Hosted by the ATA and NCTA, the triennial conference for the International Federation of Translators provided insight and camaraderie for translators and translation companies alike. BY MARILYN LUONG
The world is getting smaller. We as translators (including interpreters and other language professionals) have facilitated this shrinkage. In the beginning of August this year, we have made the world yet a little smaller through gathering at the triennial conference of the International Federation of Translators (FIT). Held in San Francisco, the conference was hosted by the American Translators Association (ATA). As the host chapter, NCTA had a well-visited exhibit booth.
San Francisco is a venue for many translators conferences including the Association of Language Companies (ALC), the California Federation of Interpreters (CFI), and the ATA. So what makes FIT different? In my attendance, I found out.
We all fit in
FIT is international. Translators and translation companies go to conferences to connect, each part of a growing industry that is becoming more recognized. The FIT conference helps us see that this bigger industry is not specific to one country; rather it is global. It is in Europe; it is in Asia; it is in South America. China’s market share rivals that of the US. China sent over fifty delegates to the conference. Having traveled 10,000 kilometers, they came to share and learn.
Whether in one of the presentations or strolling the hallways of the conference center, I felt just how international this conference was. The world sent its best linguists, language researchers, and language industry professionals to this conference. In the exhibit hall, over lunch, and at dinner, I met people from many different countries. Forty-five total countries were represented from Argentina to Uruguay. Canada had forty representatives. I gained insight into the Canadian translation industry, which in turn, gave me more perspective on the US translation industry.
Even if from different countries, when translators get together, there is always much to share. In one workshop, experts on a panel compare and contrast Translation Quality Standards of the EU, of China, and of the US. In another Chinese translation case study session, Chinese translators from Taiwan, Singapore, mainland China, and the US put their heads together to produce the best translation. Yet another workshop was presented by a professor from Japan. She shared the frustrations of striving for quality court interpretation in Japan, and we in the US can relate, even if the courts are on the other side of the globe. The conference also had a number of US presenters. I recall one with standing room only. In this presentation, a local translation company shared their quality control system and standards, and fielded challenging questions from an audience that had come from all over the world. The international theme permeated the keynote speeches as well. From the US to the EU to the Far East, speakers gave us insights into the translation field in their region of the world.
Bridging the gap
Translation bridges gaps between fellow countrymen who speak different languages, and it also overcomes language barriers for those from different countries. The translation industry gained momentum with the explosion of world trade and exchanges; and, in recent years, the industry itself has not only helped to promote world trade; it is an example of world trade itself. Translation projects commissioned in one country are often completed in another. Draft translations completed in one country are often edited in another. The FIT conference provided a forum for translation world trade partners to meet.
Local conferences give us specific tips for our daily assignments; national conferences give us a chance to see friends from different parts of the country; and then there is the FIT gathering: a rare opportunity for people who live in different countries, and translate between different languages, to come together and share the language of translation. ML