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Featured Article from The ATA Chronicle (May 2011)


Greeting the World in Our Backyard: ATA Hosts FIT XIX World Congress

ATA, in cooperation with the Inter national Federation of Translators (FIT), will host the FIT XIX World Congress, August 1-4 in San Francisco, California. The Congress will bring together translators, interpreters, terminologists, and other industry professionals from around the world to discuss topical issues. This marks the first time ATA has hosted the triennial gathering of the world’s translators and interpreters. ATA Past President Jiri Stejskal, ATA’s representative to FIT and FIT’s vice-president, is overseeing planning efforts for the Congress. To get a better understanding of FIT and the World Congress, Jiri answered a few questions.

What is FIT? The International Federation of Translators (Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs, or FIT for short) was founded in Paris in 1953 by Pierre-François Caillé. It is an international federation of national associations representing translators, interpreters, and terminologists, with more than 100 member associations from around the world. FIT does not have an individual membership category—only organizations such as ATA can be members. The main purpose of FIT is to bring together existing associations, to provide member associations with useful information, to promote the interests of translators, interpreters, and terminologists, and to uphold their moral and material interests throughout the world. FIT maintains formal operational relations with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

How was ATA chosen to host this event? ATA was selected as the host for the 2011 Congress at the 2008 XVIII Congress in Shanghai. Much is owed to ATA Past President Peter Krawutschke, who was president of FIT at the time of the Shanghai Congress. I was serving as ATA president then, and Peter suggested that I work with ATA’s Board to prepare the bid to host the event. With the Board’s support, I presented ATA’s proposal to FIT’s Statutory Congress in Shanghai, suggesting three possible venues for the next Congress: Orlando, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The overwhelming majority of attendees to the Statutory Congress voted for San Francisco, so that is where we will be in August.

This is the first time that FIT will be meeting in the U.S. It is a great honor for ATA to host the Congress of a language organization that has been traditionally Eurocentric, and I am very pleased with the enthusiasm and positive attitude of the entire FIT Council regarding both ATA and the Congress venue. To put things in perspective, there are only eight North American organizations in FIT, whereas Europe is represented by a whopping 61.

With the venue being the Golden Gate city, we could not resist incorporating a bridge into the Congress theme and the logo. “Bridging Cultures” is what we all do on a daily basis as translators and interpreters, because our business is not just about words, it is about what the words mean in a cultural context.

How is the Congress different from ATA’s Annual Conference? The FIT Congress has its own unique culture and tradition. Compared to ATA’s Annual Conference, FIT traditionally pays more attention to the social aspects of its events, and we can expect this to be the case in San Francisco. There will of course be a full program of educational sessions in a variety of subject areas, from literary translation to language technology to
“new trends” in translation and interpreting. Judging from the overwhelming response to our call for proposals both from North America and overseas, I think that we can expect a great crowd! Bring lots of business cards!

What are the benefits of attending? Attending the FIT Congress is a unique opportunity to meet with fellow translators and interpreters from every imaginable corner of the world and to exchange experiences and stories and learn from each other. For me, the greatest benefit is the networking opportunity, seeing old colleagues, and making new friends. The educational value is a very close second.

Register Now
Registration is now open. Check out the full conference program at  I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco!