Welcome to Next Level: The ATA Business Practices Blog
Are you an established translator or interpreter looking to take your business to the next level? You’re the reason we’re here!
This new venture is an initiative by ATA’s Business Practices Education Committee with the goal of providing useful, actionable information, sharing advice from pros who have been there and done that, and offering a space to engage with the T&I community.
White House Chief of Staff Commits to Evacuating Afghan Interpreter Who Helped Rescue Biden in 2008
Politico (VA) (09/01/21) Forgey, Quint
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain committed to evacuate from Afghanistan the Afghan interpreter who helped rescue then-Senator Joe Biden and two other senators from a snowstorm in 2008.
In a Wall Street Journal report published earlier this month, the interpreter—identified only as Mohammed while in hiding—pleaded to be transported out of the country now under Taliban control.
“Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family,” Mohammed told the Journal. “Don’t forget me here.”
“We are going to try to get every person out,” Klain said.
Mohammed joined Arizona National Guard troops in Afghanistan on a 2008 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.
According to the former National Guard staff sergeant who brought Mohammed along to help rescue the senators, Mohammed was unable to complete his Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) application to leave Afghanistan because the defense contractor that employed him lost the necessary records.
Mohammed also said he tried gaining access to the international airport in Kabul where the American evacuation effort was underway, but U.S. troops said only Mohammed could enter—not his wife and their four children.
“I read that [Mohammed] did not finish the [SIV] process because of some complexity with his employer,” Klain said. “It doesn’t matter,” he added. “We’re going to cut through the red tape. We’re going to find this gentleman. And we’re going to get him and the other SIVs out.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki delivered the same message to Mohammed at a news briefing: “We will get you out, we will honor your service, and we’re committed to doing exactly that.”
The pledges from the top White House officials come after the U.S. military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 30, along with its frantic effort to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies. U.S. officials have said they were successful in evacuating more than 123,000 people, including Americans, third-country nationals, and Afghan civilians, out of Afghanistan.
After Interpreter Issues, Three Guantánamo Detainees Charged in 2002 Bali Bombings
The New York Times (NY) (08/31/21) Rosenberg, Carol
Following a one-day delay due to issues with one of the court interpreters, three men who had been detained by the U.S. for 18 years were formally accused of war crimes as part of a global Al Qaeda conspiracy that began in Afghanistan in 1996 and resulted in the Bali nightclub bombings in 2002.
The lead defendant, Encep Nurjaman, an Indonesian man, and two Malaysian men, Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, offered no pleas. No trial date was set, and defense lawyers indicated they would seek to disqualify the arraignment of their clients as defective because of interpreting problems.
One key issue, the lawyers said, was the discovery that the woman who served as the court’s official interpreter of Bahasa Indonesian had remarked last year that “the government is wasting money on these terrorists; they should have been killed a long time ago.” Defense lawyers called her biased and sought to halt the proceeding, which had already been delayed for six months because of the pandemic.
But presiding U.S. Navy Judge Commander Hayes Larsen ruled that the interpreters hired by the Pentagon were “qualified” and “certified” by war court headquarters. Larsen said what the defendants heard in their headsets was sound.
Brian Bouffard, a lawyer representing Bin Lep, disagreed. He said that the interpreting was so flawed that he had “no confidence” that the defendants understood the process, and that he had no trustworthy interpreter to assist him.
Bouffard said that Bin Lep found the interpretation of the proceedings into his first language, Malay, so inscrutable that he switched to his second language, Bahasa, and listened to the charges against him interpreted by “someone who we know would have liked it if he was summarily executed years ago.”
The defense lawyers had already refused to work with the Defense Department contract linguists, interpreters who had been vetted by the government to receive top-secret security clearances and help them communicate with the prisoners. According to the lawyers, all three defendants were held by the CIA in the early years of their detention and were tortured. The lawyers added that they did not trust that the government’s choice of linguists would keep their conversations confidential.
“They’ve had 18 years to get us translators and interpreters for these guys,” said James Hodes, Nurjaman’s lead lawyer. “But the system is so flawed.”
Third Circuit Court Says Speakers of English Dialects Have Right to Interpreter
Reuters (NY) (09/01/21) Wiessner, Daniel
The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that immigration judges must ascertain whether those facing deportation who speak English dialects also understand American English or require interpreters.
The ruling concerned the case of a citizen of Cameroon who speaks “Pidgin” English. The three-judge panel unanimously deemed it unfair for an immigration judge to refuse asylum to the individual, “B.C.,” when it was apparent that he lacked basic standard English fluency. As evidence of this, the judges cited 36 separate instances where a court reporter recorded his testimony as “indiscernible.”
“These failures resulted in a fundamentally unfair proceeding in which B.C. could not fully participate or advocate for himself in Pidgin English, his best language,” said Sozi Tulante, the attorney who argued the appeal for B.C.
B.C. was detained after fleeing to the U.S. in 2018 and applying for asylum and withholding of removal. He claimed that as a politically active Pidgin speaker, he would face persecution if he were deported.
At his first appearance before an immigration judge, B.C.’s records erroneously showed him as a citizen of Guatemala and the only available interpreter spoke Spanish. When he told the judge he was from Cameroon, the judge asked only whether B.C. needed a French interpreter or was “okay with English.” According to the 3rd Circuit, B.C., who did not have a lawyer, said he was comfortable proceeding in English.
At a hearing concerning the merits of B.C.’s application, the judge proceeded without asking if he needed an interpreter, and dismissed his claim that he wasn’t a fluent English speaker, at one point asking, “why would you have to practice English if that’s your native language?”
The judge deemed B.C.’s testimony inconsistent and ordered his deportation, which the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed in 2019. On appeal, B.C.’s attorneys said the judge’s failure to determine the languages he speaks proficiently or supply an interpreter violated his right to due process.
The 3rd Circuit agreed, ruling that judges can’t assume that individuals who speak variations on standard English don’t require interpreters.
“Failing to provide an interpreter when needed makes meaningless a noncitizen’s right to due process,” Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro wrote. “And not making a threshold inquiry into whether an interpreter is needed, in turn, renders the right to an interpreter meaningless.”
Leicestershire Police Clamping Down on Interpreter Fraud
Leicester Live (United Kingdom) (09/02/21) Dunphy, Finvola
The chief of police in Leicestershire, England, warned that people trying to pass themselves off as interpreters “will be dealt with.”
Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police Simon Cole issued the warning after a woman was caught presenting a fake document when attempting to register as an interpreter. The woman later admitted to fraud by representation and was required to complete a rehabilitation course.
According to West Yorkshire Police, the woman provided a certificate as proof of her qualifications that was later identified as fake during a security check by staff at thebigword, the language services provider contracted by the Leicestershire Police.
“This sort of criminality will not be tolerated. Not only is it deceitful, but it puts the criminal justice system at risk,” Cole said. “We have worked with our approved language services providers to ensure forged and false documents can be identified effectively.”
“This recent arrest highlights how effective that work has been. I am pleased that a potential risk to the police and criminal justice system from the fake interpreter has been prevented at the earliest opportunity.”
“We take both vetting and security very seriously at thebigword and have a rigorous onboarding procedure that makes certain each qualification we receive is thoroughly checked,” said Mark Daley, chief operating officer at thebigword.
The case comes after a number of changes were made to security protocols as a result of when a man illegally posed as a court interpreter, earning a total of £65,000. In February 2021, Mirwais Patang pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud, three counts of forgery, and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud at Southwark Crown Court. He was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years, and must complete 300 hours of unpaid work.
“Further specialist training is being provided next month to all approved suppliers so that we remain vigilant to identify criminals attempting to access language services as a form of employment when they don’t have the formal qualifications and experience necessary,” said Mark Lewis, national police contract manager for language services for the Leicestershire Police.
“Professional linguists and the public alike will be reassured by this firm and decisive collective action in the protection of standards and the safer and fairer outcomes that properly qualified public service interpreters assure in the criminal justice system,” said John Worne, chief executive officer of the Chartered Institute of Linguists. “This is a genuine win for public safety and professional standards.”
How Language Classes Are Moving Past the Gender Binary
The New York Times (NY) (09/01/21) Lisbon, Molly
Languages that contain only “he” and “she” pronouns pose problems for communicating about gender identity. Here’s how some language teachers are helping.
Tal Janner-Klausner teaches Hebrew. The language presents a frustration that Janner-Klausner, who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns in English, feels compelled to discuss with their students.
Hebrew—as well as French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and other languages—uses binary pronouns, which means that gender identities outside of he/she and male/female don’t exist in any formal capacity.
In Hebrew, even the word “they” is gendered. In French, “ils” refers to a group of men or a mixed-gender group, and “elles” refers to a group of all females. All nouns in gendered languages—including people—are categorized as either masculine or feminine, and any adjectives associated with these words must reflect that gender.
That presents a problem for students who are gender-nonconforming, and for the speakers of the language in general. Is it possible for learners of a gendered language to refer to themselves and others when their identities are not represented?
To get around it, Janner-Klausner, who teaches in Jerusalem, asks their students to refer to them using male and female pronouns interchangeably. “As well as wanting to feel comfortable myself, I do this so that they can be informed about genders outside of the binary,” they said.
English is not unique in the singular use of “they/them,” but many Romance languages, along with Hindi, Arabic, and Hebrew, use gender as the basis of their nouns. One norm that can frustrate language learners and speakers is the dominance of the masculine form, which is used as the default or standard.
Louis Moffa, who is nonbinary and uses “he” and “they” pronouns, is a teaching fellow in the Department of Italian at Columbia University. Italian is a gendered language with no equivalent to the English singular usage of they/them.
Moffa believes that the first step to overcoming gender binaries in Italian is to openly discuss how they appear in the language. “Being able to teach the gendered nature of Italian grammar has given me the opportunity to be more fully seen and understood by my students, because gender can never remain implicit or unquestioned in our classroom,” he said.
Kris Knisely, an assistant professor of French at the University of Arizona, starts off each semester by introducing students to a number of linguistic developments used by native French nonbinary speakers. For example, the forms of the plural “they” (“ils” and “elles“) are combined to create a new word: “iels.” Similarly, to refer to “them,” the masculine “eux” and the feminine “elles” become “elleux.”
“I’ve had students tell me that this is the first time they’ve felt like there’s a way for them to become an actual French speaker,” he said. “They can see that there’s space for them in this language,” Knisely said.
According to some teachers, language learning provides fertile ground for discussing the concept of gender both within and outside the language. As Janner-Klausner summarizes, it’s not just the gender binary that can be reconfigured through study.
“Language learning is the breaking down of a binary. You started off with a binary of familiar and foreign, and then you break it down,” they said. “What was foreign becomes familiar as you learn the language.”
European Union Young Translators Contest Kicks Off
EuroWeekly (Spain) (09/02/21) Tynan, Deirdre
Secondary schools in all European Union (EU) countries can now start enrolling for Juvenes Translatores, the European Commission’s annual translation contest.
Participants can translate between any two of the EU’s 24 official languages (i.e., 552 possible language combinations). In last year’s contest, students used 150 different combinations. This year, the topic of the texts that young students are asked to translate is “Let’s get on track—towards a greener future.”
“The aim of the contest is to inspire young people to get interested in a career as translators and, in general, to promote language learning,” said EU Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn. “The topic is in line with one of the EU’s most important political priorities—the European Green Deal—which is of particular interest to young people.”
“In addition to tackling this interesting subject, the aim of the competition is to bring together young people from different countries with a love for languages, and to encourage them and help them overcome barriers between people and cultures,” Hahn said. “The ability to communicate with and understand one another, regardless of differences, is essential for the EU to flourish.”
Inside Specialization: Translating SustainabilitySustainability and waste management are currently hot topics, but back in 2001, when Abigail Dahlberg began her translation career, they were a bit off the beaten path. Now 20 years into this translation specialty, Abigail joins Inside Specialization Host Andie Ho for a look at careers in this “still very much a niche” market. From the kinds of jobs available and the impact of machine translation to tips for psyching out growth areas in the specialty and becoming the go-to translator in the field, this interview covers everything you could want to know about this highly specialized career path—and then some.
ATA Webinar: Introduction to Website LocalizationPresenter: Dorota Pawlak
Date: September 21, 2021
Time: 12:00 noon U.S. EDT
Duration: 60 minutes
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved
According to industry analysts, there are two things to know about globalization and the internet: approximately one-third of internet users are non-native English speakers, and users spend twice as long on a site if it is in their own language.
What does this mean for translators? Website localization is an in-demand specialty with great potential for future growth. If you’re thinking about expanding your services, this could be the opportunity you’re looking for.
Attend this webinar to discover if you already have the cultural expertise, technical skills, and language mastery it takes to work in this field. You’ll also walk through steps in a typical website localization project, examine some of the common pitfalls, and review solutions to routine translation problems.
What will you learn?
- What is website localization
- What skills are required to translate and localize websites
- The most common translation issues in website localization
- What tools are used in translating websites
- How to specialize as a website 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!
What You Need to Know about ATA’s 62nd Annual ConferenceYou belong at ATA62!
There is no better opportunity for translators, interpreters, and company owners to learn, share ideas, and build invaluable personal and professional relationships. Register today!
Attend in person or virtually
You choose how you want to attend. Watch videos from previous conferences to help you determine what is best for you. Click virtually or in person!
Strengthen your value in a global economy
Explore new specialties, keep up to date with technology, find key resources, learn how to do what you do better—this is the way forward. Check out the conference sessions now!
Supercharge your conference with AST Day
Expand your conference education with 3-hour, in-depth sessions from some of the most experienced translators and interpreters in the profession! Add Advanced Skills and Training Day courses to your registration.
Find answers to your questions
Are there any health and safety guidelines for on-site attendance? What are the technical requirements to attend? Which sessions will be recorded? Don’t miss these answers and more in this FAQ section.
Listen in, learn more
Find out more about the educational sessions, networking opportunities, precautions being taken to keep attendees safe, and more. Listen to Episode 64 of The ATA Podcast.
Get to know the exhibitors
Check out the in-person and virtual exhibitors before ATA62 gets underway, then use the virtual platform to connect and learn about technology, agencies, school programs, and language resources during the conference. There’s something for everyone.
Sign up to be a Buddy
Get ready to help an overwhelmed first-time attendee navigate the conference. Even if you’ve only attended a few Annual Conferences, you’ve got what it takes. In person and virtually!
Just do it!
Early registration discounts end October 1. Guarantee the best registration rate by registering now.
ATA Elections UpdateThe 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, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 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.)
Who can vote?
ATA Active or Corresponding membership—that is, Voting membership—is available to Associate members who either pass the ATA certification exam, go through Active Membership Review, or obtain the ATA Credentialed Interpreter designation. For this year’s elections, Voting membership must be established by September 30, 2021. Watch this ATA member tutorial to learn how!
What’s on the ballot?
ATA Voting members will elect the president-elect, secretary, and treasurer (each for two-year terms) and three directors (each for a three-year term). There are also five proposed Bylaws amendments on the ballot.
Meet the candidates
Read the individual candidate statements on the ATA website or in The ATA Chronicle to find out what skills they will bring to the Board and what they hope to accomplish, if elected. Even if you are not a Voting member, check out what this year’s candidates envision for ATA’s future.
Attention Voting members
ATA has partnered with Survey & Ballot Systems (SBS) to administer the 2021 elections. Voting members will receive proxy ballots and instructions by email beginning September 21. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org as an approved sender in your email settings. Voting members who do not receive this election email by September 24 should contact email@example.com.
Free ATA Member Orientation Session September 30New time! ATA’s next free one-hour member orientation session will be offered at 7:00 p.m. EDT.
Join Veronika Demichelis and Ben Karl on September 30 to get answers on everything from how to set up an online ATA Directory listing and how to participate in ATA divisions to where to find ATA on social media and how to contact ATA Headquarters staff for assistance. Remember to bring your questions, too, for a great Q&A session closeout.
Note: ATA’s member orientation is an interactive experience with networking and sharing via the chat feature. It will not be recorded. There will be another session on November 18 if you are unable to attend this one.
Free, but registration is required.
Don’t miss out on benefits you can really use simply because you didn’t know they existed. Even if you joined ATA years ago, this presentation is for you!
ATA Webinar: Beginner Tips and Tricks for Trados StudioPresenter: Nora Díaz
Date: October 7, 2021
Time: 12 noon U.S. EDT
Duration: 90 minutes
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved
Trados Studio is one of the most powerful and popular CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools on the market. It makes sense to learn how to use it efficiently in order to save time so you can focus on the creative part of your translation workflow.
In this hands-on webinar, we will explore many tips and tricks for Trados Studio beginners. We will take your understanding of the tool to a new level and boost your efficiency and productivity.
This webinar was organized in collaboration with RWS.
What will you learn?
- How to customize Trados Studio
- How to use keyboard shortcuts
- How to work with tags
- The difference between options and project settings
- How to use filters
ATA Members Get 35% Off Trados Studio
ATA members are eligible for a 35% discount on a new or upgraded Trados Studio 2021 Freelance and Trados Studio 2021 Freelance Plus license. Click to take the deal!
- If you do not already have Trados Studio, download and install the 30-day trial version of the software in advance of the webinar.
- Be sure you can open and use the software before the webinar starts in order to participate in the live demonstration. There will not be time to troubleshoot installation issues during the presentation.
Back to Business Basics: Maximizing Your ATA Directory ProfilePresenter: Eve Bodeux
Date: October 12, 2021
Time: 12 noon U.S. EDT
Duration: 45 minutes
CE Points: None
Having a listing in ATA’s Language Services Directory—and the exposure it provides—are key benefits of being an ATA member, but it doesn’t stop there. Attend this free members-only webinar to learn how to use the Directory to showcase your talents and convince potential clients that you’re the right person for the job!
What will you learn?
- How to assess your Directory profile through the eyes of a potential client
- How to use the various sections of the profile to maximize exposure
- What external information to include
- What ethical issues to consider
- How to maintain an up-to-date profile
Call for Comments on ATA Membership RestructuringATA members are invited to comment on a proposed restructuring of ATA membership classes and accompanying benefits.
Click to read the Proposal to Restructure ATA Membership Classes and Benefits
The proposal was developed by the Association’s Governance and Communications Committee to better serve members and offer them the opportunity to participate more fully in the organization’s governance.
Deadline for comments is September 24, 2021.
International Translation Day Is September 30International Translation Day is just around the corner on September 30, and this year ATA has an entire week of activities planned. So be sure to mark your calendar and be prepared to join the fun!
Did You Miss Taking the ATA Compensation Survey?It’s not too late. We’ve extended the survey deadline to Friday, October 1. Don’t wait—take the survey now!
5 Ways the Compensation Survey Can Help in Your Business and Career
- I want to know if I’m charging enough. How do my rates compare with everyone else’s?
While your rates really have to stand on their own based on your specialty, language pair, experience, and more, having access to industry-wide data will help you know if you’re in the same ballpark as everyone else––or if you can charge more.
- I provide translation/interpreting services as an employee. Is my salary in line with other language company employees?
There are a lot of variables to consider when it comes to compensation for your services, but knowing what other staff translators and interpreters earn will show you if your salary is in the same range as others in the profession.
- I’m considering a new specialty. What should I charge for my services?
It takes a lot of time, energy, and planning to take on a new specialty. Knowing what revenue this specialty can bring in will help you determine if it’s worth the work.
- I’m thinking about becoming a company owner. Will the change be worth it financially?
Starting your own language services company may be a way to increase revenue. With data from your peers, you will know what your take-home could actually be rather than just assuming.
- The Occupational Outlook Handbook says translators and interpreters earn $52,330/year on average. Can I trust this number?
Currently, independent contractors are not adequately represented in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report. With your help, ATA will have the data to lobby the agency for a more reliable revenue statistic.
How to Take the Survey
Who can take the survey?
Translators, interpreters, and company owners working in the U.S. You do not need to be an ATA member to take the survey.
Spread the Word
Please let your colleagues know about the survey. The more information we collect, the better for you in planning your business practices.
Participate to Receive the Report
All participants will get access to the full report with interactive filters to search the data for individual needs and interests.
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.
News summaries © copyright 2021 SmithBucklin
September 17, 2021
On average, how much time do you spend marketing your business?
Previous Poll Results
Do you still use business cards?26% = Yes, all the time
29% = Occasionally
26% = Rarely
19% = No, never
In This IssueNext Level Blog
ATA62 Annual Conference
Trados Studio Beginner
B2BB: Directory Listing
Int’l Translation Day
The ATA Chronicle
ATA Members Only
Free ATA Webinar!
Diabetes 101: An Overview for Medical Translators and Interpreters
Click to watch!
Back to Business BasicsMaximizing Your ATA Directory Profile
Oct 12, 2021
12 noon EDT
Free! Register now!
ATA WebinarsIntroduction to Website Localization
Sept 21 @ 12 noon EDT
Beginner Tips and Tricks for Trados Studio
Oct 7 @ 12 noon EDT
Calendar of EventsInt’l Translation Day
September 30, 2021
ATA62 Annual Conference
October 27-30, 2021
Next ATA Board of Directors Meeting
October 30-31, 2021