Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You know you’re from Ohio when…

Review of S&TD sessions Sarah Koby, Greenleaf Translation

This was my second year attending the ATA Annual Conference. My first was last year in Boston with the snowstorm. I loved every minute of ATA53! It’s so sunny in San Diego… though you know you’re from Northeast Ohio when it starts to get “too sunny” and you start hoping to see a cloud or two!

Last year in Boston I attended as a student. This year I attended for the first time as a professional, having just started my business – Greenleaf Translation – in the spring. It was surprising to me how much of a difference this makes: when I came as a student, I was there for the experience, to get a feel for the conference, and to meet people. Of course, I was there to learn, too – but it was more general. As a translator, now, I experienced the conference in a whole different way: I targeted sessions that could be useful to me in my daily work, and I experienced how helpful the moments between sessions can be for getting to know potential business contacts. My notes in the sessions were far more copious, too, because the sessions are conceptually and terminologically helpful. After my return, non-translators asked me what is in a session at a translators’ conference. The answer was, of course, complicated by the fact that the listener had only a sketchy understanding of translation in the first place. (I do my best to remedy this, but sometimes it is a grand undertaking!). I found myself using the words “continuing education” and “subject-area information,” which is what I focused on in my session selection.

Because I am specializing in science and technology, most of the sessions I attended had some form of a Sci/Tech (ST) focus. I attended sessions that were listed as ST (ST-4 “An Introduction to Aviation and Air Travel” and ST-5 “DNA Translation: It's All in the Genes”), several that had a fairly ST focus (G-2 “Milestones in DNA Sequencing Technologies and Genome Analysis”, G-6 “Wind Transportation and Logistics Terminology, Part I”, and G-7 “Wind Transportation and Logistics Terminology, Part II”), and part of another ST session (ST-10 “The "God Particle," Dark Matter, Black Holes, and All That”). For that last one, my mind was largely on my upcoming certification exam (fingers crossed!), so I wasn’t fully focused and ended up sneaking out early. That was unfortunate, since I heard it was fun and interesting–and informative, particle physics not being something I’ve read a lot about.

And I have to say, I had a lot of fun in these ST sessions! They were perfect for deepening my understanding in fields where I already have experience, and were also great for giving me a basic foundation and insight into fields where I have less experience. The sessions also allowed me to notice who else enjoyed similar topics, which was a great way to start networking.

I supplemented the technical sessions with visits to technically-inclined museums, too: the maritime museum (tall ships!) and the Midway aircraft carrier museum. These both allowed me to contextualize some of the info I’d already been gathering (such as the aviation terminology from Nick Hartmann’s session) and to learn new terminology, as well!

In all, this was a very rewarding conference for me, as I hope it was for others. I had fun, learned a lot, and met many people, though I’m happy to be home where there are sometimes clouds! And now I can’t wait ‘til next year!

Sarah Koby, www.greenleaftranslation.com (German>English, Sci-Tech), is a recent graduate of the Kent State University Masters in Translation program. She graduated with an MA in Translation, German. While she grew up learning German from an early age, she admits that she probably picked translation as a career because her father is also a professional translator. That said, she studied English as her major (and had a host of minors!) when an undergraduate. This gave her the chance to explore, so that she would later be certain that translation was the correct career choice for her. She now works from home as a freelance translator in Northeast Ohio.


  1. Thanks for reviewing for us, Sarah! Great to see your opinion. Carola's physics session was indeed good. And adding the technical museums is a perfectly geeky way of supplementing the conference sessions. :)

  2. Thank you, Karen! I enjoyed the conference, the museums, and writing this. I did have some trouble explaining some of my travel photos to friends:
    "... well, this is a sextant, and yes, this next picture is of a labeled diagram of a sextant, and this one is a diagram of rigging... why? So I would know what the parts are called. Why do I need to know that? Because I'm a translator!"

  3. you know you're from Ohio when:

    You're an astronaut/ involved in aviation =)


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