ATA Podcasts from Palm Springs
This year’s ATA Annual Conference was an opportunity for podcast host Matt Baird to interview six presenters about three of the industry’s hottest topics.
Careers in Audiovisual Translation and Interpreting
Like most translators, audiovisual translators work behind the scenes. But in their case, they literally work behind the scenes – of movies, TV, the performing arts and all the other parts of the film and entertainment industry. Matt interviewed Deborah Wexler and Ellen Sowchek to find out why this is one of the fastest growing T&I specialties. Listen now.
Episode 39: Interpreting—From Cultural Capital to War and Peace
The interpreting world is a broad one, so it was fitting to sit down with two speakers whose sessions couldn’t have been more different. First up, Matt spoke with Julie Tay about the future and interpreters leveraging “cultural capital” in the digital age. Then he turned to Ewandro Magalhaes for the history of the interpreter's role in war and peace. [Photo: Julie Tay and Matt Baird] Listen now.
Episode 40: Neural Machine Translation and AI in Interpreting
Technology is changing the way we work. What does the future hold? Are human translators and interpreters going to become obsolete? Matt interviewed Jay Marciano, Katharine Allen, and Barry Olsen for their take on where we're going and how to survive when we get there. Listen now.
New Visas Help Afghan Interpreters Who Risked Their Lives for U.S. Troops
Washington Examiner (12/12/19) Read, Russ
After months of deliberation, Congress has agreed to a defense bill that allows thousands of Afghans, including interpreters, who worked with the American military to immigrate to the U.S. The National Defense Authorization Act for 2020 provides 4,000 Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to Afghan interpreters and others whose lives are threatened due to their work with U.S. forces.
For former interpreters like Zia Ghafoori, the visas are the difference between life and death. "SIV is a life-saving process, and it's always been first priority for us," says Ghafoori. "We appreciate Congress for their continued support on our SIV applicants, because there are still around 20,000 applicants waiting for their visas."
Ghafoori, who passed his U.S. citizenship test this month, was an interpreter for Staff Sergeant Ronald Shurer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Trump in October 2018. During Shurer's ceremony at the White House, Trump applauded Ghafoori's efforts.
No One Left Behind, a nonprofit organization that helps SIV recipients start a new life in the U.S., views the visas as a step in the right direction for Afghans who saved American lives. Supporters of the SIV program, many of them veterans who served with local interpreters, believe the program is crucial toward maintaining good relationships with future allies.
In a joint statement, retired Army General David Petraeus and former Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said: "Fulfilling our obligation to the Afghan interpreters who risked their lives alongside our soldiers on the ground is rightly a national security issue. And a great nation honors its commitments to its partners."
U.S. Representative Seth Moulton, who served in combat with interpreters in Iraq, says he believes many of his former colleagues might not be alive if it weren't for the SIV program. "I just can't emphasize enough how critical their [interpreters] support is to our troops and how they save lives every single day," says Moulton. "That's why I've been so committed to the interpreters I served with on the ground in Iraq. The bottom line is that if you risk your life for America, we have your back," says Moulton.
The House of Representatives passed the $738 billion defense bill with an overwhelming majority. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week, after which it will be sent to President Trump for his signature.
Teens in Argentina Leading the Charge to Eliminate Gender in Language
The Washington Post (12/05/19) Schmidt, Samantha
Teenagers in Argentina are rewriting the rules of the Spanish language to eliminate gender to help change what they see as a deeply gendered culture.
Spanish is a language in which all nouns are assigned a gender, but teens across the country are leading the charge to adopt gender-neutral nouns. In classrooms and daily conversations, young people are changing the way they speak and write—replacing the masculine "o" or the feminine "a" with the gender-neutral "e" in certain words. Their efforts are at the center of a global debate over gender, amid the growing visibility of non-binary identities and a wave of feminist movements worldwide. A big part of the battle is being waged over language.
Departments from at least five universities across Argentina have announced that they will accept the use of this "inclusive" Spanish in schoolwork. Gender-neutral words are splattered on banners, campaign fliers, and graffiti throughout Buenos Aires. After a judge stirred controversy by using the form in a recent court decision, an oversight committee of magistrates declared that it is now permissible for judges to use gender-neutral words.
Books have been translated into the gender-neutral Spanish, including a version of The Little Prince. The form has reached Spanish speakers in the U.S., prompting discussions in university language programs.
But eliminating gender in Spanish, a language spoken by more than 577 million people worldwide, is not as simple as adopting a gender-neutral pronoun. The Royal Spanish Academy, the preeminent authority on the centuries-old language, has stated that such grammatical changes, are "unnecessary and artificial." To many Spanish speakers, the gender-neutral form is an aberration.
Natalia Mira, 18, used gender-neutral language in a television interview that made headlines across the Spanish-speaking world last year, marking the first time the gender-neutral language had emerged in many mainstream news outlets. The viral video made her the subject of attacks, but now she feels grateful that the form is finding official acceptance.
The gender-neutral "e" is not only more inclusive of non-binary identities, says Mira, but it's also a powerfully symbolic way to protest the entire structure of the language. "It generates a little crisis in your mind, like what's happening here?" says Mira. "It makes you stop and think about how we communicate."
"The way we speak can in fact shape the way we think," says Lera Boroditsky, a cognitive scientist. The word "bridge," for example, is feminine in German but masculine in Spanish. In experiments, Boroditsky found that German speakers are more likely to describe a bridge with adjectives associated with femininity, such as beautiful or elegant, while Spanish speakers are more likely to depict a bridge as stereotypically masculine—tall, towering, or strong. "If you can do that with tables, chairs, and watering cans, of course it becomes so much easier and more compelling to do that when it comes to humans," says Boroditsky.
Nonprofits in Greece Say African Asylum Seekers Claims Rejected Due to Lack of Interpreters
Newsweek (NY) (11/25/19) Da Silva, Chantal
Legal aid organizations are sounding the alarm after nearly 30 asylum seekers from Sub-Saharan African countries were denied asylum by Greek officials in Lesbos due to their "inability" to secure interpreting services for their cases.
In a letter signed by several organizations, including the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) Greece, the Danish Refugee Council, and Equal Rights Beyond Borders, aid groups claim that in November the Regional Asylum Office of Lesbos had, "without any prior notice, served negative asylum decisions on 28 asylum seekers, without conducting the legally mandatory asylum interview."
The aid groups state that the asylum office had sought to justify its decision "on the basis of its 'inability' to secure interpreting for languages spoken by the asylum seekers." In one case, they said, an asylum application was rejected without conducting an interview because it was "impossible" to find an interpreter who could speak Portuguese.
In the letter, the groups state: "The omission of the personal asylum interview due to the inability to provide interpreting constitutes a violation of EU law. Conducting an asylum interview is a cornerstone of the process of examining an application for international protection, as it provides applicants with the opportunity to fully explain the reasons why they were forced to leave their country and are unable to return."
The groups state that the majority of the applicants who received rejections had their requests denied just a few days after they had filed them. Given the short turnaround, they suggested it was unlikely that asylum officials had made a strong effort to find "suitable interpreting services" for asylum seekers.
Some asylum seekers report that they were sent "fictitious invitations" to asylum interviews supposedly scheduled for the same day that their rejection letters were issued. The aid groups state that the decisions were also written in languages that "it is uncertain if the asylum seekers understand."
The letter comes as the Greek government seeks to shut down refugee camps on Lesbos, Chios, and Samos in a bid to see migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees housed in facilities that have been described by immigration advocates as "detention centers." The government has also already begun moving asylum seekers on the Greek islands to the country's mainland, with the goal of relocating as many as 20,000 people.
A First for the Cable Industry: Comcast Offering Customer Service In ASL
Forbes (NY) (12/03/19) Kim, Sarah
For the first time in the cable industry, American Sign Language (ASL) will be a language option for customer service. Comcast and Connect Direct have launched ASL Now, a customer support service that allows Internet Essentials and Xfinity customers with hearing loss to connect with customer service agents who are fluent in ASL.
"The internet is an incredible resource so long as you have the skills and the tools to use it," says David Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer at Comcast Corporation. "By partnering with Connect Direct and working with the deaf community, we want to address and break down the barriers to broadband adoption that are unique to this population," he says. "That starts by being able to speak with customers in their native language."
"We are especially happy to partner with Comcast on this initiative, which represents a significant leap forward in broadening the reach of services available in ASL and creating more avenues for fuller participation of deaf people in society," says Christopher Soukup, chief executive officer of the Communication Service for the Deaf. "Comcast's commitment to launching an ASL customer service center underlines a shift in attitude by major corporations in recognizing the value of deaf people and the benefit and ease in delivering exceptional customer service through their customers' language of choice."
Working in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities, Comcast says it has also created an Internet Essentials accessibility landing page, with direct links to the new ASL Now chat function, the ability to order collateral materials in Braille and large print, and an accessibility-specific FAQ. In addition, the Learning Center on the Internet Essentials website now includes nearly 50 internet safety and digital literacy videos with closed captions for the deaf. The website is also operable with assistive technologies, such as screen reader software for the blind or visually impaired.
French Language Watchdogs Warn of Rise of 'Franglais'
Agence France-Presse (France) (11/21/19)
L'Academie francaise, long considered the custodian of the French language, has warned state officials against encouraging the proliferation of "Franglais," saying it could have dire consequences for the future of the language.
The Academy says that a 1994 law requiring the use of French in all government publications, commercial contracts, and advertisements, is being "repeatedly violated" by an "invasion of Anglo-Saxon terms."
Franglais (from the French words for French and English, "francais" and "anglais") is the mixing of spoken French with English words, either for effect, humor, or because the speaker believes an English word can express the idea better. In recent years, the French have become increasingly fond of spicing up their language with English words, even on occasion using "yes" instead of the French "oui," and exclaiming "c'est cool!" Business people talk of rising to "le challenge" (pronounced "shallonge") and invite colleagues to take part in "un brainstorming." This trend has rankled many French language purists, who last year enthusiastically opposed the widespread use of the English term "fake news," urging French speakers to use "information fallacieuse" instead.
French President Emmanuel Macron, unlike all his immediate predecessors, is a fluent English speaker and gives entire speeches and interviews in the language. However, Macron has been keen to present himself as a defender of the French language, always speaking in French in speeches at home and taking care not to slip too much Franglais. In March of last year, he unveiled plans to get more people speaking French, aiming to make it the first language in Africa and "maybe even the world."
The Academy issued a statement calling on public institutions to respect the 1994 law: "If they do not react vigorously and if public opinion does not take into account the extent of the danger that we are facing, French will then cease to be the living and popular language that we love."
ATA Statement on AB5 and Mandatory Employee Classification
The recent passage of Assembly Bill 5 – or AB 5 – in California will reclassify freelance translators and interpreters as employees beginning January 1 — with devastating effect financially on many of our colleagues working in the state. New York and New Jersey have now begun drafting similar legislation. These laws are intended to address inequities in the "gig economy." The business of freelance translation and interpreting is far from that. And yet our profession is caught up in a generic definition of what it means to be a "freelancer."
In September, ATA joined forces with other T&I organizations to request an exemption from AB 5 for translators and interpreters. The association is now actively supporting the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California to continue advocating for the exemption.
Get involved in standing up for our profession!
Learn More About Your ATA Membership
There’s an association for almost every industry and profession. What makes ATA stand out from all the rest? Watch "The Benefits of ATA Membership" to find out.
What's the most important benefit of ATA membership? Professional community? Continuing education? Directory listing? Earlier this year, Membership Committee Chair Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo talked with podcast host Matt Baird about the one member benefit that convinced her to join ATA and all the benefits that keep her coming back. Listen now to Your ATA Membership Matters.
Is your listing in the ATA Directory of Translators and Interpreters all that it could be? Read Getting the Most from Your ATA Directory Profile in the September/October 2019 issue of the ATA Chronicle Online.
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What Do You Know About GDPR?
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation—or GDPR—was enacted in 2016 to give consumers control over how their personal data is used. Following a two-year phase-in period, the law went into effect in May 2018.
GDPR leaves much to interpretation. For example, it requires companies to provide a “reasonable” level of protection for personal data, but does not define what constitutes “reasonable.” Without clear parameters, many translators and interpreters have been uncertain how to comply.
That's about to change. The International Federation of Translators Europe, in association with its member organizations and external partners, has begun a project to draft common GDPR guidelines for the European translation and interpreting industry. As a first step, the association is surveying freelance translators and interpreters to gauge their awareness of their legal obligations and liabilities under GDPR. Survey results will also help the group target which areas and issues of the regulation need to be addressed.
Take the survey! Your feedback will be important, even if you reside outside of the EU. The survey should not take more than 10 minutes. Click here to begin.
ATA60 Conference Survey Winner
Congratulations to Gavin Bruce, winner of a free registration to ATA's 61st Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts! Gavin’s name was randomly selected from those attendees who completed this year's overall conference survey. Surveys received by December 1 were automatically entered into the drawing for a free registration.
Relive Conference Moments, See What You Missed!
Video Recap: Scenes from the conference
Conference Slideshow: Four days of people and events
See What Members Had to Say: Read the tweets
Photo Booth: Who's that at the Welcome Celebration?
Make Plans for Boston in 2020!
It's not too soon to start making plans for ATA's 61st Annual Conference next year. What to look forward to in Boston? Let members of the New England Translators Association tell you all about it.
Mark your calendar, save the dates—October 21-24, 2020. We'll see you there!
ATA Webinar: Editing Non-Native English Scientific Writing
Presenter: Karen Tkaczyk
Date: January 30, 2020
Time: 12 noon U.S. Eastern Time
Duration: 60 minutes
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved
"The manuscript is poorly written and has too many grammatical and syntax errors. The results are very interesting from a practical standpoint, but the paper needs a thorough revision to make it suitable for publication in The Journal of Astounding Scientific Developments."
This is your cue. You enter as the native English-speaking editor. The measure of your success will be that the text is accepted after you have worked on it. Even better, the author sends you subsequent manuscripts before submission to avoid the painful rejection step for their next publication. You have become a trusted partner.
What you will learn in this webinar:
- Special editing considerations for the non-native English scientific author
- Efficient editing using a structured system to find common errors
- Remaining culturally sensitive when working with these writers
- Making non-native editing projects less painful and more profitable
- Pricing translation and editing of non-native English scientific text
About the Presenter
Karen M. Tkaczyk, CT is an ATA-certified freelance translator (French>English). After earning a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Cambridge, she worked in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, but changed careers after moving to the U.S.
As a freelance translator, she has been editing for non-native authors who want to publish in English since 2006. Karen currently holds the position of Secretary on the ATA Board of Directors.
Listen to Episode 32 of The ATA Podcast to hear more of Karen's story.
In the November/December Issue of The ATA Chronicle
ATA Board Delays Decoupling Certification Exam
ATA’s Board of Directors has voted to postpone a decision to open the certification exam to nonmembers. What is the rationale behind this proposed change and how would it be implemented? Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions.
Interpreting for the Astronauts: A Conversation with Fernando van Reigersberg
In 1966, Fernando van Reigersberg, an interpreter for the U.S. Department of State, was assigned to travel with Neil Armstrong and Richard Gordon on the Gemini Goodwill Tour of South America. Learn about this important moment of the space race and what it was like traveling and interpreting for the men who would eventually travel to the moon. (Barry Slaughter Olsen)
A Multidisciplinary Team of Linguists
In 2013, Lima, Peru, was chosen as the host city of the XVIII Pan American and Sixth Parapan American Games, the largest international multidisciplinary sporting event in the Americas and the second most important in the Olympic and Paralympic circuit in the world. Find out what it’s like to be part of a team providing translation and interpreting services at a high-level sporting event. (Daniel Aparicio, Rosario Bustamante, Fernando Camino, Adriana Carbajal, and Angie Tapia)
Decluttering Mistakes You’re Making When Revising Your Text
Like your closet, your text might contain pointless, ugly, or sentimental items that you shouldn’t be keeping. Be ruthless when it comes to getting rid of the extra stuff in your text. It pays off. Your readers will read effortlessly what you so laboriously created. (Romina Marazzato Sparano)
Technical-Scientific Translation: A Wondrous Voyage
For some translators, technical-scientific work is an actively pursued dream. For others, it comes as an unanticipated opportunity. In either case, for those who have the required skills, it’s a challenge worth accepting, a gratifying undertaking, and a wondrous voyage. (Guillermo "Willy" Martinez)
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.
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