ITA Conference 2018 - Short and Sweet

In case I haven't mentioned it before, I'm a notebook freak... Give me a unique or pretty notebook, and I'm yours forever -- or at least until the next attractive notebook comes my way :-)
So the moment I presented myself at the ITA desk on the second floor of the ZOA House, and received this notebook (and pen!)
With thanks to Sarah Yarkoni, Semantica
in addition to my name-tag and program, my face glowed with pleasure. Add to that warm hugs with friends and a buffet with beautifully cut fresh fruit, and the day was already deemed a success. Even though the bus from Rishon LeZion to Tel Aviv took about an hour -- as long as getting from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv during rush-hour -- and by the time I got there, it was almost time for the first session, leaving me very little time for initial schmoozing and fruit-nibbling.

So I was a bit late for the keynote speaker's presentation -- missed the first few slides, but caught on pretty fast. John Di Rico of Wordfast was speaking about Selling Your Translation and Interpreting Services. He was not only speaking and presenting slides, but also asking us questions and trying to get his audience involved. As you can see from his online profile, and as one could tell from his presentation, he is indeed experienced in and comfortable with teaching adults.
My only reservation about this lecture was that it was not suitable to the Israeli market. The type of interaction between translator and potential customer described by Di Rico is nothing like the typical interaction we translators (and editors) are accustomed to, and which goes something like this:
- Customer calls: "Hi! I have a 30-page document about Mechanical Elves. Need it translated from Swahili to English. By tomorrow. Can you do it? How much do you charge?"
- Bewildered Newbie Translator: "Er... um... I'm not sure... Is it in a Word document? Can it be by the day-after-tomorrow? Is 50 shekels a page okay?"
- Blase, Experienced Translator: "Sure, for 150 shekels per 250 words in the target language, plus 30% surcharge for a rush job, and if you pay 50% in advance and the rest by the end of this month. Who did you say your target audience is, by the way?"
- Tired, Semi-Retired Translator: "Yeah, in your dreams!" [Click. Disconnect.]
I totally agree with Di Rico's basic assumption that people love to talk about themselves, and so we -- the "customercentric sellers" (i.e. translators eager to eke out a living) -- should be patient and listen. But as far as I know, most of us prefer to communicate with our customers by email. Otherwise, they'll never remember all the info I need them to know. And besides -- I'm telephobic...
When it comes to writing -- sure, no problem! Di Rico provides these guidelines for summing up the conversation between Customer and Seller:
With thanks to Gila Ansell Brauner
My own emails may not follow this "Champion Letter", but I do take them seriously and they have been effective. (Examples available upon request, just give me a chance to browse through my folders...)

Coffee break. The instant coffee and the "botz" were blah, but the ZOA coffee counter offered acceptable Cappuccino, I am told, at no extra cost.

Next there were several sessions that were irrelevant to me, (being retired, as I've mentioned before) e.g., the one about tax deductible expenses. I was, however, curious about Strategies for Overcoming Literalism in Translations, by Avi Kallenbach, bless him. How can I not admire a young man who enjoys the same books as my own kids do, e.g., The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Catch 22, books by Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, and many more. So I didn't learn any new strategies, but I think he's on the right track.

Keith Brooks
The other session I joined and enjoyed was Keith Brooks' Faster Translations Start with a Faster Computer - a very fast and entertaining presentation, which ain't to be sneezed at, considering Brooks was speaking about some very annoying situations, wherein your PC or laptop is driving you crazy and you do your best not to kick it. Calling it names is acceptable, though not helpful.

Pics thanks to Gila Ansell Brauner
I'm a lucky PC-user, in that my husband has been my live-in tech-support ever since he introduced me to computers, way back circa 1986. But I want to be able to fend for myself, to a certain degree at least, and I'm sure Brooks' numerous presentations, available online, will be of help to me. Besides, he has a great sense of humor, which is one of the most important attributes a person can have.

Last session, a panel entitled The three Points of the Triangle: The customer, Translation Company and Translator. I have worked in the past with three out of the four agencies that took part in the panel: Quality Translations, which later became MGSL; Transnet; and Rina Ne'eman.
I have spoken and written about working with agencies, from the translator's point of view. [See here]. So the discussion itself wasn't an eye-opener in any way, but as always it was good to see and hear the actual people behind the names. I hadn't met Emanuel Weisgras before, but it was a pleasure listening to him, especially because he has a sense of humor! (Click the above link and see for yourself.)

Just for the fun of it, and for the sake of my fellow notebook lovers (I know you're out there!), here's a pic of a few of my fave notebooks:

ZOA House - Not Just Conferences

I've been going to the Israel Translators Association conferences for over 10 years, and treating the event as a vacation, time off for good behavior. I'm used to signing up for the entire event, including two nights at a pleasant hotel far from home. "Far" being a relative term, of course. To an Israeli living in the country's central region (Gush Dan), a trip to Jerusalem or Haifa, about an hour's drive away, can feel almost as adventurous as a journey to where-the-wild-things-are.
So Hubby and I would arrive on the afternoon of the first day, dump our stuff in the hotel room, and go downstairs to mingle with the Workshop crowd during their coffee break.

This year, several things changed drastically:
No hotel. No faraway city. No sense of adventure. Why? Long story. As a member of the ITA's Audit Committee, all I can say is that the change in format was well thought out, with the idea of reaching out to translators who found the usual hotel-based format too expensive and time-consuming. Most self-employed translators, especially those with families and tight deadlines, can't just escape for two and a half days.

Searching for an alternative wasn't simple. Committee members researched the options, made phone calls, received price quotes, considered everything from travelling time to cakes and ale (okay -- cakes and soft drinks) and everything in-between, and settled on the ZOA House on Ibn Gabirol Street, Tel Aviv. An aside: I am disgusted that their website is in Hebrew only. But have added the link because the pics are pretty and give you an idea of what it's like.

Spoiler alert: Sentimental mush below.

Ah, good old ZOA House! It means so much to me! See, once upon a time I belonged to The Tel Aviv Drama Circle, which then became TACT - Tel Aviv Community Theater. A group of amateur actors, singers, dancers, directors, set designers and what-not. My mother was among the early members, and soon enough so were my father, myself and my kid sister. By the time my firstborn, Daria, was about 7, she, too, got roped in; first in a musical evening; and later in a drama. I won't go into the whole history of this group. Suffice it to say that it was a wonderful hobby, and doing musicals was the best. Many of our rehearsals and most of our performances took place at the ZOA House. It was my second home. At the time I lived in Tel Aviv, not far from the Hilton Hotel, and could easily walk to and from rehearsals.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum @ZOA, 1981. Nina as Tintinabula

The Boyfriend @ZOA, 1980. Nina in red Tshirt

In addition, I took various courses at the ZOA House. Leather-work, Esperanto, and god knows what else. Later, when we needed a venue for a family occasion, ZOA was the obvious choice. And in recent years, the ITA has held a few events there. I gave a talk there in July 2014 called How to Work with Translation Agencies.

So in many ways, I was pleased the conference would be taking place there. I feel at home there; it hold sweet memories.
On the other hand, it was a bit of a let-down. Unexciting. Like having the conference at the neighbors' next-door. Hubby and I pass by the building twice weekly, on our way to help out with the grandkids. Skipping grandkids duty for the sake of two days at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem feels acceptable; but for spending time across the street (practically) at Good Old ZOA?... [Shrug. Pout. Raised eyebrows.] Oh well. [Acceptance].

The Pyjama Game @ZOA, 1979. Nina standing on the right

My Three Angels, w/Johnny Phillips, 1977

What Retired Translators and Editors Do

"See you next year!" - That's how I blithely ended my fifth(!) post about last year's (2016) Translators' Conference. And what have I written in this blog since? Nothing. Zilch. Nada. How come? Do I simply live from one conference to the next? Surely not. Was I so darn busy working that I had no time for writing? Have I not had any inspiring insights about reading, writing, translating, editing, worthy of sharing with you, for an entire year? - Rubbish! So what the ...?

Enough with the soul-searching. I'll leave that for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. But I will provide a few explanations, and if you're bored already, just skip to my next post, where I actually start reporting on the conference. [Link to be provided as soon as said post is written.]

I'm officially retired, and glad of it. I love my profession, but -- as most translators will agree -- dealing with clients can be irksome, and running our business is a chore and a bore to most of us. So, once officially retired, I was freer than ever to pick and choose what projects, big or small, to take on.
I've been lucky: people call me. They tell me about a novel, say, that they wrote in Hebrew. They want it translated into English. I glance at it and, for the most part, roll my eyes. I no longer have the patience. I might find the text long, wordy, lacking focus, flowery, or just plain not my cup of tea. So I give the writer some tips and suggestions, along with the names of trustworthy colleagues who will perhaps be willing to undertake the job. I have done this for Ella, Simona, Tali, Gili, Lihi, Haim, Sigal, Lilach, Yossi, Tamar, and others. Sometimes the text is not bad in itself but is just well-nigh untranslatable.
I take this seriously. I know that the writers put a lot of time, thought and effort into their "baby". I admire them for having the determination and persistence to sit and write. What's known in Yiddish as "sitzfleisch": The ability to endure or persist in a task. So I treat my feedback with all due respect, which takes time.

Then there are the books, or manuscripts, that I do undertake. Not to translate, but to help in other ways: To read and give my opinion, to edit to a certain degree, to offer some criticism and helpful suggestions. Two writers whom I'm pleased to say I helped recently in this way are Dorothea Shefer-Vanson and Shmuel David.

On a daily basis, I get a kick out of adding my 2 cents' worth to discussions on Facebook's translators' forums, especially Agenda, which is my favorite. And when I encounter translators in distress, particularly those who are relatively new to the field, I send them one or more of the glossaries I've compiled and/or accumulated over the years.

Oh, and for the past year I've been on the ITA's Audit Committee. Not that it takes up much of my time; after all, I'm not a professional auditor. But I try to follow what's going on in the Executive Committee and be part of the discussions and decisions, to the best of my ability.

What with three [adorable, of course!] grandkids and a wanderlust-driven hubby, I find myself roaming distant lands on the one hand, and exploring Tel Aviv and Rishon Lezion kids' playgrounds on the other hand. May I take this opportunity to recommend Gan Hamoshava in Rishon, mainly because that's where my parents took me when I was the age of my grandkids... My favorites in central Tel Aviv are Ginat Dubnov and Gan Meir.

What else does a retired translator/editor do in her free time?
- Yoga, twice a week. That's pretty demanding, for a short-limbed, non-flexible person like me.
- Mentor kids from disadvantaged families at the local public library, once a week.
- Struggle to maintain three blogs, one of which includes a section dedicated to my mother's memoirs.
- Maintain correspondence with lots of penpals... (Er... do the youngsters among you even know what that means?)
- Try to read another chapter in one of the books on my night-table, while my eyelids still obey me.
- Try in vain to keep cleaning my In boxes, upload pics to my Flickr account, glance at LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest; not spend too much time on Facebook; not watch depressing news and scary TV series. I'm being good to you and not adding links to the above sites.

Et maintenant, que vais-je faire?.. []
I'll just collapse in front of the idiot-box with a nice cuppa tea and some chocolate.