I just attended my first translator’s conference, the BP18 Conference, held this year in Vienna (The letters “BP” stand for a number of things at once). Being part of this event made quite an impression on me, with lasting after-effects.
The BP18 Translator Conference consisted of two full days of talks broken up with plenty of networking breaks. There are extras – optional dinners, sightseeing tours – but as I planned to do some socializing with friends who live in the city, I eschewed most of them this time around.
Day 1 was a marathon of twelve 30-minute presentations, much like TED talks, on a gamut of subjects ranging from increasing your visibility on the market to AI in machine translation to (legal) web scraping for term resources. Day 2 involved six time blocks, each filled with three different speakers giving somewhat longer and more in-depth talks in adjoining rooms – here, we had to decide which of the three simultaneous talks we were most interested in attending, a Qual der Wahl situation if there ever was one.
Nearly every talk I heard taught me something I didn’t know and gave me something more to think about. For me, in fact, the magic of this conference was in how – and I don’t think this was planned – one talk would get me thinking about something someone said in the previous hour, and then something from the previous day as well, and these thoughts coalesced into an idea.
Those of you who are long-time readers here know me from the years when, for me, translation was more or less a hobby, or a tool for blogging to a (mostly) English-speaking audience. You may also remember my attempts to change things about, unable to decide how to use The Practice Room in the best possible way as an extension of my professional web presence for this vocation. It was while a speaker was, in fact, discussing blogs, that the light bulb above my head went on, and I realized that I didn’t actually need to make any major changes. I’ll be deleting a lot of the old extraneous posts about politics or current events, and keep what I consider to be interesting articles worthy of preserving as a showcase of my writing abilities, primarily posts related to history and culture, including art, music, architecture, travel, and literature. Some categories will disappear to make room for more relevant ones. I’m also going to be posting under my own name from now on. You may not even notice the changes!
But I would be remiss to wax about the conference without including special praise for the people. Not only the organizer, who did a splendid job under what must have been massive amounts of stress, but my fellow attendees as well. It was a pleasure to meet so many thoughtful and intelligent types, many of them introverts like me (or, as I once heard someone describe another group, “cheerful hermits”), and I think I even made a friend or two.
I would highly recommend the BP18 Translator Conference for any translator who hasn’t stopped learning new things. And that should describe all of us.
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