Jun 25, 2018

IAPTI Brings the Translation Revolution to Spain on September 28-30, 2018!

The infamous Renato Beninatto once referred to them as the Taliban of the language services world because of their ardent refusal to endorse the worst practices in translation and interpreting with which unscrupulous people hope to transform those professions into an "industry" to grind out ever cheaper and less palatable linguistic sausage. Thus the term LSP ("Linguistic Sausage Purveyor") which the bottom-dwellers of the bulk market bog so proudly embrace and claim as their own.
I mean, what else can you say about an organization that counts Noam Chomsky as one of its honored and honorary members? The stated mission and objectives of the International Association of Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI) seem to many to be beyond the scope of your usual professional organization in the language sector. If its members were all black, I suppose the term uppity would be applied often in some corporate and political power centers. Like all of us, they do sometimes fall short of their lofty goals, but as one angel commented when God cheated and pulled back Faust's immortal soul from its deserved descent into Eternal Fire,

I wasn't quite sure what to make of IAPTI in its early days; the mention of its name tended to cause excess, foamy salivation among the more staunchly neoliberal of my professional acquaintances; the concepts of international solidarity and fairness seemed so out of place in the world I knew, where the BDÜ kept a sharp eye out for cross-border incursions from colleagues in France or Poland. There was an unsettling whiff of Marxist flatulence in the air at times, though I knew a number of the organization's most active members and they seemed like reasonable, personable sorts, though they did exhibit a disturbing lack of faith in the force majeure of the large international organizations who, reminiscent of a mafia extending its influence in the neighborhood, are increasingly taking the place of smaller translation firms who know and serve their local markets or specialized clientele well.

And—Heaven forefend!—they allow no corporate membership nor are they open to the influence, much less the control of interests promoting the reduction of professional work to the unergonomic slavery of corporate post-editing of machine pseudo-translation (PEMpT) unlike, for example, the American Translators Association which seems rather eager to bend (over) their planning to accommodate conference schedules with such interests. 

On September 29-30, 2018 IAPTI will hold its international language services conference in Europe once again, in the beautiful city of Valencia, Spain. A fitting venue, I think, in a country with a long history of struggle over basic questions of decency, dignity and centralization versus local control, questions which, as recent events in Catalonia have shown us, remain to be resolved.

I attended an IAPTI conference for the first time four years ago against the violent (!) opposition of some, and I was surprised to find that even the most "radical" of its members were actually rather sober folk who took the time to research important questions carefully and who believed that the complicated effort to find a fair balance for all parties involved with language services—translators, interpreters, facilitators and service consumers—is worthwhile. I joined, and from time to time I contribute my voice to the internal democratic debate on how best to serve a very diverse international community of colleagues and help them carry out their personal and professional missions in a better way.

So this year, once again, I will be one of a number presenting ideas for how to traverse our professional and political landscape in a secure, competent and ethical way. I'll be giving a fairly dry talk on reference management, teamwork and quality assurance in legal and financial translation—nerdy, sleep-inducing technical stuff for which attendees can leave their pitchforks at home—but there will be plenty for those who prefer verbal caffeine in the many other presentations from the many excellent speakers at this year's event.

IAPTI 2018 conference logo and link
Click the conference logo to go to IAPTI's conference information and registration site!

We’ll be celebrating International Translation Day together with talk on a range of relevant practical matters in translation and interpretation while exploring some of the profession’s hot topics and most urgent ethical questions.

On the Friday September 28 before the conference there are also some free workshops in English and Spanish for early registrants.

The literary translator Emily Wilson will be there as keynote speaker give us her perspective as the first woman to translate Homer's Odyssey into English. (It's a brilliant work - I'm reading it!) 

The author of the well-respected “red book” of medical terminology and cofounder of Cosnautas, Fernando Navarro, will be giving a workshop and a presentation in Spanish. 

And veteran linguistics sage David Crystal will also pay a virtual visit to share his latest thoughts.

I hope to see you at the Valencia conference and maybe share a taste of my sweet olives, a Greek delight reborn as a Portuguese culinary specialty. Have a look at what's ahead: https://www.iapti.org/SPconference/


  1. I think the questionable element that was seen as Taliban-like came from some in the leadership whose opinion, however uninformed or unfounded, ruled over rationality.

  2. Oh yeah, I had forgotten about those IATIP taliban. I didn't call them taliban for the reasons that you state, but for their willfully and egregiously uninformed positions regarding even the most basic of real-world economic principles.

    I never thought they would recover from the mass resignation of their Ethics Committee (https://anmerkungen-des-uebersetzers.com/2016/11/01/resigning-iapti/), but if that is case, congratulations!

    Let me know if you need a good keynote speaker for 2019.

    Renato Beninatto

  3. Based on my own interactions with some of the IAPTI leadership, some time ago, I can hardly fault Renato for what he may have said. In fact, the resignation of several members of the Ethics Committee might be a clue that things were not all quite rosy and clean and wonderful at camp IAPTI See: Why we are resigning from IAPTI https://anmerkungen-des-uebersetzers.com/2016/11/01/resigning-iapti/

    1. That was an argument I stayed out of, because I have great respect for those on both sides of it, and I could not legitimately form an opinion on some of the issues without seeing the evidence. While I was in Buenos Aires last year I did in fact see the original documents from the long, nightmarish, tangled trail of paperwork for the much-delayed official recognition of the organization in Argentina. As implausible as it may sound, the side which remains in the organization was actually telling the truth, and the mess on the part of the government was even bigger than I saw in the arguments at the time those were current. I hope that at some point both sides can cool off and reconcile, because based on my current state of knowledge, I would say that many of the points are in fact resolved in a documented manner and the remaining ones can be worked out by people of good will who continue to share many goals in common for the defense of professionals and end clients.

  4. The more things change, the more they remain the same :-) http://traductor-financiero.blogspot.com/2011/09/proz-taus-great-translation-debate-not.html

    1. I wonder who that Tom dude he refers to that was that was allegedly me in disguise? I think might have been Tom in Bangkok? I always said what I thought on Miguel's blog, he did not ever censor comments like some did even if he disagreed with the opinion.

    2. Actually on closer reading I would bet with great certainty that the comment was made by DW himself

  5. Thanks, Kevin, for reminding me of the great blog by the late Miguel Llorens. I used to be a frequent target of his comments, but it was mostly due to the fact that we didn't know each other. In fact, once we had the chance to meet in person, our views of each other changed a little. The post that you link to refers to an online conference that Proz organized. I haven't talked to Kirti in a few years and I guess I should correct that, because he is a great thinker and his blog (http://kv-emptypages.blogspot.com/) is one of the best long form forums in the language services industry.

    But I would urge you to re-read the post "My dinner with Renato" by the same Miguel Llorens (http://traductor-financiero.blogspot.com/2012/05/my-dinner-with-renato.html), which is a lot more interesting and well informed than the one that you quote.

    As for IAPTI, I wish them luck and success, irrespective of their incongruent behavior. When I was responsible for vendor management at a very big Sausage Purveyor, as you call them, I sought to sponsor your event and even exhibit at it. Large translation companies are always looking for the best professionals in the market for all specialties, and contrary to what you state, are willing to pay premium prices for premium services. Unfortunately we were rejected, unlike SDL, which was welcome with open arms because they sell technology (I know, fuzzy matches are fair, post-editing is unfair, I know).

    I will check my calendar and if there are no conflicts, I might even accept your invitation and show up in Valencia. Maybe I can find good translators for my book.

    1. Hey Renato, sorry it took so long to find and publish your comment. As I just noted elsewhere, I think I went overboard with my spam filters or something, or the Google response to GDPR killed my comment notifications. (I recently got am e-mail from Google asking if I wanted to continue receiving notices for my own blogs, which I found very strange.)

      Kirti is fun to talk to; I'll never forget a fun evening I had years ago messaging with him about music. As I remember it, I mentioned several genres I disliked and he pulled songs from each genre out of his magic hat that made me re-think that. It was a delightful, mind-opening experience.

      I remember the "My dinner with Andre"... uh, Renato... post you mentioned. It was a good one. You are lucky to have met Miguel; I had looked forward to doing so for years, and mere days before we were supposed to get together for a debate on MpT in Warsaw I heard the news that his mother had just brought his ashes back to Venezuela. A very hard memory of a man whose voice is sorely missed.

      I think you are mistaken with regard to IAPTI and SDL. SDL is - as far as I recall - consistently rejected as a sponsor because of the LSP side of their business. Tool providers such as Wordfast or Kilgray/memoQ are accepted because they do not have a component of their business which directly competes with individuals who provide services. I think the organization is trying to avoid the sort of crippling conflicts of interest one find, for example with the ATA.

      You or anyone else are always welcome to attend these events as individuals for whatever purpose, and I think that would be a good thing and an opportunity for people from all sides of some important questions (like this new decision from the California Supreme Court) to exchange views.


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