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Membership Matters

Why should translators and interpreters join ATA? What are the benefits of membership? What is the Membership Committee doing to attract new members and retain existing ones? Find out in Episode 31 of The ATA Podcast!
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Industry News

Celestial Bodies Wins Man Booker International Prize
New York Times (NY) (05/21/19) Marshall, Alex

Celestial Bodies, written by Jokha Alharthi and translated by Marilyn Booth from Arabic into English, has won the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world. Alharthi and Booth will share the $63,000 award.

Celestial Bodies is the first novel originally written in Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize. Alharthi is the author of two other novels, two collections of short fiction, and a children's book. Her work has been published in English, German, Italian, Korean, and Serbian. An award-winning author, she has been shortlisted for the Sahikh Zayed Award for Young Writers and won the 2010 Best Omani Novel Award for Celestial Bodies.

Marilyn Booth is an author, scholar, and translator of Arabic literature. Booth is the Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud Professor of the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at the University of Oxford, and a fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Celestial Bodies tells of family connections and history in the coming-of-age account of three Omani sisters. It's set against the backdrop of an evolving Oman, which is slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, at the crossroads of its complex present.

"Celestial Bodies is a book to win over the head and the heart in equal measure," says Bettany Hughes, chair of the judging panel. "Its delicate artistry draws us into a richly imagined community, opening out to tackle profound questions of time and mortality."

"Omani authors want foreign readers to look at the country with an open mind and heart," says Alharthi. "No matter where you are, love, loss, friendship, pain, and hope are the same feelings, and humanity still has a lot of work to do to believe in this truth."

"The vivid use of local expressions and classical Arabic poetry made translating the novel an enormous challenge," says Booth.

Five of the six authors, and all the translators, on this year's shortlist were women, an unusually high number for a book prize. According to Meytal Radzinski, founder of Women In Translation Month, female authors accounted for 31% of new works translated into English published in the U.S. in 2017.
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U.S. Military Cuts Defense Language Institute Funding
Language Magazine (CA) (05/14/19)

The Pentagon announced that it's cutting funding for the Defense Language Institute's overseas immersion program to divert funds to other military resources.

The Defense Language Institute is responsible for providing linguistic instruction to the U.S. Department of Defense, other federal agencies, and individual customers. The Institute provides services for active and reserve military members, foreign military students, and civilian personnel working in the federal government and various law enforcement agencies.

The decision to cut the Institute's funding comes at a time when the Pentagon is diverting billions of dollars from other military priorities to fund U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and border deployment. "There is probably no better rhetorical analogy for this administration's foreign policy than cutting Spanish-language immersion programs while building a wall on the southern border," says a student at the Institute.

Natela Cutter, a spokesperson for the Defense Language Institute, says the budget cut is temporary and that the Institute intends to restart its immersion program in 2020. Roughly 700 language students were preparing for their immersion courses when the funding cuts were announced.

"The Language Resource Centers and the National Resource Centers funded through Title VI help support more than 20 vital Department of Defense language programs, foreign-area officer training for the U.S. Army, and advanced language education for federal employees in dozens of government agencies," says retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General and Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry. "Ultimately, if such programs are cut, we will be less able to communicate with and understand our allies and potential adversaries abroad, and would be severely hindered in our negotiations."
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Federal Judge Orders Bilingual Ballots for Florida Counties
Orlando Sentinel (FL) (05/10/19) Lemongello, Steve

A federal judge has ordered 32 Florida counties to supply Spanish-language ballots, starting with the 2020 presidential primaries.

The order by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker comes in response to a lawsuit by LatinoJustice and other organizations that claim the rights of as many as 30,000 Puerto Ricans are being violated by counties that do not provide bilingual ballot access. The order grants a preliminary injunction that requires Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee and the 32 county elections supervisors to not only provide bilingual ballots by the March 17, 2020 primary, but to provide Spanish-language election assistance and bilingual voting materials by August 2019.

In September 2018, Judge Walker directed the counties to provide Spanish-language sample ballots but not the ballots themselves, saying there wasn't sufficient time before the November 2018 elections. This resulted in some initial pushback from county election supervisors. Alan Hays, supervisor of elections for Lake County, claimed the population wasn't large enough to warrant bilingual ballots. "Why should the entire county incur that kind of expense when there's a better way to do it in a more economical way, like providing a sample ballot for those who need that translation?"

"The court recognized that Spanish-speaking voters are not second-class citizens and should not have to wait for their voting rights to be fully protected," says Stuart Naifeh, a voting rights lawyer for Demos, one of the organizations that filed the lawsuit. "For democratic participation to have any meaning, voters must be able to exercise their right to vote in a language they understand."
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Google Announces Translatotron Tool for Translating Speech in the Speaker's Original Voice
SiliconANGLE (CA) (05/15/19) Wheatley, Mike

Google is introducing what it says is an experimental new system for speech interpreting that produces synthesized interpretations that retain the sound of the original speaker's voice. Google says the output actually sounds like the person is speaking in the target language.

The new Translatotron tool simplifies the complex process of interpreting speech into different languages. Existing systems, such as Google Translate, have to interpret speech in a roundabout way, first transcribing the original speech into text, then translating it into text in the target language, and finally using this new text to synthesize speech in the translated language. All these steps can slow things down, but Google says Translatotron speeds up the process because it uses a single model that eliminates the need to translate speech into text first.

"This system avoids dividing the task into separate stages," says Ye Jia, a software engineer at Google. This results in faster interpreting speeds and fewer compounding errors. "To the best of my knowledge, Translatotron is the first end-to-end model that can interpret speech directly from one language into speech in another language," explains Jia. "It's also able to retain the source speaker's voice in the interpreted speech."

The Translatotron system works by using "spectrograms," visual representations of the spectrum of frequencies of audio signals as they vary over time. An encoder network is used to capture the speaker's voice, while "multitask learning" is used to predict the words they are saying and interpret them into the target language.

Google admits the system is still experimental and that the quality of the machine-generated output is still lower than conventional translation tools. However, Google says it's working to improve the system.

"The combination of understanding speech and then interpreting it to a desired language is raising the game, and that's what Google is doing with the Translatotron," says Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst for Constellation Research.

A potential application for Translatotron could be the new Interpreter Mode found in Google Assistant that was added to Google Home speakers earlier this year. Interpreter Mode currently uses Google's conventional translation tools and can interpret speech between 27 language pairs.
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As More States Adopt Bilingualism Seal, Equity Concerns Arise
Education Week (MD) (05/13/19) Mitchell, Corey

When the seal of biliteracy launched nearly a decade ago, its advocates envisioned an honor that would recognize English-language learners and native English speakers alike. However, according to a new study from Georgetown University, the way the seal is being implemented in schools throughout the country may be shutting English-learners and low-income students out of the process.

Interest in the seal—which is affixed to high school diplomas or transcripts as official proof that students can speak, read, and write in more than one language—has surged across the country, with nearly 40 states and the District of Columbia now offering special recognition for graduates who demonstrate fluency in two or more languages. According to the research team who authored the study, the problem is that many states do not track the demographic information on students who earn the seal. Their findings also suggest that English-learners and students from low-income households may have fewer opportunities to demonstrate their bilingualism. In addition, even when such opportunities are available, English-learners often face more hurdles to earn the seal. Eligibility criteria also tends to hold English-learners to higher standards in their second language, compared to native English-speakers.

"The standards are so uneven that, in most cases, native English-speaking students studying a world language in high school cannot pass a proficiency test in their second language to qualify for the seal," says Nicholas Subtirelu, an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown who helped author the study.

Subtirelu says that formal exams are often limited to languages studied in U.S. high school world-language classes, and that Advanced Placement and the College Board offer tests in fewer than 10 languages. This means that students fluent in languages such as Haitian Creole and Vietnamese, both among the top five home languages for the nation's K-12 English-learners, don't always have a clear path to show what they know.

To address these inequities, Subtirelu and his colleagues offer three recommendations. They advise both educators and policymakers to stop viewing the seal as a program exclusively for promoting foreign- or world-language education. They say educators must support additional pathways for non-native English-speaking students to demonstrate their proficiency in their home languages. They also recommend administering the seal at the state level to ensure that all students have equal access.
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Reaching More People with Bike Education in Spanish
League of American Bicyclists (CT) (05/20/19) Dewey, Alison

In response to the demand for Spanish-language biking education materials, the League of American Bicyclists has announced the publication of the Spanish version of its Smart Cycling Manual.

In the League's Biking & Walking: 2018 Benchmarking Report, data shows that Hispanic and Latino people are commuting by bike at a higher rate than most other groups. Recognizing that there is a large population of bicyclists who may be interested in learning and teaching biking skills, and who also may benefit from technical classes like Smart Cycling taught in their native language, the League stated that it was excited to offer its manual in Spanish. The League collaborated with the National Alliance for Hispanic Health on the Spanish translation.

"We are definitely seeing an increasing interest in Spanish biking education materials," says Bill Nesper, the League's executive director. "As the League consistently seeks out ways to ensure that our programs are empowering all people who bike, we're happy we can meet the growing demand for more biking education materials in Spanish."

The League has offered its Smart Cycling Quick Guide in Spanish for seven years, which cycling instructors, local transportation agencies, advocacy organizations, bike shops, and other groups have used extensively across the U.S. to reach communities that may otherwise be underserved. The League sells about 4,000 Spanish Quick Guides each year, and the demand is growing: sales of Spanish Quick Guides are up by 60% this year compared to last.

"It's clear that the Latinx population in Los Angeles County is huge, so we know there is a need in our region for biking education materials in Spanish," says Colin Bogart, education director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. "We're proud to have partnered with the League and everyone else involved with translating the new Smart Cycling Manual and class materials so that people across the country can benefit."
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ATA News

Final Call for ATA Exam Prep Workshop!

ATA Certification Exam Prep Workshop
June 8, 2019 | Houston, Texas

Don't miss this chance to prepare for the ATA Certification Exam!
  • Session I (9:00am – 12:00pm)
    Preparing for the ATA English>Spanish Certification Exam
    Instructors: Sarita Gómez-Mola, CT and Diego Mansilla, CT
    Learn more and register now!
  • Session II (2:00pm – 5:00pm)
    Preparing for the ATA Spanish>English Certification Exam
    Instructors: Andy Klatt, CT and Holly Mikkelson, CT
    Learn more and register now!
Limited seating!
Both workshops are limited to 25 participants to ensure individual attention and an optimal learning experience. These workshops will not be recorded. Register now!
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It's Not Too Late to Enter the ATA School Outreach Contest

Did you share your translation or interpreting career with students this year? Did you capture the moment with a photo? Then you're all set to enter ATA's School Outreach Contest for a chance to win a free registration to ATA's 60th Annual Conference.

But don't delay! The contest deadline is July 18, 2017.

For even more information about the contest, sharing your career, and how to take a winning photo, listen to Episode 11 of The ATA Podcast with Birgit Vosseler-Brehmer and Matt Baird.
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Free ATA Webinar for June

Attention ATA members! Take advantage of this month's free ATA webinar until June 30. Just click the play arrow to start the webinar.

Specialization: why and how, and what's the big deal?
Translators and interpreters are often told they should specialize. But why? This webinar examines the concrete benefits of specializing. You'll also get an inside look at a specialized translation practice and learn how to develop your own plan for becoming an expert in your field. [more]
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Deadline for ATA Annual Conference Scholarships

The American Foundation for Translation and Interpreting (AFTI), ATA's non-profit foundation, is pleased to announce five $500.00 scholarships to partially defray the cost of attending the 2019 ATA Annual Conference in Palm Springs, California, October 23-26, 2019.

The application deadline is June 30, 2019.

We welcome applications from students or recent graduates of translation or interpreting studies programs. Students may be part-time or full-time. The program must be offered by a college or university and may be a degree or certificate. 

Scholarship winners will be announced by August 15, 2019.
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ATA Certification Exam Prep Workshop

ATA 2019 Elections: Final Slate of Candidates

ATA will hold its regularly scheduled elections at ATA's 60th Annual Conference in Palm Springs, California, to elect a president-elect, secretary, treasurer, and three directors.

The slate of candidates has been finalized.
  • President-elect (two-year term)
    Geoff Koby
    Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo
  • Secretary (two-year term)
    Karen Tkaczyk
  • Treasurer (two-year term)
    John Milan
  • Director (three positions, three-year terms)
    Alaina Brandt
    Veronika Demichelis
    Tony Guerra
    Aaron Hebenstreit
    Cristina Helmerichs
    Diego Mansilla
Look for candidate statements, photos, and podcast interviews in September on the ATA website!

Become an ATA Voting Member
ATA Associate Members who can demonstrate that they are professionally engaged in translation, interpreting, or closely related fields may apply for Voting Membership. How? Just complete and submit the ATA Active Membership Review application. No additional paperwork required. It's fast, free, and easy!

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BLS Updates T&I Profile in Occupational Outlook Handbook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently updated the profile for translators and interpreters in its Occupational Outlook Handbook. The new earnings number, based on 2018 stats, is $49,930, or $24/hour.

It is important to note that the median is the halfway point between the highest and lowest data points. That is, it is not an average. BLS reports the lowest 10% in the professional linguists' category earned a median yearly rate of $27,230. The highest 10% earned as much as $90,610.

Over the last 10 years, the Occupational Outlook Handbook has consistently cited higher than average job growth tor translators and interpreters. BLS currently projects an 18% increase in translation and interpreting jobs by 2026.

Following a review of the Handbook update, ATA President-Elect Ted Wozniak noted that the BLS stats fail to include data on self-employed linguists. ATA's 2016 Compensation Survey, which accounted for both W-2 employees and 1099 workers, showed translators averaging between $42.30 and $55.44 per hour while interpreters averaged between $55.87 and $124.68 per hour.

A spokesman for the Joint National Committee for Languages (JCNL) also pointed to the inaccuracy of the federal government's prevailing wage rate as potentially skewing the BLS earning data for translators and interpreters. Learn more about the "Inaccuracies in Prevailing Wages Rate Determinations for Translators and Interpreters" which was an important issue in ATA-JNCL's Advocacy Day in 2017
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Multilingual Employment in the U.S.

There is a growing shortage of foreign language skills in the U.S. workplace, and employers are losing opportunities and business because of it.

That's the conclusion of a groundbreaking industry report, "Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreign Language Demand Among U.S. Employers." The report, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, is based on a 2018 survey of 1,200 upper-level managers and human resources professionals with knowledge of their organization’s foreign language needs.

Multilingual Employee Demand in the U.S. Economy
  • 9 out of 10 U.S. employers rely on employees with language skills other than English.
  • 34% say their needs are not being met by their employees
  • 56% say their foreign language demand will increase in the next 5 years.
  • 47% state a need for language skills exclusively for the domestic market.
  • 1 in 4 U.S. employers lost business due to a lack of language skills.
The report also breaks out multilingual needs by language, size of business, and industry.

"Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreign Language Demand Among U.S. Employers" hopes to change how U.S. policymakers prioritize language education and recognize the role of language in staying economically competitive. It's an important read. Take time to review the Executive Summary now!
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In the May/June Issue of The ATA Chronicle

ATA Adds Its Voice to Language Advocates in the Nation’s Capital
Over 160 world language advocates gathered in the Nation’s Capital in February to meet with members of Congress for Language Advocacy Day. (Caitilin Walsh)

Responding to Disaster: The 2017 North Bay Fires
The disastrous 2017 North Bay fires in California presented enormous challenges for disseminating timely and accurate information to the large, predominantly Hispanic, non-English-speaking population of Sonoma and Napa Counties. My experiences made it clear how a lack of preparation, at both the personal and community level, can exacerbate the challenges of a natural disaster. (Julie Burns)

International Literature: A Data-Driven Approach to Prioritizing Diversity
Why do books from some languages find their way into English while other cultures remain underrepresented? AmazonCrossing’s editorial director discusses what it takes for a book, author, and translator to reach readers in a new language. (Gabriella Page-Fort)

10 Simple Ways to Boost Your Website’s SEO
How many freelance translators and interpreters really take the time to adjust a few things behind the scenes to boost their website’s search engine ranking? (Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo)

ATA Law Seminar: Four Perspectives
One of the biggest challenges you face as a translator or interpreter is finding the intermediate-to-advanced continuing education you need to move ahead in your career. ATA’s Law Seminar provided just the kind of high-level, hands-on training attendees were looking for. (Bridget Hylak, Evelyn Yang Garland, Paul Merriam, and Chris Verduin)

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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News summaries © copyright 2019 SmithBucklin

June 3, 2019

Calendar of Events

ATA Certification Workshop
June 8, 2019
Houston, TX
Register now

ATA School Outreach Contest Deadline
July 18, 2019
Learn more

Board of Directors Meeting
August 3-4, 2019
Denver, CO

ATA Certification Exam
Upcoming schedule

See ATA's Online Calendar for translation & interpreting events around the world.

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