From ATA’s Divisions: The German Language Division

By Arnold Winter

GLDAs a German-to-English translator, it was a “no brainer” for me to join the ATA’s German Language Division at the start of my career in translation almost ten years ago. While joining the ATA and putting up my profile online resulted in being contacted out of the blue by my first paying client, the GLD is where I started making friends in the business and also found my footing as a translator.

By the time of my first annual ATA conference in 2006 in New Orleans, I had already been working in translation full-time for about two years. My first impression at the conference was that everyone else already seemed to know each other very well. All around, people were greeting each other like old friends, standing around in clusters and getting caught up on each other’s lives. It was certainly a bit intimidating, and I felt like I shouldn’t be intruding on all the lively conversations that were going on.

That all changed very quickly when I attended the GLD’s social event at the conference. Striking up conversations was easy, even for an introvert like me, and I realized that everyone there was interested in the same things as I was and also shared the same experiences in the translation business.

Whether it is the challenge of converting bulky German compound nouns and passive constructions into a natural English style, or the finer points of dealing with specialized subjects and terminology, it was indeed thrilling to find that the linguistic and business challenges that I was running into as a newcomer to translation and had more or less been thinking about instinctively were things that other GLD members were not only encountering as well but could also get just as excited about.

The fact that I had also already been subscribing to the GLD’s Yahoo! Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/gldlist/info) made things much easier. Some of the names on people’s nametags were already familiar to me, and it was great to meet people in person for the first time whom so far I’d only known by name through their online postings. Both at that first ATA conference as well as at every other conference I’ve attended since then, this has served as a great conversation starter. Even most recently at the 2013 conference in San Antonio, I made new friends by people coming up to me and saying: “Hey, I know you from the list.”

In fact, aside from the camaraderie, collegiality and support I’ve found both online and in person, the most important immediate benefit I get from my GLD membership on a daily basis is its Yahoo! Group. To quote the GLD’s own description about the group: “If you haven’t subscribed yet, you’re missing an opportunity to tap into the wealth of knowledge GLD members are eager to impart.”

I myself have found the GLD’s Yahoo! Group to be the best place for quick answers on terminology issues that might otherwise take hours of research, most likely while facing an imminent deadline. Roughly two-thirds of the postings involve linguistic issues. Other topics include technology questions, doing business with clients based in Germany, and announcements and information of general interest.

As reported at the GLD’s meeting at the ATA’s 2013 conference, the GLD currently has about 1,500 members, but only 425 subscribers to the Yahoo! Group. So where’s everyone else?

Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned language professional, if you are not yet subscribing to the group, you should at least give it a try. It’s certainly okay just to “lurk” for a while and get a feel for the kinds of discussions that go on, and you can always unsubscribe if it’s not for you.

Subscribing to the GLD’s Yahoo! Group is easy. Here’s what you do:

1. Send an email to: gldlist-owner@yahoogroups.com

2. In the subject line, enter: subscribe gldlist

3. In the body of your email, write your:

– email address

– full name

– ATA membership number

That’s it!

Another benefit provided by the GLD is interaktiv, the division’s biannual newsletter. Both the most recent as well as past issues can be downloaded in PDF from the GLD’s web page (www.ata-divisions.org/GLD/).

Included in interaktiv are profiles on fellow GLD members, dictionary reviews, and information about GLD matters. Another recently added regular feature is Karen Leube’s “(Translation) Notes from the Homeland,” which reports on activities by the Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer e.V. (www.bdue.de), the professional organization in Germany for translators and interpreters.

In fact, according to GLD Administrator Eva Stabenow, roughly 9% of the GLD’s members live in Germany and surrounding countries. And with Karen Leube, who is based in Aachen, Germany, as the GLD’s “European Coordinator,” the GLD is now reaching out across the Atlantic. Some of those members outside the United States also come to the ATA’s annual conferences, which certainly makes the GLD a great place to network with colleagues and (potential) clients located in Europe.

Overall, based on my own experience, the GLD is both a great educational and informational resource as well as a place for developing relationships within the German translation community that can lead to referrals and other good things in one’s professional life. For a quick first impression about the GLD, just click on this link to its web site: www.ata-divisions.org/GLD/.

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About the author: Building on fifteen years of professional experience as an attorney in the United States, Arnold Winter provides German-into-English translation services in the fields of law, business, and finance (www.awtranslations.com).  ATA certified from German into English, he has been working with translation agencies and direct clients since 2003. In addition to the ATA and both its German Language Division and the ATA’s local chapter for the Greater Philadelphia area, the Delaware Valley Translators Association (www.dvta.org), he is also a member of the Delaware Translators and Interpreters Network (http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/delawaretranslators/info).