TRANSLATION AND ETHNOGRAPHY:
ETHNOCENTRIC
OR NON-ETHNOCENTRIC?

Two disciplines, common goals: understanding cultural codes, discovering order in “the foreign,” rendering through language an appreciation of “the unknown other.”

BY MEHDI ASADZADEH AND ALI ABBASI

To an ordinary reader, translation might mean finding “equivalents” for the words of the source text in the target language, thereby making the words of one language understandable in another. But for a translation researcher, it denotes a broader phenomenon where the strangeness has to be found out, decoded and incorporated into the rendered text. → continue reading

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TRANSLATION AND POSTCOLONIALISM

Translation and interpreting have a fascinating historical role in the development of empire and the postcolonial world. AN INTERVIEW BY THOMAS J. CORBETT

The work of Robert J. C. Young, Julius Silver Professor of English & Comparative Literature at New York University, concerns marginalized peoples and cultures. Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction devotes its final chapter to translation. Translation is seen not only as a colonial activity but also as a metaphor: transplanting England to New England, for example, is itself a form of translation. The interview began with an oblique question, a question that provoked a typically original and enlightening response from Professor Young. → continue reading

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SOME DINOSAURS AND DRAGONS…

The young whippersnappers today have no idea how good they have it. BY INES SWANEY

When NCTA was founded in 1978, any mention of e-mail would have been understood as Express Mail known in the United States as Special Delivery. This was the common way of sending urgent information, all typed or printed on paper, of course.  Fax machines were a luxury that some major companies had at their offices. I still recall my first encounter with one of these devices. Someone explained to me that it worked just like a photocopier, except that you started with an original and then the copy would come out somewhere else, even in another continent, as long as everyone’s telephones lines were working properly and you got to keep the original. My cousin in Houston, who was involved in the energy industry, bragged that he had received a fax all the way from Qatar. → continue reading

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WHY EDIT? SHOULDN’T IT BE PERFECT?

Professional translation is a multi-step process. BY DAGMAR DOLATSCHKO

Why do we need editing and proofreading at all? Shouldn’t all translators be perfect to begin with? What’s an editor and why is proofreading different from editing? And why should I pay anything extra for editing and proofreading? Isn’t that part of the translation process?

To illustrate the first point I’d like to start out with a little story about a lawyer in Germany. The law firm wanted to find out more about how we work and how we ensure quality. So I proceeded to explain the usual process:   → continue reading

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WHAT MAKES A GOOD AGENCY

Advice for ensuring the relationship between freelance translator and client remains harmonious, productive and pleasant for both sides. BY HERBERT EPPEL

In the 15 years since I started diversifying into translation I have worked with around 100 different clients and have encountered dozens of others, many of them translation agencies. Based on this experience it is worth reflecting on what distinguishes these agencies in terms of their interaction with the translator. → continue reading

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CREATING A FUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP

The often dysfunctional relationship between project managers and freelance translators may stem from a simple lack of communication. BY SUSAN AYOOB

In a fast-paced, deadline-driven industry, freelance translators and project managers communicate constantly, yet there is often a lack of true communication between both parties. In a way, this is understandable, since there is often little time to discuss details when a project has a short turn-around time. Call, confirm, translate, and deliver. Yet regardless of a project’s scope—be it the translation of a few sentences in Word or a file consisting of thousands of words and involving the management of a hefty translation memory—clear project instructions are an absolute must in order to ensure an on-time, accurate delivery (as well as the avoidance of headaches on both sides). I have worked as both a project coordinator and a freelance translator, and I know that there are certain things that project managers would love for freelance translators to know, and likewise, translators often wish that project managers could do some things a bit differently. → continue reading

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THE GREAT ATA CERTIFICATION DEBATE, PT II

Volume 31, Number 3

In our high-tech world, the ATA exam continues to be a low-tech institution. BY NINA BOGDAN

The decision to take the ATA certification exam is based on a number of factors, one of which is whether or not the individual translator is at the stage of their career that they are ready. There is nothing more frustrating than spending the time preparing for the exam (and paying the substantial fee) and then not passing.
ATA statistics on this issue make it clear that novice translators, for example, those who have just graduated with a degree in a foreign language—even an advanced degree—should not expect to pass the exam. The overall pass rate for the ATA exam is under 20%. These statistics are not broken down by language combinations as, according to Terry Hanlen, ATA Deputy Executive Director and Certification Program Manager, this would be like comparing apples and oranges since some language combinations have hundreds of exams while others only have five. → continue reading

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MANDATED LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE NOW IN EFFECT

California Senate Bill 853, passed in 2003, mandates language assistance for health plan enrollees. How does this impact the translators and interpreters in California? BY GEORGE RIMAFLOWER

California Senate Bill (SB) 853, passed in 2003, mandates that health plans provide Limited English-Proficient (LEP) enrollees with language assistance services at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare locations that accept plan insurance.
About 100 insurers, including UHC, Health Net, Cigna, Aetna, Kaiser and Blue Shield, offer healthcare coverage in California. In many cases, it is difficult for English speakers to understand medical and legal jargon but it is even more difficult for those with a limited understanding of English. SB 853 was designed to help alleviate language and cultural barriers when LEP enrollees need medical care.

→ continue reading

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THE GREAT ATA CERTIFICATION DEBATE, PT I

In this first part of a two-part series we look at how certification fits into the language provider’s business plan. BY NINA BOGDAN
Quote to ATA exam.
In the eight years since 9/11, analysis of events, policy debates, and proposals for change have steadily continued in one venue or another. The one conclusion that seems irrefutable is that we, as a nation, were woefully unprepared when it comes to the application of translation and interpreting skills. There were many references to a purported backlog of Arabic language material left untranslated at such a critical time. This led to revelations of our lack of qualified linguists in other “critical” languages such as Urdu, Punjabi and Farsi. → continue reading

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DOES UNCLE SAM REALLY WANT YOU? – PART II

Whether it’s Uncle Sam, Big Brother or Scrooge who’s in charge, employment prospects for qualified language professionals are dim and getting dimmer. BY NINA BOGDAN

Last year, Translorial’s Stafford Hemmer wrote a two part story on the creation of the “Civilian Language Reserve Corps,” now re-named the National Language Service Corps (NLSC). In the article, Robert Slater, then the Director of the National Security Education Program, was quoted as stating that, “Compensation plans are still under development.” Currently, information on the NLSC website notes that when NLSC members are called to duty, they will be paid “based on scales used by the federal government.” The website also states that minimum requirements to be an NLSC Charter Member for their “Pilot Project” are: being at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, highly skilled in a foreign language, and having a desire to use that language in the service of others. → continue reading

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DOES UNCLE SAM REALLY WANT YOU?

The commercial world of translation and interpreting can be a harsh taskmaster for the independent contractor. In this two-part series, we ask: Is the government any better? BY NINA BOGDAN

Part I: NCTA member Farah Arjang’s attendance at a U.S. Government/ATA-sponsored conference yields little more than questions.

Those who choose to work as freelancers may revel in a life of no bosses, no mandatory business attire (every day is casual Friday!) and the freedom to work at 2 AM, but they are also at the mercy of demanding agencies that care only about the bottom line and non-paying customers who disappear as soon as a job is delivered. Linguists also frequently find themselves to be convenient targets of misplaced blame (everyone knew that it was really that pesky diplomat who misspoke; not the interpreter), and of comments such as, “If you’re such a good translator, why do you need a dictionary?” or, my all-time personal favorite, “You’re a translator? That’s a pretty easy job, right?” → continue reading

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