ATA Conference – San Diego – October 14-27, 2012 – Comments by Carlota Dalziel

My travel started on United Nations Day, October 24, a fitting day, I mused, for an interpreter to make the six-hour journey from Philadelphia to San Diego for the ATA’s 53rd Annual. I could have done without that 4 am early start, though. On the first of the two flights I was jolted out of my sleepy stupor when I heard a resolute “Carlota”! And, behold! there was colleague Tony Guerra greeting me from the distance. Sharing lunch with him later in the Phoenix connection was a welcome break in the long trip. Upon arrival in San Diego we were welcomed by deliciously balmy weather, and were soon checking in at our hotel after a short taxi ride.

The Hilton San Diego Bayfront was a beehive of activity, with a fair number of well known faces and plenty of new ones. There was excitement and expectation in the air, with over 1.800 attendees estimated to arrive for the event. Registration was brisk and efficient. The program of activities and sessions was mind boggling.  There were speakers from all over the world and the conference schedule offered sessions on every conceivable subject related to interpretation and translation. There was no way I could do it all. This I remedied by ordering the DVD-ROM on the full proceedings that the ATA put out.

The Welcome Reception was held at the Promenade Patio where the tables were set out on the lawn under a canopy of stars. The food selection was excellent and varied. Pasta and taco tables were two of the many choices. Attendees were also served tasty hors d’oeuvres and a well stocked bar effectively encouraged socializing. It cannot be denied that food is an all-important part of any event of this kind, and that laid out by the ATA at this conference was of superb quality, indeed. Everyone enjoyed the generous continental breakfast each morning. At the Spanish Division Open House, held at the Sapphire Ballroom of the hotel immediately after the opening reception, delectable desserts were offered to all members. Here I got a chance to reconnect with friends and acquaintances from past conferences and to meet a number of new people as well.

Interpreting Trauma is one of the sessions I found most sobering and informative. The speaker, Christiane Abel, addressed her audience with an account of her experience as an interpreter for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR. It was fascinating to learn how she coped with the deeply disturbing testimonies heard from survivors of the horrific genocide. We heard of the need to focus the mind and shut out emotion, and of how, surprisingly, the interpreter can after some time function purely technically and render a good interpretation. At the end of the session a couple of attendees in the audience who had interpreted in comparable situations shared their experiences.

A session which specially caught my interest was Consecutive 2.0 – New Technology for an Old Technique or “An Introduction to Sim-Consec” by Franz Poechkacker. The session reviewed technology-assisted interpreting and dedicated some time to the digital pen, a device that can be used either as an ordinary pen for taking notes during consecutive interpretation, or as a recorder that  allows the user to record, listen and interpret without depending on note taking. I found it a novel idea that might take some getting used to but could be extremely helpful. One does wonder, though, how protected confidentiality can be if an interpreter can walk away after an interpreting assignment keeping the information on his “pen”. This could become an issue in some settings. From what I understand there is no official restriction in any court.  Portability and precision are two of the advantages of the digital pen.

The day time sessions were followed by evening events. I attended a lively dinner organized by the Spanish Division at a San Diego restaurant.

On another evening the Interpreters Division had their celebratory dinner at the Sevilla Tapas Bar.  A DVTA board member, Maria Weir, was largely responsible for organizing the event , although she was unfortunately unable to attend. On that same evening I was invited to an event hosted by CETRA at the hotel. I went with Anne Connor, another DVTA Board member. Trying to avoid burning the candle at both ends, my intention was to stay just for a short while. However, the success of the event and the animated conversation with colleagues kept me up later than ever.

Two of the sessions I will not easily forget. The first was Gangs and Guns. Julie Rexwinkel gave us a very comprehensive and graphic description of the meanings of tattoos on prison inmates as well as information regarding gangs, segregation, guns and other weapons that are commonly used in state prisons systems. The second, Interpreting Slang and Taboo Language for the Courts, was certainly an eye-opener that gave me more terminology than I bargained for. Speaker Alfonso Villaseñor’s colorful vocabulary, and his expressive delivery, surely beats that of an English sailor! I am tempted now to look for opportunities to use some of it myself.

The Book Launch Celebration of Found in Translation, by Nataly Kelly, highlighted the importance of translation and interpretation in our world today and its impact on the every day life of those who practice it.

Understandably, super storm Sandy became a matter of some concern to many at the conference. As of day two the weather channel was frequently checked and calls made home to discuss the advisability of an earlier return home, under the likelihood of flights being canceled.

This 53rd ATA conference will possibly be remembered by many as the “Sandy Conference”, especially by those of us who returned home to power outages and flooding. However, the hurricane did not dim the success of an extraordinary program. Benefits from the many activities and information sessions were reaped by all. The exhibits were outstanding too, and I am now the happy owner of West’s latest legal dictionary and of Witness, the selected poems of Mario Benedetti, in its dual Spanish-English version. The poems were translated into English by Louise B. Popkin. Having the two languages side by side makes this book a stupendous way to appreciate how one adapts to the other and to quickly pick up colloquial expressions.

I look forward to San Antonio next year and sincerely hope that no weather event will interfere in our plans to stay an extra day or two and enjoy this lovely city.


DVTA Patent Seminar and Social Networking Event, by Carlota Dalziel


The November 12 DVTA seminar and annual meeting held at the Best Western Hotel in Philadelphia was both sucessful and well attended. The morning was informative presentation on the subject of patents, and the afternoon got fired up on the subject of health! Stephanie Cash gave us an excellent hour-long presentation on ” Subversive Activities for Linguists: A different approach to exercise” that really got us thinking -and worrying- about our sedentary life as translators, sitting at our computers all day, or as interpreters, crashing at the end of a long day, with any form of exercise as the last thing on our minds. Stephanie challenged us: “How about another approach? What matters most of all: getting up off of your big fat chair!” (Mea culpa!!) Stephanie encouraged us to become more health conscious, while at the same time having fun! A variety of different activities were suggested. These included walking, old-fashioned calisthenics, running, swimming, different forms of dancing (including ballet for adults: never too late!), to name a few. Stephanie also included information on websites to check on availability of these activities in our area.There is a five page not-to-be-missed hand-out on the subject of how to achieve and keep vitality! Anne was our superb model for some of the recommended exercises, standing on a chair -most gracefully, I must say- in order to ensure visibility to our captive and enthralled audience, who joined in the fun as willing participants in the demonstration.

Anne Connor called the business meeting to order at 2.15 pm. All present were able to admire the DVTA’s eye-catching new website on the screen. A couple of our most recent activities were commented on such as our attendance at the Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness meeting at the Bar Association in Philadelphia on September 15. Board members Anne Connor, Carlota Dalziel, Gabriela Jenicek, Maria Weir and Tony Guerra were present, as well as DVTA member Suzana Volquarts. One very interesting endeavor on the part of this commission is the formation of an Interpreter Services Committee that plans to expand interpreter services by improving the availability of interpreter and translation services in the Commonwealth’s courts and administrative agencies. The committee is also considering ways to assist the AOPC in training judicial personnel on Act 172 interpreter-services regulations passed in 2010. Anne also informed the audience of the board meeting held via Skype on September 26. Gabriela Jenicek was appointed to replace Caudia Krusch on the board. Tony Guerra agreed to replace Anne Connor as President after the meeting and Anne agreed to replace Tony as DVTA secretary. Our first Skype Board Meeting proved to be a very practical tool. Next, we had the reports by committee members, after which Anne invited the attendees to make suggestions that might lead to expanding the DVTA’s area of influence. Arnold Winter suggested putting together a panel of 4/5 people to come up with a “canned” presentation or script, similar to ATA’s Client Outreach Program, that could be offered to people who put on programs in the area, such as the Philadelphia Bar Institute, Local Chamber of Commerce, International Chamber of Commerce and others. Another member suggested advertising in business publications. Linda Pollack-Johnson suggested reaching out to a Doula organization since they often need medical interpreters.

The ATA Save-the-Date flyer on the mid-year conference for the interpreters and Spanish language division to be held in Orlando March 16-18, 2012, was handed out by Anne. All the attendees who had been there for the whole day left with 4 CE Points. The day also offered an excellent opportunity for networking, which I noticed was taken advantage by many. It turned out to be a very satisfactory event, with Anne at the helm of an excellent team.

Carlota Dalziel                                                                                                                           Federally Certified Spanish Court Interpreter and DVTA Board Member


ATA follow up: LSA presents, supports and sponsors

The 52nd ATA Conference took place in Boston last week and provided an opportunity for stakeholders in the industry to connect, exchange ideas and learn about the latest developments in our field. Language Services Associates (LSA) sponsored the Speed Networking session which was attended by approximately 500 novice and seasoned linguists hoping to make inroads or expand their connections with contacts from around the world.

Along with sponsoring the Speed Networking event, LSA also presented as a part of the general session. LSA’s Maureen Garelick, Vendor Relations Manager in the Translation and Localization Division, presented “An Inside Look: What Agencies Really Want from Translators.” The presentation had high attendance from new and established translators.

The goal of the presentation was to review how freelance translators can find, develop and maintain mutually satisfactory relationships with language service agencies. Freelancers have ideas about what agencies want, but not all of those perceptions are accurate. Maureen discussed what agencies and freelancers expect from each other and how freelancers can effectively position and market themselves to an agency. Maureen also addressed some of the myths about agency motives, how agencies approach recruiting according to subject matter and project types and setting and negotiating rates.

Many of LSA’s linguists attended the presentation and enjoyed the many opportunities for interaction and fellowship with colleagues such as members from our local chapter, the DVTA. LSA was particularly pleased with the selection of Holly Mikkelson as the recipient of the Alexander Gode Award for her valuable services to the industry and with the election of their colleague and friend Tony Guerra as the Administrator for the Medical Division. We look forward to next year’s event to take place in San Diego.