NZSTI Conference 2016

Date
Jun
3
20160603

NZSTI Conference 2016

The 2016 annual conference of NZSTI, held in Christchurch last weekend, marked both the 30th anniversary of our professional organisation, and our return to Christchurch as an event venue. We had a successful conference on both these fronts: our Christchurch colleagues were delighted with the level of participation, and some of the founding members were on hand to cut the 30th birthday cake and wish our organisation many happy returns.

The papers on offer ranged over a wide spectrum of time, space and subjects. The first keynote by NZTC Director Patrick King, entitled “From cottage industry to global network – three decades of translation”, kicked things off in fine style, providing a survey of the recent history of our profession, and a contextual framework for many of the issues on the agenda for the conference.

Meanwhile the second keynote, by Professor John Minford, on “redrawing China’s boundaries with the world: the translators’ quest for the universal heart-and-mind”, described translators as “warriors of light”, and offered some fascinating insights into translation and cross-cultural communication in 19th and 20th–century China, and the crucial significance of translation then and now. He also reminded us that in other places and at other times, translators have faced difficulties and even dangers out of all comparison with our challenges here and now. My own paper, considering translation into English as a transposition of from Platonic to Aristotelian philosophical perspectives, was also devoted to enduring rather than topical translation issues.

Other papers were resolutely focused on the future that awaits us. Robert Foote from NAATI, the Australian translation accreditation authority, was there to brief us on the project currently under way to make the Australian system – already very highly regarded internationally – fit for purpose in the coming years and decades. And Alison Rodriguez, from Brisbane, canvassed the technology future, citing the wisdom of a futurologist who claimed that the recipe for earning big dollars in the world of tomorrow will be to learn to “work with robots”. Her underlying message was perhaps that tools such as machine translation are here to stay, and now it is a matter of finding the best way to use them and add value to them. Machine translation was also under the spotlight in a presentation by Straker Translations, and Ian Cormack offered a workshop on the effective use of translation memories.

On the interpreting front, there were two excellent presentations – both of them on medical interpreting, as it happened – highlighting the interface between theory and practice. The speakers were Jo Sieradzki from Adelaide, and Yang Li from Auckland, both highly experienced interpreters in the health sector.

Proceedings were fittingly drawn to a close by another stunning piece of PowerPoint pyrotechnics from Dr Henry Liu, former President of NZSTI and President of FIT, the world body for the translation profession. His presentation was entitled “where is the front line”, and sent us out to do battle - and hopefully achieve victory - in an ever more fascinating and complex global environment.

John Jamieson