Mar 8, 2017

Countdown to IAPTI 2017 in Buenos Aires, April 22-23

This year shot itself out of a cannon in early January, and the trajectory promises to be a long one, allowing little time for frivolity and the usual conferences, as much as I might like to drop in on some. But there are two I would rather not miss. This one and METM2017 in late October.

Given some recent, loud public controversy regarding the organizational status of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters, some might wonder that I am attending or even continuing my association with the group. But living in the somewhat magical Latin reality of Portugal myself, I had an instinct that the complications of final registration of the organization by the Argentine authorities might in fact be just another version of the oddities I sometimes experience in my own world, and the recent completion of that process showed that I was right.

In an age where too many of the "professional" translators' associations have turned themselves into amateur whores for corporate interests and the machine pseudo-translation lobby, it is refreshing to see the few groups like IAPTI, the German BDUE and MET who focus on and promote the professionalism of individual practitioners from a strong ethical foundation. Not always with perfect pitch, but it seems the ATA and ITI barely know the music and words to that tune any more, alas.

This year's program in Buenos Aires offers three parallel tracks, dense with professionally valid, valuable presentations for individual translators and interpreters at the top of their game or aspiring to be. This is not your ProZ wannabe event; it is serious business for serious professionals who are serious about the services they provide and who aspire to ever better practice in an often tumultuous international environment. And you can be sure that the corporate shills won't get past the door.

I'll be doing two talks myself at the event, one on terminology, another on collaboration with memoQ as a central resource. But given the promising talks scheduled, I am tempted to skip my own and sit in on the other sessions. Check out the event's professional rogues' gallery and you'll see why.

As for those rumors that the real reason I am going to IAPTI2017 is to play hookey and hit the bookstores, well... uh... no comment. I have a few days on the tail end for that, as I hear there are a lot of them.

The early bird rates for registration run until March 10th, but now or later, the event is an investment worth consideration. See you there?


  1. I, like you, have vast knowledge of the difficulties and chicanery with which all bureaucracies, but certain Latin bureaucracies in particular, seem to be fraught and also know the kind of exceptional human and professional pedigree from which IAPTI springs, so I have never lost faith that the organization would eventually (and stubbornly) find its way through the legal maze to full official recognition--which it now has. Encouraging to see I'm in such good company. See you in Buenos Aires, Kevin!

  2. I beg to disagree Kevin. What the recent completion of the registration process showed is that it took the resignations of several members of staff and the whistle to be blown on the whole situation for the organisation to finally push for their legal registration, a mere 7-8 years since they filed the registration papers. Look how fast that happened! Bureaucracy? Where?

  3. While the legal status of IAPTI was an important issue, it was far from being the be-all and end-all issue. It was one of many.
    IAPTI remains unaccountable for the way it has operation over the past 7 years, i.e. the time period between its foundation and until it magically managed to complete in mere 3 months (since the resignation of a group of staff members) what it wasn't able to do in the 7 years prior.
    The alleged newly acquired legal status (by the way, under what name IAPTI was finally registered? Is it registered as an international association or a domestic one? Were the super-secret version of the by-laws, the one that should now be in force in lieu of the non-binding version on of by-laws that is/was histrionically published on IAPTI's website provided to the members? To mention a few questions members should ask themselves) does not alleviate the concerns about the lack of checks and balances resulting in a lack of operational transparency, accountability, and the complete lack of a democratic process -- all of which are alleged pillars of the image IAPTI carefully projected outwards, while its internal operation was at complete odds with that.
    None of these core issues had/have much to do with the bureaucracy allegedly impeding the completion of the application process.

    A legal status is nice, but has anything changed? Do members know what was done with their money and how decisions were made over the past 7 years? Are minutes and records from those past 7 years (and moving forward) are now available to the members? These are among the key operative questions members need to ask themselves and IAPTI.
    With addressing those issues, the legal status is a mere cosmetic change.

  4. No comments?

    Nobody is willing to defend IAPTI's honesty?

    Donald Trump never lacks defenders, no matter what he does, or does not do (because he always means well according to his defenders).

    But in any case, I am glad that you are going, Kevin, and I hope you will write a post about the conference when you come back, since I will not be able to do it myself.

    1. My schedule since returning from Argentina has not been conducive to writing a summary of the conference so far, though I hope to find time next week during my holiday. On the whole, it was a good event with a lot of pleasant surprises, one of which involved walking into the wrong room to a talk I had no intention of visiting and finding that it was in fact the best one of the weekend for me. On the following Monday at the staff meeting my mind was more than a little blown as I saw that not only were the complications of final association approval described true, but they were actually more bizarre than prior discussions had led me to believe. "What's in a name?" you might ask. You wouldn't believe the bizarre, but true answer, plainly documented in all its twists and turns. That's the magical reality of some Latin countries for you. In any case, despite all the past misunderstandings, what we have here is a case of good people managing as best they can in a strange regulatory environment where even the government rulemakers apparently don't understand all the rules.

  5. Shai, Diana et alia, I did not take a side in that particular matter, nor will I do so now for several reasons. First of all, the personal and professional respect I have for people - friends and colleagues - on both sides of the controversy is beyond easy measure, and this compels be to question all of it very carefully and ask myself what I can really know with certainty. My answer is "not much". Some of that may be a reflection of how little time I have had to consider the matters, but there are many times in my life when I have seen intelligent, honest people examine the same material facts and derive very different conclusions. My experiences in Portugal have also given me a great skepticism with regard to most official processes. Here it was considered proper to summon and interrogate me for hours on charges of stabbing someone with a knife - a violent drug addict with a long history of knife use and other violence who was in fact completely free of knife wounds and had no mediocal evidence whatsoever to justify legal charges, which were nonetheless pursued. There were other charges involving a walk with my dog on a public road which was somehow construed to be trespassing on private property. I observed the final days of a trial from a ten year long investigation and prosecution of physician of the highest rank in the country who was charged with malicious, criminal harm to a patient somehow inflicted during a five-day period when she was not at work. I have seen local corruption, where a major drug smuggler and dealer in blood diamonds has maintained a stranglehold on local industrial development to keep wages suppressed and competition at double arms's length. Simple processes of moving a bank account or registering a business in a new city take months and need to be re-done multiple times in unbelievably Kafkaesque procedures. The simple process of terminating an employee involves months of legal work, company audits and worse. Believe anything in such a bizarre environment where government at the municipal, district, state and national level is for sale to the highest bidder or subject to whims and affections for some other man's wife or sheep. It's not that long ago that the Argentine government offered free helicopter rides and deep-sea diving excursions to people it took a dislike to, and today the economy is in a bizarre shambles, and even paying the artist who does my book covers his very modest fee is difficult because of all the government bullshit. Government in Latin countries on several continents too often has a long way to go before it achieves reasonable efficiency, transparency and order. It's hard to imagine the chaos when you come from a world where the inefficiency and corruption wear a different face, so I am not ready to draw any conclusions or make judgments in matters of the associations internal controversies.

    I do know, however, that both sides of this draw fire from bad-acting bogsters who continue to undermine the language service professions around the world. I do know that both sides take a strong, honest stand again thepigturds of the world and try to do so analytically and objectively no matter how high emotions may run concurrently. So even when there is this strong disagreement amiong my friends and colleagues I respect, I wilol stand with all of you against the real abusers and I will see you all as natural allies no matter what differences - real or misunderstood - may persist.

    1. Jeepers. This demonstration of my typing skills probably makes it clear why I use speech recognition and am desperate to find the little wipe packets for cleaning eyeglasses. I'm off now to a Portuguese lesson where I'll ask for special lessons in cuss words to tell my bank manager how little respect I have for his system which was incapable of noting my change of business address despite three submissions of the relevant certifications, which I bloody well have to pay unbelievable sums for even if I move next door. The people and the culture are the best, but really, the government processes and those responsible for them and many of the business structures should be weighted down with stones and sent to the bottom of the ocean.


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