the important changes that his work initiated and continued; changes at the national level, certainly, where our profession has indeed come a long way—although not without having continued obstacles to overcome. Today, ATA is of course no longer just a regional organization, but it’s not just a national one, either; today, it is a powerful international professional association of over 10,000 members around the world.

But changes have occurred at the local level, too. And nowhere, perhaps, has the example been more instructive than here in San Francisco. ATA has brought its annual conference back to the birthplace of its most active chapter several times in the past three decades, watching as NCTA continued its own robust growth, built as always on the infectious enthusiasm of dedicated and tireless local volunteers who believe in working together to strengthen their profession.

Today, that dedication continues, through NCTA’s active role as the host chapter of the just-concluded 48th Annual ATA Conference in our City by the Bay, and via this special Translorial supplement reporting on the event. In these pages, we look at the conference from a variety of perspectives that may not always be found in the standard, straight-ahead reporting of the conference, as that information is available elsewhere. It is, instead, a decidedly more human approach because, well … translators are people, too, and that always seems the more interesting viewpoint, doesn’t it?

All those who are reading these words owe a debt of gratitude to their NCTA colleagues who did double-duty at the conference: as regular attendees, trying to learn and network and grow their own careers and businesses, and as your reporters, to give you a taste of the conference that you might not have otherwise had the opportunity to savor. Without their dedication and sacrifice—including that of Oscar Arteta and the tireless Christopher Queen, who took our terrific photographs—this supplement wouldn’t have been possible, and so to them I say, Thank you!

Has the tide in fact turned for our profession, since twenty-nine years ago? Certainly. But there’s still more turning to do, and while our young translator from that bygone era is no longer so young, he’s still here—to keep learning, growing … and working, to help turn that tide.