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U.S. Visa Program for Afghan Interpreters Renewed With New Restrictions
New York Times (NY) (12/08/16) Huetteman, Emmarie
Congress has passed a measure that would offer sanctuary to a fraction of the Afghan interpreters and translators who have risked their lives to help the military. The measure, included in an annual military policy bill, renews the nearly nine-year-old visa program for Afghans facing serious threats because they assisted American troops. But the renewal added just 1,500 extra visas, which is not nearly enough to cover the approximately 13,000 pending applications, and it imposes more eligibility restrictions on an already complicated process. The fix may not be enough to save the program, says Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire). "I think it's clear that we will run out of those visas. " Last summer, a handful of Republican lawmakers disrupted what has become a somewhat regular allocation of visas to the program, questioning the cost of the 4,000 additional visas requested by the Obama administration this year. Now, the fate of the visa program will hinge on a government led by President-elect Donald Trump, who has yet to say how he will handle an issue that is championed by the military, but would also bring more Muslim immigrants to the United States. "It's no exaggeration to say that this is a matter of life and death, as Afghans who served the U.S. mission continue to be systematically hunted down by the Taliban," Shaheen says. There is some cautious optimism that the more members of the military there are among Mr. Trump's advisers, the more likely he is to support the program. General David Petraeus, a former commander of American forces in Afghanistan who was reportedly under consideration for secretary of state, is among those who have argued the U.S. has made a commitment to protect those Afghans—one that would hurt the country's credibility overseas if abandoned. "By failing to allocate sufficient visas to provide our Afghan allies with a path to safety, we fail to keep the faith with them—and with our troops and diplomats who rely on them to succeed in their mission," says Betsy Fisher, policy director of the International Refugee Assistance Project.
Research Examines Impact of Language on Risk Perception and Moral Judgment
Medical Xpress (CA) (11/21/16) Bauld, Andrew
Researchers from the University of Chicago and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain are examining how using a second language could potentially change the decisions people make. Their findings, published in an article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, could have implications in a number of different fields—from doctors' offices to voting booths. The article details how research suggests that people using a second language are more willing to take risks, perceive costs and benefits differently, and make less biased inferences. One of the explanations for this is that a second language, often learned in a less emotional classroom setting, creates a "psychological distance" for the decision-maker, resulting in individuals being less sensitive to intention and more sensitive to outcomes when using another language. "About a quarter of physicians and surgeons in the U.S. are foreign-born. If using a foreign language affects risk and a willingness to take risk, then it could affect the kind of treatments prescribed," says lead author Sayuri Hayakawa, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Chicago. "Our research is still in the early stages. Everything has been done in a lab setting, so we don't want to extrapolate too far, but it's relevant," Hayakawa says. Many of the conclusions come from research conducted in the laboratory of Boaz Keysar, a professor in psychology and chair of the University of Chicago's Cognition Program, and Albert Costa, a research professor at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. "This is a country of immigrants," says Keysar, whose native language is Hebrew. "For example, the electorate is comprised of people who don't always have English as a native language, and their political decisions could be affected by that," he explains. Keysar's team is now starting an interdisciplinary project focusing on the use of a second language. The work is being funded by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The group plans to use a variety of avenues to explore how language affects choice—not only for an individual, but society as a whole.
Multilingual Classrooms Put Strain on New York's School Funds
Daily Star (NY) (12/07/16) Mahoney, Joe
An estimated 200 languages are spoken in New York State schools. Educators say the number of students with limited English has grown by about 39,000 students since 2008—a number larger than the enrollment of the state's second-largest school district, Buffalo. Still more are on the way. Niagara Falls Superintendent Mark Laurrie says he was recently told that refugee programs in Buffalo are expanding into his city because of the availability of affordable housing, and he needs to make room for about three dozen students from Burma, the Congo, Somalia, and Syria. "I'm going to be needing some new teachers and translators," he says. The number of students with low English ability represents 1 in 11 children attending New York public schools, and they're ratcheting up the financial pressure on the state's 733 districts, which must comply with regulations intended for the students to achieve academic success. "We don't have nearly enough help available for these students," says New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia. The Board of Regents, which oversees public schools, is finishing its annual funding request to lawmakers. Addressing the demands of a multilingual student body is expected to be part of budget talks in January. The New York State United Teachers Union says the state's schools need $200 million to address language-related issues. Elia says she hopes to see a separate funding stream to help schools cope with the requirements of those struggling with language barriers, a situation that affects all teachers, not just those focused on language. "Our schools are struggling to maintain their current curriculum and services without getting additional resources," says Pete Lopez, a member of the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Education. Catalina Fortino, a vice-president of the New York State United Teachers Union and a former teacher of bilingual early childhood education, says she gets calls daily from teachers who say they and their students need more help. "Every district is being touched by this," Fortino says. "You have to have the teachers with the proper certification, and you need the professional development of the whole school, and you have to have the instructional resources." Given the growing demand for language services, Cathy Nolan, chair of the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Education, says the state should invest more in training teachers who can help newcomers improve their English skills. She notes that many districts are juggling the extra responsibility as a tax cap limits how much money they can collect. "It's important for the state to step up to fill the gap left by less local support," Nolan says, adding that she is gratified that Commissioner Elia is making English proficiency a priority.
China's Highest Court Rules Michael Jordan Owns Legal Rights to His Name in Chinese Characters
The New York Times (Beijing) (12/07/16) Wee, Sui-Lee
China's highest court has ruled in favor of former basketball star Michael Jordan, in a landmark decision that lays out the ground rules for protecting personal names in trademark cases. The decision holds that Jordan owns the legal rights to the Chinese characters of the equivalent of his name. The trademark dispute has drawn attention for the precedent it could set for foreign companies and celebrities pursuing similar cases in China. The four-year lawsuit pitted Jordan against Qiaodan Sports Company, which he accused of building a brand around the Mandarin transliteration of his name. The verdict from the Supreme People's Court reversed previous rulings by lower courts in Beijing. These rulings stated that Qiaodan, based in the southern province of Fujian, could use the Chinese characters for the name to sell their goods. The high court, however, stated that there was not sufficient evidence to show that Chinese consumers associated the Pinyin version—the Romanized system of the Chinese language—with Jordan's name. Qiaodan says it respects the court's ruling and that it would fulfill "the protection of its company's brand and related intellectual property rights" in accordance with the law. Lawyers say the verdict is important because it establishes the scope of protection for personal names in trademark cases, indicating that foreign celebrities can successfully challenge third parties that use the Chinese characters of their names in China. "Although this is an individual case, the impact of this will be quite extensive," says Li Shunde, a research specialist in intellectual property law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank. "I believe that foreign companies should be able to see this very clearly and that this will enhance their continued investment or commercial activities in China, as well as improve their expectations and confidence in this regard." Jordan applauds the decision, saying in a written statement that his Chinese fans and other consumers in the country now understand that he is not affiliated with Qiaodan Sports. "Nothing is more important than protecting your own name, and today's decision shows the importance of that principle."
How Manga Gets Made: An American Translator's Story
Forbes (NY) (12/07/16) Orsini, Lauren
When Jenny McKeon tells people she translates Japanese manga, or comics, into English for a living, they're usually puzzled that she has any job security at all. "Very frequently they're not sure why that's still a job when Google Translate exists," the 26-year-old Amherst, Massachusetts resident says. "I wonder if they've used Google Translate before, because I feel like they would know it's not reliable." After studying Japanese at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, McKoen decided to turn her love for the language and her passion for manga into a full-time career. "I get the sense that a lot of people think translators just write a literal translation of the words in the original, and then someone else turns it into a final script, which is not the case," McKeon says. "We do have editors, and they do a lot of fine tuning, but being a translator is almost as much about being a writer as it is about knowing the language that you translate." For example, when translating the manga My Ordinary Life this year, McKeon was challenged to render a work rife with Japanese puns into English. McKeon says her translations don't follow the letter of the work, but its spirit. To translate My Ordinary Life, McKeon not only needed to be able to grasp the original material, but also to have a compatible sense of humor. McKeon's career began on a whim, when she entered and won the Digital Comics Association's Manga Translation Battle, a yearly contest in which North American English speakers compete to translate Japanese titles. She currently works with Vertical Inc. and Seven Seas Entertainment translating not just manga, but also young adult fiction with science fiction and fantasy themes into English. This year, McKeon created a video sharing her successes and encouraging the 2016 Manga Translation Battle applicants to give it their best shot. "When I was into manga as a kid, I wanted to draw my own comics. I have less time for it now, but it's not so bad because I spend that time translating comics. I still got into comics, just not the way I expected."
ATA Webinar | How to Make a School Outreach Presentation
Presenter: Molly Yurick
Date: January 19
Time: 12 noon Eastern Standard Time
Duration: 60 minutes
Telling students the real-world stories of translators and interpreters is as exciting as it is important to the profession. Attend this webinar to learn how you can share your own career in the classroom through ATA's School Outreach Program. Presenter Molly Yurick will take you step-by-step through finding a school, preparing a presentation, and using the templates and resources the program has available.
Free! Click to register!
ATA Webinar | Specialization: Why and How, and What’s the Big Deal?
Presenter: Karen Tkaczyk
Date: Early 2017
Time: 12 noon Eastern Standard Time
Duration: 60 minutes
CE Point(s): 1
Translators and interpreters are often told they should specialize. But why? Attend this webinar to find out! Presenter Karen Tkaczyk will examine the concrete benefits of specializing and give you an inside look at a specialized translation practice. Then she'll show you how to develop your own plan for becoming an expert in your field.
Conference Registration Winner Announced
Congratulations to Beatriz Figueiredo, winner of the #ata57 overall survey drawing! Beatriz will receive a free registration to ATA's 58th Annual Conference in Washington, DC (October 25-28, 2017). An English-into-Brazilian Portuguese translator and interpreter, she lives in Toronto, Canada, and is a member of ATA's Medical, Interpreters, and Portuguese Language Divisions.
Take advantage of your ATA Division membership
Membership in an ATA Division is a benefit meant to be used over and over again. How? Take your pick from Division blogs, e-newsletters, listserves, websites, information archives, and social media—all focused on the language- and specialty-specific issues and topics that mean the most to you. Learn from your colleagues or share your knowledge and become an expert among your peers. Don't let this be a "someday I'll take a look" plan. Do it now and see what an ATA Division can do for you and your business!
Scammers Don't Take Time Off for the Holidays
Be prepared. Check out the resources below to get familiar with how scams work, what red flags to look for, and where to file a complaint. Remember, no one can get your money back after the fact, so make it your business to keep up with the latest scams.
National Consumers League
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Trade Commission
Translation Scams: Tips for Avoiding Them and Protecting Your Identity
Scamming, Spamming, and Phishing
In the November/December Issue of The ATA Chronicle
The New England Translators Association’s 20th Annual Conference: Successful Collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Boston
Whatever the specific theme of a conference or event, all participants stand to benefit from a collaborative approach. (Diego Mansilla)
The Connected Interpreter: Integrating Interpreting and Translation into Medical Missions
Despite all the money being spent to design and implement sophisticated relief programs, usually little thought is given to addressing the inevitable challenges to be faced when trying to communicate important information to non-English-speaking individuals. (Katharine Allen, Julie Burns)
Breaking Silence: What Interpreters Need to Know About Victim Services Interpreting
A new training program for victim services interpreting provides valuable lessons about the specific challenges facing interpreters for crime and trauma survivors. (Marjory Bancroft)
Some Fundamentals of Project Management
The consultative approach to project management has long-term benefits, not only for specific clients, but for the profession as a whole. (Alaina Brantner)
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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