The Conference by the Bay

By Steve Goldstein, Editor

The 48th Annual ATA Conference
San Francisco
October 31 – November 3, 2007

“The convention seemed to capture the current wave of interest and enthusiasm that is rippling through the translator world, as most convention-goers seemed to sense that the tide is in the process of being turned—that it is perhaps not now unthinkable that our professional pride and prestige will soon take on greater and more justified proportions.”

Those words were written 29 years ago, by a young translator and writer; an emissary from the West Coast to the 19th Annual ATA Conference in New York, who had, just a few short months prior, been a part of the birth of his own local organization, the Northern California Translators Association, in San Francisco.

The President of NCTA at the time—a man who had taken that young translator under his wing in the nascent organization—had just been elected President of ATA as well, and was about to take office at the New York conference. This was an unheard-of and unprecedented occurrence—a West Coast president of what was at the time a largely East Coast organization. There was electricity in the air, and our young translator would get to write about it, in the unofficial conference coverage report. He would also bring back some of that momentum with him to San Francisco, where a small group of his colleagues was already at work building the foundation for what would in time become one of the national organization’s strongest local chapters.

Times have changed since 1978, of course. That NCTA and ATA President, Thomas Bauman, is sadly no longer with us to see some of the important changes that his work initiated and continued; changes at the national level, certainly, where our profession has indeed come a long way—although not without having continued obstacles to overcome. Today, ATA is of course no longer just a regional organization, but it’s not just a national one, either; today, it is a powerful international professional association of over 10,000 members around the world.

But changes have occurred at the local level, too. And nowhere, perhaps, has the example been more instructive than here in San Francisco. ATA has brought its annual conference back to the birthplace of its most active chapter several times in the past three decades, watching as NCTA continued its own robust growth, built as always on the infectious enthusiasm of dedicated and tireless local volunteers who believe in working together to strengthen their profession.

Today, that dedication continues, through NCTA’s active role as the host chapter of the just-concluded 48th Annual ATA Conference in our City by the Bay, and via this special Translorial supplement reporting on the event. In these pages, we look at the conference from a variety of perspectives that may not always be found in the standard, straight-ahead reporting of the conference, as that information is available elsewhere. It is, instead, a decidedly more human approach because, well … translators are people, too, and that always seems the more interesting viewpoint, doesn’t it?

All those who are reading these words owe a debt of gratitude to their NCTA colleagues who did double-duty at the conference: as regular attendees, trying to learn and network and grow their own careers and businesses, and as your reporters, to give you a taste of the conference that you might not have otherwise had the opportunity to savor. Without their dedication and sacrifice—including that of Oscar Arteta and the tireless Christopher Queen, who took our terrific photographs—this supplement wouldn’t have been possible, and so to them I say, Thank you!

Has the tide in fact turned for our profession, since twenty-nine years ago? Certainly. But there’s still more turning to do, and while our young translator from that bygone era is no longer so young, he’s still here—to keep learning, growing … and working, to help turn that tide.

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