What Every Translator (and Interpreter) Should Know
There is something to be said about specializing, whether you are a translator or interpreter. Why? Well, for one, you frequently earn more money by working in a niche market. And two, you may well end up with a steady clientele who see you as their "go to expert" without ever looking for anyone else.
An important piece of the specialization puzzle is how you get there. Where do you start? In Episode 32 of The ATA Podcast, Karen Tkaczyk and Abigail Dahlberg tell host Matt Baird the different paths they took to their specialties. Listen now!
BONUS! ATA members can learn more about specialization with this month's free members-only webinar. Click Specialization: why and how, and what’s the big deal? to learn what a specialized translation practice looks like and how to develop a personal action plan to achieve your own specialization.
Arlington Schools Settle with Department of Justice on Translation Services
ARLNow.com (VA) (05/31/19)
The Arlington County (Virginia) School Board has agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) promising to provide more services for English-Learning (EL) students in the county's public schools.
"In 2015-2016, a complaint was filed regarding service concerns for our EL students," states Frank Bellavia, a spokesperson for Arlington County Public Schools (ACPS). "The settlement provides specifics on the actions that ACPS will continue to take to meet the needs of these students."
The DOJ's 19-page settlement lists 33 requirements with which ACPS must comply, including that teachers and administrative officials be trained in EL program requirements. The settlement seeks to "ensure that EL students are not over-identified as needing special education services based on their language barriers in elementary schools, and are not denied timely evaluations for suspected disabilities."
Bellavia says ACPS already has procedures in place to prevent EL from being confused with special needs. "For example, through the Arlington Tiered System of Support, all students are provided with core instruction and interventions based on their needs," he explains.
The settlement stipulates that ACPS begin to translate copies of special education documents such as Individualized Education Programs and 504 plans for disabilities into the languages spoken by the families of EL students.
"Except in an emergency, the District of Columbia will not use students, family, or friends of limited-English-proficient parents, or Google Translate, for the purposes of interpreting/translating school-generated documents, or for any other translation or interpreting services," the settlement notes.
According to the most recent report provided by ACPS, 19% of students in 2017 were enrolled in EL programs. Among students in pre-K through high school that year, Spanish was the most common language spoken (22.8% of students), followed by Amharic (2.4%), Arabic (2.2%), Mongolian (1.8%), and Bengali (1%).
Lawsuit Blasts New York City Language Services for Special Education Families
Chalkbeat (CO) (06/07/19) Filson, Danielle
A sweeping federal civil rights lawsuit filed this month on behalf of four families alleges that the New York City Department of Education routinely withholds language services from families who don't speak English.
The complaint, filed by Legal Services NYC, describes a "pattern and practice" of failing to provide interpreters for communicating information on serious issues, including special education services, lead contamination in schools, bullying, and even serious medical conditions.
"The Department of Education repeatedly denied limited-English-proficient parents critical information about their children's health, well-being, and education because of the language they speak," says Amy Leipziger, an attorney for Legal Services NYC. "It really is denying parents the opportunity to get services for their children," she adds.
According to Department of Education officials, out of the city's 228,000 students with disabilities, roughly 76,000 speak another language at home. Their parents are legally entitled to language services so they can fully participate in their children's education, including receiving translations of key special education documents that spell out what services a student needs, how they are progressing, and what their goals are. The meetings where those individualized education programs (IEPs) are created must also include interpreters so parents can participate.
But the burden often falls on parents and schools to make sure interpreters are on hand, creating a patchwork system that often leaves parents in the dark. According to Department of Education officials, 11,000 parents have requested an interpreter for an IEP meeting this year.
Department of Education officials pointed to recent efforts to improve and expand services, including a pilot program designed to beef up translations of special education learning plans and a program that provides salary increases for bilingual special education teachers in some neighborhoods. "We know there is more work to do and we will continue to expand our programs to meet the needs of our multilingual students with disabilities," says Danielle Filson, a spokesperson for the Department of Education.
Paola Jordan, who co-directs Sinergia, an organization that helps Spanish-speaking families navigate special education services, says she believes the Department of Education is taking steps in the right direction, but worries whether changes are trickling down to schools. "It's a really comprehensive problem," she says, "and I hope this lawsuit brings attention and accountability."
Elsipogtog Man Becomes First Mi'kmaq Interpreter in Parliament of Canada
CBC News (Canada) (06/09/19) Gill, Jordan
An Elsipogtog First Nations man is set to become the first interpreter of the Mi'kmaq language in the Parliament of Canada.
Brian Francis, who has already undergone training for the job in Ottawa, says it was a surprise when he found out he was chosen for the job. "When I learned I got the job, I realized this was kind of a big deal."
His position was created as a result of a greater recognition of Indigenous languages in Parliament. Now members can speak Indigenous languages in Parliament's House of Commons. Francis says it all started when Member of Parliament Romeo Saganash, a Cree member, tried to use his language in the House. "That presented a problem because there were not any interpreters for the other members to understand what Saganash wanted to say, and I think that's what got the ball rolling," Francis says.
Francis will interpret Mi'kmaq into English and English into Mi'kmaq. He says that it's overwhelming to think about the fact that Mi'kmaq will finally be spoken in Parliament. "It's kind of surreal, really."
Francis says the value of Indigenous languages is often underestimated. He admits that even he is guilty of this since Mi'kmaq is his first language. "I probably don't put as much value on it as I should, or as many of us should."
Iceland is Inventing a New Vocabulary for a High-Tech Future
Quartz (NY) (06/02/19) Hu, Caitlin
Iceland's Language Planning Department is on a mission to integrate new and foreign concepts into Icelandic to keep the language relevant. For decades, the department, a small government-funded office of linguists with a rotating cast of subject experts, has invented new Icelandic words to keep up with advances abroad—from the invention of the computer (tolva) to the rise of political correctness (pólitísk rétthugsun).
Only about 320,000 people in the world speak Icelandic. Most are already bi- or trilingual, switching with ease into English or another language when abroad. The mission of those working at the Language Planning Department is to ensure that the country's citizens switch back to Icelandic at home. A vibrant national language, they say, is as vital to Iceland's sovereignty as the roads that connect the country's plains and coastal towns.
There is concern among linguists that Icelandic and other languages are at risk of falling into disuse because they are not used very much online. Netflix, for example, does not offer Icelandic subtitles—much less Wolof or Welsh. Wikipedia offers only about 47,000 articles in Icelandic, compared to more than 47 million in English. Emerging speech recognition technology could narrow the language funnel even further. Voice assistants Cortana, Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant speak only 22 languages in total.
"Many here have been concerned for the past 10 or 15 years that Icelandic is losing this battle in language technology," says Johannes Sigtrygsson, a researcher and dictionary specialist in the Language Planning Department. "They are worried that English will become the language of smart devices like Alexa and Google. If you order them to do something, you will only be able to do it in English."
Linguist Ari Páll Kristinsson leads the department's goal to match every English word or concept with an Icelandic counterpart. New words are created by revitalizing or combining archaic ones—giving young Icelanders no excuse for depending on loanwords learned online. "The idea is that if you use the native stems, then it will be easier for people to understand the new ideas," Sigtrygsson explains. An early example from the department's archives is "television," translated as sjónvarp, combining the ancient words for vision (sjón) and throw (varp). Sigtrygsson says that knowing the ancient roots of a word allows speakers to better understand the underlying ideology.
The Language Planning Department's invented words are compiled by topic and published as softcover glossaries, then incorporated into a digital "word bank" for citizens to consult. "Sometimes they don't like the existing word, or they don't like the connotation of the word, but everyone is free to create a new word," notes Kristinsson.
Should usage of the invented modern words spread, they will help facilitate an overarching project to develop massive linguistic databases, or "corpora," for training computers to speak and automatically translate Icelandic. Trausti Kristjanssen, a research manager in speech recognition and audio processing at Amazon, says a successful Google project that harnessed machine learning to enable voice search suggests a vast opportunity for even the most esoteric spoken languages. Iceland intends to make its language databases freely available to foreign tech companies in the hope of providing them with an incentive to train their artificial intelligence systems in Icelandic.
Holy Mayo! Heinz's New Condiment Mayochup Includes a Bad Word
USA Today (DC) (06/04/19) Meyer, Zlati
When Heinz introduced its new condiment Mayochup in Canada, it ran into some trouble. Mayochup, a blend of mayonnaise and ketchup, means something decidedly less tasty, or tasteful for that matter, in a dialect of the language spoken by the Cree, a large First Nations group in Canada.
"You're going to run into words that are perfectly innocuous in one language, but happen to sound very bizarre in another," says Arok Wolvengrey, a professor of Algonquian languages and linguistics at First Nations University of Canada in Regina, Saskatchewan. According to Wolvengrey, the Cree word "mêyiwi," pronounced MAY-yo or MAY-yoo, means "pertaining to excrement" or "s--tty," while "câp," pronounced CHAHP, means "eye(s)" or "face," depending on whether it's the Plains Cree or Swampy Cree dialect.
Wolvengrey says that as many as 200,000 Cree live in Canada, though not all speak a dialect of the language. The Cree also live in the north-central part of the U.S., though no American Cree have been vocal so far about the Mayochup misstep. "The Cree have a wonderful sense of humor, and they're known for it," Wolvengrey says. "They find it very amusing that anyone would name their product that."
The Mayochup mishap was initially flagged by Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon, of the Mushkegowuk Council of Cree First Nations in the James Bay region of northern Ontario. Heinz issued a statement in response: "We have heard about the unfortunate translation of Mayochup in Cree, and the only thing we want our consumers, whichever dialect of Cree they speak, to have on their faces this summer is our newest condiment mash-up." "It's just laziness, sloppiness, or a lack of worldliness," Miami-based branding expert Bruce Turkel says of the Heinz hiccup, explaining that companies should hire translation firms to vet words in other languages.
Heinz initially launched its ketchup-mayo mixture in the U.S. in April 2018. A year later, the company followed up with Mayocue and Mayomust, which mix mayonnaise with barbecue sauce and mustard, respectively.
Another Round of Spoofing, Phishing, and Scamming
Earlier this year, a new (not so new) email spoofing scam was reported by ATA members. The scam began with an email appearing to have been sent from the member's own account. It went something like this:
"Hi, stranger! I hacked your device because I sent you this message from your account. If you have already changed your password, my malware will intercept it every time. Transfer the amount of $744 to my bitcoin address, and I will release your account."
This spoofing is only apparent when you analyze the entire email header. Click to learn how to display email headers.
This scam warning was originally posted to the ATA’s Business Practices Listserv by member Carola Berger. Check out Carola's article “Translation Scams Reloaded,” published in the July/August 2018 issue of The ATA Chronicle.
They're Getting Better!
This month, members of ATA's Business Practices Listserv are reporting text messages offering job opportunities.
Unlike email job offers of old with grammatical and spelling mistakes, these are quite good. Frequently, there is a mention of the translator having been found through a "portfolio published on ATA's website." The email recipient is invited to an online interview for the position. In some cases a well-known business is cited as the employer and a hiring manager is mentioned by name. Even an hourly rate and job requirements have been included.
And none of it is true.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Get informed! ATA's blog The Savvy Newcomer recently published a post with some of the latest scam attacks. See Look Out for These Red Flags in Client Communications. Not yet following The Savvy Newcomer? Then you're missing out on one of the best resources available to translators and interpreters—veterans and newcomers alike! Click now to take a look.
More Resources for Information on Scams
Why You Should Whitelist ATA
Take time to be sure you stay connected to ATA, especially with Newsbriefs, to get updates on spoofing, phishing, and scamming. Whitelist ATA now by adding email@example.com, to your address book, safe sender list, or accepted exceptions.
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Remember, it pays to be an ATA member!
More than 70% of members listed in the ATA Directory of Translators and Interpreters report receiving work through their directory profile. Renew today and get your listing back online!
Build Your Brand, Reach Your Audience
ATA's 60th Annual Conference is a once-a-year opportunity to get your company's name and services in front of translators, interpreters, and language company owners from around the world. There is no better way to increase your visibility.
Conference Program advertising is a proven strategy to reach a large audience at a very affordable price. Place your ad now! Deadline August 16. Learn more.
Meet face-to-face with the customers you have been doing business with for years. Connect with new customers that you plan on doing business with for years to come. Learn more.
Nothing beats conference sponsorship for high-profile, high-impact exposure. Budget-friendly options! Learn more.
Invest your advertising budget where it counts!
- Onsite Promotion Conference App
Every attendee has free access to the Conference App: 94% of attendees report using the app and more than 70% say they use it several times daily. Contact ATA.
- Web Banner and Buttons
The ATA website has over 3.6 million hits each year and website usage continues to grow. Run a clickable banner or button ad on the Conference website. Contact ATA.
Whether you want to reach the 1,400+ conference attendees or 10,000 ATA members, the ATA Annual Conference can make it happen!
Deadline for ATA Annual Conference Scholarships
The American Foundation for Translation and Interpreting (AFTI), ATA's non-profit foundation, is pleased to announce five $500.00 scholarships to partially defray the cost of attending the 2019 ATA Annual Conference in Palm Springs, California, October 23-26, 2019.
The application deadline is June 30, 2019.
We welcome applications from students or recent graduates of translation or interpreting studies programs. Students may be part-time or full-time. The program must be offered by a college or university and may be a degree or certificate.
Scholarship winners will be announced by August 15, 2019.
ATA School Outreach Contest
Did you share your translation or interpreting career with students this year? Did you capture the moment with a photo? Then you're all set to enter ATA's School Outreach Contest for a chance to win a free registration to ATA's 60th Annual Conference.
But don't delay! The contest deadline is July 18, 2017.
For even more information about the contest, sharing your career, and how to take a winning photo, listen to Episode 11 of The ATA Podcast with Birgit Vosseler-Brehmer and Matt Baird.
In the May/June Issue of The ATA Chronicle
ATA Adds Its Voice to Language Advocates in the Nation’s Capital
Over 160 world language advocates gathered in the Nation’s Capital in February to meet with members of Congress for Language Advocacy Day. (Caitilin Walsh)
Responding to Disaster: The 2017 North Bay Fires
The disastrous 2017 North Bay fires in California presented enormous challenges for disseminating timely and accurate information to the large, predominantly Hispanic, non-English-speaking population of Sonoma and Napa Counties. My experiences made it clear how a lack of preparation, at both the personal and community level, can exacerbate the challenges of a natural disaster. (Julie Burns)
International Literature: A Data-Driven Approach to Prioritizing Diversity
Why do books from some languages find their way into English while other cultures remain underrepresented? AmazonCrossing’s editorial director discusses what it takes for a book, author, and translator to reach readers in a new language. (Gabriella Page-Fort)
10 Simple Ways to Boost Your Website’s SEO
How many freelance translators and interpreters really take the time to adjust a few things behind the scenes to boost their website’s search engine ranking? (Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo)
ATA Law Seminar: Four Perspectives
One of the biggest challenges you face as a translator or interpreter is finding the intermediate-to-advanced continuing education you need to move ahead in your career. ATA’s Law Seminar provided just the kind of high-level, hands-on training attendees were looking for. (Bridget Hylak, Evelyn Yang Garland, Paul Merriam, and Chris Verduin)
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.
News summaries © copyright 2019 SmithBucklin