The ATA61 Annual Conference Preview
For many translators, interpreters, and company owners, ATA’s Annual Conference is the most highly anticipated event on their professional calendar—not just for learning and getting leads on jobs but also for meeting and networking with other translators and interpreters. How is it possible to do all this virtually? Find out when Host Matt Baird interviews ATA President-Elect and Conference Organizer Madalena Sanchéz Zampaulo in Episode 47 of The ATA Podcast.
“You could never attend this many sessions at any in-person conference.”
There’s no better value for the money
The crucial job of reaching people who test positive for the coronavirus and those they’ve come in contact with is proving especially difficult in immigrant communities because of language barriers, confusion, and fear of the government.
The failure of health departments across the U.S. to adequately investigate coronavirus outbreaks among non-English speakers has not helped the situation, given the soaring and disproportionate case counts among Latinos in many states. Four of the hardest-hit states—Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California—have major Spanish-speaking populations.
But the language barriers go beyond Spanish. Minneapolis needs tracers who also speak Somali, Oromo, and Hmong, while Chicago needs Polish speakers. Meanwhile, Houston’s Harris County is grappling with a population that includes Vietnamese, Chinese, and Hindi speakers.
But even when health officials overcome language barriers, they still must dispel the deep suspicions raised among immigrants when someone from the government calls to ask about their movements in an era of immigration enforcement under U.S. President Donald Trump.
“It should come as no surprise that people may be afraid to answer the phone,” said Kiran Joshi, senior medical officer at the Cook County (Illinois) Department of Public Health, which serves 2.4 million people in communities just outside Chicago.
Contact tracers take pains to reassure patients that nothing will be passed along to immigration officials, that they don’t have to provide Social Security or insurance information, and that their contacts won’t know who shared their names and phone numbers. Still, “there are a lot of rumors and myths,” said Hevert Rosio-Benitez, who oversees contact tracing for Houston’s Harris County Public Health. “We do try to train our staff to be convincing enough to establish trust and tell them what the contact-tracing process is about, but we can only do so much with that.”
So, every week, Rosio-Benitez meets with clergy, lawmakers, and advocacy groups to get feedback and answer questions about immigrants’ concerns. “We tell these individuals and groups that we need the community participation so that we can be successful in curbing the virus,” Rosio-Benitez said.
Many of those in the immigrant community being approached are essential workers who worry about being sidelined for days or weeks awaiting test results (wait times around the country routinely exceed a week). Others fear how members of their community will react to contracting the virus.
“I believe there’s a growing stigma about people being sick, so if you’re infected, you don’t want to tell,” said Fernando Garcia, founder and executive director of the El Paso, Texas-based Border Network for Human Rights.
In California, the University of California-Irvine is trying to help counties by training people from low-income, minority areas to be contact tracers in their own communities. Tracers are provided with loose scripts to help with their calls, but “they already have the intuition about the best way to get the information and what to ask,” said Daniel Parker, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor of public health. “They have the same experiences and know how to approach the community better.”
In Illinois, Joshi said Cook County is planning to use a $3-million state grant to expand its tracing program in the coming months, including public communication. Joshi said his department has few Spanish-speakers among its 25 tracers but plans to hire more, as well as people who speak Polish, Arabic, and other languages. “If the caller speaks one’s own language, they’re more likely to answer honestly and feel comfortable,” he said.
In California, as in many other states, hundreds of thousands of students across Los Angeles will be starting the school year online.
Virtual learning was a challenge in the spring, and more so for students learning English as a second language. In the upheaval of the pandemic, many of these students did not receive the required language services to help them achieve English proficiency.
“As a mom, I was so frustrated,” Los Angeles resident Mireya Pacheco said of the virtual classroom experience. A mother of three, Pacheco says that Spanish is the primary language spoken at home. Two of Pacheco’s daughters have achieved English proficiency but a third has not. Pacheco said she struggled last year to help her daughter with schoolwork in English and didn’t get much support from her school. “I’m worried,” Pacheco said. “I don’t know how we will do it.”
Pacheco immigrated from Mexico 19 years ago, and her three U.S.-born daughters are enrolled in Los Angeles public schools. The family has many challenges. When the pandemic hit, their income disappeared. Pacheco’s husband lost his job at a local car wash where he worked full-time. The family scrambled to get up-to-date devices so the girls could participate in school, and their Wi-Fi couldn’t sustain three students using Zoom simultaneously.
The Pachecos were not alone. Many California students did not have the same tech access to participate in online learning as they would in a physical classroom.
The National Center for Education Statistics estimates there are around five million school-aged English-language learners (ELL) nationwide, and California is home to over one million. Under federal law, schools are supposed to provide special instruction so students learn English faster. Much is at stake if a student falls behind due to limited English proficiency. It can affect school performance, college attendance, and job opportunities. But the pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for schools providing that instruction, and the burden has fallen on parents who often don’t have the language skills to help their children.
According to Education Trust-West, a California-based education research and advocacy nonprofit, in the upheaval of the pandemic, many parents in California reported their children did not receive the English-language tutoring necessary to help them keep up.
“Parents were trying to bring forward some of the concerns, but a lot of that doesn’t feel like it was heard because parents weren’t included in the conversation,” said Sandy Mendoza, director of community engagement and advocacy at United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
“The spring really knocked everyone for a loop,” said Karen Muehlberger, director of the upper grades at Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, the charter school where Pacheco’s daughter attends. Muehlberger said her staff spent the summer preparing and that ELL students will be receiving daily targeted teacher attention over Zoom. “We will be having 40 minutes of face-to-face learning, direct instruction,” she said.
Pacheco hopes that school officials will follow through and prioritize students like her daughter. “The truth is I feel frustrated,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like schools are not really giving students what they need. They focus more on the kids who are doing much better, and I don’t think that is fair.”
Contact languages are dying out at an astonishing rate but saving them is no easy task.
When groups of people who speak different languages come together, they sometimes inadvertently create a new one, combining bits of each into something everyone can use to communicate easily. Linguists call such impromptu languages “contact languages”—and they can extend well beyond the pidgin and creole varieties that many of us have heard of.
The original stories of these linguistic mashups vary. Some are peaceful, such as when groups meet for trade and need a lingua franca: Nigerian Pidgin English, for example, allows speakers of some 500 languages to communicate. But others were born of tragedy and violence—like Haitian Creole, Gullah Geechee, Jamaican Creole, and many others that arose during the Atlantic slave trade, when West African peoples combined several languages with English, creating everyday languages often used among enslaved people.
From pidgins—forms of simplified speech—used for commerce to the more mature creoles that have developed from them, contact languages exist all over the world. Some are transitory; others have persisted for hundreds of years.
“Through time, some of what began as contact languages evolved into more formalized ones,” said Shelome Gooden, a linguist at the University of Pittsburgh who grew up speaking English at school but Jamaican Creole—a mix of English and West African languages—at home.
Turkish, for example, is a fully formed language that evolved about 1,000 years ago from an amalgamation of existing Turkic languages, Arabic and Persian languages, Greek, and Armenian. But Gooden explained that Turkish shows signs of reduplication, a feature common in creole and pidgin languages wherein existing words in a language are used to create new words. In Jamaican Creole, for example, “laaf” means simply “laugh,” but “laaf-laaf” becomes “laugh a lot.” Traces like this, Gooden said, offer linguists hints about the origins of languages when other historical clues may be missing.
“There is a reason contact languages have traditionally commanded less respect,” said Nala H. Lee, a linguist at the National University of Singapore who wrote an overview of the status of contact languages in the 2020 Annual Review of Linguistics. “They’ve been thought to be bastardized versions of component languages from which they have been derived,” she said. “People think of them as being less good, or not real languages.” Sometimes derisively referred to as “kitchen languages,” they are spoken in informal settings and are unlikely to be written down or used in official documents. But they are well worth saving, Lee said.
Lee estimated that there are probably a little more than 200 contact languages in the world, 154 of them pidgins or creoles. The fact that contact languages are not written but are passed down orally means they can fade as younger generations move to seek economic opportunity elsewhere, leaving traditions to elders.
Attempts to preserve these endangered languages can be a challenge. “Just as contact languages command less respect on the outside, the speakers themselves may be reluctant to view them as worth saving,” Lee said.
“These languages are part of a people’s cultural or ethnic identity and history,” Lee said. “When they disappear, which they do at a disproportionate rate to mature languages, an entire tradition can die with them.”
This summer, the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma Film and Music Office, and FireThief Productions collaborated to create an animated series called Inage’i (In the Woods). The series, which draws on Cherokee storytelling tradition, was funded through the tribe’s Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act, a measure designed to preserve and revitalize the Cherokee language.
The series follows the adventures of four friends who live in the forests of Turtle Island: Iga Daya’i, a mischievous rabbit; Juksvsgi, a gruff wolf; Anawegi, a conscientious deer; and Kvliwohi, a wise bear.
Betty Frogg, a first-language Cherokee speaker and language teacher at the Cherokee Immersion Charter School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is one of four Cherokee voice actors working on the film. Frogg portrays Iga Daya’i.
As a child in Northeast Oklahoma, Frogg grew up learning to speak Cherokee first, then English. Frogg’s parents encouraged her to speak their native language at home, even as she became bilingual while attending the Seneca Indian School in Wyandotte, Oklahoma.
“I always wanted to see a cartoon with all Cherokee characters,” Frogg said. “Kids need to see and hear things in their own language.”
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. hopes the animated series will achieve several goals, including encouraging a new generation of Cherokees to learn their native language and providing them a way to make a living using their knowledge.
“Preserving and perpetuating the Cherokee language for future generations requires new avenues that allow us to both share and teach the language,” Hoskin said. “This partnership has produced an animated series pilot that I believe will grab the attention of children and adults alike, whether they are introduced to the Cherokee language for the first time or reintroduced to it.”
Officials from FireThief Productions worked with the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program to create the pilot episode. Hoskin said the tribe invested $100,000 in the initial project. Producers are now working to pitch the pilot episode to potential viewing sources.
“This has taken a complete Cherokee effort,” Hoskin said. “I hope people walk away not only being amazed by how the Cherokee language is not only alive but is accessible in this format.”
Introducing ATA’s New Back to Business Basics Webinar Series
This is the first webinar in ATA’s Back to Business Basics series. Each webinar in the series will focus on a small, practical piece of business advice for translators and interpreters at different stages of their career.
At only 45 minutes, Back to Business Basics presentations are shorter than other ATA webinars, limited to ATA members, and free. Watch for the next webinar in the series in October!
Effective and Pitch-Perfect Marketing during and after COVID-19
Presenter: Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo
With an ongoing global pandemic and economic crisis, marketing your services may not feel like a priority right now. But you’ve worked hard to establish and grow your business—now is not the time to give up. Attend this webinar to learn how to market during bad times.
Attend this 45-minute webinar to learn how to deliver effective marketing in difficult times. You’ll explore the perils of tone-deaf messaging, the fine line between too much sales pitch and not enough, and how to time your messages so they get heard. The presenter will also cover adapting common marketing strategies to your ideal client.
ATA members only! Click for free registration.
Advocacy Scores Amendments to AB 2257
After translators and interpreters jammed the phone lines during a California Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on AB 2257, a round of last-minute changes were unanimously approved on August 20. The bill is now set to go to the full legislature for a vote.
What was changed?
Challenges in Human Rights Translation
Presenter: Lucy Gunderson
Finding the best terms to use in any area of translation can be tricky. Fortunately, translators working in human rights have a variety of source documents to help them find the right word every time. Join Presenter Lucy Gunderson to learn about terminology research techniques and the human rights documents available to translators. [more]
What does this webinar cover?
Too Busy to Attend?
Questions? Need more information?
Last Call for AFTI Student Conference Scholarships
The American Foundation for Translation and Interpreting (AFTI), ATA’s non-profit foundation, has announced several student scholarships to partially defray the cost of attending the ATA61 Annual Conference. The scholarships are sponsored by AFTI’s Edith Losa Fund. The Conference will be held virtually October 21-24, 2020.
The application deadline is September 13, 2020.
Applications will be accepted from students and recent graduates of translation or interpreting studies programs or related field. Click 2020 AFTI Conference Attendance Scholarship to download the application form. Recipients will be notified by October 1, 2020.
Free ATA Members Only Webinar
ATA offers members one free webinar every month. Each webinar is available on-demand for 30 days. Don’t wait to watch this month’s freebie!
The Basics of Intellectual Property Law for Translators
Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how copyright law works, what royalties apply to translation, how translators should be credited and compensated, what clauses should be in the contract, and what translators need to know before entering into binding agreements involving intellectual property.
About the Presenter
Paula is presenting at ATA61’s Annual Conference!
International Translation Day 2020
Mark your calendar for September 30 and make plans to celebrate International Translation Day (ITD) with ATA!
For the third year, we’ll be using the event to tell people everywhere what translators and interpreters do, and once again we’ll need your help! So, watch for updates on ATA’s ITD celebration and get ready to join the social media blitz!
While you’re waiting, check out ATA’s International Translation Day T&I Infographics from 2018 and the “Day in the Life of a Translator or Interpreter” video from 2019. We can change the way the world views the profession and the professionals in it … one step at a time!
Download the Latest Edition of Translatio
The latest edition of Translatio, the quarterly newsletter of the International Federation of Translators (FIT), is available for download from FIT’s website.
The issue also highlights the support FIT member associations have provided their members over the past four months—from advocacy for government assistance to expanded professional development webinars and training courses to providing terminology resources and guides.
In addition to supporting members’ business needs, associations cited a central goal of connecting translators and interpreters to a community that can face challenges together.
Discover More with Virtual Conferences
Attend one of Europe’s largest translation industry events without ever leaving home! The TLC+KT 2020 Conference will be held virtually September 25-27.
Attendees will learn how translation services will be provided in the future; how the speed of today’s communication affects the work of translators and agencies; how the next generation of translators is impacting the way we work today.
No matter where you are in the world, you can attend! Register now for the TLC+KT 2020 Conference!
ATA Elections Date of Record
To vote in ATA’s 2020 Elections, you must be approved for Voting membership status by September 21, 2020.
Coming Up in the September/October Issue of The ATA Chronicle
ATA 2020 Election: Candidate Statements
Member Opinions: Discussion on Two Proposed Bylaws Amendments
5 Strategies to Improve Your Online Presence during and after COVID-19
Preparing Documents for Translation
An Introduction to Translation in Market(ing) Research
What I’ve Learned from Remote Court Interpreting
News summaries © copyright 2020 SmithBucklin
August 31, 2020
In This Issue
ATA Webinar Series
Calendar of Events
ATA61 Annual Conference
See ATA’s Online Calendar for translation & interpreting events around the world.
ATA Newsbriefs provides executive summaries of noteworthy articles about the translation and interpreting professions. It is distributed every month to ATA members as an exclusive membership benefit. The editorial staff monitors nearly 11,000 newspapers, business publications, websites, national and international wire services, summarizing significant articles into easy-to-read newsbriefs.
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