Home Activities Membership Center Conference Contact Us Banner

ATA 59th Annual Conference

Politics and Interpreter Ethics


Not long after several members of Congress moved to subpoena the interpreter for the Trump-Putin meeting, CNN contacted ATA with the question that dominated the next news cycle: Would it be ethical for an interpreter to report what had been said between the two leaders? Within two hours, ATA Spokesperson Judy Jenner was on the air with an answer.

Three days later, ATA and its Code of Ethics had been cited by 15 news programs and publications, including PBS, USAToday, and CNN, as well as NBC and ABC affiliates.

By its quick response to CNN, ATA's Public Relations Committee was able to build on the Association's reputation as a respected, go-to resource for major news outlets. In the last year, ATA has been contacted by the Associated Press, The Boston Globe, CNBC, and The Daily Beast for information about the translation and interpreting professions.

What's important about these connections? Each is an opportunity for ATA to inform the public about the work translators and interpreters do. And that's crucial to your bottom line.
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | More ›››

Translation Graduate Degree UNC Charlotte

Industry News


Should Trump's Interpreter Tell What She Heard?
USA Today (DC) (07/19/18) Collins, Michael

U.S. lawmakers eager to learn what went on during the private meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are demanding answers from the only other American in the room: Trump's interpreter.

A growing number of politicians are asking that interpreter Marina Gross appear before a congressional committee to reveal what she heard during the one-on-one meeting between the two world leaders. They also want Gross to turn over any notes she took during the two-hour meeting in Helsinki. But experts say forcing an interpreter to publicly disclose the details of a confidential conversation between world leaders would be unprecedented and perilous.

"It has never happened in American history," says Harry Obst, who interpreted for seven U.S. presidents and served as director of the U.S. Department of State's Office of Language Services for 14 years. "And if it hasn't happened in over 200 years, there must be a good reason for it."

"It may be unprecedented to subpoena an interpreter to reveal details of a private meeting between the president and another world leader, but Trump's actions are unprecedented in a way that harms our national security," Representative Bill Pascrell wrote in a letter to top lawmakers on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "The American public deserves to know if Trump made any concessions, revealed national security secrets, or tried to profit off the presidency, and the only way to answer this question is by compelling the American interpreter to testify publicly," Pascrell stated.

"Much like a doctor or priest, interpreters and translators are bound by a code of ethics dictating that any privileged or confidential information entrusted to them in the course of their work must remain confidential," says Stephanie van Reigersberg, who worked as a U.S. Department of State interpreter for 32 years. "What happens in a meeting is not up to you to divulge," she says.

Judy Jenner, a spokesperson for the American Translators Association, says compelling an interpreter to disclose confidential information could not only be damaging, but could also jeopardize the interpreter's ability to do her job. "People need to be able to trust that what we hear as an interpreter is confidential," Jenner says. "Otherwise, we lose the credibility to do our job."

"I think the interpreters should be left alone," Obst says of lawmakers' efforts to target Gross. "They have a difficult enough job to do, and they have to carry all the secrets with them, so trying to pry something out of an interpreter is just not done."
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | More ››› | Return to top

Denmark Introduces Interpreter Charge at Hospitals
The Local (Denmark) (07/11/18)

The Danish Parliament has passed legislation requiring people who have resided in Denmark for more than three years to pay for interpreters if required during medical treatment. Parliament passed the bill after the government proposal received the support of the Danish People's Party and the Social Democrats.

The fees will be applicable to general practice, consultant appointments, acute treatment, and hospitalization. Regional health authorities will be responsible for collecting fees directly from patients. Interpreters will only be provided in situations where they are considered necessary for optimal patient care. Fees will be waived for patients with deteriorated physical or mental function or those who have lost the ability to learn Danish. Unaccompanied children and parents who require interpreters on behalf of their children will also be exempt.

Some health care providers are concerned that patients who do not qualify for a fee waiver will be unable to pay for interpreters, and that this will affect the quality of care they receive. Patients will be responsible for paying 334 kroner (around $52) for interpreting services at doctors' appointments and 1,675 kroner (around $260) during hospitalization. Lise Dyhr, a general practitioner in Brøndby Strand, says that the fees could result in patients choosing not to have interpreters at consultations. "We have a lot of chronically sick patients that must attend regular appointments (e.g., people on insulin), so it will be expensive for them," says Dyhr. "Much of the diagnosis and treatment is based on the conversations doctors have with patients."

Dyhr rejected the argument that patients should be expected to understand Danish after three years in the country. "There are a lot of people who have come here for various reasons and have not been able to learn Danish within three years."

Danish Minister of Health Ellen Trane Nørby says that it is not the doctor's problem if a patient cannot afford interpreters. "With this law we are saying that you have three years to learn Danish. After that, if you can't pay for an interpreter, you'll have to find an acquaintance who speaks Danish well enough to interpret."
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | More ››› | Return to top

Brexit Translation Gaffe
The Independent (United Kingdom) (07/19/18) McDonald, Karl

The British government's bid to distribute Theresa May's Brexit plan in 22 European languages hit a snag after readers began criticizing inaccuracies in the translations of the white paper on social media.

Translations of the Brexit white paper, intended to convey a comprehensive vision for the U.K.'s future relationship with the European Union, have left many scratching their heads. Readers in various languages have noted strange, obsolete, or even made-up words. "Translations of the government's Brexit white paper are pretty bad. The tone is really off and several of the words used are incorrect," says Daniel Pashley, an interpreter. "The online menu page even spells the names of several languages incorrectly, including German, Finnish, and Estonian."

The lowlight of the translation exercise was the German version, pitched at the country with the largest population and most economic power in Europe. It was initially uploaded under the link "Deutsche," rather than "Deutsch," the name for the German language. Deutsch changes to Deutsche in some grammatical constructions, such as Deutsche Bank, but is obviously wrong to a native speaker when used by itself.

A German speaker in Brussels wrote that the language used in the white paper "was old school to the max" and made Brexit sound "very mythical" because of the "archaic and needlessly complex" language. Twitter user Oscar Torson said the paper must have been translated by someone who learned the language but never spoke it, and added, "What does Fischergemeinden even mean? People praying for fish?" French speakers have also pointed out the blunders in the French version, which translated "principled Brexit" as "un Brexit vertueux," meaning "a virtuous Brexit." One Dutch Twitter user wrote: "Dear U.K. government. We appreciate the effort, but please stick to English if you want us to understand you. This is horrible. Kind regards, The Netherlands."

The Department for Exiting the European Union issued a statement saying that the errors were merely a blip. "A small number of errors were made when translating the executive summary, but these did not have a material impact on the content of the white paper and are now being corrected."
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | More ››› | Return to top

Yema Auto Wins Trademark Case Over Ford Mustang's Chinese Name Translation
China Daily (China) (07/16/18) Hong'e, Mo

Ford Motor Company's Mustang is known to many in China as yema, which means wild horse. But now the U.S. car manufacturer's dealers in China will have to learn to pronounce its English name after Ford lost a lawsuit to a little-known carmaker called Yema Auto.

In a statement on its website, Ford Motor China said a regional court "has ruled that we infringed upon the trademark rights of Yema Auto, so we are putting up this statement to eliminate adverse effects."

A Ford spokesperson says the company has never officially referred to Mustang as yema, but some dealers have used it for promotional purposes because it is easier to remember for non-English-speaking customers in China. The spokesperson went on to say that from now on the car brand will be called Mustang in China. So far, Ford has no plans to register a Chinese name for the model.

Yema Auto registered yema in 1986, some 20 years before Ford filed to register the same name for its Mustang muscle car. In 2016, Yema filed a lawsuit with the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court against Ford for trademark infringement and demanded 10 million yuan (about $1.49 million) in compensation for economic losses. Earlier this year, the court ruled that Yema has the exclusive right to use the registered trademark yema, and that Ford China should pay one million yuan in compensation, as well as issue a statement on its website to eliminate the adverse influence it has produced on Yema Auto.

Even though car models already have English names, international carmakers usually give their models Chinese names before their introduction or localization into the Chinese market. In light of the court ruling, analysts say companies will now have to be more cautious and arrange their trademark portfolios even more carefully to avoid the issues Ford encountered.
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | More ››› | Return to top

Starbucks to Open DC Store Where Baristas Know Sign Language
NBC Washington (DC) (07/20/18) Jones, Erica

This fall, Starbucks will open a store in Washington, DC, where all employees will know American Sign Language.

The store will be staffed by 20 to 25 deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing employees from around the country who are fluent in sign language, the company said in a press release. The store will be located near Gallaudet University, a private university for the deaf and hard of hearing.

"Starbucks has taken an innovative approach to incorporating deaf culture that will increase employment opportunities as well as accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing people, while at the same time educating and enlightening society," says Howard Rosenblum, chief executive officer of the National Association of the Deaf.

The unique store will be modeled after the company's first-ever signing store, which opened in Malaysia in 2016. The DC store will feature artwork and a custom mug designed by a deaf artist. The store will have an open layout and low-glare reflective surfaces to help with communication. Customers who are new to sign language will be offered other communication options for placing their orders.

The store is scheduled to open in early October.
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | More ››› | Return to top


ATA News


ATA 59th Annual Conference: Registration Open!

With more than 170 educational sessions and close to 200 experienced presenters, no other industry event provides the same comprehensive professional development that you'll find at ATA's Annual Conference.

Don't wait! Register by September 14 for the lowest rates.

Stop now and find out what the ATA Conference can do for you!
Early registration discounts are too good to miss. Register today!

There is no better opportunity for translators, interpreters, and company owners to learn, share ideas, and build invaluable personal and professional relationships. This is where you belong!
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | More ››› | Return to top
ATA Board Meeting: August 4-5

The ATA Board of Directors will meet August 4-5 in Portland, Oregon. All ATA members are invited—and encouraged—to attend!

What does the Board do?
ATA's Bylaws assign the Board the management of the "property, affairs, business, and concerns of the Association." Login to Members for a brief summary of the April 14-15, 2018 meeting.

Who is on the 2017-2018 Board?



Standing from left: Directors Melinda Gonzalez-Hibner, Tony Guerra, Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo, Cristina Helmerichs, Geoff Koby, Evelyn Yang Garland, Elena Langdon, and Frieda Ruppaner-Lind. (Not pictured: Faiza Sultan)

Seated from left: Secretary Karen Tkaczyk, President Corinne McKay, Treasurer John Milan, and President-Elect Ted Wozniak.

To learn more about the Association's governance, take a look at How ATA Works. And don't forget to join the ataTalk listserv for discussions about ATA policies and programs.
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | Return to top
Get Ready to Elect the Next ATA Board of Directors!

Voting members of ATA will elect four directors to the Board in New Orleans on October 25. The slate is set, the candidates are ready, and the opportunity for members to help shape the future of the Association is right there in front of them.

Not a voting member yet?

Find out how to become one through Active Member Review. The review offers five ways to qualify for Voting membership—and none require ATA certification! The process is fast, free, and online. Click to learn more.
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | More ››› | Return to top
International Translation Day 2018

In the run-up to the UN's designation of 2019 as the Year of Indigenous Languages, the International Federation of Translators (FIT) chose Translation: Promoting Cultural Heritage in Changing Times as the theme for this year's International Translation Day.

The theme highlights a rapidly changing world where communities long separated by language and culture suddenly find themselves face-to-face. Translation and interpreting promotes the understanding of these cultural heritages so necessary to mutual respect.

Join the 2018 celebration! Mark your calendar now and watch for ATA's International Translation Day social media blitz on Friday, September 28.
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | More ››› | Return to top
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.
Share Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  | More ››› | Return to top
Abstract News © Copyright 2018 INFORMATION, INC.
Powered by Information, Inc.
July 31, 2018

In This Issue

Interpreter Ethics
ATA59 Registration Open
ATA Board Meeting
Get Ready to Elect
Intern'l Translation Day
The ATA Chronicle


Calendar of Events

Next Board of Directors Meeting
August 4-5, 2018
Portland, OR

ATA 59th Annual Conference
October 24-27, 2018
New Orleans, LA
Reserve your room now!

ATA Certification Exam
Upcoming schedule

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


Get noticed by more than 10,000 ATA members!

How? Become an ATA Annual Conference sponsor! Contact Adrian Aleckna for details.

ATA Chronicle
ATA Chronicle Online July/August 2018
Linguistic Systems, Inc.