Monthly EC Teleconference

6 August 2016

14:00 p.m. CET

Please notify the secretary at EU-Secretary@adultchildren.org with changes, additions, or motions for this meeting.


A.  Call to Order:  Please be sure that any background noises in your area are eliminated since the sounds make it difficult for participants to hear.  When speaking, please say your name first. This will help us record your name with your input.  Thank you.

1)  Open with the Serenity Prayer

2)  Tradition Eight: Adult Children of Alcoholics should remain forever non-professional but our service centers may employ special workers.


B.  Roll Call of European Countries:  Majbrit, Denmark, WSO Vice Chair/European Chair;

Jeffrey, Prague, Czech Republic, EU Finance and Literature

  Sub-Committee Chair/WSO Board Trustee;

C.  Establish Quorum


D. Guests:Pipi, Denmark, Guest Speaker

Alexia, Germany

Hassa, Copenhagen, Denmark

Michael, Ireland

Linda, Latvia

Xanthi, Greece

Non-committee members are welcome to listen to this teleconference but are requested to remain silent unless asked to participate. We respectfully request that guests hold their comments until the end of the meeting. If someone needs to talk further, they may do so after the end of the meeting.


E. Jeffrey announced the tabling of the minutes from July due to their unavailability. Majbrit re-announced the EC Conference on the 23rd of September in Moscow. The official website is http://www.vdamoscow.ru/acaeuropeanmeeting2016.

Jeffrey announced that the plan to put ACA literature on Amazon in the UK has progressed substantially and the expected time till availability is one month. The yellow workbook in Finnish is very close to being printed and made available. The Russian BRB is being proofread and finalized. Translation groups in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia are working on this right now. The daily meditations book in Greek is being given to a proofreader for the translation.

F. Majbrit introduced the guest speaker for the meeting, Pipi from Denmark:

Having worked with a lot of people from a lot of countries, there seems to be the same problem that people are stagnating on their translations, especially new fellowships. In order to actually capture some of the knowledge that is out there, we have invited Pipi in to talk about how to translate English into a local language. Without any further introductions, I’d like Pipi to introduce herself. I know Pipi personally and she is very dear to me.

Pipi: Thank you for asking me [to speak]. I am part of two fellowships, I have to say that because I am 16+ years clean in Narcotics Anonymous and I have about 12 years in the ACA program. Before I say something about the translation committee, I’ll say something about how I started.

When I got into the fellowship there was no Danish literature. There were all kinds of foreign translations floating around and somebody gave me the meditation book. So as a newcomer, here is the first message, “Let the newcomers translate.” Don’t stop them and say “Oh they don’t have so much recovery [they haven’t had enough recovery]”. Give it to them, then they read the text every day. That’s what I did. I started a translation, one day at a time.

For me and the translation it was like this. But in my home group they knew that I was translating and there were a lot of people who don’t read English. They asked me if I could make a month and then think to myself, I have to be ahead. When we came to the first October in the group, I gave out the next month in Danish, and this was how it started for me. We didn’t have any translation committee at the time, and slowly we go that. Or the beginning of it. It’s not easy. Don’t get frustrated. If you work your steps, then use them.

I’ve been translating now for more than 16 years. I’ve been translating most of the literature for AA into Danish, I’ve been working on the Red Book, the meditation book, etc. Don’t get frustrated. This is my message. And don’t think you can keep people in the translation committee. That’s not how this works. This is the most difficult experience in the entire world. Not only for my own country, but other local translation committees elsewhere. This is a loner’s job and I’m a loner I must say. I like my own company and I like to sit with the text.

There is no subject in a country that can arise as many opinions as translations. So let people translate without being in the committee. They can mail it, they can send it, they can do whatever. The important thing as I’ve learned is to have one or two people who stay in the committee. It doesn’t matter if they can translate it, as long as they stay in the committee. Because the others will go in and out, that’s my experience. They get very excited, “Oh my god, I want to translate!” and they start on it and they translate a chapter or two, or some days in the meditation book, and then it stops.

Also, in the committee, there can be a lot of discussion. It’s very, very important that the main people in the translation committee work the steps and that they have a connection to their sponsor. I guess you all know how service work is. This is where our defects of character come out: control, anger, all these kinds of things. It’s important that there are a few people who can stay calm and don’t fight.

Many years back, I heard a speech from an Englishman named Paul, in Copenhagen. And he said, in English, “In England, we translated the McDonalds program into English.” I’m not saying that this is the McDonalds program, those were his words, but what I’m trying to say with this is that he said even the English are translating American into English because the way we say things, our cultures, and the way we think are different. The program is the same and the message is the same, so don’t be afraid to take some sentences and move them down or move the text around because we say things differently [in our language].

If I was to compare Danish and American, then it’s like the Americans sometimes write the solution first and then they write the problem, or the other way around. And often, it’s the opposite of how we’d do it in Denmark. It takes courage, this is where the discussion begins. There are so many translators afraid of doing anything else other than translating word by word, word by word. I must say that their understanding of the literature will go away, so we need to be unafraid and to translate into how we say it in our own culture and our own country. This is very important.

Regarding drafts, this is very important. Translate, go down to a copy machine. I’m not sure how far [along] you are, but let’s say there is someone with a burning desire to translate some kind of literature, then the main people in the literature committee, just one or two people, that’s enough, read it through, get it copied, get it sent out to the group as drafts so they can see something is happening. Don’t hold it back saying it’s not going to come out until it’s perfect or so and so reads it through. It doesn’t matter if there are errors, or it’s not finished, or the commas and periods are all wrong because the groups will report back. Like “we don’t understand this, or this, or this can be translated different.” The communication is very important, the communication between the translator and the other fellowship members. It may seem like a cookbook, you know a recipe like do this, this, and this, but it’s not like that. Wars can arise, and I definitely mean wars.

It’s very important what I said before, to work the steps, to have a sponsor, to have a higher power. This is very important when translating. It’s an emotional experience in most countries. There was an Irishman here [on this call], they speak English. I would recommend that the Irish also make an Irish translation.

I’ve been very happy to translate, I still translate. Sometimes people want to go into the translation committee and you will hear them say “oh, but I’m not very good at translating.” It doesn’t matter. It’s also important to have people who are very good in your own language. They need to read the text through and so on. That’s the way we’ve been doing it in the committees.

I’m bilingual. I grew up with Danish and English. I can translate as fast as I can write and since I’m a writer, I can write pretty quickly. That doesn’t mean that when I translate the text is then perfect. It’s very good when I can give the raw translation to someone who is very good at Danish because then I can get back to what I do best, which is translating.

I think this is what I would suggest to everyone. Don’t do it all. I have a tendency to want to do it all, I want to translate, I want to do all the corrections and I want to go to copy shop and I want to get it copied, and maybe I jump in my car and make sure all the groups are getting it. It’s a kind of control. I had to work with this and look at what am I good at, what are my qualities. And telling myself, Pipi, you can’t do it alone. And I worked with my sponsor. It wasn’t necessarily that I thought I was the best, but so I could be sure it gets done or whatever {laughter}. Control is a funny thing.

So again, it’s sponsor, higher power, and steps. This is how it has been for me. Also, in Denmark, we have had some arguments, people who have not been willing to let go and letting other people take over, and I guess it’s just a service thing. I’d rather not go into that, I think it’s the same in all countries.

I think I’ve said it all. Remember your own culture and your own way of saying things. Also, Majbrit told me that when people are translating the Big Red Book or the steps and then they go dead. They stop because it gets to be too much. I must say that when I translated the steps, there was pressure from the fellowships to translate as quick as I normally did, but I couldn’t. I found out that I can’t sit and work the third step while translating the 11th step. So when the people are translating the steps, it would be good if they have worked the steps already or if they made an understanding that they had to work the steps first. It was the same thing with the red book. I think the meditation book is good for newcomers. Let them translate the meditation book, the stories, but the Big Red Book itself, with everything in it? I think it takes a bit of time in the fellowship. When you translate, you go into the text, I do at least, and I get confronted with the things the literature is saying. And subconsciously, I start working with the things that I’m translating and it can be rough. So don’t expect anyone to translate 7 days a week. It would be too much.

Regarding collecting these words for translation committees, I would strongly recommend you contact the people in NA because they have a fantastic pamphlet for local translation committees. It also includes guidelines or suggestions for three different ways you can build up your local translation committees. When we finally got this one, the first thing I did was translate it into Danish. I gave it to other people in the translation committee and it was fantastic for us. It doesn’t matter if it’s from AA, NA, etc., we are all 12 step programs and roughly do things in the same way.

I think having that could be very good for the fellowships in Europe. And also, what you’re doing now. The time when I translated the most and when I was the chairman for the translation committee, well Skype was not for everyone at that time, so we emailed with the translation committees in Australia and etc.

Once again, I think I’ve said it all. If someone has something to ask, I will answer.

Jeffrey: Thank you so much Pipi, I think it’s incredibly wonderful what you shared just now and anyone listening in on this call or who will be calling in later to listen to this, I think it gives them a lot of inspiration and hope to hear that yes, it may be difficult but there are a lot of ways that you can go about it and involve other people. I think that’s just amazing.

Majbrit: I just want to suggest that we as a fellowship are moving so fast and that we don’t have these experiences like translating locally, or having any of these support systems set up for people. I would like the European Committee to start to build up a sort of advisory board who have translated locally. This could be Pipi, it could be Henry in Finland so that people translating locally could ask Pipi or Henry directly if they have any questions on how to deal with a word that doesn’t exist in their local language. This is just a suggestion, we can talk to Pipi and Henry separately. There are so many things to translate into a local language, not just the text, and instead of having huge arguments, it would be nice to have a translation sponsor that they could reach out to if they had a problem.

Jeffrey: I think it’s a great idea and we should do this after the call. For now, let’s open this up for everyone to ask Pipi questions and then move on to other topics.

G. Open Call

Linda: Thank you so much for your involvement in the translation project. You have been an inspiration to me, so what you said was very useful.

Pipi: Thank you. Can I add something? What Majbrit said about words that do not exist in our own language. We have had some struggles with that. In English, it’s “defects of character”. Directly translated into Danish, it would be character defects. But that word does not exist in Danish. We only have something like Character Flaw. There was a big discussion about this and in the end, we made a workshop. That’s another suggestion. If you need help from outside, plan a workshop. Because when you do a service workshop, it doesn’t have to be a big expensive thing, just a little thing on Saturday because this is what we did. And some of the words, I was the chairman, I said we are not going to translate these until we have a group conscience. And then we ended up deciding to use the word character defects, even if it doesn’t exist. And this was the word that members were most comfortable with so we invented a new Danish word. And that’s okay, it doesn’t have to be an existing word. Have the courage to make the literature your own.

Q1: An ACA member in Germany asks through email how other countries finance the costs and do they get someone from the fellowship to translate literature. Jeffrey followed up the question with does this apply in Denmark because this question comes up quite a lot from countries with fellowships that are struggling to translate the BRB. They almost feel like they should be paying someone to translate it. Having said that, you can’t just go to a translation agency as I have seen in my own experience. It’s a lot of work and people sometimes feel like they should get paid for it. There are a lot of conflicting ideas, maybe you can speak about it for a minute or two.

Pipi: We tried that in Denmark. I didn’t like it, but it doesn’t matter when you have the group conscience. This thing about getting a professional translator to translate our literature, forget it. We just had some chapters and we sent them out to a professional translator and then to maybe another translator. We were translating the same chapters just to see what the difference would be. It’s not something I can explain very well; I’ve seen it so many times though. You know when we have a meeting and there is a good spirit and we have our higher power because it’s a spiritual program, well the spirit is gone. I think it’s very, very, important that an ACA member translates, a member with a higher power because we can see it, and when we read it, something happens with the text, it gets stiff, flat, and dead. It’s difficult to see and something I can’t explain, and it’s not just me, we discussed this in the fellowship as well. Professional translators don’t work. The translation is stiff and dead.

Regarding paying us. I don’t think we should be paid. I have translated thousands and thousands of pages, and of course it’s hard work. If the work is so much that you think you should be paid, then maybe you shouldn’t translate. Service, we don’t get paid for service. Service shouldn’t cost anything. So I will just say to the members, maybe they shouldn’t translate during the working hour. I don’t think we should pay anyone to translate our literature, it’s something we do because we love the fellowship and it saves our lives.

Q2 (Xanthi): Thank you for sharing your experience, I could relate with it so much as a translation committee member in Greece. I just wanted to ask, that as a loyal member to the Greek translation committee and as a perfectionist and workaholic, a newcomer is not a good combination for this. I translated to a state of burnout, now I don’t want to even touch it. I don’t want to feel like this. When you felt overwhelmed but at the same time you wanted serve, how did you handle that?

Pipi: I also burned out once in a while. I also didn’t even want to see any English texts either. Work with your sponsor and get some patience with yourself. First of all, work with your perfectionism because this is what makes you burnout. I think I had to work with my sponsor to find this little tiny feeling inside of me who told me “this is good enough”. I never listened to this voice because I was a perfectionist. After working on it, 90% of my work came from this voice. As for being a workaholic, I know it very much. In the end, I burned out not from literature, but from my own work. So now I have early retirement. I think it can be a good thing if you work on it with your steps and with your sponsor. Give yourself a break, don’t translate so much, translate a little bit. I gave myself limits and then the emotions came in that told me I could do more and I had to tell myself “No.” Now is good enough. I learned from my sponsor, and now I’m giving it to my sponsee. “Nothing is bad.” If you say you’re a perfectionist and workaholic, then this is the perfect chance to work on it so it doesn’t drain you so much.

Alexia: Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us Pipi. I wanted to share a translation concept we are working on in Germany, but it’s not really a question for Pipi. I’m a member of a translation committee from CoDA for about a year now and I came to ACA half a year ago over the internet because we don’ have German literature. We try to have service so my experience in CoDA with the translation concept is we worked with many teams. That means we have one native English speaker and two German native speakers on Skype. The three of them have a project to translate. This is how we work with the translations. This works really good because you don’t have all these discussions all the time, aside from the discussions we have in the mini team all the time. I just wanted to talk about this concept to just have mini teams for the translation. We will do this in Germany for the ACA literature. I got a lot translated, but we are only a few groups now in Germany. Everyone started to translate but no one knew that the others were working on it. Instead of wasting energy, I thought why not work together. When we have our original service committee we will start with the translation work. The way CoDA does it works for me and they are allowed to translate in Germany and proofread in Germany, then they print it also in Germany. So they have two agreements with CoDA America and will work only in Germany.

Jeffrey: Thank you Alexia, it’s very interesting to hear that. Do you have anything to add Pipi?

Pipi: I don’t see it as a waste of time that so many people are translating because then they are working with the literature. Think okay, if that’s what they want to do, then let them do it. We had one book where we were collecting translations from many people. My experience says that it’s very important that there is one proofreader. Because elsewise you have, it’s very easy to see if it’s like three different translators in a book because we all have our own words and styles or whatever. It’s very important that this gets eliminated. It can be 10-20 people translating a chapter, it doesn’t matter. But it has to be the same proofreader. So it’s the same tone for each chapter. They kill the darlings for us, that’s the proofreader job. I’ve never heard of the CoDA way, but it sounds very interesting. If it works for you, fantastic!

Alexia: I meant not a waste of time, but a waste of energy for people who are not very good at it and have to sit there with a dictionary and translate one word at a time. It’s hard for them to really go into recovery when they have to do translations at the same time. Regarding one proofreader, well, the thing is we have, before we start translation with the literature, we make a list with specific words so there are specific terms as you said before with the character defects. Specific words and terms will have the same translation so no one can use something different, key words and sentences.

Jeffrey: That’s very interesting, thank you for sharing Alexia. I had a question for you regarding the mini team. With one native English speaker and two native German speakers. Does this mean that the native English speaker can also speak German or has some grasp of the German language, or it doesn’t matter at all?

Alexia: No, they do have to understand German otherwise they can’t translate with us. The English native speaker also speaks the language they are translating.

Jeffrey: But maybe they can’t translate as well as a native German speaker could but they have a feel of the language, when they hear it in German maybe they are like “Well, that’s not quite what it means”.

Alexia: Yes, that’s right. We had a translation session recently and Jessica, she’s a native English speaker, she can’t really translate, but she has a feeling when she hears the sentence. Then we look to see how we can find the right words.

Jeffrey: Well as anyone who can speak multiple languages will tell you, some words in some languages have 10 or 20 other equivalents in another language. Alexia, are you part of our mailing list? Did you receive the notice about this call?

Alexia: No, I’m not.

Jeffrey: Well, let’s get in contact. As you mentioned, we need to get the Germans more organized.

Chorus: No, you don’t they’re very good at doing that themselves. All Laughs.

Jeffrey and Alexia exchange email addresses before the call continues.

Q3 (Jeffrey): Pipi, regarding having one or two people in the translation committee keeping it together no matter what, does it even matter if they translate? Do I understand that correctly? Because these people can maintain the continuity of seeing how everything is moving and managing the process. They have the overview because if people come and go all the time, you miss something. Is that what you meant?

Pipi: In a way, yes. I think if you can have one who’s bilingual, who can translate [that’s probably better]. When I was the head of the translation committee in Denmark, even though I translate a lot, I decided not to. I think we all grow in service so I decided to be the chairman and the chairman doesn’t have to translate. So Jimmy did it, in fact, I know you’ll be hearing from Jimmy on another day. So you have to have like a call. Sometimes it can be one person, sometimes it can be two. In the end, exactly what you said Jeffrey. They don’t have to be, but it’s good if they can speak both languages and they don’t have to translate. The best thing that I have discovered was my latest experience. When I could be the chairman. Like a spider in the web. Keep all the threads together and asking people if they finished a translation and/or to send something to me. One chairman who collects from everybody and lets other people do what they’re best at. Some are very good secretaries, some are very good in proofreading, etc. I think a good chairman is someone who can recognize qualities in other people and let them do what they’re best at. And can stay, for 2,3,5, however many years while the other people shift in and out. Did that answer the question?

Jeffrey: Yes, a wonderful answer, thank you very much. I agree that it’s a big coordination project and you need somebody that has an overview of all of the levers that they’re pulling at the same time. As a shout out, is there anything else to ask Pipi before we close this teleconference?

Majbrit: I think we’ll be sending out the callback number again by email?

Jeffrey: Yes, we can do a reminder, but on the email I sent out already I included the call-in number and the playback number. But I think we should send an email out again telling everyone how amazing this call was and if they’re involved in the translation of any ACA literature, this is worth an hour of their time to listen in to.

Majbrit: I’ll get the NA pamphlet that Pipi talked about and maybe we can use it and adapt it.

Jeffrey: Yes, but we have to give them credit for creating our own model based on that. Now before we close, is there anyone who’d like to ask a question, maybe not on the translation topic?

Q4 (Hassa): I would like to ask, we’re planning on printing the BRB and YWB in Denmark and was wondering how the procedure would look like. At the ABC, it was told that for us to be able to print in Denmark, it would have to be significantly cheaper than to do it in the united states. Does anyone else in Europe have experience, does anyone print in their own country right now?

Jeffrey: As the person in charge of this for the European Committee, maybe it’s best if I answer. We are in the process right now of printing the Finnish YWB to print this in Finland. I have offers from printers in Finland and Latvia. The printer we are looking at in Latvia is significantly cheaper and for something like the YWB, I think that would be fine. Depending on the quality, we might use them for the BRB as well. In Russia, we are looking to print the Russian BRB in Russia, the main reason being cost. It will probably be the same situation in Greece for the Meditation book. What was discussed at the ABC was, I think, still a little bit early days in terms of the shift of thinking as to printing local literature closer to home. Keep in mind that the EC only had their first ever plan and budget approved at that ABC. What came out of that several months later was a new sub-committee that I’ve been given, so to speak [chuckles], just to deal with these things. To find local vetting, proofreading, and printing. So all of this, ever since the ABC, a whole shift has started to move everything locally so that means you have to coordinate with me.

Hassa: I’ll start looking into this then. As you know, we have all the translations done in Denmark, so it’s not a translation/printing process. It is only printing.

Jeffrey: What I understand from Majbrit is that there might be some revisions or corrections that the big red book in Danish might want to take advantage of before you print it again.

Hassa: There might, but currently we don’t have the resources to do those corrections and the Danish service group has decided they don’t want to look at it right now because it’s too much work and we already have a translation that many feel is very good. But it should be corrected at some point, just not right now.

Jeffrey: Okay, well basically the procedure right now that we’re looking to do because as I said it’s happening for the Finnish YWB, the Russian BRB, and the Greek meditation book, is all of this stuff is starting to be printed and finished locally. I’m basically the one coordinating all of this, so I work with local intergroups and contact people in the local fellowships to coordinate and organize all of this. So when you’re ready, just contact me and I’ll help you do this.

Majbrit: Can I jump in really quick? Jeffrey you have a list of questions people were supposed to ask printers and you have summarized it down into something that other people might want to have in response to this question.

Pipi: If someone feels like doing a service workshop, like one day or two days, to get people inspired, then I’m willing to come. But they have to contact me through you or Majbrit, thank you.

Jeffrey: Thank you again, we are now over time, are there any other questions before we close?

Q5 (Alexia): You said before that somebody from Germany asked for the finance for translations. Could you tell me who asked you because I’m a little irritated because we already started bringing all the groups together.

Jeffrey: I don’t think it’s fair for me to mention that on this call, but I will say that the person attends the English speaking meeting of ACA and we can talk more about that off this call.

Alexia: Secondly, is there a German representative for the EC?

Jeffrey: No, would you like to be one?

Alexia: Yes.

Jeffrey: Majbrit, what do you think?

Majbrit: There is an intergroup in Germany so Alexia, you should approach the intergroup and ask if it’s okay to represent them. We don’t want to create the same situation like we did in Holland with Marthy. Where the intergroup was actually against him being the representative because he had too little recovery. Just to say that we want it to be on the up and up, but what I’m thinking [saying?] is that you’re a newcomer, you’re working with translations, and translation is what we’re supporting you on. You would not be a trustee on the EC, but you would be a country representative. There is a difference.

I just want to make sure that everybody is okay with everything. We as the EC could certainly use you as a contact of our committee to help support you with the translation work. That’s what I’m saying, I pass.

Jeffrey: Yes, thank you Majbrit. As far as I’m concerned, anyone that wants to step forward and do service is welcome, but I think like Majbrit was saying, maybe it wouldn’t hurt for you to discuss this briefly with the intergroup in Germany. Because although ACA is not supposed to have any hierarchy, it seems to suddenly come up when people said “Oh wait, we’re in charge here, here at the intergroup”. Suddenly, there is an implied hierarchy.

Majbrit: Just jumping in so I can explain, because we don’t want to create a situation like they had in Russia. They actually had a translation committee that was not a sub-committee to the intergroup. That meant that they didn’t think they were responsible for reporting to the fellowship. If you set up a committee, you are actually responsible as a service person to report to the fellowship on how you are doing. And if you don’t have any group, meeting, or any affiliation whatsoever, it has a tendency that people do not own up to their responsibility on reporting to the fellowship. There is no dialogue. And all of a sudden you have a situation where you have created a translation, that is to say your translation in the translation committee, but it has nothing to do with the fellowship. The text hasn’t become a fellowship text. So that’s why we as a structured committee under the WSO have to say that the translation committee is a sub-committee to the intergroup. Because there should be a reporting system so that the fellowship gets to know what is being done so we don’t have a situation like what you said with everyone doing a translation and no one knowing who was doing what. I pass.

Jeffrey: Either way Alexia, let’s get in contact and keep working together.

Alexia: I know there is an intergroup in Germany, but it is only for the English speaking members in Munich. We are going to register a new intergroup meeting for Germany, but I can wait. We have our structure, it’s not a problem that we don’t have that in Germany, it’s not published right now. I am trying to figure out who is involved from Germany and who is not just to bring people together.

Jeffrey: Ah, okay. Let me suggest we pick this up off of this call. We are happy, very much, to work with Alexia.

Majbrit: Yes, for sure, and let us help you in setting up the intergroup for the German speaking meetings. I’m just letting you know there is a structure and a way to do things that is suggested.

Jeffrey: Okay, I think we are way over, so I think it’s time we close this call with the serenity prayer.

A motion to close the meeting was seconded, and the meeting was closed with the Serenity Prayer.

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