Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Translation Forum Russia 2010

It took me 30 hours on four airplanes to come back from Ekaterineburg in the Ural Mountains in Russia. Although I thought it was really fun to stand with one foot in Europe and one in Asia (photo) and make a wish, as the tradition requires, the real reason I went there was to participate in the Translation Forum Russia 2010.

It is no secret that I am a big fan of regional events, because they bring out the day-to-day issues that local companies and freelancers face and how they try to cope with them.

The event attracted approximately 350 participants who attended sessions in five tracks. The international speakers were Jost Zetzsche from International Writers; Doug Lawrence from Amicus Transtec; Miriam Lee, the vice-president of FIT, Nick Nugent from the BBC, and myself. All plenary sessions were interpreted simultaneously by volunteer interpreters, and each one of the international speakers was assigned an individual interpreter to accompany us to the sessions in Russian that we wished to attend. A very thoughtful offer. In fact, the organization was impeccable in all aspects, and the venue very appropriate for the size of the event.

In the hallways and in the sessions, I heard the common words and phrases that I hear everywhere in the world:
  • Translators need more respect.
  • We need to rally against machine translation.
  • Tools are too expensive.
  • "You don't understand, here in [fill in name of country] it is different"
  • Our universities don't train translators for the realities of the market.
Coming from the outside, my observations were:
  • All translators are also interpreters.
  • There are a lot of language combinations available, that I would not have thought of right away. In fact, I spoke more Spanish and Italian in Russia than I probably do in Europe. My assigned interpreter, Svetlana, was fluent in Portuguese, a language that she picked up by herself. I met translators of Russian-Chinese, Russian-Japanese, Russian-Korean, and many European languages.
  • There is no telephone interpretation service in Russia yet.
  • A significant number of translators and interpreters are employed by local and international companies, especially in the oil and gas industry and also in manufacturing.
  • Russia is really big! Some people traveled 25 hours by train, and others 16 hours by plane just to get to the location of the event.
The organizers, Demid Tishin from All Correct Language Solutions in Samara and Elena Kislova of the Business Bureau of the Association of Interpreters deserve all the recognition for putting together a great event. I just hope they invite me back next year!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010