Newsbriefs: November 30, 2021

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ATA Advocacy Update

Translators and Subtitlers in the Entertainment Industry

On November 18, ATA issued an open call to action urging entertainment industry stakeholders to offer fair and equitable pay and working conditions for language professionals.

The call is in response to recent discussions in the press and social media claiming there is a shortage of professional translators and subtitlers. “This is simply not the case,” ATA President Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo stated in the letter.

“There is no shortage, but instead a disconnect between the value of this skilled work and the pay offered, leading to a perceived lack of qualified professionals available for these jobs and subpar subtitles in the world’s most popular titles in film and TV.”

Read ATA’s Call for Fair Working Conditions for Translators in the Entertainment Industry.

A letter announcing the call for action was sent to CEOs in the entertainment industry, and a press release was provided to multiple media outlets. It was subsequently picked up by Yahoo Finance and MultiLingual magazine.

Want to learn more about audiovisual translation? Check out ATA’s webinar What is Audiovisual Translation? for a comprehensive overview of this “always something new” specialty. Free for ATA members!


Pennsylvania Court Interpreters Win Fair Compensation

Earlier this year, when the Administrative Offices of the Pennsylvania Courts announced plans to reduce pay for remote interpreting by 50%, ATA joined the Tri-State Language Access Coalition (TSLAC) to warn the courts that the policy change was short-sighted. The Association stated that the pay cut was an unacceptable reduction in compensation for a mandated court service requiring highly trained professionals and noted that remote interpreting, despite appearances, is neither cheaper nor easier to perform.

Read ATA’s Letters to the Administrative Officers of the Pennsylvania Courts.

On November 22, TSLAC announced that the Pennsylvania courts have reversed course and adopted new compensation standards to improve the “quality and professionalism of language services in the justice system.” The new policy, which goes into effect on January 1, 2022, will also improve the way the court system handles in-person and remote interpreting, including travel, job cancellations, and a 2-hour minimum urged by the coalition.



Industry News

Where Have All the Translators Gone?

The Guardian (United Kingdom) (11/14/21) Bryant, Miranda

With a soaring appetite for non-English-language programming and a steadily increasing global streaming market, this ought to be a golden time for subtitle translators. But many skilled translators are leaving the industry due to poor compensation.

The popularity of shows such as the Korean megahit Squid Game, the Spanish series Money Heist (La Casa de Papel), and the French drama Lupin have proven that subtitles are no block to pulling in huge global audiences. Last year, Netflix reported that foreign-language titles were up by more than 50% in 2019.

But despite their crucial and highly skilled role, acting as conduits between the action on screen and millions of viewers around the world, the translators who painstakingly write the streamers’ subtitles do not appear to have seen the rewards filtering down to them.

Translators are paid per minute of program time—even though a single minute of screen time can take hours to accurately and succinctly translate and subtitle—and usually work for outsourced companies known as language services providers (LSPs).

“There is no lower limit [in pay]. It goes all the way to almost zero,” said Max Deryagin, chair of the British Subtitlers’ Association and a representative of Audiovisual Translators Europe. In theory, he added, “It should be a golden moment. We have insane volumes of work.” Instead, what he sees is widespread stress and burnout as translators try to make ends meet.

This, Deryagin said, is leading the most experienced translators to leave the field for better-paid translation jobs or to switch professions entirely. “When the most experienced veteran subtitlers quit, they are quickly replaced with who? Amateurs, part-timers, students, people like that. Then, of course, that affects the quality—it becomes worse,” he said.

After a discouraging two years translating subtitles, freelance translator and copywriter Anne Wanders would tell others to avoid such jobs.

“It’s so sad that if anyone would ask me, ‘Oh, I saw this job listing, should I try to become a subtitle translator?’ I would have to tell them, ‘No you shouldn’t. It’s not worth your time,'” Wanders said.

“Translation is a huge profit enabler for studios and streaming services,” said Los Angeles-based Japanese-to-English audiovisual translator Katrina Leonoudakis. “Like every other industry that requires skilled labor, the problem isn’t that there’s a ‘shortage.’ The problem is that companies don’t want to pay for the highly experienced translators that are available. ‘Shortage’ is always capitalist speak for ‘we don’t want to pay.'”

“Knowing that these multibillion-dollar companies refuse to pay a few more dollars to an experienced professional, and instead opt for the lowest bidder with mediocre quality, only speaks to their greed and disrespect not only for the craft of translation, but the art created by the film-makers they employ,” Leonoudakis said.


Santa Clara County Court Interpreters May Strike Over Pay

NBC Bay Area (CA) (11/18/21) Trujillo, Damian

Court interpreters in Santa Clara County, California, have authorized a potential strike as they continue to negotiate for better pay and working practices.

The threat of a strike comes at a time when Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose is already seeing a shortage of court interpreters. At one point, the court suggested that it could fill the shortage by replacing in-person interpreters with an app similar to Google Translate.

The idea of an app being used in the courts for interpreting has alarmed interpreters and several trial lawyers who said they rely on precise communication.

“Interpreters are vital to a fair criminal justice system in ensuring that people who do not speak English get equal access to justice,” said Steven Clark, a legal analyst. “There is a communication level of comfort that they bring to a client that you never get from an app,” he said. “A client needs to be able to ask questions. How are you going to do that through an app?”

“I have not found an app yet that can replace the human being,” said Maria Cruz, who interprets proceedings for Spanish-speaking witnesses and defendants. “There are cultural differences. There is body language. One word can mean different things in another language.”

“The court values and relies upon our employee interpreters, and those with whom we contract, to provide critical services to our litigants with limited English proficiency,” said a spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Superior Court in response to interpreters’ concerns.

The California Public Employment Relations Board is currently investigating accusations of unfair labor practices filed by interpreters. There is no word on when the board might make its ruling, but Clark said the decision could have a huge impact at the courts.

“If the interpreters go on strike, the court system will virtually shut down,” he said.


Language Barrier: Immigrant Parents Tell Tales of Exclusion

Associated Press (DC) (11/23/21) Lauer, Claudia; Alvarez, Vanessa A.

Philadelphia parents who don’t speak English say they’ve long been excluded from parts of their children’s education because of language barriers, something exacerbated by the pandemic and the return to in-person learning.

Parents have complained of students being used as interpreters despite federal prohibitions, as well as incorrect telephone interpreting and poor communication about bullying. Experts have said many other school districts have lagged in creating equitable systems for non-English speakers.

Philadelphia school officials said there has been progress, including sending communication in parents’ languages and hiring dozens more in-school interpreters, called bilingual cultural assistants (BCAs). They also said the district has robust guidance on requesting language help. But problems still persist.

Jenna Monley, deputy chief of the district’s Office of Family and Community Engagement, said the office told school staff to start providing in-person interpreters for special education meetings when possible. She said staff are trained on using BCAs or the contracted interpreting services provider. But annual refresher trainings are not required for most teachers.

“I think that you are always going to find pockets of success, but there are some areas where things need to grow and improve,” Monley said.

Juntos, a Latino immigrant advocacy group in Philadelphia, surveyed families in 2020 about their pandemic concerns. Executive Director Erika Guadalupe Núñez said after basic needs, schooling was a major concern, including how to communicate with teachers who spoke only English. She said the group’s members have regularly expressed concerns over schools, such as children being asked to interpret.

“We just want kids to be kids. And we want them to stay in class and have the same opportunities to learn that English-speaking children have,” Guadalupe Núñez said.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights issued guidance in 2015 on the legal obligation to communicate with parents in languages they understand, saying neither students nor untrained bilingual staff should interpret. Monley said the district has 101 BCAs after hiring about 45 over the past few years. They serve in 108 out of 220 schools, but many float between multiple schools every week.

Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym, a longtime advocate for education and immigration rights, said she wants to see interpreters in every school every day. “We have a long way to go to enforce the language access mandates that are clearly in the legal books,” she said.

Gym said immigrant families often seem like an afterthought, noting the number of BCAs was cut in half during deep budget cuts around 2011 after changes were made to the state’s education funding formula.

Experts said districts everywhere have seen increases in non-English speakers. Dominic Ledesma, an educational justice researcher, said many districts try to provide what’s legally required without thinking about making schools an inclusive place for immigrant families.

“Legal compliance and civil rights compliance are just as important as the equity issues at stake. Those issues are really pervasive and systemic in nature and not limited to Philadelphia,” Ledesma said.


Canadian Veteran Knighted for Helping Afghan Interpreter and His Family Escape Taliban

Vancouver News (Canada) (11/14/21) Thibault, Alissa

A Canadian veteran has been welcomed into the Order of St. George after being knighted during a ceremony in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Stephen Peddle, a retired major who served in the military for 28 years, was recognized for his work in helping to get an Afghan interpreter’s family members safely into Canada.

Peddle’s service included two tours in Afghanistan, one in 2007 and another 2012. He retired in 2019. When he first arrived, he met a young local interpreter named Sangeen Abdul Mateen, forming a fast friendship.

“[Mateen] was intelligent, ambitious, and friendly,” Peddle said. “While I was in his country, he did everything that he could do to keep me safe. He could pick up on things with his people, their body language, that I might not have picked up on.”

Peddle served in Kandahar, where he worked with about 500 Afghan soldiers, relying on Mateen to help interpret.

“He was my voice for that entire tour, communicating with those Afghan soldiers,” Peddle said. “I walked away with a bond for life.”

Mateen came to Canada in 2012 and studied to become an electrician. He now owns a commercial business in Ontario, where he lives with his wife and four children.

But many of his family members remained in Afghanistan. During the summer, as international troops withdrew from the country, Mateen feared his family members could be captured by the Taliban. His father was a senior officer in the Afghan national army and his brother a national interpreter.

“Being that I’m an ex-intelligence officer, I do know that it was a legitimate threat to life for some of his family by association, or by what they were doing for Canada,” Peddle said.

Peddle helped 12 of Mateen’s family members come to Canada.

“It was a lot of work for him, myself, and other veterans,” he said. “His family was on one of the last flights out of Kabul.”

The story caught the attention of the Order of St. George, a historic organization that is “committed to serve and support the military communities, veterans, and those still serving.”

Allen Plett, knight commander of the Order of St. George Cascadia Priory, said he reached out to Peddle to offer the honor of becoming a “field knight.”

“It’s an honorary recognition on the part of the Order of St. George of people in the Canadian community who give service,” Plett said. “Here’s a veteran, retired, that not only said something, but did something.”

Payment Practices

ATA News

ATA Webinars in December

ATA is closing its professional development program for 2021 with four webinars in December. Take a look below at what’s coming up. Also, be sure to check out the more than 40 on-demand webinars from earlier this year. We’ve got something for everyone!


Working with Termbases in Trados Studio

Presenter: Nora Díaz
Date: December 2, 2021
Time: 12 noon U.S. ET
Duration: 90 minutes
Language: English
Level: Intermediate
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved

Terminology management is a critical element in your translation workflow. Attend this webinar to explore how termbases are created, used, and maintained in both Trados Studio and Multiterm.

You will learn how to:

  1. Modify file type options
  2. Work with a translation memory’s language resources
  3. Use apps to extend Trados Studio’s functionality
  4. Employ machine translation for interactive- and pre-translation
  5. Set up verification options

Register now! ATA Member $65 | Non-Member $90

Missed the first two webinars in this series? Watch them on demand! Look for Beginner Tips and Tricks for Trados Studio and Intermediate Tips and Tricks for Trados Studio.

ATA Members Get 35% Off Trados Studio
ATA members are eligible for a 35% discount on a new or upgraded Trados Studio 2021 Freelance or Trados Studio 2021 Freelance Plus license. Learn more!


Back to Business Basics: Maintain Your Language Skills

Presenter: Eve Bodeux
Date: December 7, 2021
Time: 7:00 p.m. U.S. ET
Duration: 45 minutes
Language: English
Level: All
CE Point(s): None

Your business is built on your professional-level language expertise, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in running your business while taking your language skills for granted. What you need is a plan to consistently develop and advance your linguistic proficiency.

You will learn how to:

  1. Define a framework for maintaining your language skills
  2. Become familiar with the five areas of focus for language maintenance
  3. Set up a plan to assess your progress

Register now! Free to ATA members, but you must sign up by 5:00 p.m. ET on December 7.


Accounting and Taxes for Freelance Translators and Interpreters in the U.S.

Presenters: Michael J. Amato, Patricia L. Keller
Date: December 9, 2021
Time: 12:00 noon U.S. ET
Duration: 60 minutes
Language: English
Level: All
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved

How confident are you in managing your business finances? It’s not unusual for freelancers to second guess their skills as a bookkeeper! Whether you’re looking for a primer on the basics or just want to tighten up your procedures, this webinar will give you the advice you need from two CPAs who know the ins and outs of the freelance business.

For language services providers who have tax obligations in the U.S.

You will learn how to:

  1. File taxes if you are a U.S. citizen or resident
  2. Manage multi-state tax responsibilities
  3. Estimate start-up costs, including cash, fixed assets, loans, and payroll
  4. Pay estimated tax in the U.S.—individually, as a business, or via payroll
  5. Take advantage of tax deductions, such as business use of home, mileage, and more

Register now! ATA Member $45 | Non-Member $60


Listening and Communication: Keys to Resolving Conflict

Presenter: Ellen Kandell
Date: December 14, 2021
Time: 12:00 noon U.S. ET
Duration: 60 minutes
Language: English
Level: All
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved

We have all been there: a client is unhappy with your work, you are having a disagreement with a colleague, or you want to offer feedback that feels a bit harsh. What is the best way to manage situations without hurting someone’s feelings or ruining the professional relationship? Attend this webinar to become better equipped for all the difficult conversations in your professional life.

You will learn how to:

  1. Understand conflict, its sources, and strategies for managing it
  2. Appreciate the importance and complexity of listening in conflict resolution
  3. Have difficult conversations with colleagues, supervisors, and managers
  4. Consider the differences between positions and interests in conflict resolution
  5. Practice active listening

Register now! ATA Member $45 | Non-Member $60

Schedule your online learning!
Register now and watch these webinars on demand at your convenience! The links 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 Membership Renewal for 2022 is Online

Whether you are an independent contractor, an in-house linguist, or a language services company owner, ATA gives you the marketing, education, and opportunities you need to be successful.

Here’s a simple reminder of how ATA delivers!


Reaching Out to Military Linguists

Many linguists serving in the military are unaware of the opportunities that await them as translators and interpreters in the private sector. ATA’s Government Linguist Outreach Task Force (GLOTF) aims to change that with information about the language careers and professionalism they will find outside the military.

GLOTF’s latest push to introduce translation and interpreting careers to military linguists was published in the November/December 2021 issues of Search & Employ and Military Spouse magazines.

GLOTF was organized through ATA’s Government Division and is part of the Division’s initiative to connect with language professionals in the government and military.


Are You Using the Correct ATA Logo?

Use of the ATA logo is an excellent member benefit. It signals your commitment to quality and ethical practices and gives clients one more reason to choose you for their job.

Who can use the logo?

  • ATA members
  • ATA divisions
  • ATA chapters
  • ATA affiliates

Where can the logo be used?

  • Websites
  • Business cards
  • Email signatures
  • Print and online marketing

Be sure you’re using the correct version.
If the full name of the Association is not included in the logo design, then your logo is out of date and can no longer be used. Remember, an individual member logo may not be displayed on a corporate member’s website other than on a bio page.

Have you seen more than one ATA logo design?
Probably! There are actually four designs, each designated for a specific purpose. Here’s how to identify which one to use where:

  • Logo for print material: full name of the Association + tagline
  • Logo for website: full name of the Association + membership category
  • Logo for business cards: full name of the Association + the word “Member”
  • Logo for email signature: same as for a business card, downsized to fit a signature block

How can I get the ATA logo?
Send an email request to You must include your membership number. Please allow five business days for your request to be verified.

Don’t forget to read the ATA Logo Usage Guidelines
It’s important to know the dos and don’ts before you get started. Click to read the ATA Logo Usage Guidelines now.


Hunter Master of Arts in Translation and Interpreting

Free ATA Members-Only Webinar for December

ATA offers members one free webinar every month. Don’t miss the freebie for December!

Copyediting for Translators—Making Serious Writing Sing
Translators often face dilemmas when dealing with sloppy writing. What can you do with “dirty” texts in translation? How much can you clean up without straying too far from the source? What are the key elements to maintain when preserving another author’s voice in a new language?

This ATA webinar will show you the basics of style and grammar that develop an author’s “oomph.”

What will you learn?

  1. The difference between copyediting and proofreading
  2. Elements of style that contribute to an author’s voice
  3. Elements of grammar that contribute to an author’s voice
  4. Practical tips for effective copyediting workflow
  5. Style sheets and how to use them

About the Presenter
Carolyn Yohn translates French and Hungarian legal and academic texts into American English under the name Untangled Translations. She provides copyediting and writing specialist services to law firms, education consultants, and nonprofit organizations, including TEAM RUBICON, Sesame Workshop, the Children’s Nutrition Fund, and Humanium.

Carolyn has a bachelor’s degree in French language and culture from the University of Virginia and a professional certificate in French>English translation from New York University. In 2015, she completed studies in advanced Hungarian at Eötvös Lóránd University, Budapest.


Submit for a Chance to Win

ATA Annual Conference attendees have helped shape the conference over the years with their survey suggestions and feedback. If you attended this year’s conference, whether virtually or in person, please continue the tradition and take the time to complete your overall ATA62 conference survey. Surveys submitted by December 1 will automatically be entered to win a free registration for the ATA 63rd Annual Conference in Los Angeles, California (October 12-15, 2022). You can access and submit the survey on the virtual portal—look for the link at the top of the home page above the header.


How Do I Contact ATA?

We’re here to answer your questions! Call us at +1-703-683-6100 or email We also have a general contact us form for requesting information. Want to reach a Board Director or Committee Chair? Click About Us on the website’s top menu bar. Looking for a Division Administrator? Go to Divisions under Member Center.


In the November/December Issue of The ATA Chronicle

Member Opinion: Promoting Inclusion in Translation and Interpreting
The translation and interpreting industry, like all industries, is not immune to bias based on the deep-seated, preconceived ideas we all carry, many subconsciously. The tense social climate we’re living in today forces us to reassess how inclusive our industry really is and what we can do to change. (Cathy-Eitel Nzume)

Getting the Most from Your ATA Language Services Directory Profile
To enable potential clients to make the most effective use of the Language Services Directory, ATA members should strive to keep their profiles up to date. Members should also take advantage of all the directory options that allow an individual to highlight their services. (Eve Lindemuth Bodeux)

LinkedIn Groups: How They Can Help You Meet the Right Clients
LinkedIn Groups are often overlooked, but they can truly be a gold mine for freelancers for growing their networks and conducting market research. If you really want to meet your clients where they are, making a plan to join and engage in LinkedIn Groups is an excellent way to add to your LinkedIn marketing strategy and get in front of the right people. (Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo)

Cognitive Debriefing: A Challenging but Rewarding Project
What is cognitive debriefing and does this area have potential for translators? What skills are required to take advantage of this market niche? A translator shares his experiences working on cognitive debriefing projects, both as a recruiter and interviewer, including tips for success. (Pham Hoa Hiep)

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 2021 Smithbucklin

November 30, 2021

On average, how often do you send hand-written business communications?

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Previous Poll Results

How far in advance do you plan for your business?

18% = Weekly
18% = Monthly
0% = Quarterly
29% = Annually
35% = I do not do any planning

In This Issue

ATA Advocacy Update
ATA Webinars December
Renew Your Membership
Military Linguists
Using the ATA Logo
Free Member Webinar
Submit to Win
How to Contact Us
The ATA Chronicle

ATA Members Only

Free ATA Webinar!
Copyediting for Translators—Making Serious Writing Sing Click to watch!!

Back to Business Basics

Maintain Your Professional Language Skills
Dec 7 @ 7 pm ET
Free to members!
Registration open.

ATA Webinars

Working with Termbases in Trados Studio
Dec 2 @ 12 noon ET
Registration open

Accounting and Taxes
Dec 9 @ 12 noon ET
Registration open

Listening and Communication: Resolving Conflict
Dec 14 @ 12 noon ET
Registration open

Calendar of Events

JNCL-NCLIS Language Advocacy Days
Language at the Intersection
Feb 2-4, 2022
Learn more!

ATA Board of Directors Meeting
Feb 5-6, 2022
Location to be determined

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

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

The ATA Chronicle
The ATA Chronicle November/December 2021

Back to Business Basics Webinar
ACTFL Lead with Languages Initiative
Advertise with ATA!