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ITI Conference 2019 - was it worth the effort? (Tl:dr Yes!)

June 5, 2019

The biennial conference of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting took place on 10-11 May at the impressive Cutlers' Hall in Sheffield. 


Attending an event of this kind requires an outlay of time, motivation and money which could be used for other things, not to mention the military-level logistics exercise required to allow anyone with caring responsibilities to get away from home.  Is all that effort worthwhile? A resounding "Yes!" for ITIConf19.  Conference provides an intensive immersion in all the reasons why you joined ITI in the first place, whether you're a freelance language professional or an in-house staff translator or interpreter.  Here's a small flavour: for more, head over to the Conference website, where photos are now available ("Gallery" drop-down menu).




  Learn from the experts


Conference organisers were able to attract speakers at the top of their profession, giving attendees a rare opportunity to learn from them.


María José Garea is a translator/reviser for Spanish at the American Development Bank in Washington, currently researching for a PhD at the University of Vigo and spoke about revising, and how this is done at the Bank and other international organisations.  She has previously worked at the UN, Stanford Hospital and Clinics and the Translation Bureau of the Government of Canada.


Interesting to hear that our revising practice in-house is broadly comparable to the procedures described by María José, in terms of monitoring the work of in-house staff, although more hierarchical.  As elsewhere, the Bank is looking towards employing fewer staff linguists and working more with freelancers and using machine translation.  A system of tests is in place for selecting freelance applicants, followed by monitoring by the in-house revising staff.  Feedback is periodically given to regular freelancers to help their development.




See big names in the world of translation


Ros Schwartz is an acclaimed literary translator working from French - in 2009 she was awarded the Chevalier d’Honneur for her services to French literature.  Ros has been at the centre of the literary translation world for many years and involved in a number of translator training initiatives.  See the link above to her Wikipedia page for lists of the books she has translated, honours and prizes received and organisations served.




Do something different


I don't do interpreting, but I headed over to Jonathan Downie's talk "Can interpreters survive in an MT world?" to get an interpreter's perspective on machine translation (MT).  As a researcher Jonathan has spent time trying to discover what clients actually want.  Human interpreters, and face-to-face interpreting, won't be disappearing just yet, but will need to be agile and flexible in using technology while responding to clients' needs.  Jonathan has also written a book.



Meet people you've only met electronically


Here's Dean Evans (centre) at the welcome event at the Bungalows and Bears bar.  It was a pleasure to meet Dean, who works with my colleagues in our German Department, for the first time.  Interacting remotely is never quite the same, and it's great to meet up in person with translators with whom, in some cases, we have worked for years without ever coinciding in the same physical space!  Membership of ITI provides a forum for this kind of informal contact, which makes for productive working relationships.




Visit companies in the same area of work


John Venn & Sons are scrivener notaries, that is, lawyer-linguists working in the areas of translation, notarisation, and generally dealing with the documentary mismatch between legal and administrative systems internationally.  They are the experts in an area that to us forms only an ancillary part of our business, for example when filing intellectual property-related documents in certain countries.









Catch up with ex-colleagues and friends


With our ex-colleague Laura, now working at Bafin, the German financial regulator.  I look as if I am haranguing Laura about something, while Laura looks somewhat sceptical.  It's a great opportunity to discuss all things translation.












Consider volunteering


Here's TWB Ambassador Sue Fortescue. Sue is a freelance translator who gives up her time to promote Translators Without Borders, who use volunteer translators in their programme of worldwide humanitarian assistance.  Check out this really worthwhile cause - ITI members don't need to do a test to join.



Dine in style - ITI Conference Gala Dinner in the Main Hall, Cutlers' Hall, Sheffield




Conference Fringe


This year's fringe programme included the Singing Translators, a run, Sheffield city walking tour, welcome drinks and food at "Bungalows and Bears", "Japanese Saké Myths Debunked", Yoga, and a Peak District walk.










The Singing Translators perform at the closing ceremony















It was great to get out on the moors after Conference.

(photo A Hargreaves)











Huge thanks to all involved in organising a really great event.  Highly recommended - I can't wait for 2021!


Photography: Institute of Translation and Interpreting, by Mark Harvey except where stated.


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