Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond

Revert, Revise, Reconfigure: My Brain

Here’s what being non-natively bilingual means.

It means that I didn’t grow up speaking French, but I speak it now.

It means I’m proficient, not fluent. It means I speak French well enough that a surprisingly high number of people have been mislead into the assumption that I’m actually French, but I still sometimes have to ask French people about vocabulary words.

It means that I can write pretty darn well in French, but if it’s a professional thing, I’ll have a native French speaker edit it.

It means I can slip very easily between French and English. It means I can slip very easily between the US and France and England and Madagascar.

It also means that my brain is wired one way, with additional circuits that have been added as the years have gone by.

When I’m in a French-speaking environment, I think in French. (That was one of the ways that I knew I was finally becoming comfortable with the language, when I could think and dream in it.)

When I’m in an Anglophone environment, my brain reverts to its original programming. And it reverts so much that all my memories transform into English memories. Any recalled speech from a French conversation is automatically recalled in English, and if I were to want to recount the actual French words for someone, I’d have to retranslate it back to my second language in my head.

Brain circuitry is weird. I don’t quite understand it sometimes.

Security, Life, and Madagascar

Point of order #1: I realize I haven't written much about Madagascar in the months since I traveled there. I've been hard at work doing lots of translating, both of stories and novel excerpts. The first piece has been picked up for an anthology from Serving House Books, and more announcements will be coming soon! If any of you lovely readers are interested in helping out, either from a publishing or translation standpoint, please do let me know.

Point of order #2: The main reason I haven't written much here is that I've been busy. (See above, plus life.) But the secondary reason is that I'm still trying to process a lot about my trip to Madagascar last summer/fall, and consequently about the decision I made to learn more about the culture to be able to introduce it to my home culture.

Here follows some processing.

I knew that I would experience major culture shock going to Madagascar. It was going to be like nothing I'd ever experienced before. I talked with some friends and colleagues before I left to get tips on traveling to an impoverished African country as a white American female, and I prepared as best I could. I also had essentially an entire family looking after me the entire time I was there, guiding me through the city, the food, the bathrooms, the expectations, and the very very few bookstores.

Because I had help, my experience was worlds easier than I'd expected. And yet it was also infinitely harder than I could have ever imagined. I was sleeping almost twelve hours a night, and I eventually realized it was because my mind and my senses were so overwhelmed with being constantly on guard. There was nothing I could take for granted, from the electricity being on or the water being hot, to being able to communicate with people or keeping myself safe.

This is hard to explain with the proper subtleties, so let me illustrate this with contrasting stories: a few weeks ago, I was pulled over by the police on the interstate in New York. (The reason was legitimate, but also unimportant to this discussion.) Although it was my first time being pulled over while driving, I knew exactly what to expect. I know a few cops, and they all say that traffic stops are the scariest parts of their jobs. They want to have as much control over the situation as possible, because anything could happen. So if they approach a car and the driver has already rolled down the window, turned their interior lights on, and put their hands in plain sight on the steering wheel, with their license and registration within reach, they feel better. Safer. So that's exactly what I did.

And I felt safe, too. I wasn't driving on a suspended license, the cop was just doing a routine stop, and I knew why. There was nothing for me to be afraid of, and no reason for me to not trust the cop.

(I understand that much of that feeling of security is because I'm white. That's a different discussion, but for now, I'll just acknowledge that I have that privilege.)

Let's contrast this to when the taxi I was riding in was pulled over by the cops in Madagascar around 11 at night in the middle of the capital city. I was going home from a party, one that I'd only attended because I'd been assured that the host would have a taxi driver friend of his available to take me home whenever I wanted. Madagascar doesn't have an official curfew, but it's not really safe to be out and about at night, especially for foreigners. Especially for a white vazaha. So I'd arranged a ride home well before the party. But come 11pm, when I wanted to go home, the host's friend was nowhere to be found. About five young Malagasy men, high schoolers, immediately volunteered to escort me to a taxi. They were friendly and protective (and still slightly in awe of me, the American girl), and they helped me find a taxi and negotiate a good price. The driver spoke a little French, and I knew the route home, so I felt as in control of the situation as I could have, given the circumstances.

The taxi was stopped by the cops as we were driving through the central square of the city. That was quite common, a practice set up to check the registration of taxi and bus drivers, and it does help to cut down on crime. But when we got stopped, they didn't care about the driver. There was a vazaha in the backseat. So I got asked for my papers, instead.

For security reasons—actual security reasons—I didn't carry my passport around with me. I had a copy of it and my visa. But as I discovered that night, that wasn't enough. I had to have my copy certified at the town hall. Fine. I said I'd do that come Monday morning. But that wasn't enough.

"Step out of the car, ma'am."

Well, it was that, in French. Said by a very uniformed gendarme with a semi-automatic weapon strapped across his chest. For all the talk about curfew, all the talk about corrupt politicians, no one had told me whether or not the police were trustworthy. I had no idea whether to cooperate or be scared out of my mind. Or both.

Ten minutes of questioning followed, while my taxi driver got out to smoke a cigarette. The questions started rather harshly, what are you doing in Madagascarwhat do you do for a living,  where are you fromwho are you staying with (which had the most terrifyingly hilarious response of "I don't know", because although I knew everyone's first names and had memorized the neighborhood name I was staying in, I hadn't yet memorized the last names of the huge family I was staying with . . . mostly because every generation has a different last name, and last names are quite long, and 95% of the last names start with A or R anyway). Eventually, the policeman turned a little chatty, was genuinely interested in what I thought of Madagascar, and I thought that maybe he was just bored and needed something to do.

Then, another police SUV pulled up onto the curb . . . in such a fashion that I was caught between the taxi and the first policeman, getting my shirt caught on the end of his rifle barrel as my toes tried to evade the SUV tires as they came by.

More questions followed, which now included the phrase well, we'll have to take you down to the station. Definitely not a situation I want to be in. I just kept answering any questions they asked, all the while asking if I could call my "host mom" to have her bring me my actual passport. The number I was actually bringing up on my phone, surreptitiously, inside my bag, was the emergency after-hours line to the US Embassy.

Suddenly, I got a new question: "It's dangerous to be out at night. Do you trust your taxi driver?"

Somehow I figured that if I answered "no", I wasn't going to get home that night. And the taxi driver hadn't done anything to make me not trust him. So I answered "yes".

My copies were handed back to me, and I was told to have a good night.

Now, the point of this story is not to say that Madagascar is a terrifying place to be. Nor to illustrate how naive I can be sometimes. (I realized later that they were only looking for a bribe, and one that would be equivalent to about 5 USD, at that.) It merely stands in contrast to the uneventful, non-worrisome, and routine traffic stop that I experienced in the States.

Madagascar is a hard place for an upper-middle class American to be. Most of Antananarivo runs about as well as early 1800's New York City, if someone had waved a magic wand and suddenly there were cars and cell phones dropped in. There are some slum areas where sewage literally runs through the gutters, where it looks like cell phones have been dropped into the Middle Ages. Basic expectations of life are different. Electricity is not a given. Freedom is not a right. Red zones of rioting are known as easily as the names of streets (and neither are marked on maps, generally speaking). It's a different world. And from my perspective, a difficult one.

But for some people in the world, that is just their life. I went, and I stayed, and I endured, and I left after six weeks to come back home to my spring-filled mattress and my shower with running hot water and my country where political unrest means angry Internet comments instead of life-threatening protests. And while I will never claim that my experience in Madagascar gave me PTSD, I do have some lasting reactions that approximate a very mild version of similar symptoms. I have had nightmares about the night I got stopped by the police in Madagascar. I play stories over and over again in my head that people told me about boarding up their houses and fleeing for the country in front of rioting mobs. And, while I have been working on translations and talking to all the authors I met there, I haven't necessarily proffered up many stories to friends and family here, for fear of . . . well, fear.

So. That's that. I'd been avoiding writing this post for a very long time, because I don't want anything to get in the way of Madagascar's chances for entering the international literary scene. I don't want my hard, not-perfect, but still glorious experience to dull the excitement of their literature.

Because here's the thing. Madagascar isn't perfect, but Malagasies know that, and they're working on it. They're not doing it in the same way as America, and that's fine. They're not at the same developmental point as America, and that's also fine. They know they have corrupt politicians, and unsafe streets, and questionable water supplies, and racism, and children who die during the rainy season because the country roads get so washed out that they literally can't get to the doctor. But they also know about the good things they have to offer: vanilla and lemurs, of course, but also completely organic food, a really great basketball team, a proud history of unifying the island before the Europeans came, the actual honest-to-goodness friendliest people I have ever met, and stories. Oh, the stories.

And that's what I love about Malagasies, and about Madagascar. They're not quite as far along the development scale as the States, but that's okay, and they're on their way. And there are lots of very, very smart people who live there and write remarkable works. So even if part of me is scared to go back for more research, I will go, and I'll get better at adapting, and I'll learn how to do that from Malagasies. I'm under no illusions that I can fix anything, but maybe I can help English speakers broaden their horizons a bit. And isn't that why we all translate, anyway?

"Erfurt" Giveaway Winners!

Happy Monday, everyone! And let me be the first to bring you good news. I don't have an envelope in my hand, but I do have your two winners for the e-book giveaway of Return to Erfurt, Story of a Shattered Childhood: 1935-1945.

Please give a big congratulations to two winners from Twitter:

James Garza (@GarzaWords) and Debbie Garrick (@DebbieTranslate)

I'll be contacting both of you shortly with how to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who commented and spread the word! If you're interested in purchasing your very own copy of the book, you can. There are even options: paperback or e-book.


My Memoirs, Three Ways

Because I have to play my own game.

One of the things you can do in order to enter my giveaway (the contest is open through TONIGHT at 11:59pm EST) is to leave a comment explaining who you'd want to write your memoirs, if not you. There are a few ways one could go about this. The way I see it, I have three options:

1. Évelyne Bloch-Dano

Évelyne is a very well-known French biographer with many works to her name, including biographies of Proust's mother, Zola's wife, and a certain writer named George Sand. She'd make my life sound textured and romantic, delving through my emails (and grade-school handwritten correspondence) to paint a picture of the most interesting parts of my life. She wouldn't shy away from scandal--not that I've had any, mind you--but she wouldn't fabricate any, either.

There would probably be a scene dedicated to the time we met in Paris at Angelina, across from the Tuileries Gardens, and I gushed for a few minutes too long about the Mont Blanc. (I was nervous to meet her, and the dessert was amazing . . . )

2. My husband

Lots of you, dear readers, have mentioned family members, friends, or significant others who could write your memoirs, with the idea that they know you best. However, I'd have to nix this option as soon as it came to the table.

Not because my husband can't write. He can. He writes very good stories. No, it's because my husband is too biased. The man thinks I'm the best thing since sliced bread. And that's fantastic for a marriage, one might even say ideal. But if he wrote my memoirs, it would basically just be a list of my accomplishments in increasingly capitalized letters, with an increasing number of exclamation marks, in increasingly large font sizes, with an increasing number of superlative adjectives stuck in front of my name, so that eventually, an entire chapter would be a sentence of adjectives with one word on each page.

That's just bad formatting. I should spare the world that.

3. Neil Gaiman

I have no idea if world-famous, bestselling, award-winning sci-fi author Neil Gaiman has ever written anyone else's biography. I'd imagine his only interest would be in Terry Pratchett. But if I could convince him to write my memoirs, they would be laced with magic and mystery, in all the most ordinary ways. My American Girl dolls from childhood would have a strange power, my mother would probably have buttons for eyes, I would have befriended the old woman feeding pigeons in Union Square Park to start an adventure, and I'd be learning to play the carillon for use in the next war of the gods. But only in the most ordinary ways. The ocean, after all, is only at the end of the lane.


And there, that's my answer. If you'd still like a chance to win a free e-book copy of Return to Erfurt, leave a comment or spread the word on Twitter using the hashtag #Erfurtgiveaway to enter by TONIGHT, Friday, February 27, 2015, at 11:59pm EST. Winners will be announced on Monday!

"Erfurt" Giveaway

I was going through old posts this morning and discovered that, the first time I did this, I called it something ridiculous. But tradition must be upheld. And thus, please prepare yourselves for:

The Second Not-Nearly-Regular-Enough-To-Be-Called-Annual A.M.C. Giveaway!

*assorted cheers and trumpets*

The Prize: Two (2) randomly-chosen people will each receive one (1) e-book copy of Return to Erfurt, Story of a Shattered Childhood: 1935-1945, by Olga Tarcali, translated by yours truly, published by Centro Primo Levi Editions, released this month. I can't inscribe them this time, but you have the option of receiving a handwritten letter from me to go along with your book, if you so choose.

The Entry(-ies): There are two ways of entering, each of which grants you one entry (so every person can enter up to twice).

  1. In honor of Olga Tarcali, Marianne's best friend who wrote her story in book form, leave a comment on this post of who you would want to write your memoir (other than yourself). Bonus brownie points for explaining why.
  2. To help spread the word, tweet a link to this post. Must either tweet at me (@sunshineabroad) or include this hashtag: #ErfurtGiveaway

The Deadline: End of this week! Friday, February 27, 2015, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

The Rules: After the contest, I will randomly select two entrants (by assigning a number to each comment and Twitter account and using a random number generator), and announce the winners on this blog on Monday, March 2. I will then contact the winners for their email address and, if desired, mailing address. Anyone with a valid email address anywhere in the world may enter. Limit two entries per person.

The Why: This is the most important book I've ever worked on, and it's a damn good one. I'd like to share it with people.

Good luck to all!

Announcement Time!

Remember that oh-so-emotionally-challenging yet ultimately rewarding book I told you lovely readers about a while back? This one. The book that I refuse to call my "Holocaust book". The one about a German girl's exile to France, hiding in Italy, and then life in France after the war . . . the girl-turned-woman who I got to meet, Marianne Spier-Donati. One of the bravest and most wonderful women I've ever met.

(There seems to be a theme, here. The first book I translated was also about another great woman, author George Sand. Huh. Nice connection.)

Anyway, back to the point at hand. This is a publishing announcement!

Yes, that's right: my translation of Return to Erfurt, Story of a Shattered Childhood: 1935-1945, by Olga Tarcali, has officially been published by Centro Primo Levi Editions.

Isn't it pretty? It fits in really nicely with all the different series that CPL Editions has started publishing. All of the books are fantastic. (Check them out here.)

Things to note:

  1. Yes, I will be doing a giveaway shortly. Stay tuned! More info TK.
  2. If you find yourself in New York City next week, CPL Editions is reopening the SF Vanni bookshop in celebration of all their new publications. The party will be on Tuesday, February 17th, 6-9:00 p.m., at 30 West 12th St. Full announcement here.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, you can purchase the book now! Paperbacks here, ebooks here, and more info from the publisher here.

Go forth and read! (I mean, it doesn't have to be this book; you should be reading excellent things, anyway.)

OFAC's Syria Sanctions

Some serious stuff today, everyone.

As a member of ALTA's Board, I've recently joined my fellow Directors in expressing our support of PEN and other leading authors' and publishers' organizations requesting that OFAC permit US publication of books and articles from Syria.

That's a lot of surprising words for someone unfamiliar with the situation. You can go read the full press release on PEN's website, but the short version is that the Office of Foreign Assets Control's new sanctions on Syria are:

dictating that American publishers may not enter into transactions for Syrian works not yet fully completed, may not provide “substantive or artistic alterations or enhancements” to Syrian works, and may not promote or market Syrian works.

Essentially, we can't publish anything from Syria.

This is already a dreadful thing, terrible policy, and oh, by the way, also a violation of First Amendment rights. But the worst part is, all this has happened before (and it will probably all happen again). The same coalition that's denouncing these sanctions today actually filed suit against the Treasury Department back in 2004 for similar sanctions against Cuba, Iran, and Sudan. The suit was dismissed when OFAC fixed those regulations and promised never to do it again. Funny story about that.

This goes against everything that we literary translators hold dear and work for every day. No introducing readers to new points of view. No depicting a strange and wonderful foreign culture. No exchanging of ideas from the other side of the world -- which should be so easy these days with the existence of the Internet. No way to understand our enemies, and no way to understand the people living under enemy governments who are probably our friends.

Esther Allen had a project that was directly impacted (read: "postponed") by the sanctions back in 2003/2004, and wrote a wonderfully sharp piece on it for Words Without Borders. Go read it, and be happy that the regulations got fixed once.

And then, realize that the same problems are going to happen again. Anyone who attended the ALTA conference in Milwaukee remembers Alice Guthrie's remarkable reading of her translations at the Fellows Reading. Really brilliant stuff, just like the rest of the Fellows. Only now, she'd be prohibited from publishing any of it, just because it happens to be from a country that our government isn't getting along with. ALTA's level-headed president, Russell Valentino, called the sanctions a "misguided policy". I think I have some stronger words for it.

At the very least, we can all rest assured that the coalition isn't afraid to bring a suit against the government. Hopefully, we won't have to go that far again.

The PEN Model Contract (a.k.a. ALTA Mini-Review #3)

Happy New Year! Bonne année et bonne santé !

And what better way to start out the new year by going back and . . . reviewing something that happened two months ago?

Bear with me. A new year means new organization, which means that I found a note to myself from last year with a helpful suggestion to set out a bit about the PEN Model Contract on this here blog. Very helpful, past me. I wish present me had found the note sooner, but hey, better late than never.

Anyway. The PEN Model Contract is here:

Learn it. Use it. For translators, it's a document that works for and protects both you and the publisher. And although PEN does not currently have the ability to give legal advice, the contract has been vetted by their lawyers, so you can point hesitant publishers to the contract as proof of an industry standard. I've even sent the link to my non-translating author friends as an example of a legally sound contract.

"But Allison," you say, "I'm working with a publisher so big that they have a whole team of lawyers! They've got a standard contract they want me to use!"

Not a problem, my dear translator. Look: all contracts are negotiable. All of them. Period. This was a point that was brought up in the panel that was held to discuss the PEN Model Contract at last November's ALTA conference, and it's an important one. Since contracts are, by definition, an agreement between two parties, that agreement can be different for every set of two parties that comes along. But remember, too, that negotiations will mean compromise. The great thing about the PEN Model Contract is that it reminds you what the possibilities are to ask for in a contract, as well as how to word those requests in a professional way.

You can also adapt the PEN Model Contract to your own circumstances. A few examples that were brought up in the panel include:

  • splitting up payment into three stages (upon signing, upon delivery, upon acceptance of final draft)
  • payment due upon completed translation vs. accepted translation
  • calling the initial fee a "payment" instead of an "advance", which clears the way for royalties to begin from the very first copy sold
  • ensuring your name on the front cover, not just any ol' cover
  • possibility of sub-rights for the translation (a possible wording could be "Translator holds the subsidiary rights for all formats, including, but not limited to, electronic book, audiobook, film and TV rights, and translation")

Another thing that was mentioned during the panel: be wary of payment that is contingent on the publisher receiving a grant. It's often helpful if the book is supported by a grant, but you can't have your payment being dependent on a grant coming through, especially if you'd still be expected to deliver the translation.

One final note: in Europe, translator copyright is considered a moral right. The PEN Model Contract could help Americans get there, too.


***Disclaimer: None of this constitutes legal advice. I'm not a lawyer. I'm a translator.

ALTA Mini-Review #2: French readings

Another thing I really enjoy about ALTA conferences is the Bilingual Readings, which have been organized for the last umpteen years by the vivacious Alexis Levitin. Although there were almost double the number of readers who signed up as compared to any other year, the schedule ran very smoothly, and there were constantly opportunities to slip into a room and hear translations being read from Farsi, Latin, German, Yiddish, Swedish, Chinese, Thai . . . really anything your little heart could desire.

Almost anything can happen in bilingual readings. People can read works-in-progress, trying them out in front of an audience for the first time. People can read straight from published works, celebrating their excellent translations--last year, Rita Nezami read a translation of hers that had just landed in The New Yorker. Sometimes, the original authors are present, which makes the reading even more linguistically rich. All of us in the audience who don't speak that language just get to sit back and bask in the sonorous rhythms of foreign poetry.

This year, I read from a short story by Hélèna Villovitch in a French session that included poetry, fiction, and non-fiction; writings from France, Belgium, Morocco, and China (!); and authors ranged from Baudelaire to the Oulipo group to contemporary journalists. Everything was wonderful, as usual, but two readings stood out.

Lara Vergnaud read an excerpt from an Ahmed Bouanani novel set in a prison. As you might expect, the prisoners had all given each other nicknames, which ranged from Fartface to (if memory serves) Windshield Wiper. The excerpt sounded like a hilarious misinterpretation of Orwell's Animal Farm with a heaping of poorly understood religion thrown in. At one point, there was a prayer that seemed to invoke everything under the sun, from random deities to food, all echoed with a chorus of "Amen! Amen!" that came from a willing helper in the audience, used to quite amusing effect.

Also, Chris Clarke read a story from Oulipo writer Olivier Salon that was a kind of reverse (or possibly additive?) lipogram: every line took out one more letter, starting from the end of the alphabet, until the last line was just a sustained "Aaaaaaaaaaa!" Our treat here was that Jean-Jacques Poucel also helped out by reading the original French. It was fascinating how Chris was able to maintain a similar sonority to the French under the same letter restrictions that sometimes make vastly different sounds than English letters.

Submissions for bilingual readings at the 2015 conference in Tuscon are already open! See here for more information if you're interested.

ALTA 2014 Mini-review #1: Women Taking Initiative

One of the best parts of my year is the annual ALTA conference, which took place last week in Milwaukee. And one of the best parts of this particular year's conference was the chance to moderate my first roundtable, which had a very fun name, if I do say so myself: "Taking the Initiative: How to Get Involved, Get Results, and Make Friends Along the Way." I gathered a group of translators I admire who have all started very interesting things, and I asked them to describe the process:

  • what they saw lacking in our industry
  • how they decided to fill the gap
  • what made them decide to take action, instead of waiting for someone else to do it
  • what problems they encountered along the way, and how they overcame them

We got some fascinating stories and practical advice out of it.

  • Lisa Carter talked about developing her own freelancing into Intralingo, her small business with courses for literary translators
  • Esther Allen talked about lots of translation initiatives within PEN America, including Michael Henry Heim's amazing donation to fund the PEN/Heim translation grants
  • Olivia Sears talked about how the Center for the Art of Translation was started over twenty years ago, and how the translation landscape has changed in the meantime
  • Erica Mena talked about starting the Anomalous Journal (and eventually Press) out of her own apartment, and the challenges and freedoms of not being a non-profit organization
  • Susan Bernofsky talked about how her incredibly useful blog Translationista was started, as well as some other advocacy work she does to fill the voids
  • I also talked a little about how ELTNA was started, and is continuing to evolve (on the anniversary of its creation)

Notice anything about that list? It's all women.

Now, I didn't plan the panel this way. Initially, I thought about people who had dreamed up some really cool stuff, and asked them if they'd like to come talk about it. And there was one male on my list, but he wasn't able to attend the conference this year. At any rate, about a month out from the conference, I suddenly realized that the people on my roundtable email list were all women.

Erica noticed it, too, and commented on both the panel's makeup and the fact that about 3/4 of our audience interested in hearing these stories were also women. She posited that maybe women start these things--especially if the things involved volunteering or working for free--because women are generally more giving and maternal. (Yes, we're going to be dealing with major stereotypes here. Roll with it for now.) But ALTA was founded by men, and men currently occupy the president, vice president, and past president positions on the board. That's a lot of volunteer work.

Maybe it's just that there are more women translators than men, or at least more who attend the ALTA conference and could thus be said to be involved somehow. (A quick count of participant bios show that approximately 155 women presented or read at this conference, out of approximately 252 total participants--that's over 60% women.) Or perhaps it's that I'm female, and so I'm more naturally drawn toward working or talking with other women.

Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that men operate more within the existing parameters of leadership to take charge, whereas women find typical leadership roles harder to access, so they just make their own. (This is a hypothesis. I told you there'd be some grossly overgeneralizing stereotypes.) (Also, to clarify, this doesn't actually hold water with ALTA: although the "top three" board positions are held by men, there's actually a female majority on the board, plus our female managing director.)

Basically, what I think I'm trying to say is, there are a lot of possible correlations here, and even more possible causes behind it. And we're getting into slippery statistical territory. Correlation does not imply causation.


To get back to the original topic, the roundtable was fascinating, even for those involved. Every last one of us has our notepads out and were scribbling furiously. We talked a lot about connections and reactions, how one essay can spark someone else to get in touch and do something, how the question to ask is "why not?" instead of listing all possible excuses for getting something done, and how sometimes you just have JDIs: Just Do Its. (I did apologize for the acronym-speak, but my husband's an engineer.) There was also a fascinating discussion of how more established organizations actually find it harder to drum up interest in their programs and new initiatives--CAT and ALTA being two examples--because people think they already know what the organizations are.

And on that note, if you'd like to get involved with an existing thing or have a brilliant idea for something new, come talk to me. Or talk to the appropriate person. Someone. Anyone. Literary translation, much like life, depends on fun new things being formed and developed all the time.