Translators Associations Europe: ATLF

The will to defend literary translators

Translation Associations Europe: ATLFThe French Literary Translators Association (Association des Traducteurs Littéraires de France, ATLF) was founded in 1973. It was born out of a separation from the French Translators Society (Société Française des Traducteurs, SFT), thought to be too focussed on technical translation.

With the scission, the French literary translation association expressed its will to be an organisation of translators involved in literature, committed to stand for them and therefore willing to fight side by side with them.

Since the very beginning, ATLF has established, basing itself upon tips given by members, adding to annual surveys, a remuneration table. The association uses it as yet another tool towards the “recognition of the profession of translator”.

In 1973, the year of its creation, this translators association had no more than a hundred members. Nowadays, the figures have grown to almost ten times the initial numbers. The two initial aims were to strengthen the recognition of the literary translator’s professional status, and to transform the ATLF into a syndicate. In 1981, the latter was finally rejected, remaining the former as a mission to be accomplished.

In 1985, the Great National Prize for Translation is established by the Culture Minister. Half of the jury was comprised of translators that had been suggested by ATLF. Three years later, the Government decided to suppress this distinction, action which disappointed the members of this translators association. Nowadays, ATLF still makes a point at protesting against this suppression.

At present, the ATLF is proud of having over 900 members. The association publishes a directory of its members every two years, a newsletter and, in collaboration with ATLAS (Assises de la Traduction littéraire en Arles), a quarterly magazine called TransLittérature. Entirely written by volunteers, it tries to answer questions by translators and publishers, broadcasts professional documents, informs the members (and non-members) about their rights and provides them with advice in cases of conflict.

Throughout the years, the ATLF has established strong links with other organisations, not only in the field of translation. The association has a privileged relationship with the Société des Gens de Lettres, SGDL (Letter’s People Society) and a very close link with the National Syndicate of Authors and Composers (Syndicat National des Auteurs et des Compositeurs, SNAC).

The French Literary Translators Association is a proud widely recognised society. It is regularly sought by translators, publishers as a reference. It is quoted by journalists, contacted by different cultural and educational instances, etc. ATLF participates in numerous debates and conferences about translated literature and the translator’s profession. Some of its members organise active training sessions.

For ATLF, “if certain advancements were accomplished in the recognition of the profession of translator’s status, it was ATLF’s merit”. The association stresses that “most of all, it has known how to keep its identity and independence”.

To join the association, you must have translated a literary piece and for it have received author’s rights. Then you must send ATLF your application and be ready to respect the association’s code of ethics.

The ATLF has created a membership category for students of translation and translators who are yet to be published. It is the “trainee member” (“membre stagiaire”). It does not aim at offering them yet another level of education, but to allow them into the association before being able to enjoy the full rights of an active member. In order to join ATLF as a trainee member, you must fill-in the application and send it to the association. If accepted, you will receive all the information sent to members and you will be able to participate in the discussion forum. Nevertheless, you will not be part of the directory, for the time being.

ATLF is proud to say it is a “lively” association. It organises several events to gather its members, in a more or less formal way. Once a year, in October, an informal meeting is organised to discuss new entry conditions (whenever there are any). During this gathering, members can talk about their problems, i.e. contracts or regulations. “Even though this meeting is aimed at members, their guests are welcome.”
There are also several workshops organised by ATLF every year. Examples of past subjects are taxes or contracts.

Keep in mind that French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the province of Quebec and the Acadia region in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Around the world there are around 130 million French speakers.

When you fill-in your profile details to become a Lexis member, always choose your mother tongue as your working language. Lexis – Connections with meaning

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