A Meeting of the Minds . . .

. . . in person! (I had to add “in person,” because as translators and editors, we’re always working towards a meeting of the minds. Sometimes we’re downright telepathic!)

The meeting is #ATA55, the 55th annual conference of the American Translators Association, this year in Chicago. And the meeting within a meeting is Brainstorm Networking, a brand new event masterminded by ATA president-elect David Rumsey and organized by ATA’s Business Practices Education Committee.

BN ad on ATA site
The gist of the event is that participants gather around café tables (standing tables that accommodate six), introduce themselves briefly and exchange business cards, then select a question from the appropriate envelope and discuss possible solutions. There are five questions in each envelope (one envelope per round), so there should be something for everyone. After ten minutes, a chime sounds and everyone has a minute or two to move to a different table, the idea being to meet five new people in each of the four rounds.

There’s no quiz at the end, no reporting of findings. I don’t know if there are any “right” answers, but participants may find that some answers are better than others. That’s the point of the discussion. The questions are business related, not specific to any particular language pair or specialization, and generalizable to variety of situations. They cover client relations, working with colleagues, negotiating rates, subcontracting, interpreting booth etiquette, job conflicts . . .

Here are a few examples:

Scenario 3: Momo has his translations edited by Kemal before delivering them to the client. Regardless of Kemal’s payment terms, Momo should wait for payment from the client before paying Kemal’s invoice. True or False?
Scenario 8: Boryanna is a well-trained and experienced Bulgarian translator. She has no interpreting experience, although she has taken several interpreter training courses. Boryanna receives a call from a local agency needing a Bulgarian interpreter for a patient at a nearby hospital. Boryanna turns down the job, citing her lack of interpreting experience, but the PM insists that she take the job — there are no other Bulgarian linguists in the area. What should Boryanna do?
> Is it ethical for Boryanna to take the assignment?
> What if the assignment instead is to interpret a business presentation?
Scenario 13: Vladimir’s assignment is to translate some marketing materials into Russian. He translates the materials, keeping close to the original in general, but taking a more creative approach when necessary. When Vladimir calls the client to follow up, the client reveals that he was unhappy with the translation. The client sends him a copy of the reworked translation: it is an unidiomatic, word-for-word translation. What should Vladimir do?
> What if the client reveals that he personally rewrote the translation?
> What if the reworked translation is uninspired, but passable?

Lots of food for thought here, and fodder for discussion. And although this session is only an hour long, you can continue the conversation at the Business Practices Happy Hour taking place immediately afterwards. And you can participate in discussions like this year-round, and get answers to your own dilemmas, on the Business Practices List, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ata_business_practices/info. (Note, you must be an ATA member to join, and you must give your full name when applying.)

I’m in countdown mode now — only 48 hours or so until I run out to vote and then head to the airport. I’m looking forward to meeting clients and colleages and colleagues-turned-friends as well as members of the fantastic ATA staff (and staff-members-turned-friends) in Chicago! In person!


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