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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.

Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles Adding Five Languages, Including ASL, to the Written Test

April 2, 2021

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) announced the addition of five new languages, including American Sign Language (ASL), to the written portion of the state driver’s license exam. The BMV says the ASL version of the exam will include video. The BMV also stated that Hindi, Croatian, Serbian, and Tagalog would be available in…

St. Louis Metro Partners with St. Louis Mosaic Project for COVID-19 Language Access Initiative

April 2, 2021

In Missouri, St. Louis Metro Transit has partnered with the St. Louis Mosaic Project to help ensure that non-English-speaking riders throughout the area have access to important COVID-19 information on the system in their native language. The two organizations have created a range of multilingual materials for riders of public transportation whose primary language is…

Translations of Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural Poem Spark Debate: Can White Translators Interpret It?

April 2, 2021

Millions of Americans heard 23-year-old Amanda Gorman recite her moving poem The Hill We Climb at President Biden’s inauguration on January 20. The poem has now been translated into 17 languages, and all of the translators were approved by Gorman herself. But now, one translator has dropped out and another was let go after mounting…

Translator Pleads Guilty to Sharing Military Secrets

April 2, 2021

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a former U.S. military translator has pleaded guilty to divulging classified information to a Lebanese official with suspected ties to the Hezbollah, a Lebanese terrorist group. Mariam Taha Thompson, who worked as a contract linguist for the U.S. military in Erbil, Iraq, from 2006 to 2020, pleaded guilty…

‘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…

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…

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