I had a dream (ProZ.com Conference Buenos Aires 2006)
Thread poster: Aurora Humarán (X)

Aurora Humarán (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 13, 2006

I’d like to propose an idea that I think will be well received by those who participated in the Conference and also by those who didn’t or couldn’t participate. Why do I think so?
The ones who were there can remember (and relive!) special moments and maybe continue brewing up a few concepts that had started to percolate there.
The ones who weren’t there can enjoy reading about it, almost as much as those who were there.
How shall we do it? Some pictures will help, but basically what will help even more are words! I’m going to try to recreate here, with the organizing crew, those three days of passion for words and for translation.
An important request: DO NOT POST HERE.icon_lol.gif Well, but no joke. I ask you all, in this first part, to let us lead the way, with our words… to keep all your comments till the end. When we finish the summary of Fernando Valenzuela’s WONDERFUL presentation, you can savor my looooong farewell speechicon_biggrin.gif and then, a Prozian (who wasn’t part of the organizing group and who shall remain nameless for the time being) will give us her reflections on the whole experience.
From that point on, “please do touch the merchandise”icon_biggrin.gif , that is, you will be more than welcome to share your own words with us. We have a lot to talk about!

Although the majority of the attendees dream in Spanish (thanks to Grijelmo for the concept), and thus will relish the journey more in our native language, it is our pleasure to provide an English translation as well, so that more of you can enjoy this retracing of our footsteps.

(TO BE CONTINUED ... and soon the voices will become clearer and the images more sharply defined)

May the Word help us conjure up the Magic...

[Editado a las 2006-09-24 07:33]


Eduardo Pérez  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
The beginning Oct 11, 2006

Some literary critic that we once read in passing, said that every writer’s first work already prefigures all the author’s future works. If so, we should go back to the beginning, which is where these things begin, or rather, to a few hours before the beginning, that is, to the registration! So as not to bore you with behind-the-scenes details, I’ll sum it up by saying that those of us who were in charge of that herculean task were on the point of resigning then and there and dedicating ourselves instead to hugging each and every one of those who turned up in search of the notorious little bag and the well-deserved credentials.

At the same time, the interpreters were starting to get warmed up; the rest of the organizers were running hither and yon so as not to climb the walls, and the attendees… chatting away to their hearts’ content, as if they were in the living room of their own homes.
Surely each one of us holds personal memories of that unique occasion, but maybe all those memories are complementary and interchangeable, or maybe they are one and the same: the moment of meeting, for the first time, all those people that we already knew at a distance and of whom we had grown so fond; the kiss, the handshake, the heartfelt hug and the smile from ear to ear. And they say translating is a solitary profession!!

Gradually people started settling down in the conference room where the emotional opening address would be given; the place was taking on form and color. As the minutes passed, the sound of voices and then murmurs began to diminish until it disappeared altogether when the time came to try out the microphones. Complete silence.
Like the Greek Fates who spun out the threads of human destiny, the hands that had woven the fortunes of the Conference had it all calculated for an emotional knockout. The orders were to strike first and without warning. For several minutes, a perfect example of the omnipotence of the word: three hundred people gathered together, listening to just one person. Only powerful words and a powerful articulator can accomplish that. The chairwoman of the Conference [Aurora Humarán], who was later apprehended by popular demand for her attempt on the hearts of all present, began her discourse as follows:

"Ongi etorriak - Vítejte - Willkommen - Bienvenue - Bem-vindo - Benvenuti – Dobro došli - Bun venit - Welcome - Benvinguts – ¡Bienvenidos!

It was the 20th of September, 2005. I was reading with a great deal of interest about the preparations for the Proz.com Conference in Krakow. And before that, in Sitges and Oxford. I wrote a message to Henry Dotterer: “How about putting on a Conference in Buenos Aires?” Within two minutes the answer came back: “Perfect. When?”

And here we are.

To begin with, I want to apologize for any faults that this Conference may have: in order for this day to arrive (which really seems like a dream), this translator had to transform herself –we’ll soon see with what degree of success– into the organizer of a conference of this caliber. I take full responsibility for any problems that may occur.

I chose each speaker thinking of the vibrant range that the community of Proz.com translators represents, trying to cover all possible enthusiasms, those strange enthusiasms of ours. Of course, it isn’t hard for me to think from the perspective of the passionate, ever-investigative reading of a translator. I always tell the story of how a very good friend of mine, who is a kinesiologist, responded when I excused myself for not being able to play tennis with her that Saturday morning. “It’s because I signed up for a course in prepositions,” I told her. “Noooo!” she replied, “a course in prepositions? You must be joking!”

Now admit it, all of you would have “gotten it”, you would even have asked me how to sign up for the course. Among translators we understand one another. We know very well the pleasure of savoring certain words, the excitement over a new dictionary, the suspense of prefixes, the fascination of tracking down etymologies. We even agree that books have an enchanting smell! Of course we are talking about the love of words, which is exactly what has brought us all together now.

At this Conference, you are going to hear about the Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas (the Panhispanic Dictionary of “Doubts and Difficulties”), about the uses of the comma, techniques of text correction, so-called “localization”, international Spanish, grammar after Chomsky, the mysterious pdf, ocr, ftp, Word macros, the subtitling of films… One usually leaves these sessions with many cards, very promising Internet links, and varying amounts of knowledge that is always hard to quantify. And that is good, but it isn’t enough.

I believe that a conference must, above all, serve to ignite new bridge-building ideas in our minds. That was the idea that guided me as I was putting together many of the presentations, because I believe that they will be grounds for inspiration and reflection, because I want them to motivate and enchant your translating souls.

We already know the bad news. We translators are ugly ducklings. One of the paradoxes of our profession is well known: the very same invisibility that we strive for and admire (for our presence to be unnoticeable in our work) condemns us as well to a certain social invisibility. The good news is that where there is an ugly duckling, there is also a swan.

To paraphrase the great Chilean, our beloved Pablo Neruda, what I hope for this Conference is almost nothing and almost everything. I hope that you leave this hotel on Sunday with much knowledge, but more importantly, with much inspiration. I wish that you will go on your way with some answers, but with even more questions, with a desire to keep on searching, questioning every aspect of this world, richer than before. Hopefully this Conference will bring you closer to full swanhood."

Now we return to the idea that words can’t do justice enough, even though we are professional wordsmiths. However, we can’t lie. Words were more than enough for her. Round one: mission accomplished, with a forcefully unsurpassable linguistic uppercut.
A few moments later, the presentation in society of the young people who lent a hand during the organizing phase (if I was dreaming, don’t pinch me). Then the northern contingent was introduced: the site owner, Mr. Dotterer, and the young staff who worked tirelessly to make everything turn out as planned. Between the coffee breaks and the talks, it was possible to observe more than one man drooling a bit, whether in anticipation of the delectable beefsteak to come or in response to the suggestive miniskirts of some local or visiting señoritas who officiated as “ambasadresses” of authentic Latin beauty. As has been mentioned more than once, it was a very high-level conference in every sense of the words.

The “Commander-in-Chief” expressed heartfelt thanks to the attendees and the organizers, and he looked very emotional, almost on the point of confessing his love for Chairwoman Humarán.

Up to this point everything was rose-colored, wholesale applause and general content. But the talks had to begin in earnest, and they began with Dr. Barcia, no less. To go into much detail about the content of his discourse, or try to summarize it, would really be an offense against good taste. It was simply, unrepeatably, a luxury for the soul and a delight for the ear.

But something more needs to be said. At this point, the not-so-invisible heroes of the Conference appeared on stage (as I write, I take my hat off to them). If there are translations so complicated that they take years off our lives, just imagine the task of interpreting Dr. Barcia, at his speed and with his digressions. If I may be permitted a soccer metaphor, the interpreters kept up with the field without even so much as a hair out of place.

Continuing that impeccable academic example was a magical talk delivered by the bewitching Patricia with Borges under her arm.

The lucidity, clarity of ideas, way of expressing them, order and knowledge of certain people is just amazing, and more so when one compares oneself with those individuals. Patricia regaled us with one of the most interesting and original talks of the entire Conference. Afterwards, of course, came the never-ending discussion of literary translators and their image as frustrated writers. Following the active participation of some members of the audience, as usually happens in these cases, the issue remained unresolved, but the best part is always the debate. If you would like a little virtual trip into the past, you will probably still find Patricia reading…

Nearing noon, we heard a change of accent, though not of language. It was finally Álex Grijelmo’s turn. The surprise was that he had brought no speech with him, he had only brought himself, and instead of reading what he had to say, his mouth sculpted nuances of meaning with a tonality both finely tuned and dazzling. Expert knight-errant of the word with only the dictionary for a sword, he struck home like no one else. And he started out precisely from the dictionary, from the translator’s foundation, to transport us to the world of metaphor, of language in practice, of the art of interpretation. Meanwhile, catching the audience unawares, the words had their way with us, which is seduction. The result of all this is an enchantment that is not easy to shake off. Here is an example of how the Spaniard’s siren song seduced us:

«As translators, you are the liaisons between cultures and forms of knowledge, the channel of communication between antiquity and the present, the architects of the formidable accumulation of learning that we have achieved down through history; you are the instrumentalists of language, the inhabitants of the most agreeable house ever known; you are the conductors of the train that carries words from one place to another. Only you can demonstrate that different words make us equal, because everything can be expressed in our own language if we only set our minds to it. You deserve our acknowledgement for the social function of your work and for your contributions to our language.

You, the translators of any language, have managed to convert the primitive dispersion of peoples and cultures into the modern unity of the human race.»

The final applause said it all, because it bade farewell to Grijelmo and summed up what had been, for many, an unforgettable morning.

And that is what I meant about an author’s first book. Thus began the morning that was now turning into lunchtime. What happened after that happened after that, but that’s another chapter.

[Editado a las 2006-10-11 22:10]


Eduardo Pérez  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
The mysterious letter Oct 13, 2006

The Conference was a magic spell that was full of brief, but emotional moments that elegantly accented this marathon morning. And I say brief because good things are of short duration; and I say magic spell because inexplicable things happened. The attendees were given the great luxury of experiencing the presence of someone who was not present, but which brilliantly crowned the opening remarks. The grammar experts say that a new paragraph indicates the beginning of a new idea, so this section that is purely and exclusively for him and for his craftsman’s pen, truly deserves such separate treatment. A toast to the messenger pigeons that bring letters such as this:

Distinguished friends:

I am very happy that it is possible for me to really be here with you, and not just in spirit. Invited by Aurora Humarán, yesterday, for the first time in my life, I took an airplane and by intercontinental flight I arrived at one of the places that I was most passionately eager to visit in all the world: Buenos Aires. I landed at the airport of the Argentine capital and there, waiting for me, were some friends whom I too, on occasion, have greeted or wished to greet in Barcelona. Solicitous and attentive as I could never have imagined, they transported me to the hotel with charming demonstrations of welcome and affection, and they tended to me with all the kindness that the natives of this land, the Argentineans, know how to show to the people that they care for deeply. In Spain, on such occasions as this, we use the verb “querer” (to love), but it must be acknowledged that the verb “amar” (to love deeply) is richer, broader, denser, more complete. That is why I realize that I love (quiero) the Spaniards, but I deeply love (amo) the Argentineans.

In the hotel at last, alone with myself, I realized how great was my good fortune to have finally arrived in Buenos Aires. I opened my luggage, took out a folder, and once again went over the words that I had prepared to address a select, diverse, and distinguished audience, every one of whose members was united with the others by a single fundamental link: words. Words re-unite us and bring us together here, words unite us with all the translators of the world who would have liked to have the good fortune that I have today: to be in Buenos Aires. But it isn’t possible: good fortune is for those who find it, not for those who seek it. And today I am a fortunate man to have found so many Argentineans in my life path.

The words that I had prepared to address this morning a select, diverse and distinguished audience, as they appear in my notes, are the following:

I am honored to have been invited to address all the translators of ProZ.com who are present at this Conference. I would like very much, you don’t know how much, to do it in person, looking into your eyes, observing in wonder the light of your faces, with the pleasure of all being together in the presence of personalities whom I admire so much, such as Pedro Luis Barcia, Álex Grijelmo, Alberto Gómez Font, Alicia María Zorrilla and, of course, my good friend Aurora Humarán.…

But it isn’t possible: my fear of flying is much greater than my desire. Maybe if the weight of the years that keep me company as faithfully as my shadow were lighter, perhaps I could make a supreme effort… I think it is no longer worthwhile, because to tell the truth, my fear is greater than any other consideration.

I wish with all my heart that the works of the Conference will be a success, that my translator friends from all over the world will receive good teachings from it, that it will help us understand one another more and more by means of words, and in short, I wish that civil and cultured words may be the only thing that one human being fires at another.

Many thanks.

José Martínez de Sousa

[Editado a las 2006-10-13 13:03]


Natalia Zudaire  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Managing Business Risks - Ralf Lemster Oct 19, 2006

Well, now it’s time to come back down to earth and talk about something we have to deal with every day in our profession: client relations and the issue of payment (or how to avoid finding ourselves with clients who never pay).

First, we should remember that Ralf Lemster always worked in banks in the area of investment management, and that afterwards he naturally took up financial translation; that’s why his presentation was basically about business, more than translation. His talk could have benefitted not only translators, but any teleworker running a home business.

His presentation offered us tools for recognizing and minimizing the special risks of businesses that are conducted by Internet, and for coping with the problems that arise from such risks. He discussed how to identify the actual existence of a business through e-mail, and explained the information and the procedures contained in the system of job offers maintained by ProZ.com, of which he is a moderator.

He explained how to calculate the degree of risk associated with a job, the concepts of “DNS search,” “whois,” and “IP,” and stressed the importance of distribution lists of payment practices and of the BlueBoard.

He laid out the minimum protocols necessary for initiating a job (purchase orders, advance payments, rates, payment method, contact information, etc.) He also emphasized the fact that we should pay attention to our “intuition,” that is, the sixth sense that we all have in order to know if something “smells fishy.” At the end he gave us a list of links that many of us were anxiously awaiting.

All this turned out to be interesting for those of us who, even though we work every day in a virtual marketplace and establish commercial relations with our clients, often forget that we are a business, at the very least a sole proprietorship, and that we must take all the necessary precautions.

If you would like to read the presentation and the useful links that Ralf Lemster provided during the ProZ.com Conference in Buenos Aires, click on this link.

[Edited at 2006-10-19 05:28]


Aurora Humarán (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Round Table: Master’s Degree Programs in Argentina Oct 19, 2006

In Argentina, there are three possibilities for those who wish to pursue a postgraduate degree program in Translation and Interpretation.

School of Law (University of Buenos Aires): Master’s Degree in Translation and Interpretation
School of Languages and Foreign Studies (University of Belgrano): Master’s Degree in Translation
School of Languages (University of Córdoba): Master’s Degree in Translation Studies

At the conference, officials from the University of Belgrano and the University of Buenos Aires were present.

• Raquel Albornoz: Dean of the School of Languages and Foreign Studies (University of Belgrano)
• Alejandro Parini: Director of the School of Languages and Foreign Studies (University of Belgrano)
• Margarita Moschetti: Assistant Director of the Degree Program for Certified Public Translators at the School of Law (University of Buenos Aires)

Both programs are quite new (the one at the University of Belgrano began in 2004 and the University of Buenos Aires is beginning to implement seminars which will give credits toward the master’s degree), so the audience showed a great deal of interest in them.

UB offers the possibility of attending classes on Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm.
UBA offers a more modular system in which credits are accumulated.

Alejandro Parini answers one of the attendees’ questions: Do you need a university degree to enter the master’s program? Parini explains that it is not a compulsory requirement. Whoever holds a degree issued by any university where translation programs are offered (UBA, UB, USAL, UCA, UADE, etc.) may enroll directly. Those who do not have a university degree may enroll, but they must discuss it first with a faculty professor.

[Editado a las 2006-10-19 12:18]


Mariana Idiart  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Greg Churilov: Guerrilla Marketing for translators Oct 19, 2006

Greg Churilov’s presentation garnered the attendance of many of the conference participants. Greg began by discussing the importance of our professional image. He spoke about what we should and should not do when we are selling our services. He gave us some very helpful advice about how to get clients…and how to keep them!

Of course, we were all very much interested in hearing his recommendations, because in addition to being an expert in Guerilla Marketing, Greg has been an independent free-lance translator since 1991, and with his wife, has created his own translating business, called Effective Translations. For that reason, all the advice based on his own experience in free-lancing and running a translation business, was very valuable to those of us who, as Greg said that day, are responsible for being sole proprietors as well as translators. He showed us some basic marketing tools, and made us realize that no financial investment is necessary in order for our marketing strategy to succeed. What some of us don’t realize is that every smallest detail of our professional behavior is part of our marketing strategy: how we sign an e-mail message, the information we include in our curriculum vitae, how we handle telephone calls, all are key activities that speak volumes about us.

He also talked about resources at our disposal to display the professional image that can be so beneficial to our business. He explained that imagination, specific knowledge in a subject area, and the time we spend on improving our image, are fundamental to reaching our goal: that of attracting clients. He also stressed the importance of follow-up as a way to motivate a client to use our services again. According to guerilla marketing, the relationship with the client is what is most important, and where we should concentrate our greatest efforts.

Finally, he advised us to be consistent in the implementation of our marketing plan. Not only to do marketing when our workload is light, but all the time: through our e-mails, by creating and updating our websites, by working as a team with other professionals, and by doing all we can to become the translators of choice for those possible clients, with whom we seek to create a valuable, and above all lasting, working relationship.


Aurora Humarán (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Clear Language Oct 28, 2006

Today, English is the commercial lingua franca. Even a translator who translates from German to Norwegian for a client in Israel will communicate with that client in English! Thus we have an obligation to learn to communicate in a “Plain English.”

I met Joanna Richardson when I attended this same course that she gave at the conference, and it seemed to me that it would be interesting for more of our colleagues to hear her. For several years, Joanna has been giving classes at one of the most important law firms in Argentina: Marval, O'Farrell & Mairal. Its lawyers, too, often need to communicate in English in this world of globalization. They have understood the value of clear language.

At this link you will find Joanna’s talk: short sentences, noun creation, correct use of punctuation in English, false cognates... and another opportunity to sharpen our skills.

[Editado a las 2006-10-28 23:04]


Aurora Humarán (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Alicia María Zorrilla Takes the Floor Oct 28, 2006

Any stranger wandering absent-mindedly through this forum and seeing these pictures, who would they imagine that was on the platform?

Doubtless they wouldn’t immediately think it was a linguistic scholar....

Nevertheless, those of us who know Dr. Zorrilla know the power of her discourse and even the mischievous astuteness with which she tends to approach ambiguities, incorrect gerunds, and unjustified Anglicisms. Those who were hearing her for the first time listened in astonished silence, and the jaunt was enriching and pleasant for us all.

She deftly took possession of the language and laid it out like cards on a table, while prodding us to recognize errors that translators commonly make: the tendency toward nominalization, the incorrect use of the dash, the lack of periods in abbreviations, the absence of opening exclamation points and question marks, among many others.

She asked us: Should the passive voice be used here? Some said, yes! Others, no! She shot us another one: Is it correct to say «He went to the theater sitting in the first row»? We said: No! Yes!...
A colleague told me that she heard the photographer answer several of the questions : -); it doesn’t matter what he answered, but it’s interesting that even questions about language can inspire such involvement...

Alicia gave us that always-necessary little nudge toward reflection. Even in the title she chose for her presentation (“The rules of the Spanish language, the pillars of translation”), the message is clear: the responsibility that we all have when it comes to knowledge of the Spanish language.

And speaking of presentations, this clicktakes us straight to Alicia María Zorrilla’s. Enjoy.


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I had a dream (ProZ.com Conference Buenos Aires 2006)

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