International Translation Day 2019: Telling Your Story!
On September 30, ATA invited translators and interpreters around the world to help us tell their story by sharing a short animated video on “A Day in the Life of a Translator or Interpreter” and listening in to a special ATA International Translation Day podcast with Matt Baird and Judy Jenner. Here’s how it went!
Thanks to everyone who liked, commented, retweeted, followed, pinned, tagged, saved, and shared! Catch up with what you missed. Look for #InternationalTranslationDay and #ataitd2019!
Afghan Interpreters in Britain Asking to Join Military
Daily Mail (United Kingdom) (09/16/19) Brown, Larisa
An estimated 180 Afghan interpreters living in Britain have appealed to the government to be allowed to join the military or police force "rather than languish in unskilled jobs."
The interpreters signed a letter that was sent to various government officials, explaining that they are desperate to do more after having served alongside British soldiers. The letter campaign comes at a time when both the military and the police force in the U.K. are facing staffing shortages.
"We want to make a brighter future for ourselves," the letter reads. "The British forces would benefit hugely from our experience and our cultural and language skills. We want to be part of this professional family again."
Under current rules, individuals cannot join the military unless they have become British citizens, which can take up to five years. They also cannot be recruited as police officers unless they have indefinite leave to remain in the U.K.
The Army is supposed to have 82,000 troops by 2020, but the latest figures provided by the military show that there are currently 74,440 trained personnel. "It is a sad state of affairs when these men, who have expressed a desire to serve this country again, are prevented by an inflexible policy despite the service and sacrifice they have already given us," says former Army Captain Ed Aitken, who now campaigns for the interpreters.
"We are lucky to have friends who believe in British values and want to help us defend our country," says Member of Parliament Jamie Stone. "We are mugs to make it difficult for them."
The New York Times Shuts Down Spanish-Language Platform
The Hill (DC) (09/18/19) Axelrod, Tal
The New York Times announced it will be discontinuing its Spanish-language platform, NYT en Español.
"We launched NYT en Español as part of an experiment to reach and engage more international readers by extending our coverage to different languages," a spokesperson from The New York Times states. "While the Español site did attract a new audience for our journalism and consistently produced coverage we are very proud of, it did not prove financially successful. Our strategy is now focused on our subscription-driven core news reporting for a global audience."
The New York Times says it will continue to have its editors translate stories into over a dozen languages, including Spanish, and will boost its investment in expanding its translation efforts. "This change does not affect our coverage of Latin America, which will remain robust with dedicated staff based in Medellin, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro," the spokesperson says.
According to Paulina Chavira, an editor for NYT en Español, the platform published over 900 opinion articles and 100 additional original articles. "It has been a road involving a lot of learning, and we could not have been better accompanied on this journey," Chavira says. "I continue to say that writing in Spanish is always a good business decision, and time will prove it."
The New York Times is the third news organization to shut down its Spanish-language coverage in recent months, following the demise of BuzzFeed News Mexico and HuffPost Mexico.
2020 Census Language Access Change Poses Undercount Risk in California
SFBay (CA) (09/25/19) Chinn, Jerold
The U.S. Census Bureau announced it will only mail questionnaires for the 2020 Census printed in English and Spanish, opting to collect data in 11 other languages online and by phone. The change is not sitting well with city and state officials and community organizations, particularly in California.
Hong Mei Pang, director of advocacy for Chinese for Affirmative Action, states that the lack of language access to the census is a civil rights issue. "In order for Census 2020 to achieve a full and complete count, access must be fair and equal," she says. Pang adds that digitizing the process will cause many residents in monolingual communities to fall through the cracks.
"Without reliable access to the internet, many limited-English-proficient communities will likely fall through the digital divide." The Census Bureau suggests people without access to a computer and the internet can complete the online census at their local library.
David Chiu, chair of the California Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, says he is prioritizing the need to ensure that every California resident is counted. "I have colleagues who are concerned about the fact that we potentially could see undercounted Asian immigrant communities, Russian California communities, and others in the state of California."
In September, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling on the Census Bureau to provide 2020 Census paper forms in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian. Sandra Fewer, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, says the elimination of paper forms in additional languages is "incredibly offensive" and disregards non-English-speaking communities. "A decision like this is likely to have an impact on the ability for us as a city to have an accurate count of all of our community members, with a disproportionate impact on Chinese-, Russian-, Vietnamese-, and Korean-speaking communities," she says. Fewer adds that about one-third of the 80,000 residents in her district speak either Chinese or Russian at home, and more than half are limited-English-proficient.
Adrienne Pon, executive director of San Francisco's Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs, says the change increases the risk of an undercount in San Francisco, which could have detrimental effects. Census information collected every 10 years determines how federal funds are allocated for services and programs, and helps determine congressional representation for each state. Pon says the city is planning a 2020 Census outreach and educational block party, dubbed "SF Counts" in early October.
U.S. Immigration Officials Using Google Translate to Vet Refugees' Social Media
The Hill (DC) (09/26/19) Rodrigo, Chris
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency charged with admitting immigrants, has instructed agents to use Google Translate and other online translation tools to review the social media profiles of refugees applying for asylum.
An internal USCIS manual instructs officers who sift through the non-English social media posts of refugees that "the most efficient approach to translate foreign language content is to utilize one of the many free online language translation services provided by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines." The manual includes step-by-step instructions for Google Translate.
Language experts say the government's reliance on automatic translation to investigate social media posts from refugees is troubling, especially since these services are not designed to parse nuance or recognize slang. Even Google cautions against relying on its popular Google Translate for complex tasks, stating that the service is not "intended to replace human translators."
"It's naive on the part of government officials to do that," says Douglas Hofstadter, a professor of cognitive science and comparative literature at Indiana University at Bloomington. "I find it deeply disheartening, stupid, and shortsighted."
"It defies logic that we would use unreliable tools to decide whether refugees can reunite with their families," says Betsy Fisher, strategy director at the International Refugee Assistance Project. "We wouldn't use Google Translate for our homework, but we are using it to keep refugee families separated."
USCIS states that it understands the limitations of online translation tools. "USCIS follows up with human translators as needed," says USCIS Spokesperson Dan Hetlage.
Netherlands Seeks to Promote Teaching Dutch
Inside Higher Ed (DC) (09/19/19) Matthews, David
Under controversial proposed legislation designed to deal with the rapid growth in foreign admissions and English-only courses, universities in the Netherlands will have a legal duty to ensure that international students are proficient in Dutch.
The new bill stops short of mandating that all international students take part of their coursework in Dutch. But the new language and accessibility bill, based on a major review of internationalization on campuses, does recommend several significant measures, some of which have universities worried.
One is the extension of an existing duty to promote Dutch for all students, not just locals. "This will enhance students' links with their host community and the regional job market, increase their employability, and strengthen the position of Dutch as a language of scientific research," the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science argues.
"Forcing foreign students to learn the Dutch language is nationalism at its worst," says Jo Ritzen, a former Minister of Education, Culture, and Science and now a professorial fellow at Maastricht University. "It is simply meant to keep them away."
But Martin Paul, president of Maastricht University, says the proposals are much less severe than feared. "We have to prove that Dutch proficiency is developed," Paul says. "However, how this is done is up to the universities." At Maastricht University, 80% of international students already learn Dutch, Paul explains, so increasing that figure to 100% is "not a big step to take."
The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) says it has some concerns about the requirement, which need to be balanced with Dutch universities' international reputations. In addition, universities will face tougher criteria when they have to justify teaching a course in a language other than Dutch. The VSNU fears that this will lead to a big increase in paperwork.
Universities will also be able to cap numbers on courses not taught in Dutch. "This will safeguard access to the Dutch-language course variant," the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science argues. But institutions will have to get the Ministry's permission to do so, something VSNU says could infringe on their autonomy. Scholarships for incoming students will also be cut, but they will be increased for Dutch students who go abroad to learn.
Although the recommendations are not as tough as some had feared, the Ministry's focus on preserving Dutch has irked Ritzen. "There is not one positive word about the role of an education in English for Dutch students," he says. "All research shows that graduates on average have at least once-a-day contact with someone across the border in another language. Dutch graduates are in high demand on the international labor market because they often have had part of their studies taught in English."
Seniors Demand Chicago Housing Authority Provide Better Translation Services
Chicago Sun-Times (IL) (09/05/19) Ballesteros, Carlos
Seniors living in public housing who are limited-English-proficient want the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) to better accommodate their needs with more bilingual and improved interpreting/translation services.
Members of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus (JASC), a grassroots activist group, held a press conference in front of Mayor Lori Lightfoot's City Hall office to discuss how the CHA had failed to communicate with residents. One resident said he was pressured to sign a lease with the CHA that wasn't translated into his primary language, and others cited anxiety about being evicted for misunderstanding correspondence from the agency.
The CHA states that its language services are available 24/7 over the phone, online, and in person, but residents say these offerings are inadequate. "Before Mayor Lightfoot was elected, I shared my story about not having hot water for many months because I could not communicate with my manager," states resident Maria Perez. She says she wants to be able to have the means to communicate more efficiently to solve problems.
At the news conference, the JASC presented a new report from Loyola University-Chicago, which concluded that the language access reforms the CHA has implemented since 2015 are failing to reach many seniors. Those reforms included better staff training on how to assist limited-English-proficient speakers and new signs and posters advertising language access services throughout its buildings.
"Current and prospective residents faced numerous barriers in obtaining assistance in their native language," the report states. "Ultimately, their experiences—and any assistance they received—were contingent upon familial and community support, not a CHA process or structure."
The CHA has dismissed the validity of the report, stating that the sample size was too small, and says it hopes to meet with the JASC to address their concerns. "We look forward to discussing the JASC's concerns and listening to their ideas about how we can mutually support the needs of all seniors," the agency said in a statement. Mayor Lightfoot's office added that the administration is "committed to ensuring that everyone has access to all city programs and services."
The CHA estimates that 4,500 seniors with limited-English-proficiency reside in public housing.
Free ATA Webinar for Members Only
Attention ATA members! Take advantage of this month's free ATA webinar until October 31. Just click the play arrow to start the recording.
Killer Networking Skills for Language Industry Professionals
What’s your networking style? Frozen at the door? Hovering on the edges of conversations? Standing in the corner waiting to be found? Find out how to develop skills that will let you make the most of every networking opportunity in a style that’s all your own!
Networking means new business.
In this webinar, you'll to learn practical tips and tools that are applicable for networking at conferences, local business events, and even on social media. The goal is to make you a more connected networker, contributing to your own success and that of others.
About the Presenter
Eve Lindemuth Bodeux is an ATA-certified French>English translator specializing in corporate communications, technical marketing, and international development. In addition to co-hosting the podcast Speaking of Translation, she is a prolific author and a well-known presenter at industry and business events. Eve is currently a Director on ATA's Board and the Chair of ATA's Public Relations Committee.
ATA60 Conference App Now Available!
If you’re registered for ATA60, then you’ll want to download the conference app now! Click to find out how.
What one thing do veteran conference-goers recommend more than anything else? Don’t wait until you get to the conference to start using the app. Create your profile, upload your résumé, review sessions, create your schedule, and meet people—all before you leave home. Check out the “how-to” information here.
Proposed Amendments on Ballot
In addition to electing Board officers and directors, voting members will also vote on proposed amendments to ATA's Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. ATA’s Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation may be altered, amended, or repealed by a two-thirds vote of the voting members.
Read the proposed amendment to the Bylaws
Read the proposed amendments to the Articles of Incorporation
Be an informed voter. Each proposal is accompanied by commentary to explain the rationale for the amendment. Take time to learn what these changes will mean to the operation and governance of the association.
In the September/October Issue of The ATA Chronicle
ATA 2019 Elections: Candidate Statements
Calling all Voting members! Participating in ATA’s annual elections is your opportunity to help shape the future of the Association. Learn what this year’s candidates for ATA’s Board of Directors have to say, and remember to vote!
Are You Getting the Most from Your ATA Directory Profile?
To enable potential clients to make the most effective use of the Directory of Translators and Interpreters, ATA members should strive to keep their profiles up to date. Members should also take advantage of all of the Directory options that allow an individual to highlight their services. (Eve Lindemuth Bodeux and Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo)
How to Successfully Tackle Translation Tests
If approached with the right mindset, translation tests can be a professionally enriching experience for translators. Remember, there’s a lot more being judged than your translation ability. (Marina Ilari)
Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and the Future-Proofed Translator: What I Learned from TAUS
As language specialists, we tend to think of machine translation and artificial intelligence as the monsters under the bed. But if we’re willing to embrace these monsters, we can use them to our advantage. (Tess Whitty)
ATA at the New York Rights Fair and Book Expo
ATA’s presence at the New York Rights Fair and Book Expo was a resounding success. Enthusiastic responses received from potential clients reveal a wealth of opportunities for our members in the publishing industries, both in the U.S. and abroad. (Eve Lindemuth Bodeux)
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.
ATA60 Annual Conference Sponsors
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