ESLETRA Conference: El Español, Lengua de la Traducción
By Cristina Marquez Arroyo, President of the Conference Steering Committee
April 25 and 26. Instituto Cervantes of New York, New York. ESLETRA, (Spanish as language of translation).
Under the presidency of Miguel Sáenz, renowned literary translator and member of the Royal Academy of Language, the 5th ESLETRA conference gathered some of the most distinguished speakers and lecturers in the field of Spanish translation and spanned a wide variety of topics that created an ideal forum to share and discuss some hot issues among actual translators and reviewers.
(Image: ESLETRA Conference poster, designed by Jesús Zurita)
Coming from different continents and backgrounds, both audience and speakers established a true bidirectional communication, an interesting dynamic given the many “movers and shakers” present in the auditorium.
The presence of Spanish in current international institutions and in the US Academia was discussed by a panel of three women: Maria Valdivieso (European Community Council), Aída Gómez Martínez (John Jay College of Justice) and María Nobrega (United Nations), who made an impressive presentation that lead to an intense debate among the audience.
Fernando Navarro (medical-scientific translator) and Borja Ortiz de Gondra (UN legal translator), from Salamanca and Geneva respectively, presented a sound overview of the status of Spanish as a translated language in their respective fields.
Representatives of the four most important Spanish language institutions, Bertha Gutiérrez Rodilla (Spanish Association ofTerminology), Ignacio Olmos (Cervantes Institute of New York), Gerardo Piña Rosales (North American Academy of Spanish Language) and Miguel Sáenz (Royal Academy of Spanish Language), analyzed the impact of those institution’s policies on the evolution of Spanish as a translated language.
(Image: Miguel Sáenz speaks at the opening session.)
Leticia Molinero (North American Academy of Spanish Language) made the final presentation of the first day, about Spanish in the United States and the need to have its regional variances (“estadounidismos”) accepted by official Spanish language institutions. Let’s not forget that even though Spanish is not an official language of the United States, the country is still home to the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, with 52 million speakers, second only to Mexico.
The second day brought more “hot” topics, widely enjoyed and discussed by speakers and attendants alike. A highlight of the program was discussion around the importance of translation in “global Spanish”, or the current need of a “neutral” Spanish among 20 countries and approximately 430 million speakers. In an interactive session, Miguel Turrión guided the audience through a trip around Spanish-speaking countries, just to prove that the diversity in terminology that enriches the language is the basis for its coherence and unity. This session also lead to an intense debate about the futility of the current trend to demand a different translation for each Spanish speaking country.
A more direct relation between Spanish and other languages like Arab or Chinese, without English as intermediary, was an interesting topic discussed by Miguel Turrión (reviewer of Arab into Spanish translations at the European Commission) and Maite Aragonés Lumeras (translator of Chinese patents into Spanish at the World Intellectual Property Organization).
The last session was dedicated to Machine Translation, a highly controversial topic amongst independent translators. Tom Alwood, an expert in MT technical development, offered a sound explanation of the different MT systems, and Fernanda Lozano, a savvy user of the PAHO´s Machine Translation System provided an informative description of this new method of working, which will change the way translators work in the very near future. Again, an intense debate followed.
The conference closed with the presentation of the ESLETRA Award to Fernando Navarro, in recognition of his outstanding contribution toward Spanish as a translated language in the Scientific environment, particularly in the field of Medicine and Applied Sciences.
(Image: Fernando Navarro accepts ESLETRA Award.)
The testimonials sent by attendants from Algeria, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, United States and Uruguay, indicate that the conference was highly informative but, most important, provided a true communication environment for a dialogue among peers.
It’s not yet decided where the sixth edition of the ESLETRA Conference will take place, although María Gabriela Morales (Argentina) and María Valdivieso (Belgium) volunteered their help to organize the event. In any case, we can be sure that it will provide another outstanding opportunity of professional development and communication between translators and interpreters of Spanish as language of translation.