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ATA 61st Annual Conference Call for Proposals

Assembly Bill 5: What Now?


California's Assembly Bill 5 has been in effect for a little more than 30 days, but already freelance translators and interpreters are struggling to stay in business. And several other states are considering similar legislation.

What can you do?
Do not underestimate the power of your vote. Politicians depend on you to stay in office. Nothing can equal the pressure individual translators and interpreters can bring to bear on their elected officials.

Get involved in standing up for our profession!
Start here: What Can I Do about Mandatory Employee Classification Legislation in my State. This how-to advocacy handout is a step-by-step action plan to show you how to present your case to your state lawmakers.

The document includes how to find your representatives and sample talking points to use in letters or conversations with legislators.

Get out there!
Remember, you have the power. Use it!

Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California
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.

ATA Statement on California SB 875
Catch up with the ATA's stand on the request to exempt translators and interpreters from AB5. Read now.
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Industry News


Former FBI Translator Gets Probation for Doctored Transcript
The New York Times (NY) (01/31/20)

A former FBI translator was sentenced to probation last week after he admitted doctoring transcripts when his own voice came up on intercepts of phone calls placed by a terrorism suspect. Abdirizak Wehelie of Burke, Virginia, also received a $1,000 fine at his sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

Wehelie pleaded guilty in November to making false statements. He admitted he marked himself down as an "unidentified male" when a target of FBI surveillance left a message on Wehelie's cellphone in 2012 while he was working as a contract linguist for the FBI. Sentencing guidelines called for a term of zero to six months.

Wehelie took responsibility for his actions in comments to the judge before he was sentenced. "Upon hearing my voice on the voicemail, I froze in shock and fear; fear of what it could possibly mean for my family and myself," Wehelie wrote in a letter to the court.

Wehelie worked as a contractor for the FBI from 2012 to 2015. In December 2012, a man targeted by the FBI in an investigation connected to the Al-Shabab terrorist group in Somalia called and left a voicemail message for Wehelie. The call was intercepted under court-ordered surveillance, and Wehelie was tasked the next day with translating the call. He marked himself down as "unidentified male" even though the voicemail message on Wehelie's cellphone identified him as "Abdirizak Wehelie."

The FBI questioned Wehelie about his actions in 2016. At the time, according to the indictment, Wehelie admitted that he should not have identified himself as an "unidentified male" on that translation. He also told FBI agents he had never actually had a phone conversation with the person who called him and that he didn't know the person very well. But a subsequent FBI investigation revealed that the two had nearly 180 phone contacts from 2010 to 2017.

"This was a one-time event in which Mr. Wehelie essentially panicked," says Nina Ginsberg, Wehelie's lawyer.
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Former Military Interpreter Accused of Spying for Iran Goes on Trial in Germany
Associated Press (DC) (01/21/20)

A German-Afghan man who served for years as an interpreter and adviser for the German military is on trial for allegedly spying for Iranian intelligence.

The former interpreter, who has been identified only as Abdul S. in keeping with German privacy regulations, is charged with treason and 18 counts of breaching official secrecy laws. Prosecutors have given few details of the case. Media and the public were excluded from the trial at the Koblenz state court before the indictment was read.

Presiding Judge Thomas Bergmann stated that the trial would be held behind closed doors "until further notice" due to security concerns. The public was later permitted into the courtroom, but further exclusions are expected during the course of the trial, which is scheduled to last until at least March 31.

The man's wife, Asiea S., also a German-Afghan dual citizen, has been charged as an accessory to treason. Prosecutors claim she supported her husband's passing of secret documents to Iran from the beginning, without specifying the nature of that support.
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The Gender-Neutral Language Battle that has Split Spain
The Guardian (United Kingdom) (01/19/20) Burgen, Stephen

A showdown is looming between Spain's conservative language academy and its newly elected socialist government over proposals to rewrite the nation's constitution using gender-neutral language.

The Royal Spanish Academy, which has the final word on the correct use of Spanish, has been sitting on a report commissioned over a year ago by Carmen Calvo, Spain's deputy prime minister, that calls for the wording of the 1,978 constitution to be altered, replacing generic masculine nouns with more inclusive forms. But, after a tumultuous 12 months in Spanish politics that saw two general elections and months of political maneuvering before a government could be formed, the swearing-in last week of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's left-wing coalition has seen the issue return.

In the latest exchange between the two sides, the Royal Academy stated it was "grammatically unacceptable" to refer to the government's cabinet (a council of ministers) as a consejo de ministras, instead of the approved consejo de ministros. It said the former would only be applicable if the cabinet were all-female, something that has never happened. Calvo disagrees. "It's time the constitution had a language that respects both genders," she says. "It only has masculine language, and this isn't appropriate in a modern democracy."

In common with many gender-based languages, Spanish defaults to a generic masculine when it isn't specified whether the subject is male or female. For example, a girl is a niña and a boy a niño, but collectively children are niños.

One solution offered by supporters of inclusive language is to "double up" on genders so that "the neighborhood children" becomes "the neighborhood boys and girls," but such innovations can infuriate traditionalists. María Montero, Spain's budget minister, was ridiculed when she referred to a spokeswoman (portavoz) as a portavoza, because voz is a feminine noun, whether it pertains to a man or a woman. Rewriting the constitution to be more inclusive would entail replacing about 500 words and considerable doubling up.

The Royal Academy has so far managed to evade the question, but has previously defended the gender neutrality of masculine nouns. "Doubling up is artificial and unnecessary from a linguistic perspective," it said in an official statement. "In the case of nouns that describe living beings, it is possible to use the generic masculine to designate all individuals of the species, regardless of sex. The explicit use of the feminine is only justified when the opposition of the sexes is relevant."

Sources at the Royal Academy claim the government's demand is politically rather than linguistically motivated. "We think inclusive language is the language we habitually speak," one member of the Academy says.
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Facebook Apologizes for Vulgar Translation of Chinese Leader's Name
The New York Times (NY) (01/18/20) Padilla, Mariel; Nang, Saw

Facebook has issued an apology after its platform translated Xi Jinping, the name of the president of the People's Republic of China, from Burmese to a vulgar word in English.

The mistranslation caught the company's attention when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto civilian leader of Myanmar, wrote on her official Facebook page about Xi's two-day visit to her country. When the Burmese posts were translated into English on Facebook, Xi's name repeatedly appeared as "Mr. Shithole."

Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Facebook, apologized, blaming the mistranslation on a technical issue. "This should not have happened and we are taking steps to ensure it doesn't happen again," he promised.

Stone says that when Facebook's system finds a word that lacks a translation, it guesses and replaces it with a word with similar syllables. After conducting tests, Facebook found that multiple Burmese words starting with "xi" and "shi" translated to the vulgarity in English.

China Myanmar Friendship Association Chairman U Po Myint says he believes that Facebook may have intentionally mistranslated Xi's name, since there are other more likely renderings of his given name in Burmese. "But Facebook already apologized for their mistake, so we can forgive," he adds.

Kenneth Wong, a Burmese language instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, says he also initially thought the mistake was intentional. However, upon closer inspection of the Burmese post, he now sees how a technical error could be responsible. He says Xi's name sounds similar to "chi kyin phyin," which roughly translates into "feces hole buttocks" in Burmese.

Greg Garvey, a professor of game design and development at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, says there are multiple explanations for how the error might have occurred. He says that when the translation system finds a word that doesn't have a direct translation, it should put in a replacement word using the context of the rest of the sentence and data from millions of Facebook users. Excluding malicious intent, Garvey says the vulgarity would have been used only if the system's algorithm found it made sense based on Facebook's trove of user data. The exception would be if there were words in Burmese that corresponded to the vulgarity, which both Wong and Facebook confirm was the case.
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Amid Interpreter Shortage, First Use of Remote Sentencing in Japan Court
Japan Times (Japan) (01/20/20)

A video link system between two different courts was used for interpreting for the first time in Japan to hand down rulings to foreign defendants. The measure was employed to compensate for a lack of court interpreters.

The Yamagata District Court gave suspended sentences to two women from the Philippines for violating Japan's immigration law. A Tagalog-Japanese interpreter from a different court provided services via the video system.

On a large monitor, the interpreter informed Singson Blessyl Avilanes and Ragadio Grace that the court had imposed a prison term of 18 months, suspended for three years, on both women in separate rulings.

Video links had previously been used to connect the courtroom to a separate room within the same courthouse for witness interrogation. But the revised criminal procedure law that took effect in 2018 allows witnesses living away from the court to participate in questioning remotely.

The same system can also be used by interpreters to mitigate a decline in the number of such workers amid a rapid increase in demand for interpreting services. According to the Supreme Court, the number of registered interpreters has decreased by 4%, to 3,788, while the number of foreign defendants in need of interpreters has increased nearly 60%, to 3,757.

According to the ruling, the two women entered Japan on working visas as cooks, but had worked as employees of a cosmetics manufacturing company between October 2017 and October 2019. They had their visas extended after falsely telling immigration authorities that they planned on continuing to work as cooks.
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New York University MS in Translation

ATA News


Call for Proposals

The American Translators Association is now accepting presentation proposals for ATA's 61st Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts (October 21-24, 2020).

Why present at ATA61?

Making a presentation at an ATA Annual Conference is an excellent strategy to establish your expertise. With more than 1,800 translators, interpreters, educators, company owners, and project managers attending, there is no better way to gain visibility and expand your referral network.

Proposals must be received by March 2, 2020. Submit now!

The Conference Organizer is looking for relevant, original content that will provide attendees information they can use to build, grow, and manage a translation or interpreting business. Click for details.

How to write a winning ATA Conference proposal?

Advice, encouragement, lessons learned, career guidance—the benefits of being a mentee can be critical to the success of a career or business. This is your ATA membership at work! Submit your application now.

ATA's webinar How to Write a Winning ATA Conference Proposal will take you through the proposal process step-by-step. Common pitfalls? Convincing proposal style? Presentation tips? This free webinar has all the answers!


Is the ATA Mentoring Program for You?

Need to move your business forward? Have questions about technology, management, or clients? Check out the ATA Mentoring Program.

Applications from interested mentees and mentors will be accepted through March 6. This is your only opportunity to enroll in the 2020 program. Don't wait! Only 30 mentees will be accepted.

Learn more about the ATA mentoring experience!
Tapping into the Expertise I Needed (Jessica Hartstein)
Mentoring for Freelancers: Beneficial at All Levels (Karen Rückert)
The Benefits of Mentoring (Ben Karl)
How to Have a Super First Year in ATA: The Mentoring Program (Molly Yurick)
ATA Mentoring Through the Eyes of a Mentor-Mentee Pair (Lea Rennert, Rutie Eckdish)

Advice, encouragement, lessons learned, career guidance—the benefits of being a mentee can be critical to the success of a career or business. This is your ATA membership at work! Submit your application now.
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ATA Webinar: Inbound Marketing for Freelance Translators

Members save 25% on ATA webinars!

Too busy to attend? You can register for the webinar and the recording will be emailed to you following the live events. This webinar will also be available on the ATA website as on-demand recordings.

Inbound Marketing for Freelance Translators
Presenter: Tess Whitty
Date: February 13
Time: 10am U.S. Eastern Time (new time!)
Duration: 60 minutes
Level: Intermediate, Advanced
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-approved

Register now!

Is inbound marketing part of your online strategy to reach direct clients? It should be.

Attend this webinar to learn how inbound marketing can work for you. Tess will cover the strategies, platforms, set-ups, and the roles of search engine optimization and social media. Start the year off right by upping your game with an expanded marketing plan and a goal of bringing in more business.
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ATA Business Practices Education Committee

The school of hard knocks is no way to learn business management skills. ATA's Business Practices Education Committee is here to help! Learn more about the committee's programs, including the BP listserv, The Savvy Newcomer, and the ATA Mentoring Program, in ATA Podcast Host Matt Baird's interview with Tess Whitty and Susanne van Eyl. You'll also get an early peek at the new Masterminds program set to begin this year!

Listen now to Episode 41 of The ATA Podcast!

What is The ATA Podcast?
It's a quick way to learn more about ATA—the people, events, and programs. Episodes are presented as short interviews with Podcast Host Matt Baird. Easy to listen to, The ATA Podcast offers you a behind-the-scenes view of how ATA works.

How to Subscribe
Subscribe to The ATA Podcast and get the next episode sent to you as soon as it's published! The subscription is free. Not sure how to subscribe? This article from Hubspot will walk you through it step-by-step, screenshots included.

Be Sure to Leave a Comment
Listener comments and suggestions are a big help. Did you like the episode? What would make it better? Do you have an idea for an interview? Let us know. Email ATA Podcast Host Matt Baird with your feedback.
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ATA 2020 Elections: Call for Nominations

The 2020 Nominating and Leadership Development Committee is pleased to announce the call for nominations to fill three directors’ positions (each a three-year term) on the Association's Board.

Elections will be held at the Annual Meeting of Voting Members on Thursday, October 22, 2020, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Who is eligible to be a candidate?

Under ATA's Bylaws, all Active members are eligible to run for elected office. Active members are those who have passed an ATA certification exam or who have established professional status through either Active Membership or Credentialed Interpreter Review.

Any ATA member may make a nomination by completing and submitting the online nomination form. Self-nominations are welcome.

Questions and requests for additional information should be emailed to nominations@atanet.org.

The deadline for submitting a nomination is March 2, 2020.

Help shape the future of the Association! ATA's success depends on the leadership of its officers and directors. That leadership begins with nominations like yours. Click here to start.
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The ATA Podcast


Did You Remember to Renew Your ATA Membership?

Your ATA membership is an important professional resource. Don't lose it! If you haven't renewed yet, click to renew online or download a renewal form.

Questions about your ATA membership? Contact Trish Boward at +1-703-683-6100, extension 3001, or email membership@atanet.org.

And don't forget to grab your card!

Your ATA membership card is digital and available for download in the Members Only area of the ATA website. Just login and click the Membership Card tab.
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ATA Members-Only Free Webinar

Don’t miss this month’s free ATA webinar. This is how your membership works for you!

Agencies vs. Freelancers? A Market Analysis

The last three decades have seen significant change in how translators, interpreters, and agencies work.

Technology and internationalization have given freelancers the tools to work globally, as agencies are going high-tech and controlling a larger share of the market. Have these movements in our industry created an "us vs. them" mentality? Are agencies and freelancers destined to be at odds with one another?

It's time to analyze where we are in the present in order to plan for where we could be in the future!
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In the January/February Issue of The ATA Chronicle

Call for Nominations: ATA Directors
Do you know someone who would make a good potential candidate for ATA’s Board of Directors? If so, ATA’s Nominating and Leadership Development Committee would like to hear from you. Any ATA member may make a nomination. Here’s your chance to help shape the future of the Association!

Watch Your Back for a Recession
I’m not an economist, but it’s hard to miss the rumblings in the financial press that the U.S. (or even the world) economy may be headed for a recession. As a business owner, the best time to start planning for a downturn is last year, but if you haven’t done that, let’s start planning now! (Corinne McKay)

Dilemmas of an Upwardly Mobile Translator
There’s no doubt that if you’re too busy for a long period, then it’s time to raise your rates. There’s also no doubt that, as a tool, increasing rates can be a fairly blunt instrument. (Simon Berrill)

Three Pedagogical Tools to Take Your Online Translation and Interpreting Courses to the Next Level
Demand for online education continues to grow in the U.S. and is globally “on track to become mainstream by 2025.” In this article, three experienced instructors involved in the design of online translation and interpreting curricula share tips for creating an online community that encourages students’ reflective practice and enables structured student interactions. (Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo, Elena Langdon, and Cristiano Mazzei)

Profile of ATA 2018–2019 School Outreach Contest Winner: Denise Fisher
When ATA Member Denise Fisher was invited to speak to graduate students in a Japanese interpreting class at the University of Michigan, she had no idea that her experience would eventually lead to a free registration to ATA’s Annual Conference in Palm Springs. (Birgit Vosseler-Brehmer)

2019 ATA Honors and Awards Recipients
ATA and the American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation present annual and biennial awards to encourage, reward, and publicize outstanding work done by both seasoned professionals and students of our craft. This year’s recipients are...

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 2020 SmithBucklin

February 3, 2020

In This Issue

AB 5: What Now?
ATA61 Proposals
ATA Mentoring
Webinar: Inbound Marketing
ATA Podcast: Episode 41
2020 Call for Nominations
Members-Only Free Webinar
Did You Renew?
The ATA Chronicle



ATA Webinar Series

Inbound Marketing for Freelance Translators
February 13, 2020
12 noon ET
Register now!

Educational Interpreting: Emerging Specialization
February 27, 2020
12 noon ET
Registration coming soon



ATA Members Only

Free February Webinar!
Agencies vs. Freelancers
Click to watch!



Calendar of Events

ATA 61st Annual Conference
October 21-24, 2020
Boston, MA
Registration opens July 2020

Board of Directors Meeting
February 8-9
Charleston, SC
Read the agenda

ATA61 Call for Proposals
Closes March 2
Learn more

ATA 2020 Elections
Call for Nominations
Closes March 2
Learn more

ATA Mentoring Program
Closes March 6
Learn more

XXII FIT World Congress
December 3-5
Varadero, Cuba
Save the date!

ATA Certification Exam
Upcoming schedule

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



Across Translator Edition v7 The ATA Chronicle
The ATA Chronicle January/February 2020
The ATA Compass