Translators Associations Europe: STP

The oldest translators association in Poland

Translators Associations Europe: STPThe Association of Polish Translators and Interpreters (Stowarzyszenia Tlumaczy Polskich, STP) has been representing the interests of translators and interpreters since January 1981.

However, for many years before had Polish translators and interpreters been fighting for the establishment of a professional translators association. The government refused the idea, arguing that the Polish Writers Association and the Association of Authors were sufficient to represent the interests of the profession. It was only after August 1980 that the opportunity arrived to create an independent organisation, this time with effectiveness.

The following year, STP would be alive and kicking. In February 1981, the Founding Convention was held in Warsaw. The event was attended by 127 translators from various parts of the country, specialised in many different subjects.

The STP is, according to its members, “the only organisation that brings together language professionals specialising in all fields – written translation, conference interpretation, sworn translation and interpretation, literature, science and technology, journalism and others”.

A list of objectives was put together right at the start. It included the aims to represent the interests of translators, including their professional, moral and material rights, as well as to participate actively in the development of Polish and international copyright laws and other legal actions to establish the rights and duties of translators and interpreters in Poland.

The Polish translation association has always had the intention of representing the interests of its members, not only at home, but also internationally. In order to do so, STP has sought the creation of links with other translators associations from around the globe, as well as other international organisations concerning culture.

STP is concerned about raising the levels of awareness of the profession’s importance. This influences the future of young translators, in particular. For them especially, STP has established the wish to facilitate and promote creativity, at the same time as it participates in several ways in providing them with social services. For the Polish translators association, creative freedom and freedom of expression are must haves.

Going beyond translation itself – without necessarily leaving its natural environment – the STP aims at participating in the enrichment of Poland’s national culture as well as humanity’s general culture.

Since its formation, this translators association had the goal of raising awareness amongst both the public and the authorities about the existence of a profession concerning translation and interpretation, leading to its recognition as a creative activity protected by copyright. This was in many ways motivated by the 1976 General UNESCO Conference, in Nairobi, when it was recommended that translators and their work should be legally protected at the same time as the interpreter’s status should be improved.

Poland has been through many political changes. During the eighties, the association’s main concern had to do with social issues rather than professional representation. Throughout the whole decade, STP had a very important social role. The introduction of a martial law caused a significant deterioration in working and living conditions of translators and interpreters. STP had loans available, organised holiday colonies and camps for children, as well as other events, with Christmas as a special concern. The Polish organisation also distributed material aid, medicines, clothes and food.

After this, they had to regulate rates for professionals. The situation was chaotic, there was complete freedom in the matter, which often leads to exploitation of the professionals. Many of them were paid below the limit of decency. The association successfully participated in the amendment of these rules.

Throughout its rich history, STP has established local branches all over Poland, in order to decentralise what used to be the Board’s power. Specialist sections and committees were also created in order to stretch the arms of the translation association even further. Nowadays, the number of members is around 2200, grouped in eight locations (Gdansk, Katowice, Krakow, Lodz, Poznan, Szczecin, Warsaw and Wroclaw). Specialist sections are Literary Translators, Scientific Interpreters, Technical Translators, Interpreters and Conference Interpreters, Journalistic, Simultaneous and Consecutive Conference Interpreters.

Even though there have been many changes, both in the country and in the association itself, STP’s mission and objectives haven’t changed. They are still committed to representing professionals, raising the standards of the profession, foment the exchange of experiences, provide support and mutual help to young students and beginners, etc.

Keep in mind that Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages. It is Poland’s official language, also spoken by Polish minorities in other countries. It is estimated to have around 40 million native speakers.

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