Wonderful ITA Conference - Day One

The 2015 ITA Conference, which took place at the Jerusalem Crowne Plaza, 16-18 February, was wonderful, for more reasons than just its content. And there's no reason to go on and on about the truly varied content -- it's all in the program. If you've been to the conference, your program is probably well-worn, having been consulted over and over again in your attempt to decide which session to attend. I cherish my post-conference programs, with my notes scribbled inside. But even if you haven't been to the conference, the program is still available online. There you'll find also bios of the speakers and summaries of the lectures, in English and in Hebrew. See Hebrew program here, and English program here.

Day One of the conference traditionally features super-useful, hands-on workshops which I never attend. I have no intention of learning to use computer-aided translation tools (Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast and others) at this point in my career. If I change my mind, those companies will be only too happy to sell me their products. Some of the other workshops are for beginners, which I am not. And some are business-oriented, which is Very Important, but not relevant for me at this point, when I am trying to spend more time on being a Good Granny than on being a good business woman. There was one workshop that I'm sorry I didn't attend: Translator as Author: Advanced Translation Workshop, by writer Roni Gelbfish (in Hebrew.) Of course, I can follow her blog, attend her ongoing workshops, or I can just read her books. As Dorit Rabinyan said in her excellent talk, the one just before the chairman's closing remarks in the afternoon of Day 3. Dorit, whose carefully crafted novels have been translated into many languages, also gives creative writing workshops, but says that she feels a bit of a fraud for doing so. Because, she says, you can't really teach anyone how to be a creative writer. If you want to write a novel, you've got to read, read, read. Read good novels. Read the ones which fascinate you over and over again, to get the hang of it; to see what makes them work.

As I've said before, I can't stand reading the Hebrew translation of an English book, because my mind is constantly doing "back translation", trying to guess what the original sentence was. What I do sometimes do, is take the same book in Hebrew and in English, and compare the translation with the original. Fascinating -- if the translation is good; infuriating, if the translation is lousy.

Oh, by the way: Just because I don't feel like leaning CAT tools doesn't mean I've stopped learning. My colleague Lior Bar-On just posted on FB the following quote: "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young." - Samuel Clemens / Mark Twain".  We're all agreed on that, right? Which is why I plan to take up Russian. Anyone know a good teacher in Rishon LeZion? Possibly in return for English conversation lessons?

But I digress. Back to Day One of the conference. What I try to do is arrive in time for the 3:30 coffee break before the end of the workshops. Great opportunity to say my first Hi to colleagues, and sample the cakes. Which I did, in the company of veteran translator and editor Helene Landau and others. At 6:30 everyone gathered in the lobby, all bundled up in winter coats and scarves as advised, for the short trip to the Gala Event at the Bible Lands Museum. Suffice it to say that I found the museum interesting; if you're interested, go visit -- the website or the place itself. However, most of us translators are not in the peak of youth, and standing around in a museum can get tiring. Luckily, people found some plastic stools, which they carried with them from room to room.

The after-dinner speaker was the inimitable Simcha Jacobovici, and believe me, there's so much stuff about him and his work on the Internet, that I had a hard time deciding which link to use! If I recall correctly (I didn't take notes), he spoke mostly about Jesus from a historical and archaeological point of view; see, for example, his blog post Jesus' Marriage to Mary Magdalene: A Historical Fact! My mother would have loved it. You see, one of her nephews kept asking her whether she'd "found Jesus" yet. To which she'd reply sweetly that she's not looking for him, and as far as she knows, he was a nice Jewish boy.

Okay guys and dolls -- today's lecture is over.
Do come back for the next installment.

What to wear to the Conference

Why on earth should I choose to write about such a trivial aspect of the conference, when the three days were so choc-full of Really Important Goodies*? And when I say "the conference", I am referring to the ITA 2015 International Conference, which took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Jerusalem, 16-18 February.

Well, because people look at each other during the conference. Whether in the plenary hall, in any of the other, smaller halls; in the wide corridor where coffee and cake-cake-cake-and-more-cake are served; in the dining hall; in the queue for the loo; in the lobby, the elevator, the front desk, and so on. And because one of my fave colleagues, who couldn't make it to the conference, expressed the hope that "people are dressed well", it got me thinking. And looking.

Besides, as anyone who's followed my blogs knows, I'm forever agonizing over what to pack for various trips and occasions.

Short answer to the question in the title is: That depends on whether you're there as a speaker, a representative of a company, or as an ordinary, run-of-the-mill translator or other language-smith. The issue of how the "ordinary" translator (and I use that word as a cover-all for language-related occupations) dresses just happened to pop up on Agenda, [one of] the translators' forums on Facebook. It's a closed group, so I can't provide a link nor quote directly from it. But I can give you the gist:
Translators who work from home like to be as comfortable as possible. PJs are acceptable. An old sweatshirt and sweatpants are practically de rigueur. Slippers, Naot clogs, flip-flops (weather permitting); sneakers are nearly "elegant". Women forsake underwire bras and tight jeans. Men forsake -- what? I don't know, you tell me. We all feel as snug as a bug in a rug (remember -- it's winter as I write this). When, sooner or later, we must go out for something urgent like picking up the kids (or the grandkids, in my case) from nursery school or replenishing the coffee supply, we throw on something a bit more respectable and leave the house, hoping not to bump into an ex who used to think of us as smokin' hot.

Then along comes The Conference. Gosh, what shall I wear? For the Gala evening? For the workshops? For the lectures and other sessions? How much should I pack? I need to be color coordinated, that makes it easier to choose. The blue jeans will go fine with the striped shirt and/or the blue polka dot sweater. Which means I shouldn't bother with the pink/red items. But what about the new purple thingy? Nah, better not bother; it's a bit tight around the waist and I know I always eat too much at the conference. Shoes or boots? Boots are sexier, and add a much-needed inch to my stature (No, not Uggs). But shoes are more comfortable. Heels? Are you mad? Who wears high heels to a conference? - I'll tell you who: the speaker from France. High-heeled shoes complete with sexy black pantyhose, elegant skirt (!) and top. Whereas one of the best [Israeli] speakers I heard wore scruffy jeans and some nondescript pullover knit top. Why? Because that's what we're used to wearing. And how on earth can we be expected to concentrate on hours and hours of lectures if we're uncomfortably clad?

Years ago, before the first presentation I ever gave at an ITA conference, I called my friend Marion in L.A., a public-speaking coach. In addition to public-addressing tips, I asked her for dressing tips. Her advice was to wear clothes about one notch above what the audience would be wearing. Seemed very sensible to me. Though not feasible without going out and buying something smart. Which I did, at Dorin Frankfurt's -- but only at end-of-season prices.

Anyway, I just went through all the conference pics uploaded to the ITA page on Facebook. Three times at least. And I was happy to note that most people looked both happy and comfortable. Which is the main thing. I hope they didn't agonize too much over what-to-wear and what-to-pack. Who cares. It was great to see you all.


* The important goodies shall be dealt with in a separate post. Since I sat for 2 whole days taking notes, I might as well put them to good use!