THE STORY DIDN’T HAPPEN IN ENGLISH

A bilingual writer’s reflections on the rewards of a life shared between languages.
BY INGEBORG WEINMANN WHITE

CoverI have been trying to write about what happened to me when I was 13 years old and growing up in a small town in Austria. It is the story of my brother’s death and my own survival. People ask me why I don’t write this story in German, but even now, more than 35 years later, I can still only write it in English.

A curious thing happened almost as soon as I set foot in this country: I began to feel more free, more like myself, and even though the story I have been trying to write didn’t happen in English, it was in this language that I was first able to speak of it. → continue reading

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FINDING TRUTH IN A DARK KINGDOM

Spies. Revolutions. An exiled prince. Secret love letters. Sometimes the truth is stranger, and more fascinating, than any fiction. BY NINA BOGDAN

There is a great freedom in doing research and translation work without worrying about the needs of a client, especially in this day and age when translators often work for intermediaries and don’t even know who their clients are. Our contacts are project managers who have no knowledge of the language and are unable to answer the simplest questions. Our work goes through several hands, and we often may have no idea of what the finished product looks like. → continue reading

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COLONIAL RULING

The colonial influences on participants in a Los Angeles courtroom—
from the perspective of a French-English interpreter.
BY JONATHAN GOLDBERG

California, and Los Angeles in particular, is home to a mix of ethnic populations. This is reflected, for example, in the family names of the former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger (born in Austria), the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye (from a Philippine family) and Antonio Villaraigosa (of Latino ethnicity). → continue reading

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A TANGLED WEB

Knowledge of several languages can often lead our minds to unexpected turns as we negotiate between them: experiences in the day of a multi-lingual translator. BY SUSAN BASSNETT (REPRINTED BY PERMISSION FROM THE ITI BULLETIN, NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2011, PP26-7.)

Some months ago I wrote in an article about how languages I had thought were forgotten were somehow creeping back into my consciousness. I speculated on whether this might be linked to the ageing process: just as one’s short-term memory declines while the long-term memory increases, so perhaps the same thing happens to languages spoken in childhood. → continue reading

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THE MALAWI CHALLENGE

At left, the owner of a tearoom visited by the MicroLoan team. At right, atop Chilemba peak with Lynne.

Conquering mountains both literal and figurative: efforts to effect positive change become a most rewarding adventure. BY CLAIRE SCAMMEL

After four very busy months of fundraising and a long flight via Ethiopia,  we touched down in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city. I couldn’t wait to get to Mount Mulanje to start the trek. → continue reading

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THE MINDFUL TRANSLATOR IN THE AGE OF AUTOMATION

To avoid mental laziness brought on by new tech tools, make a point of watching yourself and your mind at work. BY JULIET E. JOHNSON

Technological changes over the past decades have revolutionized how we translators work as well as the very nature of translation. More subtly, the tools we use have altered our cognitive processes. The purpose of this article is to highlight the connections between how we work, how we think, and what it means to be a translator. Seeing those connections more clearly can help us mindfully choose how we work, how we think, and what kind of translation work we personally undertake and pursue. → continue reading

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THE PRICE-FIXING TABOO

Are language service providers limited in their ability to address downward price pressures due to now irrelevant anti-trust legislation? BY STAFFORD HEMMER

In February 2011, fellow NCTA Jonathan Goldberg member posted a message to the NCTA groups list about a Hebrew-English job offer he had recently received. He was willing to investigate the option of taking on the assignment from a client who expressed dismay at the quality of the existing translation products they had been receiving. However, when Goldberg learned that the compensation for his work would be “$0.05/word – no match,” naturally the conversation was terminated. Hebrew<>English is a language pair that, according to the ATA’s 2007 Translation and Interpreting Survey of Compensation, generally commands about $0.22/word by the average ATA language service provider (LSP). Mr. Goldberg noted that, “the fact that they have had a translator until now working at that rate, irrespective of the quality of the translations, is cause for concern. Some translators should be reminded that there is no need to agree to such a low rate or even to agree to double that rate―particularly if the translation is from English and more particularly if it requires a non-Latin font.” → continue reading

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CROWDSOURCING: SOCIAL[ISM] MEDIA 2.0

In our first issue of the year, we have insightful perspectives on crowdsourcing, editing, and social interaction in the translation community.An opinion essay on the potential dangers of crowdsourcing for professionals. BY SEAN MICHAEL DODD

In this era of late capitalism, an alarming business trend is emerging, one in which corporations are allowed to privatize their profits while socializing their costs.

Taxpayers bail out failed banks, only to see the bankers pay themselves huge bonuses. Mining, oil, and agro-biz companies feed at the trough of government subsidies and regulatory waivers. Big Pharma makes billions off patents derived from publicly funded research. And fast-food chains and big-box retailers leave it to public-assistance agencies to provide food stamps and healthcare to their low-wage, unbenefitted workforce. → continue reading

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SOCIAL INTERACTION AND THE TRANSLATOR

As freelancing becomes the norm for many translators, could the isolation it entails have a negative impact upon the way we treat each other. BY GLYN HAGGETT (REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE ITI BULLETIN)

In 2005, at the age of 41, I was diagnosed with a long-standing brain condition. Apart from a vaguely odd appearance and the fact that I would be the odds-on favourite for any world championship in clumsiness, I am one of the fortunate ‘anomalies’ who are largely unaffected by the condition and able to live a more or less normal life. However, it is not possible to go through the lengthy process of brain scans, waiting times, consultations, ‘why mes’ and ‘what ifs’, nor in particular to sit in the neurologist’s waiting room among those who have not been quite as lucky, without pause for thought.

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PLEASE MIND THE GAP: DEFENDING ENGLISH

Defending English Against “Passive” Translation1… How has it become acceptable for English to be treated as if it had no country or history? BY WENDELL RICKETTS

Let me begin with a simple statement, one guaranteed to have any group of translators howling at each other within minutes: translators can be defined as professional (by which I mean, among other things, that they are entitled to charge money for what they do) solely and exclusively if they work from their second (or other) language into their native one.

In case that doesn’t ignite a row, I’ll add a corollary: translating into one’s dominant language is not a sufficient condition for holding oneself out as a professional, but it is a necessary one. It is, to break into a language that is not my native tongue, the sine qua non of professional translation. Without it, there is nothing. → continue reading

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THE NATIVE-SPEAKER BIAS

A consequence of the nativist bias is its perpetuation of the very same stereotypes that translators have so assiduously sought to overcome. BY SEAN MICHAEL DODD

HELP WANTED: Chef, French Restaurant. Must be native of France, less than two years out of country, specialized in haute cuisine. Parisians preferred. Creoles, Africans, and Polynesians need not apply.

In this post-racial era of equal opportunity, most Americans would blanch at an ad like this one, and yet such job postings are all too familiar to translators, conditioned as we are by our profession’s taboo against working in non-native target languages.

Flouting the national-origin protections of state and federal antidiscrimination laws, translation clients routinely use nationality as a qualification in their job announcements. One recent example, re-edited here for brevity:

WRITER / TRANSLATOR (contract)

This attractive position requires the following skills:

  1. Native fluency in X language.
  2. Undergraduate degree from X country.
  3. Less than 3 years away from native country

It is hard to see how native fluency, foreign diplomas, and limited time abroad amount to “skills.” → continue reading

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