Korea Puts Spotlight on Interpreters
As talk continues about a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, two major news outlets wondered about the challenges interpreters will face in interpreting their conversation. Both The Boston Globe and The Daily Beast contacted ATA Headquarters for background information and contacts. ATA's Public Relations Committee followed up with answers.
For Sam Stein's piece in The Daily Beast, Korean interpreter and former ATA Board Director Jacki Noh used her experience to explain that the differences in the language spoken in North Korea will not be a problem for an experienced South Korean interpreter. Long-time ATA member and Association Spokesperson Judy Jenner provided the reporter with details of interpreting as a profession. The article does a great job of showing the skills interpreters need. Read "If Trump Calls Kim Jong Un A ‘Fat Toad,’ His Interpreter Will Have to Translate It."
The Boston Globe's David Scharfenberg tackled the same issue, but from a different perspective. ATA put Scharfenberg in touch with Harry Obst, a long-time ATA member who has literally been there and done that—he has interpreted for seven U.S. presidents. Against the backdrop of his personal story, Obst answered the question of why it will be important to have an American interpreter in the room. The article is a terrific insider's view of political interpreting. Read "How Do You Translate Donald Trump into Kim Jong Un’s Korean?"
In both cases, ATA's Public Relations Committee responded quickly, putting the reporters in touch with the contacts they needed. Working with The Boston Globe and The Daily Beast, and last year with CNBC's Where the Jobs Are, shows that ATA is a respected resource for major news outlets. And that's good for translators and interpreters everywhere.
Listen to Episode 16 of The ATA Podcast to learn more about ATA's Public Relations Committee or read articles by the Committee's Writers Group, now published in more than 75 publications.
Judge Orders Compensation, Reclassification for Immigration Court Interpreters
Los Angeles Times (CA) (03/14/18) Agrawal, Nina
A judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that SOS International (SOSi), which is under contract with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide immigration court interpreters nationwide, illegally retaliated against a group of interpreters for organizing for better pay and must offer them reinstatement and back pay.
Michael Rosas, an administrative law judge in Washington, DC, said SOSi misclassified those interpreters as contractors instead of employees and violated the National Labor Relations Act by terminating them. In addition to reinstatement and back pay, Rosas ordered SOSi to reclassify its interpreters who work in immigration courts as employees.
The judge's ruling, if upheld, will affect hundreds of interpreters who have been contracted by SOSi to work in immigration courts across the country. Those courts are facing a growing backlog of nearly 700,000 cases. The majority of cases are conducted in a language other than English, so their outcomes can hinge on accurate interpreting.
The ruling also comes at a time when the use of independent contractors in many sectors of the economy is being debated. "This is an important issue nationwide," says Lorrie Bradley, the attorney who represented the interpreters. "Misclassification is one of those things that happens everywhere, literally from high tech to agriculture."
The case stems from a series of disputes between the interpreters and SOSi dating back to 2015, when the company was first awarded the DOJ contract and offered some longtime interpreters a wage of $35 an hour—significantly lower than what they had earned previously. That wage didn't include payment for time spent traveling between assignments or waiting in line at courthouses, compensation for parking, or other work-related expenses, or any minimum guarantee of hours.
Many interpreters balked and organized to negotiate a higher rate. They were ultimately successful, securing rates of $225 for a half-day and $425 for a full day, plus additional compensation for travel cases. But SOSi later refused to renew their contracts—an action that formed the basis for the charges interpreters filed with the NLRB. After investigating those charges, the NLRB filed a formal complaint against SOSi last spring. A trial was held in September.
SOSi issued a statement expressing its disagreement with Judge Rosas' ruling, stating it will likely appeal. "We follow industry practice of drawing from a large number of independent, sub-contracted interpreters to meet our DOJ contract requirements," SOSi stated. "We continue to feel that our position is consistent with past legal precedent and that the contractual arrangements between the contracted interpreters and SOSi remain consistent with the mutual intent of both parties."
Stakes High for Those Interpreting for Trump and Kim
Daily Beast (NY) (03/24/18) Stein, Sam
Should Donald Trump meet with Kim Jong Un for a historic high-stakes nuclear summit, one of the more critical responsibilities will fall on the interpreters in the room.
The role that interpreters play in presidential meetings is often overlooked, if not entirely ignored. And for good reason. The interpreter is, at his or her most basic level, an oratorical tool for a conversation between other individuals. Interpreters are accessories, not players, but they don't just interpret words robotically. Their job often involves a fair amount of intuition, study, and diplomacy. Those tasks become exceptionally more difficult at a summit with world leaders. For the one set to happen between Trump and Kim, the hurdles are even higher due to the enigmatic nature of both leaders and the existential nature of the talks.
"These are historical talks, if they happen, and the interpreter will play a huge part in this," says ATA Spokesperson Judy Jenner, who teaches translation and interpreting (English/Spanish) online at the University of California San Diego-Extension. "Kim doesn't speak English, as far as we know," she says. As for Trump, "it would be easier if you know him and worked for him, but he is a significant interpreting challenge."
When Trump speaks to Kim, a fair amount of editorial leeway will fall on his interpreter to communicate exactly what the president is saying. "Any kind of translation or interpreting is the rendering of the idea from one language to another," says Dimitry Zarechnak, who served as Ronald Reagan's interpreter during his summit with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. "The term literal or word-for-word doesn't mean anything because it's always subject to interpretation."
Oratorically, Trump couldn't be more different. The president rarely stays on talking points and often has a disjointed speaking style. He doesn't make up words, but their meaning is not always readily apparent. Occasionally, he will contradict himself in a matter of moments. "Usually, the clearer you are as a speaker the easier it is," Jenner explains. "If you ramble a lot, don't speak in full sentences, and leave thoughts hanging, it isn't easy to interpret."
Understanding precisely what Trump hopes to convey is one hurdle, but interpreting it for Kim's interpreter is another. For example, there are idiosyncrasies that separate the Korean that is spoken in North Korea from the version spoken in South Korea. Mainly, there are fewer foreign words and influences that have made it into the language of North Korea, owing to the country's isolated status globally.
In the end, an interpreter can make adjustments on the fly. Zarechnak says that twice, maybe three times, in his career, he paused his interpreting to clarify an error his speaker had made. The conversation stopped, reversed course, and then started all over again. Zarechnak says he's never deliberately softened a message because of the geopolitical horrors that could ensue upon its delivery. "No, I've never gone rogue."
Cree Nation Seeks to Preserve Native Language
CBC News (Canada) (03/14/18) Bell, Susan; Jolly, Matthias; Longchap, Betsy
More than 100 delegates of Canada's Cree Nation met at the Eeyou Istchee Language Engagement Summit in Oujé-Bougoumou, Quebec, in an attempt to revitalize efforts to strengthen and preserve the tribe's native language.
Chief Louisa Wynne says younger people in her community of Whapmagoostui are losing their connection to the Cree language. Wynne is the chief of the most northern Quebec Cree community, located on the shore of Hudson Bay and accessible only by air. Its isolation has long made it a place where the language has thrived, but Wynne is worried that something is changing. "It's been said that because we are the most northern community, our language is very strong and vibrant," Wynne says. "However, during the past several years, I've noticed the young ones speaking English more and more, and it concerns me very much."
"If the next generation doesn't speak it, then there is the threat of losing the Cree language," says Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum, who gave the opening address at the summit. "I think the message is not loud enough to let parents know about the threat that we could be losing our language."
The last Cree language summit was held in 1997, and the last Cree language survey was in 1989. There are no recent statistics to show the degree to which the Cree language has declined, but Wynne says language preservation is a concern in many communities. "The Cree language has been on the back burner for the past 20 years," Wynne says.
Several ideas were discussed by delegates during the summit, including initiating a regular language survey, enshrining language rights into the Cree constitution, and hiring local language coordinators in each community—something Wynne supports.
Her community of Whapmagoostui is also looking at land-based programs to teach the younger generation about Cree culture and language. "The essence of the Cree language is out on the land," she explains. "The Cree in the community is very different from the Cree out on the land."
Bosum also called for local entities, such as the Cree School Board and Cree Board of Health and Social Services, to recruit hunters and trappers, who speak the language on an everyday basis, as language consultants. "We are not using the resources we have. We need to have a new way of thinking so that they are part of what we are doing."
Many Hispanic Americans Prefer HIV Testing in Spanish
HealthNewsDigest (NY) (03/15/18)
The results of a new study conducted by the University at Buffalo (UB) School of Nursing, which investigated the language preferences of Hispanic Americans seeking HIV testing in New York, indicates that the majority of Hispanic patients surveyed preferred to receive medical information in Spanish, even if they were fluent in English. Patients who preferred English were more likely to be at least 18 years old, have U.S. citizenship, or live in temporary housing.
Adrian Juarez, lead researcher and an assistant professor in the UB School of Nursing, said the results of the study highlight how language barriers can restrict access to testing, diagnosis, and treatment. Understanding these factors can inform outreach strategies to promote HIV testing in Hispanic communities.
Researchers used 2002-2011 survey data collected from the New York State AIDS Institute Reporting System to compile more than 5,000 responses from a Hispanic-focused, community-based organization. The data included demographics and HIV testing and care history.
Participants with U.S. citizenship were found to be nearly 20% more likely to prefer receiving health care information in English. Around 57% of individuals who were at least 18 years old also preferred English. All other age groups overwhelmingly favored Spanish.
Researchers were also surprised to learn that English was the favored language for almost 58% of participants who were homeless or living in temporary housing, which went against earlier studies that associate English proficiency with stable housing opportunities.
Although Hispanic Americans in larger cities can find health care centers that provide services in Spanish, those in smaller towns and communities are more likely to encounter language barriers. These hurdles, says Juarez, compound other barriers to care, which range from transportation to the social stigma associated with HIV. By understanding the language preferences of different segments of the Hispanic community, health care providers and researchers can better tailor HIV outreach and interventions.
"No matter their nation of origin, how long they've lived in this country, or their level of English fluency, Latinos were still reporting a Spanish preference," Juarez notes. "Rather than concentrating on cultural differences, Latino-focused HIV interventions should consider language, age, citizenship, and housing status."
The study was published in the January-February edition of the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care.
A Never-Ending Poem Grows in the Netherlands
Smithsonian Magazine (DC) (03/16/18) Nalewicki, Jennifer
Since 2012, a team of poets has been creating a never-ending poem that is embedded into the cobblestones lining the street weaving through Utrecht, Netherlands. Called De Letters van Utrecht, the 'social sculpture' is evolving constantly and continues to expand every Saturday afternoon, when one of 22 stonemasons from a local guild chisels a single letter into the stone. As the weeks, months, and years pass, the poem evolves, continuing indefinitely so long as the city and community members support it. So far, seven poets have contributed to the project, each one writing prose until it's time to hand the poem off to his or her successor.
"Each poet is limited to 52 letters a year, since we put a new letter out every week," says Dick Sijtsma, one of the project's founders. "As long as we have poets and stonemasons, and the funding for maintenance and insurance, the poem will continue to grow." To help fund the project, people can sponsor a single stone and have the stonemason carve a special inscription on the side of it. Sponsorships often celebrate important milestones, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and marriages.
In order for a poet to qualify for participation, he or she must have published at least a book (or two) of poetry. Even if a poet makes the cut, proposed verses must be approved by the team of poets. Last year, Utrecht became the 25th UNESCO City of Literature thanks to its rich literary history, so De Letters van Utrecht is able to select from a large pool of local candidates. So far, the poem stretches the length of a single city block, but the team of poets has mapped out its future path, which will one day wind through the city just like Utrecht's elaborate canal system.
What's up next for the poem? Sijtsma says he prefers to keep that a secret. "What the future brings will be a surprise to all of us."
Big Opportunities in the Big Easy!
ATA's 59th Annual Conference is now online!
Click to find out why you should attend ATA59, then take some time to explore what the Conference has to offer—from networking to education to social events.
The New Orleans Marriott is now open for ATA59 reservations! A limited number of rooms have been reserved at a discount for attendees. Remember, when you book your room at the Marriott, you will automatically be entered into the Stay and Win drawing. Learn more and book now!
And don't forget to look for the Conference Preliminary Program and registration details with the July/August issue of The ATA Chronicle.
Tell us your conference story!
Every ATA Annual Conference comes with its share of success stories. And now we want to hear yours!
Did you meet a colleague who helped you transform your business? Did you meet a client who became a favorite — or a major source of income? Did you attend a session that helped you increase your productivity?
Help us celebrate your success! Tell us how the conference made a difference in your career or business. Click https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FXSNPFM to submit your story.
Are you ready for GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation, also known as GDPR, is a comprehensive mandate providing greater data management and protection for individuals in the European Union (EU). Enforcement begins May 25.
Under the new regulation, EU residents have the right to access their personal data, the right to rectify incomplete or inaccurate data, the right to be forgotten, and the right to restrict the processing of their data. The fines for violations are substantial.
The regulation applies to any business or organization providing goods and services to an EU citizen—even if that business or organization is located outside of the EU. The regulation also covers any group monitoring an EU citizen's behavior through data collection or processing.
If you provide translation or interpreting services to clients in the EU, GDPR may mean you need to change the way you currently do business.
Click the link below to go to the EU's GDPR portal with the full regulation text and frequently asked questions.
Show Off the ATA59 Conference Button
Take time to promote the ATA59 Annual Conference—and the translation and interpreting professions—with a clickable button on your website or blog. Just copy and paste our HTML code into your site. It couldn’t be easier!
Code to Paste Into Your Web Page
<a href=”http://www.atanet.org/conf/2018″ target=”_blank”><img src=”http://www.atanet.org/conf/2018/ata59nola.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Click to learn more about the ATA Annual Conference!”></a>
Your Ad Could Be Here!
A button or a banner ad in ATA Newsbriefs will connect you to thousands of professional translators, interpreters, and language services companies. It's a cost effective way to put your business in front of your target audience in a big way.
So, build your brand, reach the right audience—advertise in ATA Newsbriefs!
Governance at a Glance: ATA Board Meeting
The ATA Board of Directors will meet April 14-15 in Alexandria, Virginia. All ATA members are invited—and encouraged—to attend!
What is the ATA Board of Directors?
The Board consists of nine directors (three-year terms each) and four officers (two-year terms each).
How do you become a Board Director?
Board Directors are elected by the Voting Members of the Association. Find out how you can become an ATA Voting Member.
Who is on the 2017-2018 Board?
Officers: Corinne McKay (President), Ted Wozniak (President-Elect), Karen Tkaczyk (Secretary), John Milan (Treasurer), and Directors: Evelyn Yang Garland, Melinda Gonzalez-Hibner, Antonio Guerra, Cristina Helmerichs, Geoff Koby, Elena Langdon, Frieda Ruppaner-Lind, Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo, and Faiza Sultan. Read the Board Director bios to learn more.
How often does the Board meet?
The Board meets four times a year. All ATA members are welcome to attend. Look for scheduled Board meetings on ATA's online calendar.
What does the Board do?
ATA's Bylaws assign the Board the management of the "property, affairs, business, and concerns of the Association." Check out the Board meeting agenda from January, 2018.
Is there a way to find out what happened at a Board meeting?
Yes! A meeting summary is published on the ATA website shortly after each Board meeting. This is a quick update. The meeting minutes are published a bit later in the Members Only area of the site. Look for an announcement of the meeting summary in ATA Newsbriefs and in the meantime check out past Board meeting summaries.
Listen to Episode 3 of The ATA Podcast to learn more about what happens at Board meetings.
Be an informed ATA member!
To learn more about the Association’s governance, click How ATA Works. And don't forget to join the ataTalk listserv for discussions about ATA policies and programs.
April is National Volunteer Month
ATA is very much a volunteer-driven association. From the speakers at the Annual Conference to the contributors to The ATA Chronicle to the graders in ATA's Certification Program to the leaders of the Board, Committees, Divisions, and local groups—outstanding volunteers have made the Association what it is today.
April is National Volunteer Week in the U.S., and this is perfect opportunity for the association to say thank you once again to all of ATA’s hundreds of volunteers!
Free Webinar! Volunteering: Making Your Investment of Time Worthwhile
Presenter: Jamie Hartz
Date: April 18
Time: 12 noon US Eastern Daylight Saving Time
Duration: 60 minutes
Do you ever wonder why people volunteer? Or where they find the time? Presenter Jamie Hartz will show you how volunteering can be fulfilling, fun, and a good fit for your talents. Free! Click for details.
Members save 25% on ATA webinars!
Great subjects, best presenters! These two webinars will close out ATA's spring series. Limited seating available.
Too busy to attend? Register now and a link to the recorded webinar will be sent to you after the event.
Setting Up a Termbase: What Does It Take?
Presenter: Barbara Inge Karsch
Date: May 3
Time: 12 noon US Eastern Time
Duration: 60 minutes
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-Approved
Setting up a termbase is an investment in time that pays off in productivity, efficiency, and ultimately your bottom line. But before jumping in to create your own termbase, you'll want to know everything you can about terminology management systems. Join terminology guru Barbara Inge Karsch to learn the ins and outs of setting up and making a termbase work for you. Click for details.
Agencies vs. Freelancers? A Market Analysis
Presenters: John Milan, Mike Collins
Date: to be determined
Time: 12 noon US Eastern Daylight Time
Duration: 60 minutes
CE Point(s): 1 ATA-Approved
The last three decades have seen significant changes in how translators, interpreters, and agencies work. It's time to take a look back at where we've been and analyze the current state of the industry to figure out what's in the future. Click for details.
In the March/April issue of The ATA Chronicle
Nine Ways to Stand Out in the Translation and Interpreting Industry
Looking at other industries and what they do differently is a good way to discover practices you might want to implement in your own business. (Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo)
Standing Up for the Freelancer
The interaction between a freelancer and an agency is a relationship. And just like any relationship, it takes time, understanding, patience, and hard work. (Michael Cárdenas)
The Interpreter on the Big Screen
Alexandra Reuer, an interpreter in real life, tells what it was like to portray an interpreter in Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe, a film about the life of Austrian author Stefan Zweig. (Judy Jenner)
Unearthing Article Statistics in the LinkedIn Mobile App
The LinkedIn Mobile App provides authors who are interested in more detailed information about their readership with just that: geolocation and demographics information for each article! (Uwe Muegge)
Couples Counseling: Reimagining the Freelancer–Company Relationship
The freelancer-company relationship is at the core of everything we do, so it really deserves our focused attention. (Steve Lank)
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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