Picking up where we left off… Almost… ITA 2017

About a year ago I decided to take a six-month long, shall we say, sabbatical of sorts, from blogging, to try and rethink my vision of this blog and its future, and what I would like to see here in terms of content and focus, and although I do realize that it’s been more than six months – more like double that time if you don’t count some minor changes and updates – I’m glad to be, and I hope you too will be glad to know that I am, back online and back to blogging.

So welcome once more to the Blog of a Freelance Interpreter and Translator. Same address, only better. And what better and more fitting place to pick up from than the very place where we left off, – the wonderful, magical, and always memorable ITA conference in Israel.

This time round the ITA (Israel Translators Association) Conference was held in Tel Aviv, which meant I got to see and explore more of the city, and enjoy its seemingly endless supply of spices, delicious foods and incredible food places to explore.

And now to the more relevant topic of the conference itself.

The main difference, probably, between this year’s conference and the last year’s one, was the introduction of the interpreting track, a wonderful and timely addition to the programme, organized with the joint support of the ITA and IsrAIIC.


The track featured some great discussions about the role and responsibilities of conference interpreters, featuring a special presentation by the AIIC president Angela Keil, and an overview of the profession in Israel by Gisèle Abazon.

This was followed by a wonderful presentation on “How and Why Did Interpretation Become a Profession?” by Batia Frost:

We believe people are not born interpreters, people become interpreters.

(if they work hard enough)

Batia Frost

Which I think many of us would agree with. This profession may give a lot, but it certainly also takes a lot. And it most certainly takes a lot of hard work. My grandfather used to say that being a genius takes 1% of talent and 99% of hard work. He might have said it in a slightly different way, using a slightly different language, but that’s the idea (and the numbers are right). Not to say that all interpreters are geniuses (because of course we are, and superheros too), but it does sound a lot like our profession. You need a particular set of skills, a certain talent or knack for languages (or incredible perseverance), and a really good relationship with stress, but then it’s all down to what you make of it, and how much work you put into it.

And this somehow seemed to be an appropriate illustration to the particular set of skills reference.


And yes, it does take a very long career, and one of the discussions covered that as well. That, and the need for continuous professional development and improvement.

Which stands true for both interpreters and translators, so, going back to the topic of the conference itself, it didn’t have just the interpreting track (because that would make for a rather odd translation conference), but something for everyone to enjoy.

Here’s a list of this year’s tracks:

  • business and skills,
  • technical,
  • cultural and literary,
  • legal,
  • and the traditional potpourri track.

Another welcome development was the featuring this year of more presentations on dealing with the big world out there – the people we work with, and the people we work for, including a brilliant presentation by Doug Lawrence on communication, and communicating with clients.


There were also some valuable insights ‘from the other side’ – not only that of our clients and customers, but also the many translation companies and agencies out there.

After all, we should all be working together, not engaging in some sort of ill-fated tug-of-war. And in order to be able to better communicate with each other we need to not only listen to each other, but also learn to hear one another, and to understand, or, at least, try to understand, where both sides are coming from. Only then can any communication be real (as opposed to something superfluous and, essentially, futile), and productive. Which is what people mean when they talk about that ‘fruitful cooperation’.

At the end of the day, that’s what we all want – a job well done, and a chance to feel good about it. And I would like to end this short coming-back post by quoting what Amos Oz said at the conference,

I tell my translators ‘Please be unfaithful in order to be loyal’

Amos Oz


For a more detailed overview of the conference and its presentations, please visit the ITA Conference website and check the programme section.


Now off to enjoy the BP17 Conference that starts in Budapest today. More information to absorb, more people to meet, more sunsets to enjoy.

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