ATA Statement on U.S. Immigration Order
As the voice of over 10,000 interpreters and translators in the United States and abroad, the American Translators Association is very concerned about President Trump’s recent Executive Order to suspend issuing visas to nationals from certain countries in the Middle East and northern Africa.
Impact on interpreters and translators
This decision will have a negative effect on interpreters and translators who are citizens of those countries and their personal and business relations with the U.S. It may have a particularly adverse effect on those interpreters who bravely served with U.S. forces in Iraq.
ATA has been monitoring the progress of the U.S. government’s Special Immigrant Visa program, which issues visas to interpreters assisting forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. ATA expressed its displeasure in The New York Times in February 2016 (Visas for Interpreters) when the government attempted to delay and complicate the application process for this program. The government ultimately rejected its plans thanks to pressure from ATA and others.
Nevertheless, ATA will continue to raise objections to any obstruction to this successful and valuable program.
Value of diversity
ATA values the strengths and skills of its diverse membership, which includes a large number of immigrants to this country as well as overseas members in over 100 countries. The experience and expertise brought by these members not only benefit the association, but the nation at large.
ATA will continue to monitor the situation and encourages members who are concerned about changes to U.S. immigration policy to contact their congressperson, senator, or the President through these links:
Congress Asks for Travel Ban Waiver to Let Iraqi Interpreters into U.S.
Washington Times (DC) (01/30/17) Dinan, Stephen
Lawmakers on both sides of the congressional aisle are urging President Trump to include an exception to his new executive order for Iraqi citizens who contributed to the U.S. war effort and are in danger of being left behind. Trump's new policy imposes a 90-day ban on most travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and temporarily halts all refugee admissions. This means that thousands of Iraqis who worked as interpreters and advisers to U.S. troops are now barred from obtaining visas and entering the country. Congressional lawmakers say that unless an exception is made, these individuals and their families risk retaliation for collaborating with the U.S. government. "These allies risked their own lives, as well as the well-being of their families, to advance America's security interests in a region where their skillsets and willingness to confront extremism have been invaluable to mission success," state Representatives Duncan Hunter, Adam Kinzinger, Earl Blumenauer, Steve Stivers, Seth Moulton, and Peter Welch. "It is important that a special exception be made for the consideration of individuals who directly supported American personnel overseas," Hunter says. Hunter, who was an early supporter of Trump, says he fears that the president's new order could keep locals from signing up to help American troops in ongoing and future conflicts. Nearly a decade ago Congress approved a special visa program to help Iraqi and Afghan citizens who assisted the U.S. war efforts. The goal was to protect interpreters and others who were in danger in their home countries because of the assistance they gave. Veterans say that honoring the promise made to those who risked their lives to help the U.S. has nothing to do with politics, and that they can't believe it would be up for debate. U.S. troops in Iraq developed tight bonds with the Iraqis they worked with, crediting them with keeping them safe. "We asked them to risk their lives for us and they're being threatened because they worked alongside us," says Scott Cooper, a Marine veteran who served tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia. Cooper now leads the Veterans for American Ideals project for Human Rights First, which advocates for military interpreters and Syrian refugees. "We're pulling out all the stops," he says. "This administration cares a lot about being aligned with veterans, and we're making our voices heard." He believes veterans will win on the issue of continuing special immigrant visas for Iraqi nationals, who fall under Trump's ban. "You will find military veterans unified in support of this; it's not partisan," says Brandon Friedman, a former Obama administration official who commanded a platoon during the invasion of Iraq. "This order demonstrates that we don't have their backs. It's totally un-American." Joe Kasper, Hunter's chief of staff, says that "It's not just good politics to make a special case for interpreters, it's the right thing to do."
Translating Trump Into Foreign Languages Often Problematic
Washington Post (DC) (01/23/17) Schmidt, Samantha; Rauhala, Emily
U.S. President Donald Trump's speaking style presents several challenges for those translating and interpreting his speeches for non-English audiences. For some, Trump's simple vocabulary and grammatical structure make his speeches easy to follow. But for others, his confusing logic, tendency to jump quickly from topic to topic, and lack of attributions for facts make his remarks sound like a puzzling jumble. Bérengère Viennot, a professional French translator, says that Trump's broken syntax, often limited vocabulary, and repetition of phrases make it difficult to create texts that read coherently in French, a very structured and logical language. "Most of the time, when he speaks he seems not to know quite where he's going," Viennot says. A structural challenge also exists when translating Trump's words into Japanese. Agness Kaku, a professional translator in Tokyo who has worked for a number of politicians, says that English is a subject-prominent language—understanding a sentence in English involves pinning down the subject. Japanese, on the other hand, requires tracking the topic of a conversation. In Trump's remarks, Kaku explains, the subject is very easy to track—"it's about him, it's about the enemy." But the actual topic or point of his sentences is often difficult to grasp, thus complicating Japanese translations. "It just drifts," she says. "You end up having to guess, which isn't very good." The most instrumental phrase in Trump's rhetoric—his slogan, "Make America Great Again"—creates a grammatical and semantic mess for translators and interpreters in some languages. In Spanish, for example, one intuitive translation, "Haz América grande otra vez," could also come across as "Make America big again," or "Do America great again." To make matters worse, most Spanish-speakers—and Portuguese speakers—believe "América" usually implies the whole of the Americas, not just the U.S. Renato Geraldes, a professional interpreter in Brazil who has interpreted for both Barack Obama and Trump, says Obama was unparalleled in his public speaking, in large part because he had a natural ability to guide audiences through the speech. The unpredictability of Trump's speeches, however, makes it challenging to interpret off the cuff. "Obama structures his speeches so that one idea leads to another very logically—with a beginning, middle, and end," Geraldes explains. "Trump is all over the place." Kaku says she is worried that with Trump continuing to tweet with his current frequency and lack of filter, there will be an increase in "amateur translations" across social media outlets. The character limits and immense speed in which tweets are posted make it difficult to circulate accurate translations of Trump's tweets. In the past, Kaku says, American presidents appeared wary of speech that is too colorful or provocative, with an awareness that it must be heard—and understood—by audiences around the world. However, Kaku says she's "not sure if this president will understand that."
Inventor of Pinyin Writing System Zhou Youguang Dies
Washington Post (DC) (01/16/17) Smith, Harrison
Zhou Youguang, a one-time Wall Street banker from China who developed Pinyin, a Romanized writing system that has helped both the Chinese people and countless foreigners learn Mandarin, has died at the age of 111. Zhou's writing system, formally known as Hanyu Pinyin—or "putting sounds together," as its name is sometimes translated—had a transformative effect on Chinese society. Before its creation in the mid-1950s, about 85% of China was illiterate. Today, China claims near-universal literacy, in part through Zhou's linguistic innovation. Zhou worked as a banker in New York when he decided to return to China to help rebuild the country after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949. He became an economics professor in Shanghai, and, in 1955, when China's Ministry of Education created a Committee for the Reform of the Chinese Written Language, Premier Zhou Enlai assigned Zhou the task of developing a new alphabet for China, despite the fact that he was not a professional linguist. Working with a team of around 20 people, Zhou considered more than 2,000 writing systems. He eventually settled on a transcription system that used the Roman alphabet. Victor H. Mair, a professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania and a friend of Zhou's since the early 1980s, described Pinyin as a simple "transcription system" for Mandarin Chinese, the country's official language. According to Mair, there are more than 80,000 characters in the Chinese script, and most of them "give only a hint of their sound and a hint of their meaning." To achieve even the most basic level of literacy requires memorizing at least 1,500 characters. To read novels and newspapers requires no fewer than 3,000 characters. Taught in elementary schools throughout China, Pinyin acts as a kind of linguistic crutch, enabling students to learn the sounds of words through its 25-letter, four-diacritical-mark system before advancing to the memorization and study of the characters themselves. Pinyin was adopted by China's First National People's Congress in 1958. The writing system was later approved by the United Nations, which formally acknowledged Pinyin in 1986. Its impact is felt everywhere, including Beijing, where signs provide Pinyin spellings alongside names written in China's ancient script. Pinyin gave rise to a Chinese version of Braille, and enabled China to transition almost seamlessly to the digital age. Zhou called Pinyin "a bridge to speech between Chinese people."
New York Advocates Want More Interpreters in Queens Courts
NY1.com (NY) (01/18/17) Gonzalez, Angi
Some legal advocates and local lawmakers want the New York Court System to reassess the need for additional interpreters in Queens courts. "I imagine languages like Spanish and Mandarin are easily accessible for defendants and witnesses, but getting a court interpreter for other languages may be almost impossible," says New York State Senator Jose Peralta. "This is why it's important that we put efforts into hiring interpreters for all languages needed, as we speak over 150 languages in the Queens borough," Peralta says. According to a spokesman for the New York Unified Court system, there are 42 full-time interpreters who serve throughout the Queens court system. The spokesperson added that those employees can communicate in 74 languages. "Cases are delayed when an interpreter is not available," says Sateesh Nori, the attorney in charge at the Queens Legal Aid Society. City Councilman Daniel Dromm says these delays are a problem that his constituents have brought to his attention. "I did check with some judges and they admitted that there is a big problem," Dromm says. While immigrants are the majority of those affected by the quantity and quality of interpreters available, it's also a concern among those who communicate using sign language. Jana Owen, of the New York City Metro Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, says part of the problem is that a "low rate of pay doesn't attract qualified interpreters to work in the courts." Owen adds that "the absence of any cancellation pay makes it hard for freelancers to see the local courts as a reliable client." While the courts do employ outside interpreters when needed, Assemblyman Ron Kim explains that some people who are frustrated with waiting or unfamiliar with the legal process end up in his office seeking help. "They come in and say what's this letter I'm getting from this agency ... We can't even understand it." A spokesperson for the courts says they are committed to improving access to justice for limited English proficient individuals. Advocates hope that commitment is strong enough for the courts to pursue other options for language services.
University Presses Increasingly Selling Translation Rights
Publishing Perspectives (NY) (01/25/17) Horne, Alastair
Translation rights are becoming increasingly important to academic publishers. For university presses, sales of translation rights affect the bottom line and can help them meet a scholarly agenda. "Selling translation rights enable[s] our brand, authors, and their diverse ideas to reach a global audience," says Jenny Redhead, international rights and special projects manager at Princeton University Press Europe. "The licensing of translations opens up our work to other language readerships," says Reitha Pattison, head of rights and permissions sales for Cambridge University Press. Both Redhead and Pattison agree that it's vital to move beyond the Anglophone world. Redhead says Princeton's international translation rights program has experienced "extraordinary growth" during the past 10 years. "We now negotiate around 400 deals per year, in as many as 35 different languages," she says. Meanwhile, Pattison estimates Cambridge Press signs about 500 contracts annually, with books licensed into "around 40 languages." Both Cambridge and Princeton have seen numerous successes with titles that have been translated into other languages, including works by C.P. Snow, Eric Hobsbawm, C.S. Lewis, Erwin Schrödinger, and F.R. Leavis. Both presses strive to keep their partners notified about potential translation opportunities. Redhead says the two biggest translation rights issues for academic publishers are "currency fluctuations and regional funding for translations." Looking to the future, Pattison says she sees some challenges to overcome. With English increasing its dominance as the language of choice for scholarly communication, Pattison says "the opportunity to have high-level research titles translated is shrinking." Despite this, she remains confident of Cambridge's ability to sell translation rights. Likewise, Redhead is betting on Princeton's ability to succeed in changing times through "accessible books on 'big ideas' and timely subjects by high profile authors." Both Pattison and Redhead say they will continue to encourage academic publishers to become more global and establish links with global publishing partners.
ATA Webinar Specialization: Why and How, and What’s the Big Deal?
Presenter: Karen Tkaczyk
Date: February 9
Time: 12 Noon U.S. Eastern Daylight
Duration: 60 minutes
CE Point(s): 1
Translators and interpreters are often told they should specialize. But why? Attend this webinar to find out! You'll examine the concrete benefits of specializing, get an inside look at a specialized translation practice, and learn how to develop your own plan for becoming an expert in your field. Register now!
Earn one ATA-approved continuing education point for attending this webinar!
Be Part of ATA's 58th Annual Conference!
We are now accepting presentation proposals for ATA's 58th Annual Conference in Washington, DC (October 25-28, 2017).
Submission deadline is March 3, 2017.
Proposals will be considered based on the value and originality of the content. Presentations should engage the audience and encourage discussion.
Submissions are invited from all areas of T&I, including finance, law, medicine, literature, science and technology, business management, and more.
What does ATA membership have to offer?
Whether it's getting a job through a listing in the ATA Directory or learning a new way to save time and money, the benefits of membership can more than cover the cost of your annual dues!
Forgot to renew? Go to www.atanet.org/renew to renew online or to download a renewal form.
- Reach your market. Professional services listing in one of ATA's online Directories to connect with quality clients around the world.
- Follow trends. Comprehensive coverage of news, technology, and best practices to keep pace with the industry.
- Stay informed. Relevant continuing education and professional development to increase and strengthen marketable skills.
- Find solutions. Practical, experience-based answers to the problems faced by working translators and interpreters.
- Tap into community. Access to people, resources, and networks to expand and grow business.
- Gain visibility. Recognition through affiliation with the industry's best known professional association.
ATA Board Meeting Summary: January 21-22
The ATA Board of Directors met January 21-22, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. A summary of the meeting’s actions, discussions, and ongoing committee work is online in the Members Only area of the ATA website.
Read the latest ATA Board Meeting Summary
The Board of Directors meets four times a year to establish policy, develop goals and objectives, and oversee ATA finances. To learn more about the Association’s governance, check out How ATA Works.
ATA Webinar | Transitioning from Classroom to a Translation Career
Presenter: Jamie Hartz
Date: February 7
Time: 12 Noon U.S. Eastern Time
Duration: 60 minutes
Get your questions answered before leaving the classroom—from "Do I need a website?" to "Can I survive as a freelancer?"
Only 10 seats left! Free! Click to register!
ATA 2017 Elections: Nominations Open
The 2017 Nominating and Leadership Development Committee is pleased to call for nominations from ATA’s membership to fill the following positions:
• President-elect (two-year term)
• Secretary (two-year term)
• Treasurer (two-year term)
• Board Directors (three directors, each a three-year term)
The deadline for submitting nominations is March 1, 2017.
Any ATA member may make a nomination by completing and submitting the nomination form. Self-nominations are welcome. Look for all the election details on the ATA website.
Is the ATA Mentoring Program for you?
Need to move your business forward? Have questions about technology, management, or clients? Then the ATA Mentoring Program is just what you need.
Want to know more about how the program works? Watch this 60-minute ATA Mentoring Program webinar—it's free!
Applications from interested mentees and mentors will be accepted through March 3.
Don't wait! Only 30 mentees will be accepted. Get additional details now.
In the January/February Issue of The ATA Chronicle
Spider Marketing: How to Get Clients to Come to You
Going out and selling yourself is definitely a good idea, but without a strategy, you might find yourself spending lots of time and energy with little to no result. (Simon Berrill)
Why Ergonomics Matters to Professional Translators
Most translators probably associate the term “ergonomics” with office chairs and keyboards. It's much more than that! (Sharon O’Brien, Maureen Ehrensberger-Dow)
Feedback: Going Beyond “That Was Great”
Providing feedback during an interpreting practice session is not just a matter of half listening and then saying, “Yeah, that was great.” (Elizabeth Essary)
ATA School Outreach Contest Winner Profile: Rika Mitrik
Knowing that she had to adapt her presentation to the short attention span of three- to five-year-olds, this year’s School Outreach winner got creative. (Molly Yurick)
Call for Nominations: ATA Officers and Directors
Here’s your chance to help shape the future of the Association! If you know someone who would make a good candidate for ATA's Board of Directors, the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee would like to hear from you
2016 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.
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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