The ATA Podcast: Halftime Report 2018
Six months down, six to go! It's time to take a big picture look at ATA in 2018: what's been done and what lies ahead.
This is Episode 23 of The ATA Podcast!
President Corinne McKay and President-Elect Ted Wozniak begin this halftime report with a sneak peek at ATA's 59th Annual Conference—from things to do in the host city of New Orleans to the conference sessions to Advanced Skills and Training Day. Continuing to look to the future, Corinne and Ted talk about upcoming changes in the ATA Certification Program.
Then it's time to look back at what ATA has accomplished this year. Or more precisely, where it's been, because the association has been everywhere in its outreach to sister organizations and the direct client market. Visibility for the translation and interpreting professions has never been better. Learn more, listen now!
Feminists Target German Language as Sexist
USA Today (07/09/18) Davis, Austin
Women's rights advocates in Germany contend that women still lag behind men in the workplace. The biggest obstacle to their advancement: the sexist nature of the German language itself.
In English, a doctor is a doctor and a lawyer is a lawyer, regardless of whether that person is male or female. In German, professional titles and nouns reflect the gender of a person. A male doctor is an Arzt and a female doctor is an Arztin. Most job vacancies use only male nouns, and the national anthem pays homage to the "Fatherland."
As the #MeToo movement hits Germany, the language has been catapulted to the center of a national debate about gender equality.
Gender bias finds its way into "every nook and cranny of society," says Luise Pusch, a German linguist specializing in feminist speech. The predominance of male nouns describing job openings means "women often have a hard time imagining that they're also being sought out for professional roles," Pusch explains. "They're not only being shut out grammatically, but also through their own image of this profession."
"Germans tend to see themselves as very progressive when talking about things like maternity leave," says Senta Goertler, an associate professor of German and second language studies at Michigan State University. "But looking at the language and statistics about equal opportunities for men and women, they really aren't."
Calls by activists to make German more gender-neutral have mostly fallen flat. Germany's Council for Orthography, which sets rules for spelling and grammar, shelved a debate about the issue. In March, a woman lost a lawsuit against the German bank Sparkasse for the right to be addressed using female-only nouns. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel proved unhelpful to the movement by dismissing calls to change the national anthem to refer to the "homeland" instead of the "fatherland." Such roadblocks are unsurprising in Germany, where people "don't seem to be very conscious of the connection" between the language and sexist behavior, says Goertler.
Sandra Pravica, a university researcher and philosopher on maternity leave who struggled for years to break into a male-dominated field, says changes in the language would greatly expand women's job opportunities. "These feminine forms (of nouns) suffer from the fact that they were not used for years and were not considered to be on par with the masculine form," she says. "It would make a lot of sense if schoolchildren could learn that there are two forms of nouns from a young age."
The fact that a debate over making German more gender-neutral is happening at all is something to celebrate, Pusch says. "They used to call all of us crazy," she says of those who advocated for language changes decades ago. "But now the issue has arrived into the mainstream of society."
How Do You Design a Language from Scratch? Ask a Klingon
CNN (07/03/18) Prisco, Jacopo
Audiences were introduced to the Klingon language at the beginning of the first Star Trek movie in 1979. Back then, the language consisted of a few sentences. However, according to Guinness World Records, Klingon has evolved into the most widely spoken fictional language in the world.
Klingon was developed by Marc Okrand, a linguist who was hired to invent Klingon words for the movie Star Trek 3. "The producers wanted Klingon to sound like a real language," Okrand says. "I had never created a language before, so I went back to the 1979 movie, but there were maybe eight lines of Klingon in the whole movie," Okrand explains. "I wrote down the words as best I could to make a list of the different sounds and syllable types and built from that."
"The goal was to make an alien language, but the sound had to match the words spoken in the original movie for consistency, and it had to be pronounceable because the actors had to be able to say the lines," Okrand explains. To make Klingon sound alien, Okrand grabbed sounds from different languages and then broke a few linguistics rules.
"Human languages tend to be patterned," Okrand says. "Certain sounds go together and others don't, so I violated some rules and put sounds in Klingon that shouldn't be in the same language." Okrand says that there is no sound in Klingon that can't be found in some real language, but the collection of sounds is unique.
The result is something that registers as truly alien, with sounds reminiscent of Arabic, Turkish, Yiddish, Japanese, and Native American languages. Okrand says that the defining characteristic of Klingon is that it's "guttural." The sentence structure is equally unusual. Unlike English, which uses the common subject-verb-object pattern, Klingon prefers object-verb-subject, a rare pattern primarily used by small tribes in the Americas.
"At the time I had no idea that Klingon was going to live beyond Star Trek 3, but when I was working on the film, a lot of people would come up to me and say, 'Oh, you're the Klingon guy! Say something in Klingon!'" The wide interest from fans is what led Okrand to start writing a dictionary explaining how the language worked. The Klingon Dictionary was published in 1985. The first part explains the grammar and the second part is a Klingon-English bilingual dictionary. "That was actually harder than describing the grammar because I had to decide what words to actually invent," Okrand says. The dictionary has sold over 250,000 copies.
Many other constructed languages have been created after Klingon, such as Dothraki and Valyrian from Game of Thrones and Na'vi from Avatar, but they all have a fundamental difference to Klingon. "These newer ones were intended to be languages from the beginning, which is the best way to do it," Okrand explains. "I only made up what was needed for the film. Klingon has developed a whole lot more since then, but it was not originally designed to be a fully fleshed out spoken language. It has become that."
Oral Navajo History Preserved on Tape
Associated Press (CA) (07/03/18) Volkert, Vida
The oral teachings of 450 Navajo elders are preserved on more than 1,700 tapes that were recorded about 50 years ago and are currently stored in a vault at the library of the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona.
"Interviewers went out and recorded more than 1,500 reel-to-reel tapes and spoke to several hundred men and women," says Deswood Tome, whose mother, Ruth Morgan Green, was one of the interviewers. "They recorded chants, ceremonies, and stories, but a lot of that is in an archaic Navajo language, so a modern day Navajo speaker would probably have difficulty with it."
Irving Nelson, program supervisor for the Navajo Nation Library, says he had known about the recordings since he began working for the department in the late 1970s, but only learned of their significance when the late Navajo Code Talker Carl Gorman and a group of volunteers starting fundraising efforts to build the Navajo Nation Museum in the 1990s. Nelson notes that the tapes were first stored in an old jail cell in Fort Defiance (Arizona). The plan was to move them to a better location where they could be preserved for future generations. Nelson believes all of the people interviewed for the project have already died, making the recordings invaluable.
The recordings have been transcribed and stored on paper. Over the years, scholars and authors from across the U.S. have accessed them and used the content as reference material in books and projects. Thousands of books have also been written about Navajo based on that material. In 2015, Nelson and his staff asked the Navajo Nation Board of Education to consider funding to transfer the tapes to digital format, securing approval a few years later. The Navajo Nation Council allocated $190,649 for digitization in the 2018 spring session.
"I see this collection as the source for Navajo culture, lives, and customs—an encyclopedia," Nelson says. "I see this collection as a way of strengthening our language."
World Cup Sparks Skyrocketing Sales of Classic Russian Literature
Newsweek (07/08/18) Sharkov, Damien
According to Moscow's largest bookstore, sales of classic Russian novels are going through the roof—and it's all thanks to the World Cup. The Russian government estimates that the tournament has brought nearly two million visitors to Russia, creating a demand for translated versions of the country's greatest literary works.
The Moscow House of Books reports that translations of Alexander Pushkin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and other legendary Russian writers are all selling fast. "The most sought-after writer among tourists appears to be Mikhail Bulgakov," says Nadezhda Mikhailova, director of the Moscow House of Books. "In June, sales of his books published in other languages grew by 30% compared with previous months." Mikhailova says Bulgakov's Soviet-era novel The Master and Margarita is the most popular seller, especially the English-language edition. She says sales of the Spanish, German, and Italian versions have also increased.
According to Mikhailova, sales of the translated versions of Alexander Pushkin's works have also doubled over the course of the World Cup. The Romantic poet's most popular work is his novel Eugene Onegin, written entirely in verse. Other works experiencing a boom in popularity are Leo Tolstoy's 19th-century classic Anna Karenina, Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Idiot, and Boris Pasternak's controversial 20th-century romance, Doctor Zhivago.
Association Health Plans
On June 19, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a rule allowing small businesses and sole proprietors working in the same industry to band together to purchase health insurance. An association meeting this "commonality of interest" requirement is considered to be a single employer and may contract for group health insurance for its members. The Department of Labor categorizes these group insurance policies as Association Health Plans or AHPs.
The final Department of Labor rule was published in the Federal Register on June 21, but AHPs cannot be offered until September 1. ATA will review options as insurers enter the market.
Why You Should Whitelist ATA
Everyone's inbox is overflowing. Information overload doesn't even begin to describe the situation. But there are times when ATA really wants to tell you something important by email—the latest issue of The ATA Chronicle, division news, conference updates, a member survey or two, and last but not least ATA Newsbriefs.
Be sure you stay connected. Add ATA to your address book, safe sender list, or accepted exceptions. It's called whitelisting. Don't miss an announcement you really want. Whitelist ATA now!
Choose to Stay in the ATA59 Conference Hotel
The New Orleans Marriott is open for ATA59 attendee reservations. Book now! The number of rooms held at a discount for attendees is limited, and it's not unusual for the host hotel to sell out early. ATA59 rates are available until October 1, 2018, or as space allows.
Reservations made before Monday, October 22, will automatically be entered into the Stay and Win Drawing for one free room night. Check out the ATA59 conference website for details.
Looking for a way to stay in the Conference hotel and save money, too? Why not share the expense with a roommate. The ATA59 Conference Roommate Blog can help you connect with other conference attendees. Give it a try!
Join the ATA59 Crowd on Facebook
What do Pirate's Alley, the Spotted Cat, and Preservation Hall have in common? They're all in New Orleans, Louisiana, site of ATA's 59th Annual Conference (October 24-27).
Will you be there? Yes? Then stop by the ATA Conference Event Page on Facebook to let everyone know. And while you're there, check out who else is going. Finally, don't forget to share the event in your Facebook News Feed.
Coming Up in the July/August Issue of The ATA Chronicle
ATA at “Protect Translators and Interpreters, Protect the World”: A Roundtable at the United Nations
The purpose of “Protect Translators and Interpreters, Protect the World” was to address the need for greater legal and physical protection for translators and interpreters in situations of armed conflict and post-conflict peace-building. (Lucy Gunderson)
Volunteering: Making Your Investment of Time Worthwhile
Can we, as freelance professionals, really reach a balance wherein paid work, continuing education, and volunteering each play equitable roles, all while maintaining a work-life balance? (Jamie Hartz)
Translation Scams Reloaded
Scams are on the rise in online commerce. Learn about the three most common types of fraudulent schemes in the language industry, along with steps to protect against them. (Carola F. Berger)
Translation and Interpreting in Mexico: Uncharted Territory, Rich Waters
Featuring 100 pages of demographic data, earnings information, language combinations, and educational backgrounds—the 2017 Survey on Translation and Interpretation in Mexico sheds light on the fascinating depth and breadth of translation and interpreting in Mexico. (Laura Vaughn Holcomb)
Going Once, Going Twice, Sold! Is Your Translation Business Sellable?
The theoretical ability to sell one’s business is actually a reflection of its value to others. Here’s how translators can add tangible value to their services to make their business appealing to a potential buyer. (Avi Staiman)
Translating Diagnostic Imaging
Translating diagnostic imaging reports can be a challenging but rewarding aspect of medical translation for which the translator must master the technical basics of the diagnostic imaging modality, the report structure, and the specialized source and target vocabulary. (Erin Lyons, Lori Newman)
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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