Inside the ABRATES VII International Conference

The Associação Brasileira de Tradutores e Intérpretes (ABRATES) held its 7th Annual Conference in June, and the ATA was there looking to forge ties. This brief peek inside the conference will show you how Brazilians do it.


ABRATES Vice-President Renato Beninatto interviewing Cora Rónai, the daughter of ABRATES founder Paulo Rónai

In June, the Associação Brasileira de Tradutores e Intérpretes (ABRATES) (Brazilian Association of Translators and Interpreters) held its seventh International Conference in beautiful Rio de Janeiro at the Centro de Convenções SulAmérica in Rio’s Cidade Nova district.

Over the course of three days, ABRATES was able to bring 612 professionals and students together to hear 85 speakers from eight countries. With over 90 sessions, attendees faced some tough decisions as they tried to squeeze in as much of the amazing content as possible in such a short time.

This year, pre-conference courses were also offered. These were organized in association with Café com Tradução (Coffee and Translation), an initiative of a group of professional translators and interpreters to promote courses, events, lectures, and workshops for continuing education to colleagues with the support of ABRATES. Course subjects included a basic course on memoQ, a basic course on Wordfast Classic, a workshop on English>Portuguese literary translation, a course on Brazilian Portuguese grammar, and tips for booth interpreters.


I had the honor of representing ATA at the conference. Since we do have members in common and ATA has held certification exams in Brazil, it was time for a formal introduction.

The ABRATES board of directors reserved a few minutes at the beginning of the conference for me to speak to attendees on behalf of ATA. After giving a brief overview about ATA, I spoke about the shared goals of both associations: to advance the translation and interpreting professions and foster the professional development of individual translators and interpreters. I also mentioned ATA’s desire to strengthen ties with ABRATES and congratulated the association on its accomplishments during 46 years of activities (it was established in 1970). I then invited attendees to stop by ATA’s table during the conference.
The time allotted was not enough to cover all I wanted to say, so I made myself available to answer questions throughout the conference. In addition to talking to attendees between sessions, I was also on hand at the table ATA was provided to display information. Attendees who stopped by could also leave their business cards in a bowl for their chance to win several ATA giveaways (e.g., The Chronicle, pens). Two drawings took place during the conference and eight ATAware items were given away.

The Main Event

Conference sessions were organized into the following tracks: Translation into Foreign Languages, Brazilian Sign Language, Academic, Judiciary, CAT Tools, and Translation in General. Presentation topics included machine translation (MT), translation memory, computer-assisted translation, Brazilian Sign Language, pricing, interpreting practices, and professional growth in general.

The session that impressed me the most was the panel on MT by Kirti Vashee, Ricardo Souza, Ronaldo Martins, and Marcelo Fassina, which was moderated by ABRATES Vice-President Renato Beninatto. A lot of new information was provided on many fronts: the level of development of MT engines, differences between approaches in the development of MT engines, new uses of MT, and which languages are best and worst suited for use with MT (e.g., Brazilian Portuguese and Swahili, respectively).
The liveliest session I attended was the roundtable on literary translation and copyright offered by the Sindicato Nacional dos Tradutores (SINTRA), the Brazilian Translators Union. The panelists were:

  • Heloísa Martins Costa (translator and former ABRATES officer)
  • Ernesta Ganzo (Brazil-based Italian translator and lawyer)
  • Daniele Petruccioli (translator and founder of Italy’s Sindicato Traduttori Editoriali-STradE)
  • Renata Pettengill (executive editor at Grupo Record, a Brazilian publishing house)
  • Lenita Esteves (Brazilian professor and translator of Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of The Rings)

The moderator was Petê Rissatti, from Ponte de Letras, a well-known blog among translation and interpreting professionals who work with Portuguese.

Interpreting in the Spotlight

I consider myself a veteran of translator and interpreting conferences and other events, but the ABRATES conference offered a few novelties. One of them was the availability of free, fully equipped interpreting booths to attendees. Interpreting students and those who were curious about the profession had access to the booths, which had been placed in many of the rooms. Those who chose to use them had the opportunity to be evaluated by their peers and/or professionals. Evaluation forms were on hand, courtesy of HI2T by Versão Brasileira, a company that offers interpreting courses and specialized training in Brazil and around the world through the International Association of Conference Interpreters. The booths were also available to professionals who were considering a change in language direction, affording them the opportunity to practice. Interpreting students also took advantage of the booths to have their proficiency levels evaluated. Comunica, an interpreting services provider run by Richard Laver, was responsible for the booths and technicians. Comunica also brought a professional makeup artist, a photographer, and provided a booth without glass for taking professional photos of attendees, all at no charge.

In addition, continuing education sessions were also offered to professional Brazilian Sign Language interpreters.

Brazil’s Second Language Speakers and ABRATES

Though both ATA and ABRATES represent translators and interpreters, one major difference is that ABRATES also
represents professional Brazilian Sign Language interpreters.

Brazilian Sign Language (Língua Brasileira de Sinais, or LIBRAS) was officially recognized as Brazil’s second language by the National Congress of Brazil when it passed Law 10.436 on April 24, 2002, which was signed by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Later, in 2005, President Luiz Inácio da Silva issued Decree 5626/2005, recognizing it as a legal means of communication, a recognition that extends to resources linked to LIBRAS.

The Portuguese acronym to identify sign language professionals in Brazil is TILS, which stands for Tradutor-intérprete de LIBRAS. (This designation appears before the professional’s name on business cards.)

In recognition of the important role LIBRAS interpreters play in the association, ABRATES invited a TILS to assist the board during the opening ceremony, which included the Brazilian National Anthem. TILS Paloma Bueno Fernandes accepted the challenge and also gifted us with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem in LIBRAS. It was an unexpected and unforgettable sight!

Saying Goodbye Is Bittersweet

The event’s closing was also touching. Stage actress Vera Holtz, a longtime friend of ABRATES President Liane Lazoski, was present for the closing session. Vera was on hand to celebrate Liane’s accomplishments during her term as president and to help her welcome incoming ABRATES President William Cassemiro, who had served as treasurer of the outgoing board.

As usual at such events, we all learn a lot, have fun, and replenish our reserves of emotions and memories of beautiful times shared with friends and colleagues. One of the highlights for me occurred just after the opening remarks, when Cora Rónai, daughter of ABRATES’s founder Paulo Rónai, was interviewed by ABRATES Vice-President Renato Beninatto.

Aside from the honor of representing ATA, my time at the conference allowed me to discover new software (including how to make better use of an application I have been using for some time), learn new techniques, and even develop new partnerships. I look forward to ABRATES 2017 in São Paulo!

Learn More about Brazil’s Translator and Interpreter Community



ABRATES VII International Conference Closing Video



Giovanna “Gio” Lester is a 36-year translation and interpreting veteran. As an interpreter at international events, she has been the voice of presidents, prime ministers, surgeons, scientists, hairdressers, entrepreneurs, teachers, students, and programmers. She served as the president (2011–2012; 2015) of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida, Inc., which she co-founded in 2009. She served on the board of both medical interpreter certification initiatives for the National Coalition on Health Care (later, the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters) and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. A past administrator of ATA’s Interpreters Division, she is currently a contributor and the administrator of The NAJIT Observer, an online weekly publication of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT). She is certified by both ATA and the Associação Brasileira de Tradutores (ABRATES) as a Portuguese>English translator. In addition to ATA, ABRATES, and NAJIT, she is a member of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters. Contact:

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