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ATA curates articles from around the world as a service for members. ATA members receive these articles in Newsbriefs, an e-newsletter. See full issues of Newsbriefs.

Translation on Virginia Department of Health’s Website Told Spanish Readers They Didn’t Need COVID-19 Vaccine

January 20, 2021

A Google-generated translation on the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) website told Spanish readers the COVID-19 vaccine was “not necessary.”The translation in question was part of VDH’s Frequently Asked Questions page, where “the vaccine is not required” was translated as “la vacuna no es necesaria” (“the vaccine is not necessary”).The Virginia Vaccination Advisory Workgroup raised…

Meet GPT-3, the Latest Natural-Language System

December 1, 2020

GPT-3, the latest natural-language system, generates tweets, pens poetry, summarizes email, answers trivia questions, learns language by analyzing online texts, and even writes its own computer programs. Before it was unveiled this summer by OpenAI, an artificial intelligence lab in San Francisco, GPT-3 had spent months learning the ins and outs of natural language by…

First Native American Poet to Serve as U.S. Poet Appointed to Rare Third Term

December 1, 2020

Joy Harjo, the first Native American poet to serve as U.S. poet laureate, has been reappointed to a rare third term by the Library of Congress. Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, was initially appointed in 2019. At the start of her tenure, Harjo explained what that honor meant for Indigenous peoples. “Some…

Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year Expanded for “Unprecedented” 2020

December 1, 2020

The Oxford Languages 2020 Word of the Year campaign looks a little different this time around. This year has seen so many seismic events that Oxford Dictionaries has expanded its word of the year to encompass several “Words of an Unprecedented Year.” Its words are chosen to reflect 2020’s “ethos, mood, or preoccupations.” They include…

How ‘Deaf Broadway’ Is Making Musical Theater Loud and Clear

December 1, 2020

Deaf actor and director Garrett Zuercher established the theater collective Deaf Broadway in March with the goal of providing unprecedented visual language access to live theater for the deaf community. Filmed in real time via webcam with diverse deaf talent from around the world, Deaf Broadway provides full and complete American Sign Language (ASL) access…

Australian Government Used Google Translate for COVID-19 Messaging

December 1, 2020

Documents have revealed Australia’s Department of Home Affairs used Google Translate rather than official translators to communicate with multicultural communities at the beginning of the pandemic. While the Department had hired translators to write official pandemic fact sheets, Google Translate was initially used for health messaging on parts of its website. Critics have stated that…

Amazon Bungles Its Launch in Sweden

November 16, 2020

Amazon’s launch of a Swedish retail site, its first in a Nordic country, has caused embarrassment at the e-commerce company after a series of errors led to confusing, nonsensical, and occasionally vulgar product listings. Amazon mixed up the Argentine and Swedish flags, labelled frying pans as items for women, allowed the sale of a swastika-emblazoned…

In Many Asian Languages, ‘LGBTQ’ Doesn’t Translate

November 16, 2020

The struggle to find the right vocabulary to describe same-sex attraction or nonbinary identities is shared by many Americans whose families speak Asian or Middle Eastern languages at home. Many have said they are often at a loss to find terminology that is both accurate and affirming in their ancestral languages because the vocabulary is…

How Advocates Connected Spanish Speakers to Health Care During the Pandemic

November 16, 2020

Advocates in the New Orleans area are helping the city’s Spanish-speaking population surmount barriers to access health care during the pandemic. “The pandemic exacerbated the social and logistical barriers the Hispanic community faces when it comes to health care access,” said Claudia Medina, director of International and Language Services at Ochsner Health. After the lockdown…

Iraqis Who Served Alongside U.S. Military Fear Retaliation from Iran’s Allies in Iraq

November 16, 2020

Iraqi interpreters who worked closely with the U.S. military in their country have grown increasingly alarmed that they could be targeted for attack, fearing their personal identifying information has been obtained by Iranian-backed militias. Iraqi authorities require the U.S. military to provide interpreters’ personal information—including names, addresses, and license plate numbers—to secure permission for the…

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