Inside Specialization—Diplomatic TranslationCan a specialization that is broad in subject matter still be a niche market? If you’re talking about diplomatic translation, then the answer is absolutely yes!
In this episode of Inside Specialization, Joseph Mazza, chief of the Office of Language Services’ Translating Division at the U.S. Department of State, explains the tremendous variety of content, text types, and tasks this work involves, including the necessity to understand past history and cultural allusions. You’ll also learn why critical research skills and a thorough knowledge of language and culture are important assets for the job. And then there’s the pressure that comes with the responsibility of translating content representing the United States!
Don’t miss this podcast for an insider’s view of a truly unique specialty.
Afghan Interpreter Who Helped Rescue Biden in 2008 Gets Out of Afghanistan
The Washington Post (DC) (10/12/21) Alfaro, Mariana
An Afghan interpreter who helped rescue then-Senator Joe Biden in 2008 after his helicopter was forced to land in a snowstorm has been evacuated from Afghanistan.
The interpreter, Aman Khalili, and his family were rescued in a joint effort by the Human First Coalition and U.S. Department of State. Khalili had been in hiding in the weeks after Kabul’s fall to the Taliban in mid-August and the U.S. withdrawal from the country.
Human First Coalition—a nonprofit run by volunteers, including U.S. veterans, that was formed soon after the fall of Kabul with a focus on evacuating Americans and other vulnerable people from Afghanistan—coordinated an escape route for the family through Pakistan. Some of the U.S. veterans involved in the operation to get the family out had worked with Khalili on the 2008 rescue operation.
Brian Genthe, an Arizona combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient, led the effort to get Khalili and his family out of Afghanistan after the interpreter sent him Facebook messages asking for help. Genthe said Khalili “was there the entire time” as U.S. troops fought the Taliban in 2008.
“He literally sacrificed time with his family because he wanted to make his country right and believed that we were there to help them out,” Genthe said.
On August 31, The Wall Street Journal reported that Khalili had been left behind during the U.S. evacuation of Afghanistan. Khalili, in an interview with the Journal, directly appealed to President Biden, asking him for help. Days later, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration would help get Khalili out.
After a few days in Pakistan, the family arrived in Doha, Qatar, after Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman asked for Pakistani approval to fly them to Qatar aboard a U.S. military plane.
Khalili said he is thankful for the individuals involved because they “saved my life.”
Khalili said his family is working on their Special Immigrant Visas, which will allow them to travel to the U.S. Genthe said the U.S. Department of State has provided a specialist who will work with the family on their applications. The first time Khalili applied for a special visa, he was rejected because of a misunderstanding with the contractor who originally hired him to work as an interpreter with the U.S. military.
“This gentleman did have an increased risk to his life because of his connection to the sitting president of the U.S., which would make him a target of opportunity to a terrorist group,” said Alex Plitsas, a spokesperson for the Human First Coalition and an Iraq War veteran. “But there are tens of thousands of people who remain in Afghanistan who do similar things, acts of valor protecting Americans over the course of the last 20 years—maybe not for somebody who is as famous as the president, but who are just as deserving to leave.”
Advocates Want Language Services for More Languages in New Mexico
Associated Press (DC) (10/06/21)
An advocacy group for disadvantaged communities in New Mexico says more translation and interpreting services are needed for people who don’t speak Spanish or English.
The Center on Law and Poverty asked a state district court judge to intervene and order more robust services in languages such as Vietnamese, Chinese, Dari, Arabic, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, and Diné. The group warned that some language speakers are likely to miss crucial health and nutritional support that they are eligible to receive. It also cited specific examples of inadequate language services that flout federal requirements.
“Thousands of New Mexicans speak languages other than English and face systemic barriers to food and medical assistance because application documents are not provided in their language,” the Center said in a court filing. “This causes delays and denials of assistance for which families qualify.”
The complaint noted the pending resettlement in New Mexico of about 300 Afghans who recently fled their homeland with the withdrawal of U.S. military forces and diplomats.
The Center on Law and Poverty’s complaint has been disputed by New Mexico’s Human Service Department, which oversees food stamps, Medicaid, and emergency assistance for people living in poverty or on the cusp. The department said in a statement that it already provides benefit application materials in languages other than English and Spanish and interpreting services to applicants who need assistance.
Human Services Department Spokesperson Jodi McGinnis Porter said the agency opposes further court intervention and complies with federal translation and interpreting requirements.
In New Jersey, Department of Justice Settles with Newark Schools to Protect English Learner Students
Insider NJ (NJ) (09/01/21)
The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a settlement with Newark Public Schools to resolve the department’s investigation into the school district’s programs for its English learner students.
The agreement ends the district’s longstanding and common practice of removing students from English learner programs before they become fluent in English. The district has agreed to improve services for English learner students so they can access the same educational opportunities as other students in the Newark Public Schools.
The Department of Justice’s multi-year investigation uncovered wide-ranging failures to properly serve students learning English. The department found that the district failed to hire and retain enough qualified teachers to support its program, resulting in limited instruction time for some students, and for others, no language services at all.
“Our office steadfastly supports the civil rights of all students, including English learners,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Rachael Honig said. “We are pleased that the Newark Board of Education has agreed to fully embrace its obligation to meet the language needs of its English learners and resolve the serious violations of federal law uncovered during this investigation,” Honig said. “We will continue to hold school districts and other education agencies accountable so that all students in New Jersey have equal access to educational opportunities.”
“School districts must provide effective English learner services so that all students can create an American dream of their own,” said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice Kristen Clarke. “We will continue fighting to ensure compliance with our federal civil rights laws as we stand up for every student’s right to equal educational opportunities across our country,” Clarke said. “The comprehensive requirements in this settlement agreement will create lasting change and provide access to education for thousands of English learner students in Newark.”
The U.S. Department of Justice will monitor the school district’s implementation of the settlement agreement for at least three full school years until the district has fully complied with its obligations.
If You Watched Squid Game in English, Did You Really Watch Squid Game at All?
CBC (Canada) (10/07/21) Weaver, Jackson
With South Korean Netflix survival drama Squid Game holding down the number one spot in over 90 countries, inconsistencies in the translation of its subtitles have caused fans to wonder whether they’re all watching the same show.
Questions concerning the accuracy of the show’s translated subtitles first arose soon after its premier. Comedian and Feeling Asian podcast co-host Youngmi Mayer took to Twitter to voice her complaints, saying that much of the closed-caption subtitles were “botched” in their English translation.
“I’m fluent in Korean and I watched Squid Game with English subtitles,” Mayer wrote, “and if you don’t understand Korean, you didn’t really watch the same show. The dialogue was written so well and zero of it was preserved.”
Her complaints quickly kicked off a wider debate, with many Korean speakers echoing Mayer’s dislike of the English subtitles and captions—and the belief that the translated version of the show was fundamentally different than the original.
At the same time, others—including industry insiders, academics, and fans—noted that translation is more art than science and that picking apart perceived errors can do more harm than good for a wave of non-English shows finally finding a wider audience.
According to Michelle Cho, a researcher of South Korean film media and popular culture and an assistant professor of East Asian studies at the University of Toronto, the on-screen challenge—even when translation is done well—is how much can be conveyed to an audience unfamiliar with certain cultural concepts.
“Subtitles are often anticipating what their audience’s worldviews or set of known concepts will be,” Cho said. “And in the case of some of the speech of certain characters, there are too many contextual elements that would be required in order to convey that to an audience.”
“I definitely think that if you were to dissect it, yes, you could find something wrong in every scene,” said Bina Lee, a Toronto-based writer and editor for Korean entertainment website Soompi. “But at the end of the day, the whole message of the series is definitely shown through the production, you know, through the story.” Lee added that suggesting a show isn’t worth watching in translation could discourage studios from continuing to greenlight non-English projects.
Grace Jung, a PhD in cinema and media studies with a specialization in Korean television, largely dismissed the complaints around the quality of the show’s translation. Looking for a “true” interpretation of a creator’s vision is a doomed mission, she said, since a television series is already dependent upon so many different people—a translator is just one more editorial step a show takes on its way to audiences.
At the same time, she explained the very nature of language makes a “perfect” translation impossible, since it’s all up to interpretation.
“The best metaphor that I heard about translation is that it’s like taking the soul out of one body and trying to insert it into another body,” she said. “Which means it’s impossible.”
Why Translators Should Be Named on Book Covers
The Guardian (United Kingdom) (09/10/21) Croft, Jennifer
In an op-ed for The Guardian, American author, critic, and translator Jennifer Croft argues that publishers need to do more to recognize literary translators, including paying royalties and consistently listing their names on book covers. Croft, who works from Polish, Ukrainian, and Spanish into English, was awarded the 2018 Man Booker International Prize for her translation of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights.
“Publishers tend to avoid highlighting the people who choose every word of the books they bring to English readers. This lack of transparency is misguided and unfair,” Croft wrote.
For Croft, the reality of the international circulation of texts is that in their new contexts, it’s up to the translators to choose every word they will contain.
“It’s the translator who is responsible, from start to finish, for building a flourishing lexical community that is both self-contained and in profound relation with its model,” Croft wrote.
Croft acknowledged that there have been numerous positive changes in the way translators are paid and perceived over the past 20 years.
“Take the Man International Booker Prize, which, since 2016, has split the generous sum of £50,000 between author and translator, thereby genuinely recognizing the work as a fundamentally collaborative entity that, like a child, needs two progenitors in order to exist,” Croft wrote.
Despite this type of progress, however, there is ample room for improvement. As an example, Croft wrote that translators often do not receive royalties and that a surprising number of publishers do not credit translators on the covers of their books.
“This is where the author’s name always goes; this is where you’ll find the title, too. People tend to be surprised when I mention this, but take another look at the International Booker Prize, and you’ll see what I mean,” Croft wrote. “Since the 2016 launch of the redesigned prize, not one of the six winning works of fiction has displayed the translator’s name on the front.”
The underlying assumption on the part of many publishers seems to be that readers don’t trust translators and won’t buy a book if they realize it’s a translation. For Croft, this assumption is a disservice to the reader, who should know who chose the words they’re going to read.
“What tends to encourage a reader to pick up an unfamiliar book is the thrilling feeling that they are about to embark upon an interesting journey with a qualified guide,” Croft wrote. “In the case of translations, they get two guides for the price of one.”
For Croft, there desperately needs to be more transparency at every level of literary production.
“Translators are the ones who control the way a story is told; we’re the people who create and maintain the transplanted book’s style. Generally speaking, we are also the most reliable advocates for our books, and we take better care of them than anybody else,” Croft wrote. “Covers simply can’t continue to conceal who we are. It’s bad business, it doesn’t hold us accountable for our choices, and in its willful obfuscation it’s a practice that is disrespectful not only to us, but to readers as well.”
ATA62 Conference Platform Coming SoonThe ATA62 conference portal will go online this week. All registered attendees, whether attending virtually or in person, will have access. Watch your inbox for the link and login information!
Learn your way around
Don’t wait until the conference starts to explore the platform. Now is the time to familiarize yourself with the menu–from Agenda and Speakers to Sponsors, Exhibitors, Job Fair, Help Desk, and more!
Complete your community profile
Use the Community tab to enter your profile, including your working languages, areas of specialization, credentials, ATA volunteer positions, photo, and more. And don’t forget to use the Community chat feature to connect with other attendees during the conference!
Build your schedule
Create your digital schedule! Review sessions under the Agenda tab and click the bell icon on the left to add sessions to your schedule.
Plan to participate
New! Check out “Event Feed” in the menu bar to supercharge your conference participation! This Facebook-style feature lets you share your conference experiences with other attendees right inside the platform. It couldn’t be easier!
It’s not too late to register
There is no better opportunity for translators, interpreters, and company owners to learn, share ideas, and build invaluable personal and professional relationships. This is where you belong! Register today.
ATA Webinar: Ethics in Conference InterpretingPresenter: Katty Kauffman
Date: November 2, 2021
Time: 6:00 pm U.S. EDT
Duration: 2 hours
CE Point(s): 2 ATA-approved
Learn how to approach ethical dilemmas during on-site and remote conference interpreting assignments!
Both on-site and online events can pose ethical dilemmas for interpreters. Can you post pictures of yourself working at conferences as a way to attract new clients? Should you accept an interpreting job through a major remote simultaneous interpreting platform for a UN agency based halfway across the globe?
Join this interactive webinar to discuss the core concepts and values at the heart of the conference interpreting profession and examine the similarities––and differences––within current remote and on-site best practices.
What will you learn?
- Working definition of ethics in interpreting
- Core concepts and values of conference interpreters
- Best practices for on-site events
- Best practices for remote events
- Where ethics in on-site and remote events converge and diverge
Conference Hotel Discounts Still AvailableThe Hyatt Regency Minneapolis has extended its discounted room rates for ATA62 attendees. Why stay at the conference hotel? Nothing beats the convenience of being on-site, from informal networking in the elevator to a quick trip to your room between sessions to the chance to sleep in and still make breakfast. ATA attendees receive complimentary WiFi and access to the Fitness Center, too!
ATA Webinar: Introduction to Mobile App LocalizationPresenter: Dorota Pawlak
Date: November 9, 2021
Time: 12 noon U.S. ET
Duration: 60 minutes
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved
Learn the ins and outs of mobile app localization!
The growing popularity of mobile applications has increased the demand for localization in the industry—and has opened up a world of opportunities for translators and localizers.
Attend this webinar to get an introduction to the role translators play in mobile app localization. Drawing on years of experience in this field, the presenter will explain what skills, tools, and qualities are needed to localize mobile apps and how to solve some of the most common problems in this line of work.
What will you learn?
- What is mobile app localization
- What skills are required to translate and localize mobile applications
- What are the most common issues in mobile app localization from a translator’s perspective
- What tools can you use to translate apps
- How to specialize as a mobile app translator
Schedule your online learning!
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 Elections 2021: Meet the CandidatesThe Annual Meeting of Voting Members and Election is scheduled for 9:30-11:00 a.m. CDT, Thursday, October 28, 2021, at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. The presentation of candidates will be available both in person and virtually. Voting members do not need to register for the conference to attend. (If you are not attending the conference, please contact email@example.com to get access to the meeting.)
What’s on the Ballot?
ATA Voting members will elect the president-elect, secretary, and treasurer (each for a two-year term) and three directors (each for a three-year term). There are also five proposed Bylaws amendments on the ballot.
The candidates for this year’s elections are:
- President-elect (two-year term)
- Secretary (two-year term)
- Treasurer (two-year term)
- Director (three positions, three-year terms)
Listen to the candidates talk about the work they do, why they are running, and what skills and vision they will bring to their position on the Board. It’s all in Episode 66 of The ATA Podcast.
Read the individual candidate statements to find out what issues are important to them and what they hope to accomplish, if elected.
In-person ATA62 attendees can also meet the candidates for breakfast on Thursday, October 28 (7:30-8:15 a.m. CDT). Look for the tables reserved for this event in Northstar on the hotel’s second level.
Attention Voting members
ATA has partnered with Survey & Ballot Systems (SBS) to administer the 2021 elections. Proxy ballots and instructions were sent by email to all voting members on September 21. If you are a Voting member and have not received your proxy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. All voting will be electronic—there will be no paper ballots on-site.
Important! Add SBS to Your Safe Sender List
To ensure receipt of the proxy and voting instructions, please add email@example.com as an approved sender in your email settings.
New to the ATA Annual Conference?If this is your first ATA Annual Conference, then you’ll want to attend one of the Buddies Welcome Newbies sessions. This event pairs up newbies with veteran conference-goers who can help them navigate the conference. It’s the perfect orientation to what ATA62 has to offer—and a great way to start the conference with new friends. Virtual session: Wednesday 12:15 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. CDT. In-person session: Wednesday 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. CDT.
Next ATA Board of Directors MeetingThe ATA Board of Directors will meet October 30-31 during the ATA62 Annual Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. All ATA members are welcome and encouraged to attend.
The Board of Directors meets four times a year to establish policy, develop goals and objectives, and oversee ATA finances. To learn more about the Association’s governance, check out How ATA Works.
If you’re attending the Conference, then this would be a good opportunity to see the Board in action. Check the Conference schedule for time and location.
In the September/October Issue of The ATA ChronicleATA 2021 Elections: Candidate Statements
Calling all Voting members! Participating in ATA’s annual elections (in person and virtually) is your opportunity to help shape the future of the Association. Learn what this year’s candidates for ATA’s Board of Directors have to say. Remember, the Annual Meeting of Voting Members will be held October 28, 2021.
Choosing and Building a Specialization
In our experience, the best way to ensure quality and a sustainable business practice is to specialize. Whether you arrived in the industry with a specialization or are currently working to build one, you’ll find it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Regardless of how you choose a specialization, you must work to build, maintain, and transform your areas of expertise to attract great clients and earn top dollar. (Karen Tkaczyk and Ben Karl)
Audio Transcription: What It Is, What It Is Not, And Why It Is in High Demand
As people continue to favor a fully virtual or hybrid model when it comes to holding conferences, workshops, webinars, group discussions, and networking events, the demand for transcription will only increase. This might be the sector to help diversify your services! (Rafa Lombardino)
Is Applying ISO Standards to Information Security the New Black in Translation?
Machine translation has grown exponentially. Translators need to adjust their standard practice to this new reality to provide high-quality translation services. (Dolores R. Guiñazú and Gabriela Escarrá)
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.
Visit ATA62 Sponsors and Exhibitors!Gold Sponsor
Brand the Interpreter Podcast
UMass Amherst – Online Certificate in Professional Translation and Interpreting
A. Calvin Design LLC
Alliant Insurance Services, Inc.
Cross-Cultural Communications, LLC
Hunter College MA in Translation & Interpreting
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
Mindlink Resources, LLC
National Language Service Corps
Supertext USA, Inc.
The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters & Translators
The National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters
U.S. Department of State, Office of Language Services
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Program in Translation & Interpreting Studies
Valiant Integrated Services
News summaries © copyright 2021 SmithBucklin
October 19, 2021
How did your business do in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the second quarter of 2021?
Previous Poll Results
How often do you refer business to other colleagues? 28% = A couple of times a year
28% = Quarterly
24% = Monthly
4% = Weekly
16% = Never
In This Issue
ATA Members Only
Calendar of Events
ATA62 Annual Conference
October 27-30, 2021
Next ATA Board of Directors Meeting
October 30-31, 2021