Conferences, Translation

The FIT World Congress 2005

By Tuomas Kostiainen

Convened every three years, the FIT World Congress held its meeting this year in Tampere, Finland. Representing over 60,000 translators worldwide through over 100 member associations, the International Federation of Translators (FIT, has as its purpose to promote professionalism in the language disciplines it represents, and strives to defend translators’ rights.

Since I often spend my summers in Finland and had never attended an FIT congress, I decided to take advantage of this unique opportunity. The theme for the congress was “Rights On!,” and several of the presentations reflected this in some way by discussing issues such as copyrights and contracts, court interpreting, legal translations, literary translators’rights, and the proposed European translation standard, which seemed to be a very hot topic and was referred to in several presentations (for more info, see

Attendance was less than what I had expected from a World Congress. The number of presentations and participants (661 from 61 countries) was about half that of an average ATA conference. On the other hand, this made it easier to choose which presentations to attend since there were usually only about half a dozen simultaneous sessions. The program also revealed a couple of other interesting differences from an ATA conference. Whereas at an ATA event the job exchange, agency reps, and the sheer number of freelancers make for very marketing-oriented events, the FIT congress was more academic, and generally the presentations dealt with larger issues than how to write a nice CV or how to use Trados. Some of these subjects treated ethics, training, translation studies, assessment, intercultural communication, and – my favorite ?“the politics and power of literary translation.” Consequently, while I found the program more interesting because I had not previously been exposed to many of the issues, I came home with fewer practical ideas and tidbits of information than I usually get from an ATA conference.

As with many conferences, the most interesting activities often take place outside the meeting rooms, and this one was no exception. It was very interesting to meet other translators and linguists of various backgrounds truly from around the world. The next Congress will be held in Shanghai in 2008. I recommend it highly if you have an opportunity to go!