The American Translators Association is now accepting presentation proposals for the ATA 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 24-27, 2018.
What would you like to learn at the next ATA conference?
The American Translators Association is now accepting presentation proposals for the ATA 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 24-27, 2018.
What would you like to learn at the next ATA conference?
Review by Ekaterina Howard
At ATA conferences I make attending Chris Durban’s sessions a priority (even SLD’s Ru>En slam could not tear me away), and to me they invariably become one of the highlights of any conference.
This year’s session tied in nicely with the session on blind spots at ATA57, which effectively became the primary source of my business development plan for 2017 (as easy as that!).
In the “Working with Direct Clients. For Real.” Session Chris Durban addressed the most common constraints that prevent translators from moving out of the mass-market segment (although some direct clients can be mass-market, too) into the premium segment (which is where recognition, satisfaction and high rates come together).
The main constraints are:
To start working with direct clients:
If you are considering working with direct clients, for real or hypothetically, you might want to look up The Prosperous Translator — Advice from Fire Ant & Worker Bee at https://prosperoustranslator.com/, follow Chris Durban’s blog at https://chrisdurbanblog.com/author/christinedurban/, or read a review of the first Business Acceleration Masterclass for Translators and Interpreters by Jayne Fox: http://foxdocs.biz/BetweenTranslations/business-tips-translators-chris-durbans-masterclass/.
Even if you feel that you are not quite ready yet, it is not too early to start getting ready to move towards working in the direct client segment. I believe that one of the most important things you could do is not learn how to market yourself (although this won’t hurt), but continuously work on your translation and writing skills.
If you are an SLD member, you can join the SLD Certification Exam Prep Group to exchange translations with other participants and discuss the challenges on a monthly basis. If you would like to up the ante, consider participating in SLD translation slams, either by submitting a slam proposal for the next ATA conference, or by volunteering to join a virtual slam. Those are all great starting points for working on your translation skills, and I hope that someday there will be an event similar to “Translate in…” (in 2017 it was in Quebec City – http://www.ontraduitaquebec.com/en/about/) for Slavic languages.
On that note, I invite you to share your collaboration experiences, your stories of growing as a translator, and your tips on working with “dream” direct clients.
Ekaterina Howard is an English to Russian and German to Russian translator working with marketing materials. She is the current Administrator of the Slavic Languages Divisions. You can follow her blog at http://pinwheeltrans.com/blog, stay in touch on Twitter (@katya_howard), or connect with her on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/ekaterinahoward). If you would like to become SLD’s next translation slammer, you can reach her at email@example.com.
Review by Anna Livermore
The session titled “Search Engine Optimization: Website and Social Media Localization,” presented by Laura Ramírez, a lecturer at the department of translation studies at the University of Illinois, was one of the highlights of my visit to this year’s ATA conference. The content of the session was exactly as promised in the title (with one small exception), the subject matter was very relevant, the delivery was professional, and the examples were on point. I came away wishing the slot for the presentation had been twice as long.
First of all, Ms. Ramírez drew a distinction between SEO (Search Engine Optimization) & SEA (Search Engine Advertising), which together make up SEM (Search Engine Marketing). She explained why different approaches are required when dealing with the 2 parts of SEM, both in terms of strategy as a website owner and impact on the translation. The better a translator understands the workings of SEM, the better they will be able to serve their clients’ needs and add value with their service.
Organic SEO is a strategy that yields better long-term results, but its ROI is notoriously hard to calculate. Essentially, by using SEO clients optimize their content for better indexability by search engines, thus affecting the rank the webpage is assigned when users search for certain keywords. In order to appear in the top search results, companies employ a combination of tactics: building good links, writing good content, using proper indexing, and integrating social media and blogs. It is time consuming for the client and, when translated into another language, it needs to retain all its parts from the obvious (content, URL name) to the subtle (meta tags and keywords). Those who offer website translation/localization services should remember that different search engines use different approaches to language tagging and educate themselves about the concepts of geo-targeting used by the search engines of their target region.
SEA, on the other hand, yields quick results and the ROI is easy to calculate, making it suitable for short, targeted campaigns. However, the conversion rates are lower (due to lack of consumer trust towards this kind of advertising) and it is an expensive option. When translating keywords for SEA, it is important to remember that repetition is good. Also, translated keywords will (or should) change depending on the target segment, audience, location etc.
As Ms. Ramírez pointed out, CAT tools are a good option for translating this kind of content: it tends to be repetitive, and consistent use of the same keywords is beneficial to a given ad’s ranking. One should also be aware of the limits set on the number of characters that can be used for ad headlines or ad descriptions, as it might become an issue when translating in certain language pairs: for instance, when translating English into Russian, the latter tends to require more characters.
Ms. Ramírez made an interesting point about translating SEA: the process can feel counterintuitive at first to translators who aim to produce a perfect translation. In this case, a functional approach serves better for creating the desired impact, which is to sell the product or service. When translating SEA text, one should always keep in mind the end user: what search term spellings are they likely to use, are there any regional variants to keep in mind, are there any synonyms that should also be included in the keywords, are there any other variants one should consider, such as calques from the source language and misspelled words (a quick Google search illustrates just how many ways there are to misspell the word pregnant).
Summarizing some of the characteristics of SEA language, Ms. Ramírez highlighted the use of calques, elliptical constructions, unusual punctuation (exclamation marks, apostrophes etc.), abbreviations, using all CAPITALS, and mixing registers when addressing the audience (using equivalents of Russian ты and вы in the same ad), which should all be reflected in some form in translation.
Drawing on her experience as a lecturer and a freelance translator, Ms. Ramírez noted another characteristic of SEA that influences the translation process: clients might ask for several equivalents for one keyword, and they will ultimately decide which one will be used.
The last notable point covered during the session is the importance of knowing how search engines other than Google work. This is significant because other markets might not use Google as their primary search engine: Yandex is the main search engine in Russia and Baidu plays that role in China. And although the essentials of the search engine functionality are largely very similar, there are some elements that differ and might impact the localization process.
Ms. Ramírez also covered practical aspects of managing ads, matches and click-through rates, as well as various tools for managing keywords and best practices for writing ads. With so much valuable information to deliver, there unfortunately was no time left to look at social media techniques and their impact on translation process, and I look forward to a future presentation where these would be covered.
Anna Livermore is an English>Russian and German>Russian translator and former marketing specialist. With a linguistics degree from the Oxford Brookes University and a Professional Diploma in marketing, she came to specialize in translating marketing materials, corporate communications, website content and various components of SEM. She is a member of the Slavic Languages Division’s Social Media team. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Review by Tyler Langendorfer
Last month at the ATA’s 58th Annual Conference in DC, John Di Rico presented the session “Selling Your Translation and Interpreting Services,” a talk focused on the techniques required to successfully acquire and retain direct clients. Di Rico, a French-to-English translator as well as Sales and Marketing Manager for WordFast, advocated a “customer-centric” approach that encouraged sellers to rethink their own views on the buyer-seller relationship.
Di Rico began his talk with a sample email from a prospective buyer and asked audience members to form groups in order to discuss how they might respond. After each group shared their ideas, Di Rico would outline his recommendations, then ask the groups to again brainstorm solutions to another series of questions. During the initial rounds of discussion, Di Rico drew attention to the most important details a seller ought to obtain initially: the name, title and company of the prospective client; how they found out about the seller; the buyer’s present goal; and the challenges they have with their current process. Once these have been identified, the seller can move on to the next step and compose a champion letter for the potential client.
A champion letter is perhaps the most important communication effort in the buyer-seller relationship, as it underscores why the buyer should choose the seller’s services. It also demonstrates a strong degree of professionalism and courtesy. According to Di Rico, it has five parts: a statement of goals (or shared goals), a summary of the current situation and the capabilities required to address it, at least one potential benefit from the seller’s services, and the next steps should the buyer maintain their interest.
Other advice of note included Di Rico’s statement that sales is a conversation, one that requires patience and a strong willingness to find solutions for the buyer. Also, to build a strong, personable relationship with a buyer early on, Di Rico advised that the seller try to schedule a phone call in their first email response. Lastly, the seller should not invest too much time in obtaining a client that is uncooperative in providing the info needed to conduct their business.
For this writer, Di Rico’s approach seemed reasonable and well worth considering. Although not all his recommendations may have been new to session attendees, it was beneficial to closely examine the techniques sellers utilize when they interact with prospective buyers. Perhaps the most salient takeaway was Di Rico’s emphasis on making sure that the seller understands the buyer’s needs and that they work with them to reach a solution. Even with the focus on direct clients, translators and interpreters can nonetheless incorporate Di Rico’s recommendations into their relationship with agencies, as they could also benefit from a heightened sensitivity to a project manager’s needs. Furthermore, customer-centric selling enables the seller to rethink the value of their services and may provide for a renewed sense of purpose in their professional goals. In other words, what does it mean to translate or interpret, for the sellers themselves, the buyers, and perhaps also the greater social good.
Tyler Langendorfer (email@example.com) is a translator of German and Spanish specializing in marketing, social sciences, and humanities translation. He is a participant in the ATA Mentoring Program and has been studying Russian independently since 2014.
Photo by Thomas Lefebvre via Unsplash
Are you going to this year’s ATA Annual Conference? See any particularly interesting non-SL sessions on the schedule? Consider writing it up for the SLD blog!
Slavic language sessions are typically thoroughly reviewed in SlavFile in the issues following any given conference, but conferences are also chock-full of sessions in other categories that may also be of interest to our members. We would like to publish short reviews of those sessions on the blog after the conference. Unfortunately, just like every other conference-goer, we can’t be everywhere at once. That’s where you come in!
If you’re planning on going to a session – or several! – that might be a good candidate for a review on the blog, please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). Feel free to contact me even if you are interested in publishing a review, but you don’t have a session in mind yet. Alternatively, you can volunteer to review one of the following sessions that we think might be of interest to the SLD blog readership:
We invite all of the ATA attendees, but SLD members in particular, to share their newfound knowledge with other and discuss thought-provoking sessions on SLD blog.
Several members have requested SLD to start compiling sign-up sheets to facilitate mingling between SLD members during ATA conferences.
This year we offer all SLD members attending the ATA 58th Annual Conference an opportunity to explore Washington, D.C., restaurants offering Slavic (or, in one case, Uzbek) food together.
If you are interested, you can see additional information on the venues and sign up here.
Once the registration closes on October, 23, we’ll send out group emails to participants interested in the same time, date, and venue. From there it’s up to them to decide whether or not to make a reservation, where to meet, and how to get to the venue.
We hope that this new initiative will be of interest to the SLD members!
You’ll notice that there are no options for Thursday. We would like to encourage our members, both new and old, to attend the division events scheduled for that day: Newcomers Lunch and SLD Division Dinner.
Please remember that the registration deadline is October 20th for both of the events.
For SLD Dinner, please remember that we need to reach a minimum number of attendees in advance to avoid event cancellation. Do not wait until the Welcome Celebration to register!
By Jen Guernsey
Every year SlavFile publishes an article encouraging our fellow SLD members to attend the ATA Annual Conference and providing tips for newcomers. Why is that? you ask. Do we get some sort of referral discount? Nope! Does the rate get cheaper when attendance is higher? No (though I am sure there is a critical mass of attendees required to keep rates reasonable). Why, then, do we keep bugging you about going to the conference?
There are two reasons: one altruistic, one selfish. The altruistic reason is that the conference has been a terrific experience for us, and we want you to be able to share in that experience. Don’t take our word for it; read about the experiences of our conference newcomers of recent years in the SlavFile Preview.
The second, selfish, reason is that your presence makes the conference a richer experience for us. Getting to know our colleagues is the best, and ultimately the most productive, part of the conference. If all we wanted was educational sessions, we’d attend webinars. Instead, we invest the time and expense to go to the conference. For me personally, being able to commune with like-minded people, getting their sage advice, being able to refer work to them or share jobs with them, and having them refer work to me have all made an immeasurable difference in the success of my translation career, not to mention made it far more enjoyable. We regular conference-goers want YOU to come so we can get to know you and add you to our circle of colleagues.
How to Survive Your First ATA Conference
Actually, you aren’t going to SURVIVE it, you’re going to LOVE it! Below are some tips that will make it a little easier for you to hit the ground running.
First, here are a few pearls of wisdom from other first-time attendees:
If you’re introverted, never fear! There are plenty of ways for you to meet people and make connections without having to walk into a crowd of strangers and start cold. I signed up for the excellent “Buddies Welcome Newbies” program that partnered me with an experienced translator working, as I do, from Russian into English (hi Jen!) who showed me the ropes. She answered my questions, introduced me to people in the Slavic [Languages] Division, and was a very welcome familiar face in a sea of strangers. I also attended Slavic [Languages] Division events, such as the newcomers’ lunch, the Division dinner, and the Division meeting. The great thing about this is that people in the division know each other and as a result know that you’re new, and they really do go out of their way to be welcoming. My worries of being the silent person standing awkwardly in the corner never materialized. – Natalie Mainland, 2016.
At the BWN [Buddies Welcome Newbies] program, all it takes is sitting at a table and saying “Hello” for all anxiety to disappear, because everyone is so welcoming, understanding, patient, really interested in what everyone has to say, and always happy to give advice. Having gained confidence, I went to the Welcome Celebration, where I experienced a second wave of anxiety, but found my way to the Slavic [Languages] Division table. What a relief! There were so many people who spoke my native language (Russian), and some were also wearing the pink ribbon saying “First time attendee.” There is no problem finding common interests when you know you are speaking with someone in your language pair. And that pink ribbon: it is the most powerful and magical thing for a newbie. It identifies you as someone who needs some guidance. People saw it and approached me at breakfast, coffee breaks, and other events. They made me feel welcome and asked questions. It would lead to the most amazing conversations. – Daria Toropchyn, 2015
First on my list of events was “Buddies Welcome Newbies,” part of a program in which seasoned conference-goers adopt first-time attendees and show them the ropes. My “buddy” was an experienced technical translator who seemed to know everyone else by name. He gave me advice on how to approach the conference (in a nutshell: relax and get to know other translators) and introduced me to people I wouldn’t otherwise have met. — Christopher Tauchen, 2015
So, prospective newbies, here is your pre-conference to-do list:
1) Register for the conference BY OCTOBER 6 to take advantage of lower rates.
2) Download the conference app. I find it very helpful for planning my conference and finding event locations. You can input your resume and other profile info to help both colleagues and prospective employers find you.
3) Review the conference program to get an idea of the sessions and events you’d like to attend. A list of presentations in the Slavic languages track and by SLD members can be found in the SlavFile Preview.
4) Join Buddies Welcome Newbies to be paired up with an experienced conference-goer who will show you the ropes. All three of our newbies quoted above mentioned this helpful program, scheduled for Wednesday 4:45-5:30 (Debriefing Saturday 12:30-1:30) http://www.atanet.org/conf/2017/newbies/.
5) Reserve your spot at the SLD Newcomers Lunch. This solves the question of lunch for your first conference day: you already have prearranged colleagues to eat with! Some of us old-timers come as well. On Thursday, October 26, we will meet at 12:20 PM in the lobby of the hotel and proceed together to the restaurant, or you can just walk there on your own. Meals are not prearranged; we just order off the menu and pay for our own. To expedite service and food preparation, we will order from a limited menu of around 15 dishes. Our destination this year will be:
1666 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009
To reserve your place, please email email@example.com by Friday, October 20. Please specify any dietary restrictions.
6) Reserve your spot at the SLD Dinner (see information here). It’s a nice chance to get to know your SLD colleagues better while enjoying a lovely meal. I didn’t sign up for the dinner my first year, and regretted it (and have gone to every one since!). If you follow a special diet, check it out anyway, as accommodations are possible. Thursday 7:00–10:00 PM.
And while at the conference:
1) Wear your pink First Time Attendee ribbon with pride. It will spark a lot of conversations…kind of like wearing a “Please Welcome Me” sign on your forehead…but more comfortable.
2) Come to the Welcome Celebration. It is huge! It is crowded! It is loud! It is daunting! Never fear—just seek out the table marked SLD. You will encounter some familiar names, soon to be familiar faces, and introduce yourself. Plus, hey, free food and a couple of drinks. Wednesday 5:30-7:00.
3) Attend the SLD meeting. This is another good way to get to know people in the division, as well as learn what is going on in the division. We usually have a little time at the end when we encourage first-timers to introduce themselves. The meeting will be 4:45-5:45 on Thursday, October 26.
4) Volunteer to write for SlavFile. Every year, SlavFile publishes reviews of all of the Slavic track sessions and any others a potential reviewer considers of special interest to our members, as well as printing the impressions of a conference newcomer. Volunteering to write one of these is a great way to get involved and get your name out there. Any other contributions from new members, including profiles introducing yourselves to readers, are enthusiastically welcomed.
5) Don’t get boxed in. While we in the SLD would love to have you with us for the entire conference, there is no requirement to stick with one group of people or one track of sessions. Explore! The conference has so many interesting sessions, and so many interesting people – you can’t go wrong!
See you at the conference!
Jen Guernsey is a Russian>English translator and longtime SLD member with 14 conferences under her belt. She is the SLD Leadership Council member responsible for newcomer activities.
This lunch is for conference first-timers AND any experienced conference-goers who would like to join in to welcome the new folks.
Meet us in the lobby at 12:20 to walk over together, or just meet us at the restaurant.
To expedite service, we will order from a limited menu of about 15 dishes and pay for our own meals individually.
Please reserve your spot by emailing Jen Guernsey at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, October 20. Please specify any dietary restrictions.
Address/Ph: 2437 18th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009
Meze Restaurant is in Washington, DC’s Adams-Morgan District. Located only one-half mile from the conference hotel, the restaurant is easily accessed on foot. The establishment has been in business since 2001 and specializes in Turkish meze dishes. According to the restaurant, meze dishes “are intended for sharing, and offer diners the opportunity to experience multiple flavors in one meal.” The Division’s event will be held in Meze’s private Gold Room with a seating capacity for 50 guests.
Please join other Division members and guests for an enjoyable evening. Converse with friends and colleagues, make new acquaintances, and welcome Division newcomers.
Vegan Coban Salatasi (*GF/NF/DF) Shepherd’s salad: diced fresh cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers, dressed with olive oil, parsley, and lemon juice.
Vegan Humus (GF/NF/DF) Chickpeas & tahini paste seasoned with garlic and olive oil.
Vegetarian Mucver (NF) Savory zucchini pancakes mixed with feta cheese served with tomato and yogurt sauces.
Vegan Dolma (GF/DF) Grape leaves stuffed with caramelized onions, rice, and pine nuts and cooked over a gentle fire.
Vegetarian Sigara Böregi (NF) Turkey’s popular crispy cigar-shaped pastry stuffed with feta cheese, parsley, and dill.
Vegan Mercimek Kofte (NF/DF) Veggie lentil cakes with bulgur, onions. and parsley.
Köfte (NF/DF) Grilled Turkish-style beef and lamb meatballs, seasoned with parsley and onions.
Fistikli Adana (DF) Ground lamb and beef mixed with pistachio and grilled on a skewer, served with ezme salad.
Tavuk Kebab (GF/NF/DF) Marinated grilled chicken breast on a skewer, served with fresh tomato relish.
Icli Patates Kofte Potato shells stuffed with ground lamb, beef, parsley, and walnuts, served with yogurt sauce.
Baklava Delicate leaves of filo layered with walnut, with homemade lemon syrup.
*GF/Gluten Free; NF/Nut Free; DF/Dairy Free
Dietary Options: Vegetarian and nut- and gluten-free options are indicated in the menu. If required, a separate vegetarian menu can be made available upon request. Please coordinate any other special dietary requirements with Fred Grasso (email@example.com; 210-638-9669) no later than Wednesday, 10/25/2017.
Beverages: Iced tea included; non-alcoholic and alcoholic available beverages available for purchase.
Ticket cost is $50.00 per person (includes iced tea, sales tax (10%), and gratuities (20%)). Tickets can be purchased by PayPal (preferred) or check received not later than Friday, 10/20/2017.
NOTE: If a vegetarian or gluten-free menu option is required, please so indicate when purchasing your ticket.
Payment via PayPal: Access the PayPal website (www.paypal.com) and select the “Send Money” tab. Enter the amount ($50 per person) and choose the “Friends and Family” option. In Step 2, use the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check payment: Mail a check for the appropriate amount made payable to “Fred Grasso” at the following address:
14414 Indian Woods
San Antonio, TX 78249-2054
NOTE: Provided space is available, a limited number of last-minute tickets can be purchased—cash only—during the ATA welcoming reception on Wednesday, 10/25/2017.
By Natalie Mainland
Photo from Unsplash by Daria Shevtsova
It’s that time of year again! We’ve come back from vacation, summer is drawing to a close, and translators across the country are wondering, “Should I go to the ATA conference this year?”
If you’ve never been, and you’re on the fence, perhaps my experience as a newcomer to last year’s conference can shed some light on it for you.
I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about attending the 2016 ATA conference. I have a degree in translation and have been translating for a few years now, so I didn’t know how useful it would be, and I am—like I think many translators are—extremely introverted. Given the choice between getting a root canal or chatting up a room full of people I don’t know, I’ll take the root canal, please. However, I keep in touch with my former classmates, and not a single one of them has said that attending the conference was a waste of time or resources. I wasn’t sure if going would be helpful, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.
What next? Well, my personal philosophy is to always have a plan. Once I’d decided to attend the conference I immediately started planning so I could get the most out of it. I had a look at the first-timer’s guide in the ATA’s “Savvy Newcomer” blog, downloaded the conference app, and immediately began organizing my schedule. By the time I landed in San Francisco, I had each day planned for (supposedly) optimum effectiveness.
Educational sessions held throughout the day are organized into subject-specific tracks and are a major part of the conference. I’m trying to expand my business, so I planned to attend sessions in the “Independent Contractor” track. These were great, and I picked up tips and tricks for getting more work and running my business smoothly, but by the second afternoon I was feeling burnt out…so I decided to change things up. I went to a few medical sessions, even though they focused on language pairs other than mine. Were they helpful? You bet! Although the target language examples didn’t apply to me, I still learned strategies to improve my medical translations. Overall, I’m pleased with how much I learned, and in the months after the conference I even put that knowledge to use when I worked on a large medical project.
The other major part of the conference is networking, and that’s the part that worried me. I went to the Welcome Celebration on the first night, where everyone from the ATA divisions can mingle and learn more about one another, and I honestly felt a bit like a deer in the headlights. However, the whole process became markedly easier when I realized one obvious thing: everyone else is here to network, too! They want to meet new people and talk with them, and all the people that I spoke with were wonderfully welcoming. After making it through that first hectic evening, everything else—such as talking to agency reps in the Exhibit Hall—was no problem at all.
Now for the big question: do I think going to the conference was worth it? I absolutely do. I picked up new skills and met other people working in my field. This profession can be a solitary one, and having actual, face-to-face contact with other humans was, for me, one of the best parts of the entire experience.
So, now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to go, what are my suggestions for your first conference?
All in all, my first conference was a resounding success. I’m glad I went, and I would encourage anyone else to do the same.
The ATA 58th Annual Conference is fast approaching! This year’s conference is in Washington, DC, on October 25-28, 2017. Register by September 15th to take advantage of Early Registration Rates.
Natalie Mainland holds an M.A. in Translation from Kent State University. She currently works as a freelancer, translating Russian into English (with a focus on medical texts) as well as Finnish into English. She can be reached at email@example.com. This post was adapted and updated by the author from an article that appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of SlavFile.