Newsbriefs: February 15, 2022

Middlebury Institute of International Studies Translation Interpretation Localization

The ATA Compensation Survey Report

In 2021, ATA invited translators, interpreters, and T&I company owners in the U.S. to participate in a compensation survey. This industry-­wide survey was designed to capture a comprehensive picture of the market for T&I services. The results are invaluable in managing a T&I business and planning for the future.

The ATA Compensation Survey, Sixth Edition, is now available exclusively to ATA members for free.

The report documents income and pay rate data by profession, employment status, and languages. In addition, respondent profiles include specialties, education, business structures, pricing structures, services provided, client mix, and more. For interpreters, there’s even a breakout by delivery modes and credentials; for translators, the use of CAT tools and post-editing services are reported.

This is your ATA membership at work! Log in to the ATA Member Center now and download your copy now.
Training for Translators

Industry News

Interpreter Who Helped Joe Biden Escape Afghanistan Arrives in U.S.

Fox News (NY) (02/07/22) Hill, Bailee

The interpreter who helped President Joe Biden escape Afghanistan in 2008 has finally arrived in the U.S.

“I’m totally free. I’m so excited. It was a long trip, with a start from the north of Afghanistan right to the border of Pakistan,” said former interpreter Mohammad Aman Khalili. “It was very scary because the Taliban were on the roads, and they were checking and watching, as everybody is, to find their enemies and arrest them.”

Khalili said he felt betrayed by the U.S. when the country pulled out of Afghanistan last year. Khalili had been approved to leave Afghanistan when U.S. forces were helping American allies flee the country, but he was not willing to leave his wife and children behind. “I had worked with the U.S. forces for about 13 years. It was egregious for me,” he said.

In 2008, Khalili joined Arizona National Guard troops in Afghanistan on a rescue mission to track down two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters that made an emergency landing in a remote valley during a snowstorm. Those helicopters were carrying then-Senators Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Chuck Hagel.

Khalili made headlines last year when he pleaded for help from President Biden, asking him to help save him and his family. The White House issued a statement assuring him that, “We will get you out, we will honor your service, and we’re committed to doing exactly that.”

In October, Khalili and his family successfully fled to the Pakistan border with the help of Brian Genthe, a purple heart veteran who worked with Khalili for years and was a strong advocate for his rescue.

“He was in one house, one room, in Kabul, scared every single day,” Genthe said. “He was contacting me. It wasn’t a good situation. I’m just glad I got the opportunity to do this.”


Squid Game Controversy Highlights Poor Working Conditions of Subtitlers

CNET (CA) (02/11/22) Bisset, Jennifer

The wildly popular Netflix series Squid Game drew criticism for its poorly translated English subtitles. But the real issue is the dismal pay and harsh working conditions that experienced subtitlers face.

The practice of outsourcing sees TV stations, movie studios, and streaming giants hire external subtitling vendors instead of using in-house subtitlers. The result is that funds trickle down from managers until employees at the bottom—the subtitlers—are left with the dregs.

“The rates have not been increased in around 20 years,” said Max Deryagin, chair of the British Subtitlers’ Association and a representative of AudioVisual Translators Europe, a federation that aims to improve working conditions for all media translators by working with and educating European institutions and legislators. “As you can imagine, with inflation, that’s not good.”

In addition to low rates, subtitlers contend with unrealistic expectations, tight deadlines, and competition from clunky machine translation. Often, their work goes underappreciated, under the radar.

Unfairly criticized, underfunded, and facing a lack of support from the entertainment industry, Deryagin said subtitlers are on the brink. At least the Squid Game controversy illuminated an unsung fact: good subtitles are an exceptionally difficult art.

Subtitlers toil for months over the length, timing, and nuance behind little words so they unobtrusively run across our screens and allow us to enjoy content from all over the world. Sometimes they study the reference material of adaptations. Sometimes they take special requests from filmmakers. Sometimes they construct their very own made-up terminology for fantasy worlds or superheroes.

Doga Uludag, a subtitlter who has worked on some of the biggest titles to hit Netflix, including Sweet Tooth, Sex Education, Jupiter’s Legacy, The Haunting of Bly Manor, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Crown, said it takes at least five years of training to become specialized. She is concerned that new subtitlers will not be attracted to a profession requiring so much preparation if the pay remains dismal.

Also not helping the situation is the exponential increase in streaming content, which has seen a trend in mixed machine and human translation. AI technology such as Google Cloud AI is vital for closed captioning. Yet when this technology is used to do a quick generation of subtitles, it still requires quality control from a human editor. This means subtitlers receive even less compensation. “The translator makes less for something they enjoy less,” Deryagin said. “It’s just a lose-lose.”

Uludag said she is confused by the underappreciation for subtitlers. “The art of subtitling is complex, combining skills from multiple realms,” she said. “Translation is only part of it. It’s about knowing who you’re translating for, mastering localization so people can appreciate the next Squid Game or Parasite the world over. Bring me a machine that can do that.”


Mayo Clinic Health System Interpreters Bridge Language Barriers (WI) (02/02/22) Fremstad, Jordan

Staff interpreters at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, Wisconsin, work to make sure that every patient—no matter their language—understands how to take their medication through the hospital’s “Meds to Beds” program.

“Meds to Beds” is designed to get medication to patients along with the knowledge on how to use it before they walk out the door. In addition to in-person interpreters, Mayo offers online language services.

“It’s a medication delivery service offered to our patients that are in the hospital,” said Ciolagh Puent, a pharmacist at Mayo. “We bring the medication to their room so they have it going home,” Puent said.

“We explain how many times they’re supposed to take it and why they’re getting that medication,” said Dora Zetina, a Spanish interpreter at Mayo.

“Like the pharmacists say, the readmission rate is high if you’re not 100% sure how to take your medication,” said Colleen Cudo, an American Sign Language interpreter at Mayo.

Zetina said she likes to think that her voice helps patients feel at peace when they leave a doctor’s care. “It’s priceless,” Zetina said. “That feeling to me, it’s a victory that I get to go home and take that with me.”

Cudo said that even though patients may speak different languages and live inside different cultures, everyone shares the desire to be understood. “It’s a great job to be able to empower patients.”


New Manitoba Programs Aim to Increase Number of Indigenous Speakers/Language Services

CBC (Canada) (02/10/22)

The provincial government of Manitoba, Canada, announced that it is partnering with the nonprofit Indigenous Languages of Manitoba, Inc. and providing $300,000 for the delivery of programs to build Indigenous-language proficiency, literacy, and translation capacity

The one-time grant will support the creation and operation of two programs over the next three years. One program will focus on language programming and apprenticeships to increase the number of proficient Indigenous-language speakers. The second program will focus on translator training to advance literacy and written skills with the aim of supporting an increase in the overall number of Indigenous-language translators.

“Our people have a right to their language and to be connected to their cultures,” said Melanie Kennedy, executive director of Indigenous Languages of Manitoba. “This funding will give us the opportunity to balance the scales to build long-term capacity and to genuinely make an impact when it comes to the survival of our languages, while paving a path of acceptance and opportunity for our children and future generations.”

According to the province, Indigenous Languages of Manitoba, which focuses on promoting the survival of Indigenous languages, is the only place where language services are available for all seven Indigenous languages recognized under Manitoba’s Aboriginal Languages Recognition Act: Ininímowin (Cree), Dakota, Dene, Inuktitut, Michif, Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway), and Anishininimowin (Oji-Cree). The nonprofit’s services are used by a number of organizations, including several government departments.

“The demand for Indigenous-language services continues to grow throughout the province, but the existing capacity to provide those services is limited,” said Alan Lagimodiere, Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister. “This partnership with Indigenous Languages of Manitoba will increase the number of proficient speakers and qualified translators in the province, strengthening the languages and ensuring timely access to critical information in Indigenous languages.”


From Urdu to Chinese: How Wordle Spread across the Globe

The Guardian (United Kingdom) (02/05/22) Graham-Harrison, Emma; Milmo, Dan

Wordle, the word game app that has taken the English-speaking world by storm, is sparking spontaneous efforts to develop similar games for other languages.

The game’s relative simplicity—it thinks of a five-letter word and challenges the user to guess what it is in six tries or less—makes it relatively easy to create similar programs from scratch, helping drive its global popularity. Versions have popped up all over the world in languages ranging from German to Urdu.

Lau Chaak-ming, a linguistics professor in Hong Kong, has rendered a Cantonese version using “jyutping,” a method of transliterating Cantonese into the Western alphabet. He developed his version, Zidou, strictly for fun at first. “I thought it would be great if there were a few hundred people playing it,” Chaak-ming said. “But it surprised me that more than 10,000 or even 100,000 people have played this game. I’m quite happy.”

Linguistic differences mean adaptation into some languages can be challenging and require major changes.

“Hebrew words are much denser and have far fewer double letters and vowels,” said Amir Livne Bar-on, an Israeli mathematician who developed a version of the game for Hebrew because he found the original English version less enjoyable. “So, even though Hebrew has fewer words, there are way more words containing five letters, so it’s harder.” He said the Hebrew version is popular among young people, particularly in Tel Aviv.

Wayne McDougall, a computer programmer in New Zealand, said he also faced a formidable challenge when developing a version of Wordle for the Māori language, an Eastern Polynesian subgroup of the Eastern Austronesian (Oceanic) languages, spoken in the Cook Islands and New Zealand.

“The main challenges in developing a Māori version were processing the Māori alphabet with a limited number of consonants and vowels,” he said. Compiling a list of words and their definitions also proved difficult, but McDougall persevered and says the Māori-speaking community has been supportive. “I was afraid I was intruding on other people’s territory—the language is in some way a cultural treasure—but all the support has been positive and welcoming.”

The game has proven so popular that The New York Times purchased the rights to the original Wordle in January but has not said whether it would seek to crack down on clones in other languages.

Awais Athar, a computer scientist from Cambridge who created an Urdu version, hopes this will not happen. “It would seem that their acquisition aims to introduce more word games to existing Wordle players, and I am all for it. Word games make people happy, and we should spread the joy as much as possible!”


ATA News

New! ATA Korean-into-English Certification Approved

ATA’s Board of Directors has approved the establishment of Korean-into-English certification. Testing in the new language combination will begin this spring; practice tests are available now.

What does it take to add a new language combination?
Hundreds of hours of dedicated volunteer time, organizational skills, and a commitment to seeing the goal through. Read “Establishing the English>Arabic Certification Exam” (The ATA Chronicle, September/October 2018).

Why is there no ATA Certification exam in my language combination?
It’s a fair question. The answer comes down to demand, teamwork, training, passage selection, and grading standards—plus hundreds of volunteer hours in between. ATA Certification Committee Chair David Stephenson explains it all to Podcast Host Matt Baird in Episode 22 of The ATA Podcast. For additional details, read “Procedure for Establishing a New Language Combination.”


Why ATA?

There is an association for almost every industry and every profession. What makes ATA stand out from all the rest? Watch The Benefits of ATA Membership to find out.

Forgot to renew?
It’s not too late! Renew now to ensure your uninterrupted access to the best marketing and networking in the language services industry.


ATA63 Call for Speakers

The American Translators Association is now accepting presentation proposals for ATA’s 63rd Annual Conference in Los Angeles, California (October 12-15, 2022).

Why present at ATA63?
Making a presentation at an ATA Annual Conference is an excellent strategy to establish your expertise. With 1,500 translators, interpreters, educators, company owners, and project managers attending, there is no better way to gain visibility and expand your referral network.

Proposals must be received by March 1, 2022. Click here to learn more and submit!

How to Submit a Proposal
If you’ve never written a proposal to present at an ATA Annual Conference, then this is the place to start! Watch How to Submit a Successful ATA Annual Conference Proposal to learn more about developing and submitting a proposal for this event. You do not need to be an ATA member to submit.

How Proposals Are Selected
Proposals are selected based on the value and originality of the content. Presentations should engage the audience, encourage discussion, and provide information relevant to the translation and interpreting professions. Proposal selection is a competitive, peer-reviewed process.

If you know someone who could make a great presentation, encourage them to submit their proposal for ATA63!


From Written to Spoken: How to Break into Interpreting

Presenter: Elena Langdon
Date: March 2, 2022
Time: 12:00 noon U.S. ET
Duration: 45 minutes
Language: English
Level: All
CE Point(s): None

Another ATA Back to Business Basics webinar!

While it’s not for everyone, interpreting is often a welcome addition to a language career. In fact, many successful interpreters started as translators. So how can you add interpreting to the services you already offer?

Join this webinar to find out what you should consider before making this career move to translation’s “talkative cousin”!

You will learn how to:
  1. Identify the basic skills needed and knowledge of professional interpreters
  2. Understand the types of interpreting work for beginners
  3. Start thinking about specialties to consider and training programs for each
  4. Consider marketing/promotion options that work well when you are getting started
  5. Navigate the options for available interpreter certifications
Register now!
Free to ATA members, but you must sign up by 10:00 a.m. ET on March 2. Click here to register.

If you have already registered, check your inbox for to find your invitation to join. Email if you cannot find it.


Last Call for the ATA Mastermind Program

Translators and interpreters often go into business understanding that finding and retaining clients will be hard work. What many fail to see, however, is the difficulty in running a business alone and not always knowing what to do next. This is where ATA can help!

ATA’s Mastermind Program offers mentoring designed to help you learn and develop professionally. You will work together in small peer groups to share knowledge on specific topics and work collaboratively to achieve your learning goals.

What can you expect?
  • Peer-based mentoring through brainstorming, education, and support
  • Self-directed activities chosen by the members of each group
  • Challenges to set goals and be accountable
  • Meeting regularly to learn from each other
Want to Learn More?
Read What are ATA’s Mastermind Groups? in the Next Level blog and watch the Introducing ATA’s Mastermind Program webinar.

One Last Note
If you would prefer a one-to-one coaching relationship with someone who has more experience, ATA’s Mentoring Program will be a better fit. Click to check it out!

And finally …
Both the ATA Mentoring and ATA Mastermind Programs require two years of experience for participation. If you’re not there yet, we recommend following The ATA Savvy Newcomer for everything you need to know—from getting started to finding clients and more. There’s something here for everyone!


ATA Elections 2022: Call for Nominations

The Nominating and Leadership Development Committee is currently accepting nominations to fill the following positions:
  • Director (three positions open), three-year term
  • Director (one position open), one-year term
The deadline for submission is March 1, 2022.

ATA’s success depends on the leadership of its officers and directors. That leadership begins with nominations like yours. Click here to start.


ATA Webinar: Emoji and Emoticons and Stickers, Oh My!

Presenter: Holly Silvestri
Date: March 17, 2022
Time: 12:00 noon U.S. ET
Duration: 1 hour
Language: English
Level: All
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved; 0.1 IMIA/NBCMI-approved; 1.0 CCHI-approved

What’s an interpreter to do? Studies show that emoji, emoticons, smileys, stickers, and other graphicons are being used more frequently in high-stakes medical and legal interpreting assignments, including telemedicine. Their multiple meanings are not always easily understood, leaving the interpreter at a loss for words.

Attend this webinar to understand the difficulties and learn best practices proposed by a research group of U.S. professional interpreters.

You will learn how to:
  1. Identify the multiple factors that go into interpreting graphicons
  2. Comprehend the difficulties of interpreting graphicons both intraculturally and cross culturally
  3. Recognize the frequency of these images in high-stakes medical and legal encounters
  4. Handle graphicons when doing sight translations in legal or medical settings
Register now! ATA Member $45 | Non-Member $60

How to watch the webinar recording later!
Register now and watch this webinar on demand at your convenience! The link to the recording will automatically be added to the ATA Education section in your member record following the live event. Click here to learn how to watch purchased ATA webinars on demand!


ATA Mentoring—It’s Not Just for Newcomers

Mentoring is not just for newcomers, especially when it comes to the ATA Mentoring Program!

Why would an experienced translator or interpreter want to work with a mentor?
  • Transition from a full-time employee to an independent contractor
  • Look for ways to get a foot in the door with direct clients
  • Consider a new specialization or expanding services
  • Interest in learning how to make better use of a CAT tool
  • Think about moving from a consecutive to simultaneous interpreting career
  • Look for advice about marketing techniques and social media
  • Learn how to deal with project managers and agencies
  • And more!
Applications from interested mentees will be accepted through March 31, 2022.

Advice, encouragement, lessons learned, career guidance—the benefits of being a mentee can be critical to the success of a career or business. And the level of experience and professionalism of this ATA network of support is unparalleled in the industry. Click the link below to learn more!


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!

Treasurer’s Report
This annual report reviews ATA’s financial performance and provides a good indication of current trends. (John Milan)

The Orange County Department of Education Multilingual Consortium: A Clearinghouse for Educational Interpreters
California’s Orange County Department of Education has spearheaded efforts to provide continuous professional learning opportunities for bilingual staff in educational settings nationwide. Learn how a robust language services program strategically addressed the challenges and effectively capitalized on the opportunities presented by the pandemic. (Natalia Abarca)

Subtly Sexist Sources: What’s a Woke Translator to Do? 10 Practical Pointers for into-English Translators
Amidst far-reaching societal change, language is evolving. Unfortunately, not all our clients are keeping pace, and their source texts sometimes smack of sexism in the form of worn-out stereotypes, passè gender roles, and problematic language. Translators should feel empowered to stray from the source when necessary and draw on their expertise to educate their clients. Here are 10 takeaways on incorporating gender-neutral writing into your English translations. (Rachel Pierce)

Reflections on Running a Micro-Internship: Making a Difference by Starting Small
Given how few translation training programs exist in the U.S., internships can be a great way for freelance translators to contribute to the next generation of our profession while also getting something in return. (Mary McKee, Jamie Hartz)

Profile of ATA’s 2021 School Outreach Contest Winner: Majlinda Mulla-Everett
When Majlinda Mulla-Everett taught a summer class on interpreting skills to high school students in Portland, Maine, her objective was to make sure they understood the value of being bilingual and that they can turn that skill into something to help the community where they live. (Molly Yurick)

2021 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…

Access to The ATA Chronicle’s searchable archives is available online! And don’t forget to check out the latest issue of the Chronicle Online.
News summaries © copyright 2022 Smithbucklin

February 15, 2022

Have you referred a colleague to:

See the Results!

Previous Poll Results

Have you ever mentored someone just starting out as a translator or interpreter?
87% = Yes
13% = No

In This Issue

Compensation Survey
Korean>English Exam
Why ATA?
ATA63 Call for Speakers
Break into Interpreting
ATA Mastermind Groups
ATA Elections 2022
Emoji, Emoticons, Stickers
ATA Mentoring
The ATA Chronicle

ATA Workshop

Keep Your Spanish Sharp
Feb 23-24, 2022
9:00-11:15 a.m. ET

ATA Webinars

Emoji and Emoticons and Stickers, Oh My!
Mar 17 @ 12 noon. ET
Registration open

Back to Business Basics

From Written to Spoken: How to Break into Interpreting
Mar 2 @ 12 noon ET
Free to members!
Registration open

Calendar of Events

ATA Mastermind Program
Deadline: Feb 28, 2022
Learn more!

ATA63 Call for Speakers
Deadline: Mar 1, 2022
Learn more!

ATA Call for Nominations
Deadline: Mar 1, 2022
Learn more!

ATA Mentoring Program
Deadline: Mar 31, 2022
Learn more!

ATA Board of Directors Meeting
Apr 9-10, 2022
Alexandria, Virginia

FIT World Congress
Jun 1-3, 2022
Varadero, Cuba
Learn more!

ATA63 Annual Conference
Oct 12-15, 2022
Los Angeles, California

The ATA Chronicle
The ATA Chronicle January/February 2022

ATA63 Annual Conference Call for Speakers