From ATA’s Divisions: The Portuguese Division


By Mirna Soares
Member of the PLD Leadership Council

It took me many years to join a community of translators. When I started, I was unaware of best business practices, I missed all the interesting conferences and I never got any specialized feedback. Everything seemed to happen very slowly. Looking back, I realize I could have taken some shortcuts. I wasted so much time reinventing the wheel!

There is no substitute for experience and hard work, but we don’t need to rely solely on our personal experience to grow professionally. We should build on the work that has been done by others, so we can benefit from it and then offer our contribution and complement their efforts.

I joined the ATA Portuguese Language Division (PLD) in 2010. I already had experience as a translator, but I was new to the United States. It was just the right timing to attend the PLD 14th Mid-year Conference in Alexandria, VA. There was a line-up of great presentations, and I learned more about what Portuguese translators and interpreters were doing in the U.S. I didn’t know then that many of these new colleagues would become my friends, talk to me on a daily basis, visit me in Washington, D.C., invite me to their homes and exchange referrals.

I joined the PLD for three broad reasons and I hear these same reasons repeated by other Portuguese translators and interpreters: to congregate, learn and advocate.


We are an upbeat crowd! We have a history of enthusiastic and devoted administrators who keep us engaged and welcome members who are excited to help.

Our dinner party and welcome reception at the ATA Annual Conference consolidate what we do all year through social media – we are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – and through our very active listserv. There has been a consistent effort to create visibility for our members by publishing their profiles and talking about their experiences, and also to connect translators and interpreters virtually and personally. The point of all this is to create a community of professionals who, despite being a very diverse group, have a lot in common.

Networking is, of course, a big part of this community. The more we learn about each other’s expertise and personalities, the easier it is to find a mentor, offer a substitute to a valued client when we are on vacation, hire a reviewer for that difficult gas and oil project, find a booth buddy for a medical conference, work with a translator to adapt a text to another Portuguese variant or even find a compatible business partner.


Newcomers will be amazed at how many years of combined experience we have! Back in the ’90s when I was starting out, I would have loved to belong to a group like this.

Newbies to the T&I profession can expect a varied group of people from different countries and with different backgrounds. This wealth of knowledge is explored in the PLDATA, our quarterly newsletter. From interviews to book reviews and useful technology tips to articles, this publication is a great source of information for Portuguese linguists.

In the past couple of years, some of our experienced translators and interpreters have offered online webinars, and this initiative has shown a tendency to grow. Every year at the ATA Annual Conference there are PLD speakers covering topics of interest to Portuguese translators and interpreters: literature, subtitling, terminology, legal language – and this is only a small sample of the presentation topics. And this year, as in some previous years, we have a distinguished speaker who will also give a pre-conference seminar.

All this makes the PLD a rich place to grow as a professional.


The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I am a member and volunteer my work and time because there is a big world out there to be conquered, but individual efforts are just a drop in the bucket.

The translation market, as we know, is changing very rapidly, with the emergence of new players and new roles. This might seem overwhelming to those new to the profession, and it is certainly daunting to many old-timers as well. But by working together, furthering our professional development and having a unified voice, we guarantee that we’ll be part of writing T&I history.

 The PLD keeps Portuguese language translators connected, up-to-date, in touch with the familiar and open to the unfamiliar. I have been a member for only three years and so many of my professional activities are tied to this group. It has been a source of motivation and knowledge, and keeps me connected with my native language.

Our members join because they want to network, keep up with the changing industry, become better translators, promote the profession and the language, and, of course, have fun!

See for yourself. Check out our website ( and read our testimonials, talk to people and ask about their experiences. I’ll conclude with the words of PLD member Patricia Fonseca, which sum up the benefits of ATA and PLD membership:

“Joining the ATA was my first step toward becoming a professional translator. I have learned a lot from the other members at meetings and via webinars. I am quite happy to see an active Portuguese division. A professional translator needs to keep up with the industry and her working languages, and networking is key.


About the author: Mirna Soares is an ATA-certified translator from Portuguese into English and from English into Portuguese. She currently lives in Washington, D.C. and works for the Organization of American States as an in-house Portuguese translator and reviewer. Mirna is also the founder and co-owner of Corpora Translations (, a T&I company in Fortaleza, Brazil. Find her on Twitter @corporatrans for translation-related news.

2 thoughts on “From ATA’s Divisions: The Portuguese Division

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