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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.

‘Special and Beautiful’ Whistled Language Echoes Around This Island

March 15, 2021

On La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands in Spain, a whistling language is still in use thanks to mandatory classes for schoolchildren.The language, officially known as Silbo Gomero, substitutes whistled sounds that vary by pitch and length for written letters. In 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization added Silbo Gomero to…

Minnesota Governor Proclaims Day in Honor of His ASL Interpreter

March 15, 2021

Governor Tim Walz proclaimed March 9 as “Nic Zapko Day” in honor of the American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter who has appeared at nearly all of the governor’s in-person press conferences during the pandemic to help convey the latest updates. Governor Walz made the announcement at the end of that day’s COVID-19 press conference and…

Mindestabstandsregelung: That’s 6 Feet Apart to You

March 15, 2021

In a language known for its tongue-twisting words, Germans have coined over 1,200 terms to describe the rules and realities of the pandemic. They’re not alone, of course. Over the past year, languages all over the world have had to expand and adapt to address the pandemic and the lives it has upended. But in…

U.S. Department of Justice Says South Carolina School District Must Provide Language Access for Limited-English-Proficient Parents

March 15, 2021

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it has settled an investigation over complaints that the Charleston County School District of South Carolina did not provide adequate language assistance to parents. The DOJ found that the district failed to communicate essential information to thousands of Spanish-speaking, limited-English-proficient (LEP) parents, denying their children full and equal…

Dutch and Catalan Translators of Amanda Gorman’s Work Withdraw after Uproar that Black Translators Weren’t Chosen

March 15, 2021

Two translators who were commissioned by different publishers to translate The Hill We Climb, the poem American writer Amanda Gorman read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, have withdrawn following controversy that Black translators were not chosen for the job. Victor Obiols, the Catalan translator, said he was contacted by a Barcelona publisher to produce the…

Researchers Claim that AI-Translated Text Are Less “Lexically” Rich than Human Translations

February 17, 2021

In a new study, researchers from Tilburg University in the Netherlands and the University of Maryland attempt to quantify the lexical and grammatical diversity of “machine translationese” (i.e., the fingerprints made by artificial intelligence [AI] translation algorithms). They claim to have found a “quantitatively measurable” difference between the linguistic richness of machine translation systems’ training…

Studies from Japan Find Singing in Some Languages Could Spread COVID-19 More Easily than Others

February 17, 2021

Does singing in different languages create more potentially infectious droplets and aerosols? Researchers in Japan say the answer is yes. At least three separate studies have shown that when it comes to emitting droplets and aerosols, not all languages are equal. Studies were commissioned last December by the Japan Association of Classical Music Presenters (JACMP),…

Revamped White House Website Aims for Inclusivity and Accessibility

February 17, 2021

Shortly after President Joe Biden took office, sharp-eyed internet users noticed several major changes relating to the inclusivity and accessibility of the White House’s official site. Among them are a new feature allowing users to include their pronouns when submitting contact forms and a relaunch of the Spanish-language website. The White House contact form now…

Rutgers University Translation Program Aids Newark’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Efforts

February 17, 2021

Faculty, students, and alumni of the School of Arts and Sciences-Newark (SASN) at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, have found many ways to be of service during the pandemic, from 3D-printing masks for frontline health care workers to delivering food to the elderly and needy. Recently, the Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) community has found another…

New York Lawmakers Pitch Bill Requiring State COVID Websites to Offer Translations

February 17, 2021

Two New York lawmakers want to ensure that New Yorkers who do not speak English as their primary language have access to the latest information about COVID-19. New York Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou introduced legislation this month requiring the state to translate all websites for non-English speakers, especially pages dealing with…

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