Customized service leads to success for language service providers. BY DEANA SMALLEY

The first General Meeting of 2011 took place on Saturday, February 12 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the San Francisco State University Downtown Campus. Outgoing President Tuomas Kostiainen presided.

Thirty-four people attended, and six newcomers introduced themselves: Eric Rea (Spanish), Elena Ow-Wing (Russian), Hsiao-Ming “Sheree” Wu (Mandarin), Leonor Delgado (Spanish), Kamel Khailia (Arabic), and Miriam Barraza (Spanish). → continue reading



NCTA members at the annual brunch in Berkeley

The annual NCTA New Year’s Brunch, held at Skate’s on the Bay on January 23 was, as always, a great success. BY NINA BOGDAN

A group of 37 translators and interpreters gathered to talk shop and socialize at the waterfront restaurant in Berkeley. Even the weather was cooperating. After weeks of rain, it was a wonderful sunny Sunday and the San Francisco city skyline was showcased in the huge picture windows of the restaurant.

→ continue reading



Keeping the last native languages in California alive. BY RITA MCGAUGHY

This year’s final NCTA general meeting was held on December 11 at the modern and bright San Francisco State University downtown campus. An interesting agenda, awards, door prizes, and great refreshments sponsored by the company Ceditora attracted a large number of attendees.

Tuomas Kostiainen, the current NCTA President, opened the meeting by introducing Thomas Brandon, co-founder of Ceditora. Mr. Brandon explained that Ceditora is a literary contract publisher that focuses on four languages: English, German, Portuguese and Spanish. Writers, translators, editors, and illustrators can register with the company, which selects the most promising works and turns them into high quality literary end products. To learn more, please visit their website at www.Ceditora.com.

→ continue reading



The presenter of the September General Meeting. Re-defining the value proposition of their work will help translators develop their business. BY INGEBORG WEINMANN WHITE

Eleni Pallas’ presentation, the central event of our September General Meeting, sparked a spirited and lively discussion among fellow NCTA members. As soon as her introductory phrase, “Look at yourself as the CEO of your own life” reached our ears, we all perked up and paid attention. Pallas’ sparkling personality and enthusiasm are contagious. She challenged us to look at our life and business in a different way by considering a more “holistic” approach. → continue reading



A mantra for translators: work comfortably with your current physical body. BY LUCY G. KRYUCHKOVA

The first General Meeting of 2010 took place on Saturday, February 6, 2010, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the NCTA’s New Venue: the San Francisco State University Downtown Campus located in the Westfield San Francisco Centre, 835 Market Street at 4th Street, room 667, 6th floor.

Yoga teacher Claire Lavery demonstrating relaxing techniques.

The meeting enjoyed an excellent turnout, with over 50 members and non-members in attendance. There were even some special guests: Cristina Navia and Leo van Zanten drove all the way up from Ventura County just to attend our meeting! They do not have a local chapter there. All present welcomed them to the meeting and were very happy that they could attend.
→ continue reading



New Trends in Crowdsourcing: The Kiva/Idem Case Study from NCTA BM on Vimeo.

Wisdom of the crowd or something for nothing? BY SARAH LLEWELLYN

The final general meeting of 2009 took place on December 12 at The Center in San Francisco. Despite the rain and the upcoming holidays, the meeting enjoyed an excellent turnout, with over 40 members and non-members in attendance. → continue reading



Association business, literary translation & business pointers are all covered at the September GM. BY NORMA KAMINSKY

Margarita Millar and Anne Appel on literary translation

Margarita Millar and Anne Appel on literary translation

The Fall NCTA General Meeting was held on September 12 at The Center. First on the agenda was the approval of an amendment to the NCTA By-laws, Article 11, covering Voting and Elections. The text in bold was added to the existing article: “Each member in good standing shall be entitled to one vote cast either at General Meetings of the Association, cast electronically or sent by surface mail in the pre-addressed envelope attached to the Notice of the Annual General Meeting. The Board shall decide which of these methods shall be used for voting. Proxies shall not be recognized in any voting.”
This change means that members will now be able to cast their votes electronically in NCTA elections. Fewer resources will be used and our voting system will be more environmentally friendly.
The proposed amendment was approved by a vote of 22 to 0 with 0 abstentions.
After the vote, we had interesting and varied feature presentations. In the first part, two translators shared some of their experience and insights into literary translation. → continue reading



SCORE volunteer Katherine D. Sullivan speaks at the NCTA May 2008 meeting about how to start up and successfully run a small business.  BY RAFFAELLA BUSCHIAZZO

The spring General Meeting took place on May 10, 2008 at the LGBT conference center in downtown San Francisco. Association Secretary Stafford Hemmer opened the meeting at 1:30 p.m. after the customary orientation session for new members presented by NCTA Vice President Yves Avérous. Stafford provided the latest news, promoted the new membership directory, talked about the full calendar of events that the Association offers regularly-upcoming workshops and monthly happy hours in Oakland and SF-and transmitted his enthusiasm about the major event of the year that we are preparing for the fall: the celebration of the NCTA’s 30th anniversary. A survey was also sent to our members in order to get their suggstions regarding this event. → continue reading



The first NCTA meeting of 2008 took place on February 9 and featured—in addition to our election results and news of ongoing projects—longtime NCTA member Hany Farag’s presentation on new developments in machine translation.

Hany Farag at the Annual Meeting

NCTA Secretary Stafford Hemmer, standing in for the absent Vice President Yves Avérous, began the meeting with a series of announcements, including details of upcoming NCTA workshops, a call for volunteers to present future NCTA workshops and also to contribute to Translorial, and a reminder about the monthly happy hours that take place the last Monday of every month in San Francisco and Oakland. → continue reading


Legally Speaking: The December General Meeting

By Raffaella Buschiazzo

The December 1st NCTA General Meeting had a bit of everything, from a celebration of our most active volunteers to a presentation on how to become a California Certified Court Interpreter to a lively and pleasant hour of stuffing envelopes, sticking stamps, and general all-around schmoozing as we discussed our plans for the imminent holidays.

NCTA Vice President Yves Avérous opened the General meeting at 1:40 p.m. with a few announcements of upcoming events, and a call for volunteers to replace Alison Dent as manager of the online extension of our magazine Translorial (www.translorial.com). The site will include the full archives of Translorial from its first issue 30 years ago; Alison did a tremendous job putting content online and managing it, and we will all be very sorry to see her move back to Europe. Yves continued his introduction by drawing attention to the fact that 2008 will be a special year for our Association. We will celebrate NCTA’s 30th anniversary with a major event. Suggestions are welcome!


NCTA gave free one-year memberships to four members who distinguished themselves in 2007 by their contributions to the Association’s activities. Karen Tkaczyk played an instrumental role during the ATA Conference in San Francisco by working at the NCTA table and providing a storage place in her hotel room for all the association’s collateral materials. Patricia Ramos, who served as a board director from 2000 to 2002 and hosted the board retreats at her house several times, made the trip to San Francisco to attend the ATA Conference from Spain, where she currently lives, and helped at the NCTA hospitality table every morning. Tatyana Neronova has managed all the Translorial mail meticulously for a long time. And last but not least, Paula Dieli was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award for her involvement in the ATA Conference and for setting up and maintaining the NCTA wiki page on the Conference.
Interpreting in the Courts

The NCTA board wanted to have a presentation giving an overview of the role that court interpreters play in the court system, and what is required to become a certified or registered court interpreter in California. The goal was to offer specific information to those translators interested in expanding their careers and to interpreters who are thinking about adding this specialization to their resume.

The two speakers selected for our presentation by the San Francisco Judicial Council of California complemented each other thanks to their different profiles. Cannon Han is a Court Services Analyst with the Court Interpreters Program. Prior to joining the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), he was an attorney in the non-profit sector and in private practice. As an attorney, Mr. Han addressed language interpretation and quality of care issues in the mental health system and assisted low-income clients on a wide range of legal issues, ranging from public benefits to patients’ rights violations. Dr. Patricia Kilroe is a Linguistics Analyst for the Court Interpreters Program. Prior to this position she taught linguistics, French, English expository writing, and ESL for many years. Her degrees are a B.A. in French, an M.S. in linguistics, and a Ph.D. in Romance-language linguistics.

Mr. Han opened the presentation by quoting from the California Constitution’s mandate that “[a] person unable to understand English who is charged with a crime has a right to an interpreter throughout the proceedings.” For this reason courts must provide specially trained language interpreters whenever a party involved in a proceeding understands little or no English. The Judicial Council is the organ responsible for certifying and registering court interpreters. Currently, court interpreters can be certified in 12 languages: Arabic, Armenian (Eastern and Western), Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Only interpreters who pass the Court Interpreter Certification Examination and register with the Judicial Council are considered as “certified court interpreters.”


Part of the examination tests writing skills in English and in the target language for vocabulary, reading comprehension, and grammar. The written examination consists of 155 multiple-choice questions to be answered in four hours and 20 minutes. If the candidate passes, he or she goes on to the oral component to test skills in simultaneous and consecutive interpreting and in sight translation. Interpreters of spoken languages for which there is no state certifying examination are called “registered interpreters of non-designated languages.” They must pass an English proficiency examination which consists of oral and written tests. In both cases, after passing the examination, the interpreter must submit an application to register with the Judicial Council and pay an annual fee. To maintain the certification, the interpreter must attend a Code of Ethics workshop in the first two-year compliance period, and submit proof of 30 hours of continuing education and 40 recent court interpreting assignments for every two-year period.

Dr. Kilroe explained what kind of knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed in court interpreting. She distributed a very long list of linguistic, speaking, listening, reading comprehension, interpreting, and behavioral skills required for this profession. These include language fluency and interpreting skills, such as the ability to concentrate and focus, to process linguistic information and choose terminology quickly, to think analytically, to conserve intent, tone, style, and utterances of all messages, to reflect register, and to self-monitor and self-correct. There are several colleges that provide training, but Dr. Kilroe offered some tips on how to prepare the for the exam with self-study techniques: expand your vocabulary, develop your own glossaries, develop interpreting techniques for consecutive and simultaneous interpretation and sight translation, develop memorization techniques and practice effective listening. She suggested the exercise of “shadowing” to improve one’s interpreting techniques. This consists of having somebody record passages from magazines and newspapers on tape and repeating everything the speaker says including writing out any numerals from ten to 100. We tried this exercise in groups of two people. For more information on becoming a court interpreter or on official workshops, you can visit http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/programs/courtinterpreters/becoming.htm

Thank you to Mr. Han and Dr. Kilroe for their very comprehensive presentations and for staying with us until the end of the general meeting to answer our multiple questions. They certainly provided a lot of information and good suggestions for those courageous enough to follow their path!


The Transmug Report

By Yves Avérous

It’s a Mac Macworld

After the big “Year of the iPhone,” in 2007, it was past time for Apple to give the star treatment back to the Mac in this year’s Macworld Conference and Expo held in San Francisco last month. More than ever, with all the recent product introductions, Mac users have an exciting choice of deft machines offering the best productivity a freelancer can get.

On the software side, the Apple suites iLife and iWork—having been refreshed last June—had to yield the center of the productivity stage to the big suite that finally could: Microsoft Office 2008! (The one that doesn’t support macros …) The good news there is the price, with a competitive $150 Home & Student version. Ars Technica’s first look (http://snipurl.com/1wum2) and Macworld’s review (http://snipurl.com/1y9q4) will show you all there is to like and dislike in this release.

Facing the possibility of no longer using Word on the Mac, I have given more consideration to Pages 2 (part of iWork ‘08) and got to really enjoy the elegant new version.

The Mac marketplace is now flush with applications that are as helpful as affordable. In the recent weeks, members of the TransMUG list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/transmug) were made privvy to a few amazing online deals. On my short list of tools that you may want to try and find via Macupdate.com, I highly recommend content managers such as Yojimbo, Yep!, and Together; password managers such as Wallet or 1Password; and a fresh crop of “Getting-Things-Done”-inspired applications, from the basic TaskPaper, to the powerful OmniFocus, or the elegant Things.

With so much to discover on the Mac lately, do not miss our next TransMUG meeting, on Saturday, February 9 at 11 AM, just before the Annual Meeting, at The Center’s café. This time, it’s tech support (and switcher) extraordinaire Emmanuel Lemor who will MC the meeting. Don’t miss it.