ATA, Conferences


As it reaches a milestone in its history, the ATA returns to its birthplace, NYC, with a stronger commitment than ever to promote our profession. BY NINA BOGDAN & KAREN TKACZYK

The opening session of the 50th Annual ATA Conference

The opening session of the 50th Annual ATA Conference

Pavel Palazhchenko, Mikhail Gorbachev’s interpreter for many years, spoke to standing room only crowds at the ATA conference, and as I soaked in his words, admiring both his insightful perspective about the world of interpreting and translation as well as his wonderfully elegant English, I reflected also on the importance of this event. At the closing session of the conference, ATA President Nicholas Hartmann announced that ATA membership, as of now, numbers more than 11,000. In an interview that same day with Fox Business News, past president Jiri Stejskal stated that the profession of translator is just that—a profession (meaning, not a hobby or something one can take up after taking a Berlitz course) and that a proficient translator may well earn in the six figures.
In his presentation, Mr. Palazhchenko noted that even when he was studying language and translation (way back) in the 1970s, there was discussion of the idea that machines would eventually replace humans for translation and interpreting. With the year 2010 just around the corner, and with monumental advances in technology behind us, this idea can safely be laid to rest. As Jiri noted in his interview, there is a place for machine translation in this world but it can only exist as an adjunct to human interpreting and translation. The world of language translation indeed continues to evolve but in a way that indicates the need for more qualified language professionals, who are skilled in their craft and who will have an important part in the future of, among many other things, the global economy. NB

The ATA conference has always been as much about networking as it has training for me. This year the networking was non-stop, from breakfast till past midnight in the hotel’s Atrium Bar. There was even a very well-attended, therefore somewhat chaotic and very loud, first attempt at “speed networking.” I helped run that, and the lesson learned was that it was fun and well-received with room for improvement—literally. We need a room that can handle the volume of hundreds of excited translators trying to talk over each other!
On the training front though, the conference was full of great substance this year. For a patent translator there were a number of high quality sessions. I wasn’t able to attend them all, but consider: in language specific tracks there was at least one patent session for each in German, French, Japanese and Korean. There were also a session about making the move to patent translation, and another titled, “Anatomy of a Patent,” as well as one of the topic of Discovery in legal proceedings.This was a solid load of practical, specialized, subject-specific material, helpful to both aspiring and well-established patent translators.
Another session that I really enjoyed was “Terminology of Translation Boot Camp.” It was targeted to those without formal translation training, and this hands-on workshop was a great opportunity to hear clear explanations of terms that baffle us initially when we join the industry from the subject-matter expert end of the arena.
I also want to recommend the closing session, which many seem to dismiss. It has been entertaining for a few years now. This year seeing Jiri Stejskal’s Fox Business News interview alone was enough entertainment to make it worthwhile. KT