ATA 59th Annual Conference: Call for Proposals
The American Translators Association is now accepting presentation proposals for ATA's 59th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana (October 24-27, 2018).
The Annual Conference attracts more than 1,600 attendees, bringing together translators, interpreters, educators, language services company owners, and project managers from around the world. Making a presentation to such a diverse audience is an excellent way to gain recognition as a leader and expert in your field.
How to Submit a Presentation Proposal for 2018
Submissions are invited from all areas of translation and interpreting, including finance, law, medicine, literature, media, science and technology, terminology, independent contracting, business management, and training/pedagogy. Sessions may be language specific or general. You do not need to be an ATA member to submit a proposal.
How to Write a Winning ATA Conference Proposal
ATA's webinar How to Write a Winning ATA Conference Proposal takes you through the process step-by-step. Common pitfalls? Winning proposal style? Presentation tips? This free webinar has all the answers!
The deadline for submitting a proposal is March 2, 2018.
Lyft Helping Former Interpreters for U.S. Military
Washington Post (DC) (01/03/18) Horton, Alex
Lyft, the ride-hailing company, is providing job opportunities to former military interpreters to help them reestablish themselves after immigrating to the U.S.
Lyft launched its pilot program in October in Washington, DC, with the goal of supplying interpreters with driving jobs. In some cases, Lyft provides automobiles and ride credits to help interpreters get to appointments, such as consulate and medical visits. Steve Taylor, general manager of Lyft's DC office, says the nation's capital is an important proving ground for the program, as almost 10,000 special immigrant visa holders reside in the metropolitan area.
"Most people have never thought about interpreters," says former Afghan interpreter Ajmal Faqiri, one beneficiary of the Lyft program. "Interpreters are a very important element of the U.S. military."
According to the Department of Defense, about 69,000 Iraqis and Afghans—interpreters, contractors, and their families—have fled their native countries since 2008, when the U.S. Department of State began issuing special immigrant visas to those who worked with U.S. troops. Many of these immigrant interpreters now face dire poverty. In spite of efforts by nonprofits to locate and subsidize housing, former interpreters often lack the work history to secure even basic jobs. Many have no credit history to acquire loans or apartments. Sometimes interpreters only have enough money to get themselves to the U.S., and cram into apartments with other refugees to avoid living on the street.
The Lyft program is a joint effort with No One Left Behind, an advocacy group focused on getting more combat zone interpreters to the U.S. and providing guidance and financial assistance. No One Left Behind has helped about 5,000 interpreters and their families since it was founded in 2013 by Matt Zeller, a former U.S. Army officer. Zeller's interpreter, Janis Shinwari, saved Zeller's life in a firefight in 2008 by killing two Taliban militants, sparking a revenge campaign against him and an effort by Zeller to bring him to the U.S. "The only difference between me and Janis is where we were born. Interpreters are more of a veteran than I am," Zeller says. "I only did one tour. Janis served nine years."
Faqiri worries that some Americans are suspicious of former military interpreters and view them as militants. But he carried a weapon to defend U.S. troops against those insurgents. Faqiri says that if interpreters are not recognized for their service, it will be difficult to find people like him to help the U.S. military in the next war. "If other countries see that the U.S. left behind their allies, they won't help them," Faqiri says. "It's very important for the U.S. to keep its word."
"Countries that are dirty like toilets," and Other Ways Trump's Expletive was Translated Abroad
Washington Post (01/12/18) Schmidt, Samantha
The task of deciding what to do with expletives uttered by world leaders—and whether to censor such remarks in news reports—is challenging enough for the U.S. press, but imagine trying to convey these phrases so they make sense in a different language. That head-scratching dilemma played out in newsrooms around the world after it was reported that President Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as "shithole countries" while discussing immigrant protections with lawmakers.
Every culture has its profanities, to be sure, but they do not always translate well. The main daily newspapers in El Salvador, one of the countries mentioned by Trump, went with the translation agujeros de mierda, which essentially means "holes of shit." Alex Segura, Washington correspondent for the Spanish news agency EFE, tweeted about the debate with his editors concerning how to translate Trump's words. Segura says the options considered included "shitty countries," "unclean countries," and "pigsties."
The two words from which "shithole" are formed are not that difficult to translate individually, according to linguist Juliane House, the former president of the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies. Most languages have some equivalent for the first part of the combination—or at least some profane variation of a word for excrement. "It's a bodily function," says House, who is also a professor at the University of Hamburg. The word "hole," by itself, is also easy enough. But what happens when you put those two words together? Is it an adjective or a noun, and how do you use it in a sentence to describe certain countries?
Editors from various news organizations need to approve the wording for articles prior to publication. In many cultures, discussing excrement and using profanity—even when quoting a world leader—may be a serious taboo. Depending on the political or moral leanings of a news organization, editors may choose to clean up the expletive. "Translation is never neutral, so ideology comes in, and probably pressure from above," House says.
Some foreign news outlets took an easier approach when quoting Trump—disregarding the word "hole." Most French media went with the phrase pays de merde, which essentially means "shitty countries." This meaning is quite clear, says Bérengère Viennot, a professional French translator who has often been tasked with translating Trump's remarks. In Finnish, one translation of the phrase was persläpimaat, which literally means "asshole countries."
"This kind of language often makes for some entertaining discussions in the newsroom," says Judith Meyer, executive editor of the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine. "Even though the world around us is changing, we are sticking to our standards at the Sun Journal. This means we look at a quote and ask if it's really necessary to tell the story."
Steve Greenlee, managing editor of the Portland Press Herald, says the press has to adapt to changes in language usage. "We're seeing an increasing amount of crassness in political discourse, which means we have to deal with it more often."
Luxembourg's Native Language Enjoying Renaissance
The Guardian (United Kingdom) (12/28/17) Rankin, Jennifer
The government of Luxembourg has initiated an action plan to take advantage of a resurgence of interest in its native language, Luxembourgish.
Despite gloomy predictions of its demise, an increasing number of people want to speak the language, which has been on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's list of endangered languages since 2010. At Luxembourg's National Institute of Languages, more people are choosing to study the language. Luxembourg's Ministry of Culture estimates that more than 6,500 adults were enrolled in Luxembourgish language courses in 2016-2017, double the number 10 years ago.
Luxembourgish, which is traditionally only spoken at home, can sound like a curiosity. It was not even a national language of Luxembourg until 1984. Nearly half of Luxembourg's 576,000 inhabitants are foreigners, many of whom find it easier to speak one of the country's other official languages, French and German, or even English. "You can live in Luxembourg without knowing a word of Luxembourgish," says Luc Schmitz, a teacher of Luxembourgish at the National Institute of Languages. "But it is fun, it expands your view, and your children cannot talk in a secret language that you do not understand."
Now Luxembourg's government wants to boost the status of the language further with a 40-point action plan that aims to promote it in schools, libraries, government offices, and embassies. Luxembourgish will be codified, with an academy, nationwide spelling campaigns, and the completion of an online dictionary. Students will be able to participate in poetry slams, creative writing classes, and theater productions in the language. In addition, the government will petition Brussels to recognize Luxembourgish as an official language of the European Union. "The goal is not to make Luxembourgish the official language, but to allow it to coexist with the other official languages, French and German," says Guy Arendt, Luxembourg's culture minister.
Author and translator Sandra Schmit says Luxembourgish is becoming "a real literary" language. "When I was a child, foreigners would never consider learning Luxembourgish because they thought French was enough, whereas now people see Luxembourgish as the language of integration," says Schmit, who teaches Luxembourgish.
However, Schmit doubts Luxembourgish will overtake French or German. She says of the 134 books published in Luxembourg in 2015-2016, just 7% were in Luxembourgish. Still, Kristine Horner, director of Sheffield University's Center for Luxembourg Studies in the U.K., says the government's plan to promote the language signals "a movement not to take Luxembourgish for granted any more."
Advocates Say Spanish Speakers in California Not Sufficiently Warned about Fire
Ventura County Star (CA) (12/30/17) Wilson, Kathleen
Advocacy groups say Spanish-speaking residents in Ventura County, California, did not receive sufficient warning about the December Thomas wildfire because advisories in Spanish were not posted properly or soon enough. "What we are seeing on the ground is a glaring accessibility issue," says Genevieve Flores-Haro, associate director of the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project.
When the fire ignited December 4 near Santa Paula and started speeding toward Ventura, authorities posted warnings and information on the readyventuracounty.org website in English. Residents looking for the same information in Spanish had to scroll to the bottom and click on an "automatic translator," Flores-Haro says. In comments submitted to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, Flores-Haro stated that she would not trust the site's web-based translator for high school Spanish homework, let alone critical safety information, because the meaning can get lost.
Flores-Haro also cites a delay in alerting Spanish-speaking residents that they needed to boil water for a minute before cooking with or drinking it. Ventura County Spokesperson Kelly Flanders says the advisory was posted in Spanish on December 6, a day after its English posting, and a staffer translated it as fast as possible. "Given the amount of information that was pushed out in a short period of time, we were able to provide the most pertinent information in Spanish with the limited resources available," Flanders says. "More resources would allow us to reduce any lag time."
Assistant Executive Officer Matt Carroll says information was translated within 12 hours of the fire's outbreak, but explains that it makes sense to use an "automatic translator" in times of crisis. "It's a very effective way to get information out bilingually and instantaneously," he says. "There are some concerns with the web-based translator, but it certainly gets the point across, and expediency is important, especially in emergency situations."
Lucas Zucker, policy director for the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, says Ventura County should look north to Santa Barbara for an example of how bilingual messaging ought to be done. "That county's website is fully bilingual in English and Spanish. Tweets and emergency alerts are sent out in both languages," he says. Zucker says communities in the region need to find solutions, especially with a year-round fire season and looming mudslides. "We would like to see a statewide policy so that other communities can learn."
Flores-Haro says the experience provides an opportunity to do better next time. "In an emergency, things move quickly, but I would hope providing critical information in languages other than English would be a priority."
At Rural Minnesota Hospitals, Deaf People Struggle for Interpreters
Minnesota Public Radio (Buluth) (12/26/17) Kraker, Dan
On May 4, 2013, Julie and Matt Svatos had their first child, Stella, at the Fairview Range Medical Center in Hibbing. The delivery went fine, but the next morning a doctor gave them some bad news: Stella might have a brain abnormality and would need several tests, including a CAT scan.
Julie could hear the doctor, but Matt is deaf, and the sign language interpreter who was there for the birth had left. So, the exhausted new mother tried figuring out how to hold her baby and sign to her husband at the same time while trying to comprehend what the doctor was telling her. "It was hard," Julie recalls, "and I felt that I couldn't communicate everything that was going on to my husband."
The Svatos explain that they continued to ask doctors and nurses for an interpreter over the next few days, but never got one. "They would just kind of ignore me as if I wasn't there," Matt Svatos says. "And they would only talk to Julie, as if she was the only one in the room. I just felt like they were treating me like a piece of furniture just standing there in the corner."
When the Svatos got home, they filed a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Eventually the couple, and the state, sued Fairview Health Services. The Svatos' case is one of dozens of complaints filed against Minnesota hospitals in recent years—many in rural areas—where patients who are deaf, or their companions, say they are not getting the interpreter services that are required by law and are essential for them to make informed decisions about healthcare.
Rick Macpherson, an attorney with the Minnesota Disability Law Center, says he has settled 15 cases against Minnesota hospitals. He says that some organizations just don't consider providing interpreters a very high priority. "It's not just a favor for the deaf person. It's necessary for the institution to make sure they're providing the correct information," Macpherson says.
"The main thing is we don't have enough interpreters in our area to be able to fulfill all the requests that come in," says Natalie Stanley, manager of the sign language program at Essentia Health East in Duluth. She says Essentia has a video system that works well for most situations in its rural clinics in Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. If a patient wants an in-person interpreter, she says, they connect with video first, and then put out a call to interpreters in the area to see if someone can cover in-person.
In December, Fairview agreed to implement a similar protocol in a settlement of their case with the Svatos and the state. Fairview also agreed to improve training for staff and report regularly to the state on the interpreting services it provides.
Julie Svatos says the most important aspect of the settlement is that Fairview has changed its policies, which she says should help provide equal access to care for people who are deaf—including her own daughter, Stella, who was found to be deaf shortly after her birth. "I hope that she doesn't have to still fight this when she's an adult. I hope we can make some changes now."
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ATA 2018 Elections: Call for Nominations
The 2018 Nominating and Leadership Development Committee is pleased to announce the call for nominations from ATA’s membership to fill three directors’ positions (each a three-year term).
The deadline for submitting nominations is March 1, 2018.
Elections will be held at the Annual Meeting of Voting Members on Thursday, October 25, 2018, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Any ATA member may make a nomination by completing and submitting the nominating form online or by mail.
Become an ATA Voting Member
Participating in ATA’s annual elections is your opportunity to help shape the future of the Association. Take steps now to become a voting member. The process is fast, free, and online!
ATA Board of Directors Meeting: January 20-21
The ATA Board of Directors will meet this weekend in Miami, Florida. Check out the agenda, get to know the Directors, and review the Board Meeting Summary from the October 28-29, 2017 meeting.
Want to know more? Listen to Episode 3 of The ATA Podcast for a behind-the-scenes look at an ATA Board meeting.
Don't forget—all ATA members are welcome to attend Board meetings.
You could win a free registration to the ATA Conference!
How? Share your career in a classroom—elementary school, middle school, high school, or university—and submit a photo with a story of your experience to the ATA School Outreach Contest.
Think you couldn't possibly do this? Think again! We've got everything you need, including PowerPoint presentations, prepared scripts, and ideas to make it fun. The only thing you need is a school—and we've got tips for that, too.
Get inspired now! Watch the ATA School Outreach video!
Where's my ATA membership card?
It's online! Download yours now. Simply login to the Members Only area of the ATA website and click the Membership Card link in the top menu bar. Thank you for your membership and support of ATA!
In the January-February issue of The ATA Chronicle
Call for Nominations: ATA Directors
Do you know someone who would make a good potential candidate for ATA’s Board of Directors? If so, ATA’s Nominating and Leadership Development Committee would like to hear from you. Any ATA member may make a nomination. Here’s your chance to help shape the future of the Association!
Stepping Out on Capitol Hill: ATA’s First Advocacy Day
ATA’s 58th Annual Conference in Washington, DC was an opportunity too good to pass up! It was the right time and place for ATA’s first Translation and Interpreting Advocacy Day.
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Evidentiary Translation for U.S. Courts
To produce a translation that’s suitable for use as evidence, the evidentiary translator must take a specific approach that differs greatly from best translation practice in other fields. Learn the basics of this approach and how to identify cases in which it’s necessary.
Copyediting for Stand-Out Style in Any Translation
A bit of organization at the beginning of a project can save you a lot of time and energy during the review stage of your translation project, and customizing your review to each client’s preferences will certainly increase the quality of your language services.
ATA School Outreach Contest Winner Profile: Marybeth Timmermann
Marybeth had always been interested in participating in ATA’s School Outreach Program and contest. She got her chance when she spoke to students in an advanced Spanish class at the local high school, impressing her audience with her French skills and real-life translation examples.
2017 ATA Honors and Awards Recipients
ATA and the American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation present annual and biennial awards to encourage, reward, and publicize outstanding work done by both seasoned professionals and students of our craft. This year's recipients are...
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