By Enrica J. Ardemagni, PhD
Lenguas 2019 is the second conference co-sponsored by the Fundación Italia Morayta, A.C. and InterpretAmerica, held in Mexico City from January 24-26, 2019. It is known by its tagline, Foro Internacional para Intérpretes y Traductores, and offers three days of a combination of plenary sessions, an awards ceremony, and workshops. What can one expect from Lenguas—a combination of everything that keeps you interested in attending.
Let’s do a quick re-cap of this year’s Forum. The choice of the word Forum to describe this venue is appropriate as forum indicates a meeting place where ideas are shared. This is what takes place during Lenguas, not your standard conference with a keynote speech and a bunch of talking heads. Day One does offer a Keynote speech, and this year Concepción Company, Emeritus Researcher from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, knocked it out of the ballpark when she challenged the audience to think about what is linguistically acceptable in a language and the impact the fast world of the Internet and social media is having on words, including the issues of gender in Spanish.
There were two panel discussions. The first was on the role of professional organizations in today’s recognition of the work of the interpreter and translator with representatives from the big hitters, GALA (Globalization & Localization Association), FIT (International Federation of Interpreters), Critical Link, AIIC (International Association of Conference Interpreters), and ALITRAL (Iberoamerican Alliance for the Promotion of Literary Translation). The second panel discussion included specialists who have done major advocacy on interpreting in crisis and disaster situations. Language access in situations of natural disasters, such as floods, fires and earthquakes or in conflict zones can be highly volatile and unpredictable situations. How do we prepare and mobilize a team of language experts that can intervene immediately to the linguistic needs of diverse communities?
As in Lenguas 2017, there was an important focus on indigenous languages. During the Forum, interpretation in several indigenous languages, sign language, and English and Spanish was provided for attendees. With this year being named as The International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations, Lenguas was ahead of the game by making the recognition of indigenous languages as something that should be ongoing. This year was impactful, as the Fundación Italia Morayta, led by Gonzalo Celorio, presents awards for translation and interpreting, and awarded Mexican writer Miguel May the prize for community interpreting in indigenous languages. May has authored a half-dozen books and has served as editor of Mayan-language newspapers.
The second and third days at Lenguas offer workshops, with a variety of topics in more than 40 to choose from, and the flexibility of budget in mind, since one can register for as many or as few as desired. I chose workshops to hone my skills in Consecutive Interpreting and on How to Prepare for a Conference Interpreting assignment, among others. Not only are the workshops interactive and engaging, as a Certified Healthcare InterpretertTM, I also received continuing education credit for most of the workshops I attended.
Location, location, location. That’s what real estate people use as their push to sell you the ideal property you are looking for. Having been a long-time fan of Mexico and in particular Mexico City, this Forum offers the best location in the city. Location always makes a difference. The Forum was in the magnificent Antiguo Colegio de San Idelfonso, which dates to 1588. The building has been restored and contains murals by such famous artists as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco, among others. The San Idelfonso is only two blocks from the Zócalo or main square in the historic center of Mexico City. Walking to the Zócalo, one passes the Templo Mayor, one of the most important archeological sites of the city, dating back to the fourteenth century. Still under excavations, one can only be amazed at the history that unfolds in the bustle of a city of almost nine million inhabitants.
What are the take aways of attending any conference or in this case, forum? Obviously, there is more than just learning that takes place. There is the experience of traveling to one of the most vibrant cities of the world, but the most important aspect is the camaraderie, meeting new people and sharing your passion with others in the field. We see old friends, make new ones, and connect to those who validate what we do.
Enrica J. Ardemagni, PhD, is Professor Emerita at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis where she taught all levels of language and literature as well as Spanish for the Professions and Specific Purposes (SPSP-business, legal, medical). She served as Director of the Undergraduate and Graduate Certificates in Translation Studies and she has received sixteen teaching awards. Professor Ardemagni is one of the founding members of the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters and was previous Administrator of the ATA Literary Division. Currently she is President of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care and Administrator of the ATA Educators Division. She is an Indiana Supreme Court Certified Interpreter and a Certified Healthcare InterpreterTM and works as a freelance interpreter and literary translator.
Images kindly provided by the author