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The Fifth Interview of the Interview Series by Angela Fairbank

Published in the STIBC Voice Newsletter, April 2020, pages 3 to 5.
V. An Interview with Senegalese Conference Interpreter Malick Sy, President of AIIC from 1994 to 2000

Malick Sy

  1. Translator, Terminologist, Interpreter - which of these three professions do you identify with?

MS: Conference Interpreter. I insist on this term because it's very important to define the profession of conference interpreter clearly and accurately. In my humble opinion, the terms interpreter - which is too generic - and the derivative expressions court interpreter, escort interpreter, and community interpreter, have led to quite a misleading mixture.

2. Please provide a brief synopsis of your education - including language education - and background related to how you came to be a Translator, Interpreter or Terminologist. For example, immersion in foreign countries and culture, university education, mentorship/menteeship, internship, etc.

MS: Primary school in Guinguineo, a village in central Senegal.
High school at a public boarding school: Lycée Van Vollehoven in Dakar.
Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal: Literature (English and Spanish).
Sorbonne Université then ESIT (École supérieure d'Interprètes & de Traducteurs in Paris): Literature and then Interpretation.
Various stays in England.
I have had the immense privilege of having had historical figures in conference interpretation, such as Danica Seleskovitch, Christopher Thierry, Gérard Ilg and Marc Moyens, as master teachers and mentors.
Staff interpreter with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and freelance interpreter since 1985.
Active Member of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) since 1974.
President of AIIC from 1994 to 2000.
After completing my two terms as AIIC's President, I enjoyed the privilege of heading AIIC's negotiation delegation on three different occasions to renegotiate the terms of various five-year agreements we have had with the United Nations Organization since 1969. During the most recent negotiations, we very fortunately managed to come to a permanent arrangement. I do hope that Covid-19 does not force us to reconsider this Agreement.

3. How long have you been working in your chosen profession?

MS: Since 1971, so that will make it 50 years next year. Like they say, I turned grey in the service.

4. Are you currently working in-house or as a freelancer? If you have had experience in both types of employment, which do you prefer?

MS: I am currently a freelance conference interpreter, although I was a staffer for the first 15 years of my career. Which of the two types do I prefer? I will answer just like a child would when asked which parent he prefers: “both.” Each has advantages and disadvantages and, I would even say, its own charms. Perhaps also age and experience are my own determining factors in preferring one over the other.

5. Where do you currently exercise your profession?

MS: Mainly in Africa.

6. Are you certified in your profession? If so, by which certification organization(s), and for how long have you been certified now? If you are certified, once you became certified, did you notice your income increase slightly, moderately or substantially?

MS: What do you mean by certified? In most countries around the world the profession of conference interpreter is not legally defined. It is therefore neither recognized nor protected - unlike the professions of a lawyer or doctor, for instance. The coronavirus crisis has raised the question of which professions are useful to the community and therefore deserve greater recognition. Are conference interpreters part of that, I wonder?

If by certified you mean “sworn,” I would say that in Africa in general, only court interpreters are sworn, but court interpreting is not carried out by conference interpreters. This is certainly something to be explored, however, because I believe that certain issues discussed in the courts are so important (the defence of human rights, for instance) that interpretation should be provided by conference interpreters. In fact, interpretation at international courts is provided by conference interpreters.

7. What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

MS: Obviously my role as president of AIIC from 1994 to 2000. However, I am also very proud to have trained, along with other Senegalese colleagues, 21 conference interpreters in six of the national languages of Senegal (Wolof, Pulaar, Mandinka, Joola, Soninke, Serer and Siin). As a result, for the last five years, the National Assembly of Senegal has held all of its plenary sessions with simultaneous interpretation into French and into these six national languages. In a country like Senegal, where 65% of the population doesn't speak French, the use of national languages makes it possible to strengthen democracy and human rights by ensuring the right of all citizens to understand and participate in managing the country's business affairs.

8. Have there been any particular challenges in your profession that you would like to share with our readers?

MS: Yes, the case of the USA FTC (Federal Trade Commission). I inherited the FTC file when I was elected President of AIIC in 1994. The FTC had written to AIIC accusing it of being a cartel and ordering it either to sign a “consent order to cease and desist from our professional practices” or to be prosecuted at the FTC's administrative court. The target of this FTC injunction was an agreement regarding the principles governing fees, compensation, travel days, per diems, professional standards (at least two interpreters per booth, the duration of sessions, etc.). In short, this injunction shook AIIC and the entire profession because its foundations were called into question.

It needs to be said that other professional translator and interpreter associations approached by the FTC did agree to sign this consent order.

AIIC's office and Board chose not to maintain an empty-chair attitude towards the FTC, as suggested by some of our members, who were understandably afraid. We also chose not to sign this consent order and instead opted to defend ourselves before the FTC. Obviously, it was not easy. AIIC was immediately stressed by the thought that everything could collapse: its unity and survival were threatened. Fortunately for the profession, AIIC's Board Members and office staff back then maintained a calm demeanour and courageously made the right decision, i.e. by choosing to defend our profession despite personal attacks by certain members, who were more often inspired by fear and resistance to change than by principles. As it happens, we had no trouble defending ourselves when it came to the accusation about fee agreements since AIIC had already decided to abolish and prohibit all fee agreements in the private market.

In order to pay the lawyers who defended us before the FTC, we proposed a voluntary flat-rate contribution of US$400 per member so as not to reduce any of AIIC's activities. Happily, the administrative tribunal agreed with us and we were able to uphold our working conditions and our professional standards. We were also able to preserve our right to sign agreements and conventions with consenting organizations. Furthermore, we had notified DG IV (Directorate General for Competition) of the European Union about our texts, thus protecting ourselves from being prosecuted for alleged violations of the competition law. AIIC emerged from this ordeal a stronger and more unified body.

This action proved our ability to mobilize ourselves and defend our profession during a particularly difficult time in the life of our Association. Interestingly enough, this same challenging period also gave birth to a number of initiatives such as the publication of a book, organized by Wadi Keizer, and then by Christopher Thierry, on the history of AIIC and the profession of conference interpreter. Birth of a Profession was published in English and French (Naissance d'une profession). I would also like to mention the “Survey on expectations of users of conference interpretation,” which was masterfully led by Jennifer Mackintosh.

9. What advice do you have for colleagues who are just starting - or thinking of starting - in the profession today?

MS: I would tell them that conference interpreting is a very fine profession, but one that requires rigour and professionalism. A successful future lies ahead as long as it stays organized within AIIC so that technological advances can be anticipated, learned and used to serve the profession.

10. Are you a member of a local T&I association in your area? If so, what do you get out of it - e.g. workshops, social events, annual conferences, etc.?

MS: We don't have a National Association of Conference Interpreters in Senegal. We're afraid that such an association might decide to limit the practice of the profession to nationals only. An attempt of this kind, made in a neighbouring country, luckily failed. Had it been successful, it would have seriously harmed the professional mobility of conference interpreters. On the other hand, we did manage to set up an informal sub-region within AIIC's Africa section to manage our local problems and organize our solidarity and social activities.

Translated from French by Angela Fairbank M.A. C.T.
STIBC-certified Spanish to English Translator
ATA-certified French to English Translator
Editor,
STIBC Voice 2019-2020

AILIA Annual Conference, Ottawa, Ontario, February 28, 2020

Published in the STIBC Voice Newsletter, April 2020, pages 11 to 15.
In my capacity as Vice-President of the Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council (CTTIC), I was invited to attend the annual conference in Ottawa, Ontario held by AILIA Language Industry Association. This association mainly consists of Language Service Providers (LSPs aka translation agencies). ATIO (Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario) is a member, though STIBC is not. I provided a report on this conference to the CTTIC Council and Board in March and thought that there may also be some topics of interest in it for STIBC members. At the very least, it will introduce many of our members to AILIA, to providers of potential translation and interpretation work, and to new vocabulary, innovations and websites to check out.

Opening Keynote address: Loc 2020: Technology and Trends Shaping the Language Industry

The opening keynote was presented by Esther Bond, Research Director at Slator, which studies, among many other things, the business of Language Service Providers and technical markets.

To start, Bond introduced some of the topics that Slator researches related to the language industry: rates regulations, translation devices, information about Google translate, new EU regulations concerning medical devices, and recent LSP M&As (mergers and acquisitions). The public can subscribe to Slator and/or read their reports online.

Bond also showed us Slator's Language Service Provider Index, an annual index rating 130 LSPs earning over $1 million. In 2019, they grew 15% to reach a combined revenue of $7 billion. The Slator index divides these companies into 4 groups: 1) super agencies ($200+ million revenue) comprising 5 companies, 2) leaders ($25 - $200 million), 3) challengers ($8 - $25 million) - these three groups are the fastest growing among the larger ones - and 4) boutiques, with revenues of between $1 and $8 million. The entire report can be read here.

Bond added that there had been a number of consolidations in 2019 and six more LSPs were acquired. Between 2016 and Feb 2020, 179 LSPs were bought by other LSPs, which tend either to diversify or specialize or offer premium services or automate, as they can't do all four.

Translation Bureau: How to turn on a dime with an eighteen-wheeler

Lucie Séguin, CEO of the Translation Bureau (TB) spoke about this Canadian government LSP, created in 1934. It is the largest employer of linguists (Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters) in Canada. Although it has 1,213 employees nationwide, translating 375 million words and providing 5,685 days of conference interpreting per year, it also outsources 47% of its volume to the private sector. Termium Plus® is one of its products: “one of the largest terminology and linguistic data banks in the world, [giving] access to millions of terms in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. [On it, one] can find terms, abbreviations, definitions and usage examples in a wide range of specialized fields.”

The Translation Bureau also invests in innovative technology and is developing a number of pilot projects. It currently employs students at various T&I universities in Canada to provide updates on emerging marketing trends. Another topic in Lucie's presentation was GCLingua, a new linguist services request management system, to be implemented in the Spring of 2020 in a phased approach starting with Canada's Heritage Sector. It will aim to provide end-to-end Translation, Terminologists & Interpreting services, prices and activities faster, cheaper and better while matching high quality standards. Access to TB's system will be given to its providers so that everything can be completed on the platform. There will be a two-year phase-in and training provided to freelancers. The expected revenue from this project is $200 million/year.

Another useful tool from the TB that I learned about is the Languages Portal of Canada, which, along with Plunet, SDL, Orion and memoQ, among others, had a booth at the conference. Language professionals who use English and French can subscribe to a weekly newsletter called Portal Weekly, which offers a blog, news, activities and a quiz in both official languages.

Post-Editing: A Theoretical and Practical Challenge for Translation Educators

Dr. Maria Sierra Cordoba Serrano, an Associate Professor at McGill University, told us about the School of Continuing Studies at McGill, which is planning to offer a new online degree - an applied M.Sc. in multilingual communication technologies - provided the Quebec government approves.

Although the SDL CAT tool is the focus of the course, due to the fact that the instructor also works for SDL, students are expected to transfer the skills they learn to other CAT tools. They will be hiring OTTIAQ members to provide teaching assistance throughout the course curriculum.

Panel Discussion: Machine Translation: To disclose or not to disclose - Legal Implications.

Panel members, in addition to myself, were Renato Beninatto, CEO of Nimdzi Insights, Elliott Macklovitch, MT Consultant and Lecturer, and Fred Pinto, Attorney, Pinto Legal. Our moderator was Lola Bendana, Director of Multi-Languages Corporation. As she had kindly provided us with the subjects to be discussed a week or two before the conference, I was able to prepare answers with the help of our CTTIC Council members.

The questions that the panel looked at were:
  1. Should translators/LSPs disclose usage of MT (machine translation) to clients? Should clients be privy to the process used to obtain the final translation output?
  2. Should MT usage be part of the legal agreement between the contractual parties (TSP (Translation Service Provider)-Client)?
  3. How would MT usage disclosure affect rates and working conditions? Should the industry move from per word rates to hourly rates?
  4. Should the disclosure of MT be added to professional Codes of Ethics?
  5. How do you explain the difference between revision and post-editing if the output is expected to have the same quality and the work is to be carried out by translators with similar credentials?
  6. ISO 18587 states as one of the criteria for post-editors to be experienced translators; the Annex in the standard describes the ideal training. Most experienced translators don't have training in post-editing and new translators lack the experience. How can universities, training institutions and professional associations catch up with technology? (We ran out of time before we got to this question. However, the above presentation by Cordoba Serrano would seem to provide a possible solution).
When asked to provide CTTIC's answer to the first couple of questions, I talked about certified translator “ethics” and stated that “as long as a certified translator follows the code of ethics (accuracy, confidentiality, impartiality, accountability, professionalism etc.) and provides a top-notch translation, then he or she is not obliged to tell the client how the translation was done.”

Panel Discussion: How to stop the rates from falling

ailia

From left to right on the stage: Renato Beninatto, Martin Montreuil, Serge Bélair, Robin Ayoub, Fabien Côté, Angela Fairbank, Maryse Benhoff
We were six on this panel and Renato Beninatto, CEO Nimdzi Insights, was the moderator. The other panelists were Robin Ayoub, VP Sales Lionbridge - and the new AILIA President - , Maryse Benhoff, President of BG Communications - one of the organizers of the conference - , Fabien Côté, President of Stoquart Amériques, Martin Montreuil, Director of Public Services and Procurement Canada, and Serge Bélair, President of TRSB.

The questions we had been provided by the organizers a day before the conference were the following:
  1. What are the factors that affect the huge discrepancies of the price per word of translation?
  2. Should quality be a part of the equation when it comes to the cost of translation?
  3. When it comes to government clients, should they set the tone for keeping translation activities in Canada?
  4. Should remuneration be commensurate with skills/experience?
  5. Is outsourcing to Third World countries acceptable if the price towards the end-client is maintained?
  6. How do we encourage disloyal competition to understand that they are ruining the market?
  7. Should AILIA issue a white paper on recommended rates for translation services?
The discussion was lively, and I remember giving an emphatic “Absolutely” to number 4. I also mentioned ATIO President's “added value” idea, whereby the translator would negotiate with the client to be paid an amount commensurate with the translation's market value. This would work for advertising, for instance. The translator would be paid based on a percentage of sales in the market in which the translation was used. The higher the sales of the product that the translation was made for, the higher the translator's compensation! Panelists and the audience seemed to like the idea.

However, the main consensus we all came to was that in all our combined experience, clients are more prepared to pay higher fees for speed than for quality. I remember telling one audience about a client who contacted me at 7 p.m. one evening telling me he needed a (one page) translation right away. I had told him, “Sorry, it's now the end of my day, but I'd be happy to do it first thing tomorrow.” He said, “I will pay you three times your regular rate if you can do it tonight.” Of course I obliged! I actually learned from that experience what to charge as my “rush fee!”

Another illustration of this fact was the question: “If after giving your client a quotation he replies by saying 'can you do it for 10% less?' what would you reply?” I said, “I would tell him OK, but I will put it at the bottom of my pile and you'll get it sometime next week.”

Localization Mini-unconference

As the next subject in the main conference room was about how to set up a business financially and legally and was presented by a wealth management consultant and a lawyer - not something I felt was particularly of interest to me - I headed over to the other conference room where there was an unconference going on under the topic of “Localization”. The moderators were Oleksandr Pysaryuk, Localization Manager, Ceridian and Richard Sikes, Senior Solutions Architect of memoQ. This round-table discussion also included Sophie Halbeisen, Director of Business Development, Plunet, who had flown in from New York.

I especially remember being surprised (and shocked) at a discussion about an LSP being asked by a client to translate something for their company's internal use right away, and the LSP offered them three prices: 1) we run it through our machine translation system for X amount in 24 hours but it will be far from perfect; 2) we run it through our machine translation system and then have a human editor (not necessarily someone who knows the source language) revise the target language for XX amount in 48 hours; or 3) we have a human translator translate it for XXX amount in 72 hours. The client would inevitably go with choice A - cheap and imperfect. Naturally I complained: “Ethically speaking, how can you let your client buy an imperfect translation?” The LSP responded that it happened all the time but understood that as a certified translator I would be uncomfortable at the idea!

Panel discussion: Standards - reach and impact in the Canadian landscape

Rather than a panel discussion, this was more of a series of presentations: Maryse Benhoff, President, BG Communications International, on ISO TC 37; Lucie Séguin, CEO, Translation Bureau, on CGSB (Canadian General Standards Board) 131.10; Julio R. Montero, Regional Director, Megalexis Communications, on ISO TC 37/SC5; and Lola Bendana, Director, Multi-Languages Corporation on the Ontario Council on Community Interpreting (OCCI), the body that oversees and regulates the accreditation of interpreters working in the community and public service sectors in Ontario. The latter mentioned that the Health Interpreting Network had recently dissolved to become the health care sector of OCCI, which has 120+ accredited community interpreters. The spokesperson for Orion spoke next about his language accreditation organization and mentioned a new acronym for the day: ISPs (Interpretation Service Providers).

There were also short presentations from members in the audience, including Editors Canada, and Plain Language. A final take-away from today's conference was Intento, which can help translators find the best CAT tool for a source text, language pair, and subject matter.

Closing Keynote: Future-proofing your business

Renato Beninatto, CEO, Nimdzi Insights closed the conference by talking about reducing fear of the future and advised the audience to check out his book The General Theory of the Translation Company. He talked about Project Management and Vendor Management and emphasized Relationship, Referral and Reputation. He also spoke about the huge influence and rise of Netflix - now in 120 countries and 27 languages - which had spurred great business for subtitlers and voice-over actors. He mentioned another company's website, now in 32 languages - 10 more than last year - and Uber which, by adding five Indian languages out of the 47 that exist in India, has seen its growth rate increase 10-fold.

Beninatto closed with some advice about what to tell your clients to convince them to use your services instead of someone else's: “Tell them one thing they don't know about their competition, one thing they don't know about their own company, and one thing they don't know about your company.” He also suggested we add the title of “localization manager” to our LinkedIn profiles and hinted that 5G will be the next big change on the horizon.

Angela Fairbank, M.A. C.T.
CTTIC Vice-President, 2019-2020


ATA Annual Conference, Palm Springs, California, Oct. 23-26, 2019

Published in the STIBC Voice Newsletter, January 2020, pages 15 to 17.
During the third week of October 2019, four STIBC-certified translators - Peter Szikinger (English/Hungarian), Kathryn German (Spanish to English), Olivia Ocana-Quintana (English to Spanish, French to Spanish) and I (Spanish to English) - flew to sunny and warm Palm Springs, California for the American Translator's Association annual conference. Each of us proudly wore ribbons on our name badges: Olivia, as a first-time attendee, wore a bright pink “Newbie”; Peter and I had green “Certified” and Kathryn's ribbon was a burgundy “Presenter”. As you may have surmised, Peter and I are also ATA-certified translators and Kathryn presented a workshop (one of 174 offered at the conference) ... but more about that later.

We all began the conference by attending the Wednesday evening Welcome Session, a cocktail party held in the open air among stately palms against a backdrop of beautiful mountains appearing to be closer than they were.

The next morning, at the Opening Session, out-going President Corrine McKay and other board members talked in turn about various issues, such as:
1) the first FIT (Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs) forum in Vienna attended by a couple of ATA board members; (for those of you not aware of FIT, it is an umbrella organization of about 130 associations representing about 85,000 T&I professionals around the world);
2) ATA's upcoming new website;
3) benefits to ATA members such as the online directory, leadership opportunities, an annual conference, a multitude of webinars (including one free one every month), liability insurance, discounts on computer tools and software, twice monthly newsbriefs, access to 37 episodes (so far) of ATA podcasts, the bimonthly magazine The ATA Chronicle, school outreach (where T&I professionals speak to school students about careers in T&I), results of a survey on rates charged by members, a mentoring program, CE credits, and a blog for industry newcomers, among many others;
4) conference offerings, including 174 workshops (pared down from the 391 proposals received), 67 exhibitors, 30 agencies eager to meet with freelancers at the two-evening job fair, and one professional headshot photographer offering a deal at $30.00!;
5) public relations involving ATA's board members throughout the year clarifying T&I issues to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, US News, the New York Times, Multilingual, etc.;
6) ATA's social media on Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram;
7) ATA's charity arm providing scholarships to T&I students and conference attendees;
8) an annual prize given to a book translator and an award for outstanding service to T&I, this year presented to Kent State University in Ohio.

After a coffee break, the candidates for election presented themselves, answered questions from the floor, and those attendees able to vote, did so; the results were posted that same evening.

Some additional facts: 1) the almost 1,400 conference attendees this year came from 52 countries and 2) results from a survey taken this year about who ATA members are: 42% are full-time interpreters and translators while 29% are part-time; 10% are companies, while 9% are employees at private companies and 6% are academic institutions. ATA's online directory also indicates that 250 ATA members live in Canada, 61 of whom are ATA-certified translators while four are credentialed interpreters.

ata60 badge ATA60 attendees from STIBC

As for the workshops held over the next three days, there were 12 language combinations possible, divided into 11 divisions: Audiovisual, Education, Financial, Government, Interpreting, Literary Translation, Legal, Language Technology, Medical, Science & Technology and Terminology. Each attendee was able to choose a maximum of a dozen workshops as there were twelve hourly sessions available.

On Thursday, Kathryn German gave a presentation on “Inside IVs and Injections: Prickly Problems in Spanish to English translation” and provided participants with a glossary of terms related to the subject. OTTIAQ (Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec) President Donald Barabé's workshop was entitled “Enhancing the Professional Status of Translators.” Having left CTTIC (Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council) in 2012, OTTIAQ certifies its members via an on-dossier method. Donald informed attendees that there are 12 universities in Canada teaching translation, six of which are located in Quebec!

On Friday, two sessions of “Confidentiality and Security Requirements for the Global Translator” were presented back to back by Monique Longton from Belgium. She taught participants how to back up data, when and where to save files and when to delete them. She also advised us never to use free wifi or leave laptops or phones in hotel rooms and to read the small print when transferring large files on DropBox, WeTransfer or Google, etc.!

“Authentic Networking for Introverts” held at the end of Friday afternoon by Anne Goff was packed full of good advice and information based on research Anne has collected in order to write a book about Introvertism! Anne recommended reading Dale Carnegie's “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and Susan Cain's “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.”

On Saturday, “Moving Sideways: Breaking into Book Translation and Working with Publishers” was presented by Ruth Martin, who suggested attendees first look for a book they liked among “long lists” (as opposed to the short lists) of book prizes and then send a 30-40 page sample translation to publishers. One way to meet publishers is to attend the major book fairs in New York, London and Frankfurt. Another idea is to hang out with other literary translators and join associations such as the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA), or the Literary Translators' Association of Canada (LTAC), and to contact cultural institutes. Members of the UK literary translators association, The Society of Authors, are provided with a team of experts who will look over contracts and advise on what to accept, what not to accept and what to ask for. Another recommendation by Ruth was to look at the model contract on the Pen America website. For instance, during negotiations, royalties and retaining copyright of the translation are absolutely key and should never be relinquished!

At “What is the Future of Translation and Interpreting?” Judy Jenner suggested “future-proofing” our jobs by emphasizing cultural expertise and the ability to act as an educator and advocate. She stated it was important to demand professional working conditions and always adapt to change. She also suggested that participants add “cultural consultant” to their list of skills on LinkedIn, as well as “post-editing machine translation” and “localization”, if pertinent.

“Demystifying Medical Record Translation” by Soula Kokotinis-Rozic taught participants how to save time when trying to figure out doctors' shorthand and use of abbreviations by recommending pertinent dictionaries and glossaries, while “Interpreting for Palliative Care in Pediatrics” was presented by Daniela Obregon, who calls herself a “Language and Cultural Specialist” and works as a Certified Healthcare Interpreter at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles.

For me, the highlight of the day, and perhaps even of the conference, was “Interpreting at a Detention Center for Asylum Seekers” by Robin Ragan, who talked about her experience as the instructor of a preparatory course in interpreting for immigration scenarios. After completing the course, her students experienced an intense week of interpreting at a family detention facility in Southern Texas. At the end of Robin's presentation, the audience was divided into teams of three who worked together from a real-life script. My own team mates, both young male interpreting students from Utah, read the script of an interview involving a detainee mother with three children and a lawyer's assistant, and I - not having seen the contents of the script beforehand - served as interpreter! It was actually quite fun and I learned at least one new word in Spanish!

Another benefit of the ATA is that there are divisions - of languages and sectors - that members may join at no extra cost. As many of these divisions held their annual meetings at the conference at the same time, it was difficult for someone like me, who had joined five divisions - French, Spanish, Medical, Legal and Interpreting - to attend all of them. However, I did manage to sit in on the interpreting and Spanish division meetings (the latter together with Kathryn German), both of which I found interesting if rather rushed in the allotted hour.

We look forward to seeing more STIBC members at ATA61 in Boston in October 2020!

Angela Fairbank, M.A. C.T.
ATA-certified French to English Translator


The Fourth Interview of the Interview Series by Angela Fairbank

Published in the STIBC Voice Newsletter, January 2020, pages 7 and 8.
IV. An Interview with a Conference Interpreter in Bangkok, Thailand

The answers in this fourth interview were provided by an Asian colleague who wishes to remain anonymous. I find his answers very interesting as they are coming from a third-world perspective. Despite the fact that his language-learning opportunities as a youth were more limited by where he was living at the time, he nonetheless managed to achieve his dream career. I hope you are as inspired as I am by his responses.

bangkok

  1. Translator, Terminologist, Interpreter - which of these three professions do you identify with?

Interpreter.

2. Please provide a brief synopsis of your education - including language education - and background related to how you came to be a Translator/Interpreter/Terminologist - for example, immersion in foreign countries and culture, university education, mentorship/menteeship, internship, etc.

I spent a lot of time listening to various radio programs in French, Portuguese and Spanish as I didn't have the opportunity to travel abroad initially, due to a lack of financial resources. Of course, I read a lot, especially editorials and current affairs, news clippings, etc., to acquire the correct terms in the various languages I use. I resorted to the use of tapes and recordings and, at times, even practised with TV programs or newscasts. Back in the day, there were fewer opportunities or platforms one could turn to, such as YouTube, etc. Once my career took off and my finances improved, however, I began traveling to various countries where my languages are commonly used.

3. How long have you been working in your chosen profession?

It has been 30 years now and I've had eight professional domiciles thus far. It's been very fulfilling changing domiciles and beginning again each time, albeit very challenging, as I have had to build up a new clientele each time. I've always been fortunate to obtain enough work at the start at each new domicile and not have to live under a bridge or turn to the Salvation Army for help!

4. Are you currently working in-house or as a freelancer? If you have had experience in both types of employment, which do you prefer?

I've always been a freelancer and it suits my personality.

5. Where do you currently exercise your profession?

My professional domicile is currently Bangkok, Thailand and I cover the Asia-Pacific region.

6. Are you certified in your profession? If so, by which certification organization(s) and for how long have you been certified now? If you are certified, once you became certified, did you notice your income increase slightly, moderately or substantially?

I graduated from an interpretation school in Paris, France and a couple of years later became a member of AIIC, the Geneva-based International Association of Conference Interpreters. With time, and definitely due to the fact that I was a fully-fledged member of AIIC, I began to receive many more offers, which were also thanks to recommendations from senior colleagues.

7. What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

I've had the privilege of working in an international conference with Pope John Paul II, and accompanying the former Brazilian President Inácio Lula da Silva and Prince Edward of the UK. Yet, what I enjoyed most were the meetings I interpreted for the EU former heads of state, who focused on the future of Europe. I have also enjoyed working at a number of conferences on philosophy, where philosophers from various parts of the world gather together. These types of conferences were extremely difficult, yet highly rewarding.

8. Have there been any particular challenges in your profession that you would like to share with our readers?

I have certainly had some very challenging moments ... moments when I scarcely understood what the speaker was saying and had to fall back on my preparation. Preparing for a meeting is of vital importance. I've also faced accent or poor speech quality challenges where all the knowledge I've gathered over a lifetime has come to my rescue. It's quite crucial to have a broad knowledge of the subject under discussion, yet even having whatever scraps of knowledge that have little to do with the subject at hand could come in useful, because you never know what might be thrown at you, out of the blue, and how it could hamstring you if you're not quick enough.

9. What advice do you have for colleagues who are just starting - or thinking of starting - in the profession today?

On the supposition that you have been given enough guidance by your teachers and other professionals, my advice would be to make sure you don't let one bad performance deter you from continuing. If you keep preparing and work constantly at honing your skills while at the same time being totally aware of your strengths and weaknesses, then you're on the right track. Remember that every conference is a new opportunity to excel or fail or just deliver on what is required of you.

10. Are you a member of a local T&I association in your area? If so, what do you get out of it - e.g., workshops, social events, annual conferences, etc.?

No. I move a lot and don't have much time to get involved with such events or local associations. However, I'm sure there are T&I associations that organize programs that could be useful for their members.

11. Is there anything I missed that you would like to add?

Consider this journey like any other, where it's about a process and not the final destination. It's a learning curve and if you can achieve a state where you can be relaxed and alert at the same time, either through breathing exercises or yoga or what have you, you'll set yourself up for an enjoyable journey. Otherwise, it may prove too stressful to make it worth the ride.

Interpreting “In Flanders Fields” and Other Medical Anecdotes

Published in the STIBC Voice Newsletter, October 2019, pages 10 and 11.
poppy

Since I began working as a peripatetic health care interpreter in the B.C. lower mainland, I have experienced not only situations I was prepared for, i.e. appointments that go pretty much as planned, but also some challenges. For this type of job, apart from excellent language skills (including an ability to adjust to dialects) and a thorough understanding and knowledge of medical vocabulary, one also has to be extremely flexible.

Health care interpreting opportunities vary widely. I have interpreted mere hours after birth and probably a few hours before death (other people's births and deaths, mind you, not my own). I have worked in some psych wards behind protective glass or standing between security guards and in others walking freely among patients. I have been seated in swank palliative care suites with marvellous views over the city, and in some rather cluttered private homes. I have assisted communication in schools between social workers and children during interviews about domestic violence. I have been placed at the foot of a dentist's chair while my client's teeth are being cleaned. I absolutely love the variety - of venue, of subject matter, and of people.

I was a young 20-something, a recent graduate of UBC with a double major in French and Spanish, when I had my first health care interpreting gig. I accompanied my father, a general practitioner, on a two-week medical and dental mission to Honduras as a volunteer interpreter. As a team, led by North American doctors and student dentists, we would set up improvised clinics at schools in a different town each day. Whenever we arrived at a new place, we would find mums, dads, grannies, granddads and kids from neighbouring villages who had taken the day off work or school to queue up from early morning to dusk waiting to consult with us “gringos” and be cured of real or imaginary ailments that they had accumulated since the last time foreigners like us had come. One volunteer's job was to take the children out of the queues momentarily and dose them with de-worming medicine, while their parents, men and women with bent backs and bowed legs from hard labour in the fields, waited patiently to list their aches and pains and perhaps take away a pill or two, a donated pair of glasses, or some general medical advice.

I can still remember three highlights from that experience: once when we were holding the clinic in a darkened school room (no electricity available), the doctor asked me to aim the flashlight onto a middle-aged woman's private parts so that he could see to do a pelvic exam; on another day, I was there to assist the same young doctor as he removed a mole from a young woman's arm - my first surgical experience as an observer; and on the day I worked with the dentists, an ancient granny begged them to remove almost all of her remaining teeth (about 4 or 5 I think) leaving her with just one central lower incisor. I still remember her smile of pain-free glee - with the glint of that one remaining tooth - after it was all over.

Later that same year, when I returned to Vancouver, I continued volunteering as a linguist and my most memorable experience was interpreting during the 25-hour labour of a 16-year-old Salvadoran refugee. I'll never forget the image (and sensation) of having her bare left foot braced against my chest as I encouraged her (in Spanish) to push. Now forward some thirty years, and I am actually paid for the privilege to interpret. I travel by bus and Skytrain as far north as Garibaldi Highlands, as far south as Crescent Beach, as far west as UBC Hospital and as far east as Eagle Ridge Hospital, including many places in between. I have not witnessed any surgeries or births lately, though I have interpreted during surgery prep and before and after colonoscopy procedures. I also interpreted for a mother a few hours after birth, while the doctors were monitoring her newborn in the ICU.

However, on one occasion, in November 2018 actually, I was asked to interpret for parents whose young adult child was dying of leukemia. It was just before the November 11th weekend and the parents, who had flown to Vancouver from their country especially, knew next to nothing about Canada. They asked what the holiday was all about. This question prompted the doctor to launch into a short history lesson about the First World War, Armistice Day and the Canadian troops' role in it. Then she began quoting John McCrae's “In Flanders' Fields.” Of course, not only was it my duty to interpret the history lesson, but also the poem as the doctor read it off her mobile phone. An unexpected request? Sure! Did I enjoy the challenge? You bet! Incidentally, the doctor used this same cell phone a few minutes later as a means to shed light into her patient's mouth to check for ulcers. Alas, gone are the days when a doctor asks me to hold the flashlight!
The above article was reprinted - with some adaptations for an American audience - in the ATA interpreters division blog in December 2019.

Angela Fairbank, M.A. C.T.
French<->English & Spanish<->English Healthcare Interpreter


The Third Interview of the Interview Series by Angela Fairbank

Published in the STIBC Voice Newsletter, October 2019, pages 4 and 5.
III. An Interview with Alice Joncheray-Honneysett, Sworn Translator and Interpreter specialized in Legal Translations St. Barts, French West Indies

I met Alice Joncheray-Honneysett at the “French Division” table during the first night reception at the American Translators Association's annual conference in New Orleans in October 2018. I felt Alice's experiences would be of interest to this interview series, not only because she represents the Caribbean region, but also because France (and its dominions and territories overseas) has a system of “sworn translators and interpreters,” a concept with which, I believe, most Canadians are unfamiliar.

Alice Joncheray-Honneysett

  1. Translator, Terminologist, Interpreter - which of these three professions do you identify with?

I am a sworn translator and interpreter specializing in the legal field. That is how I usually introduce myself.

2. Please provide a brief synopsis of your education - including language education - and background related to how you came to be a Translator/Interpreter/Terminologist - for example, immersion in foreign countries and culture, university education, mentorship/menteeship, internship, etc.

I originally obtained a French Master's degree in languages and business. I have also studied in several countries such as the US, the UK, Mexico and Puerto Rico. However, thanks to extensive travel and various professional experiences abroad, I developed a special interest in translating.

3. How long have you been working in your chosen profession?

I have been translating and interpreting on a daily basis for about 10 years now. I ran a Language Centre for many years and we were given a lot of translation work, so it is now a full-time job.

4. Are you currently working in-house or as a freelancer? If you have had experience in both types of employment, which do you prefer?

It is sort of both since I translate every day but also manage translations in different languages. I am self-employed but I work with translators and proofreaders when the job requires it. Since I am in charge of several projects at the same time and deadlines are often short, I really enjoy working with other professionals on a regular basis. They are quick and efficient and make me feel safe and confident every time “we” submit a translation.

5. Where do you currently exercise your profession?

For the past 10 years, I have been doing most of my work out of my office in St. Barts in the French West Indies. However, during the Caribbean hurricane season, I now also work from France.

6. Are you certified in your profession? If so, by which certification organization(s) and for how long have you been certified now? If you are certified, once you became certified, did you notice your income increase slightly, moderately or substantially?

I am a French “Traductrice et Interprète assermentée,” meaning a Sworn or Court Translator and Interpreter. In order to justify my position and to stay current, I take several training sessions every year in my profession, in France, online or abroad. I received this certification in 2010, I think, and it definitely helps me get work. It is also the reason why I specialized in the Legal field. I mainly work with lawyers and notaries.

7. What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

One of the first jobs I had that got me hooked into the language/translation field was teaching French at the University of Swansea, Wales, right at the time when I was finishing my Master's degree. I was asked to help teach some of the Master's in Translation classes and I really enjoyed it. I was then hired to run the language school in St. Barts, which was supposed to be temporary, because I didn't see it as a “real” job, being on a tropical island. Looking back years later, it is quite amazing to think how much this little job has evolved and taught me.

8. Have there been any particular challenges in your profession that you would like to share with our readers?

I will always remember the long hours and sleepless nights I spent at the beginning of my career, reading the same things over and over, carrying out research on every single word or expression in order to make sure I wasn't missing anything. I still work long hours and have sleepless nights, but I am definitely a lot more confident and efficient!

9. What advice do you have for colleagues who are just starting - or thinking of starting - in the profession today?

Many people without any experience ask me how they can have my job. I try to tell them that it is harder than it looks, but I don't think they understand most of the time. You can't become a translator overnight. It takes excellent writing skills and endless curiosity! I think two of the starting points, apart from a true interest, are education and hard work.

10. Are you a member of a local T&I association in your area? If so, what do you get out of it - e.g. workshops, social events, annual conferences, etc.?

I am a member of the Association des experts de justice de Guadeloupe (Association of sworn experts of Guadeloupe). They organize training sessions for all experts, which I try to attend as often as I can.

The Second of the Interview Series by Angela Fairbank

Published in the STIBC Voice Newsletter, Summer 2019, pages 4, 5 and 6.
II. An Interview with Emanuela Gini, Translator, Conference Interpreter, and AIIC member, from Como, Italy by Angela Fairbank, Emanuela's fellow student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (California)

Emanuela Gini

  1. Translator, Terminologist, Interpreter - which of these three professions do you identify with?

I identify with all of them because they all pertain to my most important working tool: words. In my professional life, words are the “IT-THING.” I find them, take care of them and protect them. I work primarily as an interpreter, but I also translate. I love to write. When I write, I choose words carefully and this improves and expands my vocabulary significantly. I also consider myself a terminologist, because whenever I am asked to interpret at a conference, I collect as much documentation as possible and prepare a detailed glossary of terms. To me, word scouting is one of the most interesting aspects of my work.

2. Please provide a brief synopsis of your education - including language education - and background related to how you came to be a Translator/Interpreter/Terminologist.

I graduated in Translation and Conference Interpreting (English and German) from the University of Trieste. As a Rotary Foundation Scholarship winner, I also attended the Monterey Institute of International Studies (now Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California), where I was awarded a Certificate in Simultaneous and Consecutive Interpretation EN/IT and IT/EN.

3. How long have you been working in your chosen profession?

I have been working for almost thirty years now.

4. Are you currently working in-house or as a freelancer? If you have had experience in both types of employment, which do you prefer?

When I finished university, I was offered permanent jobs, but I have always been, and am currently, a freelancer. It is very challenging and demanding, because I am faced with difficulties and uncertainties almost daily. However, it forces me to reinvent myself, to discover and learn new things and in so doing, I feel the excitement of stepping out of my comfort zone and testing myself.

5. Where do you currently exercise your profession?

I work primarily in Italy, in the Como/Milan area, but I also travel to neighbouring countries for work.

6. Are you certified in your profession? If so, by which certification organization(s) and for how long have you been certified now?

I'm a member of AIIC, the Geneva-based International Association of Conference Interpreters. I joined AIIC in 2012.

7. What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

In my professional life, I have had the chance to meet a very diverse number of people from all walks of life. One of the most enriching and rewarding experiences I ever had was to work at an international conference on the Arctic, where I came across representatives of indigenous populations like Athabaskan, Gwich'in, Inuit, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, and Sami.

In general, the conferences I work for deal with a variety of topics, but there are two conference themes I particularly enjoy: philosophy and physics. I was lucky enough to interpret for three directors of CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) and Physics Nobel laureates such as Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Shuji Nakamura, and Martin Chalfie. I have learned how atoms are trapped and how blue LED and green fluorescent proteins were discovered. In addition, for quite a few years now, I have been working at a three-day conference that deals with Plato and Aristotle, matter and anti-matter, pulsars, supernovae and neutron stars, as well as Golem and Bodhisattvas. When I'm there, I lose track of time and space. It's like soaring to new heights and I become so absorbed in what I'm doing that I'm not aware of time passing. This is what I call τελεια ευδαιµονια, or perfect happiness.

8. Have there been any particular challenges in your profession that you would like to share with our readers?

As I mentioned earlier, challenges are a permanent presence in my profession, but there is one I would like to share with your readers. A couple of years ago, a very good friend of mine who owns the Mozart vineyard (http://www.alparadisodifrassina.it/en/sito) asked me to translate the libretto of Barbatelle, his opera buffa, into English. I had a wonderful time creating that libretto. I came up with an enormous range of vocabulary which I had to put into a rhyming scheme. It felt like I was sculpting words. While I was translating, I realized that so many long-forgotten words and expressions were coming back to me without any effort, just because of the music and of Mozart!

9. What advice do you have for colleagues who are just starting - or thinking of starting - in the profession today?

My advice is very simple: be passionate, curious and humble, be willing to study hard and learn, and be ready to support and share your knowledge with your booth mates. Team spirit is key if you wish to succeed in providing an excellent interpreting service.

Vancouver French and Spanish Certified Translator and Interpreter

Published in Lingostar's blog on May 2, 2019
Lingostar interview

Click on this link for the full interview I gave regarding certified translations to the CEO of Lingostar, one of the translation agencies I work for.

An Introduction to the Interview Series by Angela Fairbank

Published in the STIBC Voice Newsletter, April 2019, pages 6, 7 and 8
Late in 2018, when the STIBC Voice launched an appeal for articles of interest to STIBC members and the community, I began thinking, “What could I write to attract new members to our society, and how then to encourage Associate Members to become CTTIC-certified?” Personally, by being a member of STIBC, I feel acknowledged by the profession as a whole and thought it might be interesting to show how members of our profession elsewhere work. What's the job situation for T&I professionals in other countries? What are their specific challenges? Do they have local T&I associations where they live and work? How do they go about getting certified?

I decided to contact people I had come across both during my education and in my career. I started by writing to three friends on three different continents - one in the USA, one in Italy, and one in Ethiopia - and received enthusiastic answers from all of them. My first idea was to conduct Skype interviews, but in light of the time differences (3, 9, and 11 hours respectively), I decided it would be easier to send them my questions and let them reply at their leisure, in their own way.

Here is the first. Diana Rhudick, President of the New England Translators Association and an ATA-certified French to English and Spanish to English Translator, was a classmate of mine during the two-year Master of Arts in Translation programme at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, now called the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

I. An Interview with Diana Rhudick, M.A., C.T., ATA-Certified French to English and Spanish to English Translator and President of the New England Translators Association by Angela Fairbank.

Diana Rhudick

  1. Translator, Terminologist, Interpreter - which of these three professions do you identify with?

I definitely consider myself a translator. I discovered early on that I wasn't a good interpreter, and terminologist is something I'd never considered.

2. Please provide a brief synopsis of your education - including language education - and background related to how you came to be a Translator/Interpreter/Terminologist. For example, immersion in foreign countries and culture, university education, mentorship, internship, etc.

I wish I could say that my family is half French and half Spanish, and that I grew up in countries all over the world. But the boring truth is that I was born and raised in a monolingual household and attended monolingual schools. However, I've always been fascinated by other cultures, and when I had my first French class at age 13, I knew I wanted a career in languages. This insight led me to attend Middlebury College in Vermont to major in French and Spanish. Then I went to the Monterey Institute in California to get my master's degree in translation. Along the way, I studied in France and Spain for my third year of college, worked as an au pair in Barcelona, attended graduate school in Belgium for a semester--all necessary preparation for my profession.

3. How long have you been working in your chosen profession?

Over 30 years now.

4. Are you currently working in-house or as a freelancer? If you have had experience in both types of employment, which do you prefer?

For most of those 30 years, I've worked as a freelancer, but just last year I took a part-time position as a project manager/translator for a small translation agency. If I had to pick only one, I would definitely choose freelancer. Business offices are not my preferred milieu.

5. Where do you currently practice your profession?

Just north of Boston, Mass. I've moved to a house where I have my own, separate office that I'm quite pleased with.

6. Are you certified in your profession? If so, by which certification organization(s) and for how long have you been certified now? If you are certified, once you became certified, did you notice your income increase slightly, moderately, or substantially?

I am certified in both French and Spanish to English by the American Translators Association. I do get the occasional job through my membership and certification with them, but I think the true benefit of joining an organization is that it shows you are serious about your profession. And the professional interaction is wonderful.

7. What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

I have a favorite client (sshhhh!), who gives me very challenging, very interesting work in the advertising field. So it's actually transcreation. One particularly fun job was writing ad copy for a French clothing line that played with expressions containing the word “look.” With this same client, my translation on the history of a modern art museum was published as well.

8. Have there been any particular challenges in your profession that you would like to share with our readers?

One of the hardest aspects of this job for me is accepting criticism of my work. My secret conviction is that we all think we're the best translator in the room, so when an agency sends back my translation edited by someone else, especially when that editor finds actual improved solutions, I have to remind myself it's an opportunity for growth.

9. What advice do you have for colleagues who are just starting - or thinking of starting - in the profession today?

This is a tricky one. Some in our profession are foretelling the End of Days due to the advent of neural machine translation, while others predict that all future translators will in fact just be post-editors of machine translation. The positive ones say there will always be a place for translators who write very well and go beyond what a machine can do. My advice would be to proceed with caution and have a backup plan.

10. Are you a member of a local T&I association in your area? If so, what do you get out of it - e.g., workshops, social events, annual conferences, etc.?

I'm the president of the New England Translators Association. My relationship with the association, spanning decades, has given me regular clients, friendships, learning experiences, opportunities to get involved, and so much more. Not to sound like a paid advocate, but I think it's essential for translators and interpreters to join a local T&I group.

11. Is there anything I missed that you would like to add?

Thank you for the opportunity, and good luck to your organization.

The ATA 59th Annual Conference, New Orleans LA, October 24 - 27, 2018

by Angela Fairbank, Certified Translator (Spanish to English) and published in the STIBC Voice Newsletter, January 2019, pages 4-5
In October 2018, I travelled to New Orleans to attend the 59th conference of the American Translators Association (ATA). As the ATA is much larger than STIBC, I was curious to see how they ran things, and wondered if I could bring back some ideas for our own, smaller, organization. For a bit of background, ATA and the CTTIC - STIBC's umbrella organization - are both members of the International Federation of Translators (known by its French acronym FIT), which now represents 100,000 translators and interpreters in 130 countries on five continents, according to its President, Kevin Quirk of Norway, one of the speakers opening the ATA conference. Now 65 years old, FIT will hold its next conference in Varadero, Cuba in 2020.

According to its president Corinne McKay, the ATA currently has a stable membership of 10,000-plus members worldwide, of whom 83% renew annually. If you live and work in the USA, you become an “active” member once you are certified, whereas if you live and work outside of the USA, you will be a “corresponding” member upon certification. About 1,800 members are currently certified. The ATA holds certification exams several times a year in various parts of the country (and the world), including computer-written exams (bring your own laptop) since 2016. As of 2018, English to Arabic and Chinese to English are now among the 30 exam language combinations offered; 130 certified graders mark about 500 exams a year, of which, on average, only about 20% achieve passing marks. The September/October 2018 issue of the ATA Chronicle, the association's bi-monthly magazine, lists 44 newly-certified members in 13 language combinations. To pass the ATA certification exam, you need to achieve 83% in each text (no more than 17 points deducted). If the markers deduct 18 points or more, you fail. Nevertheless, for each language combination you do pass, you will receive a seal to certify your translations. In comparison, STIBC only issues one seal per person, with no language combination mentioned on it.

In 2018, the cost of each 3-hour exam was only $300, but as of January 1, 2019, this fee was raised to $525! The exam offers three passages of 225-275 words each, all presenting some challenges, of which you must translate only two. All texts are general interest, needing no special dictionaries. The instructions preceding each passage indicate the text's source and purpose of the translation, such as publication or professional use.

ATA59 logo ATA59 badge

The ATA's size means members have more benefits at no extra charge by joining divisions, some language-specific (French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Nordic languages, etc.), others subject-related (education, science & technology, interpretation, literary, medicine, government, etc.) New divisions for law and audiovisual were added in 2018.

Besides the many networking opportunities, perhaps the main reason why people go to the ATA annual conference is the large range of continuing education and learning opportunities available. This year, 375 session proposals were received, then whittled down to 175 for presentation over three days in 1-hour segments, with 15 presentations held simultaneously each hour. Subjects varied widely, as did language concentration and target audience. A colour-coded guide in the conference handbook helped us decide which ones to choose.

In addition to a job fair held by 31 recruitment agencies in two 2-hour evening sessions, a conference-long exhibition took place. Sixty-seven booths were staffed by translation and interpreting agencies, schools offering courses in translation and interpreting, US government agencies, CAT tool software vendors, and interpreting associations such as NAJIT, among others.

ATA board podium ATA59 literature ATA reception

The first day, Wednesday, was an extra “Advanced Skills and Training Day” with morning and afternoon sessions. The more useful of the two courses I took was on how to pass the ATA Spanish into English exam, held by two former instructors from my Alma Mater in California. One of them was ATA-award-winning Holly Mikkelson of Court Interpreting fame, now nearing retirement, and author of several celebrated books and articles on this profession. That evening, a “Buddies Welcome Newbies” session helped first-time ATA-conference-goers like myself meet those who had been to ATA meetings before and get tips on how to make the most of the four days. Following this meetup was a cocktail party that included a free drink and nibbles, with tables set up specifically for meeting people in the various divisions.

The Thursday and Friday mornings started early for attendees lucky enough to be staying at the conference hotel, with Zumba and Stretching classes, as well as a continental breakfast where you could meet the ATA board. Thursday's opening session began with a welcome speech from New Orleans' mayor, then board members were introduced, and we had a general introduction to the ATA. Another general session focused on presenting awards, for school outreach (where members visit schools to talk with the youngest generation of linguists about careers in T&I), for excellence in literary translations, and for outstanding service to the T&I profession. This year the recipient of the ATA's highest honour was a pioneer of simultaneous interpreting born in 1924 who interpreted during the Nuremberg Trials.

I attended five lectures during the Thursday and Friday sessions, ranging from the use of gender-neutral language in France and pitfalls to avoid while subtitling films in Spanish using on-line dictionaries from Spain's Real Academia (Royal Academy), to modern careers available to linguists and how to set freelance translation rates. I also learned a bit about how medical interpreting was arranged in the USA.

horse and carriage man playing tuba Bourbon Streeet sign

On Saturday, however, I could not attend any of the almost 70 presentations on offer as I was busy writing my ATA certification exams. Better to try them now, I figured, than next year, when they will cost almost twice as much (I have just found out that I passed my exam, so am now ATA-certified for French to English!).

For STIBC members interested in attending an ATA conference, the following cities will host the event over the next five years: Palm Springs (2019), Boston (2020), Minneapolis (2021), Los Angeles (2022) and Miami (2023). Perhaps I'll see you at one of them!

Now That I'm a STIBC Associate Member, How Do I Get Work?

by Angela Fairbank, Certified Translator (Spanish to English) and published in the STIBC Voice Newsletter September 2018, page 3
This was my question when I rejoined STIBC after many years away. My multifaceted freelance business constantly evolves, and in September 2017 I decided to make my translation and interpretation work more full-time. I certainly didn't become flooded with work on joining STIBC: no job referrals came from STIBC itself since I wasn't a Certified Member yet. And I didn't expect to write the certification exams until May 2018. So what was I to do in the meantime?

STIBC logo

As one suggestion from STIBC was to apply to become an ICBC Approved Translator/Interpreter, I went to my local driver's licensing office and asked them what they needed besides a copy of my STIBC membership card. They gave me a form to fill out, an ethics code to sign, and asked for copies of my M.A. in Translation (for approval in French) and my Community Interpreting Certificate from VCC (for approval in Spanish). Then I waited for about a month for ICBC to add my name to their on-line approved translators and interpreters list as they only update it periodically. Although they have different translation needs for driver's licences, marriage certificates, driving histories, and so on, it gets easier once you get the hang of it, and when your clients come in person to pick up the translation package, you get to meet them face to face!

ICBC logo

Next, I Googled, then called Vancouver-area translation and interpreting agencies, sending out my CV to any who expressed interest. Truth be told, I was more successful with agencies in the USA and Europe. One agency in Vancouver turned me down flat (despite 35+ years of experience and STIBC and ATA affiliation), saying they only accepted Certified Translators/Interpreters in my language combination.

So, what next? Since I felt comfortable interpreting in health care situations, I sent my CV to the Provincial Language Services (PLS) of the Provincial Health Services Authority and waited. It took a few months to hear from them, as they only recruit when they are short of interpreters. They interviewed me and I had to fill out several forms, in addition to paying for a police check and buying WorkSafe BC insurance. Their contract is extremely long and they have many rules and regulations, but now that I've managed to figure out their system, I have been working pretty steadily for them. They only require that you be available to them for 20 hours a month, so that leaves time to work for other agencies at perhaps slightly higher pay - if you are lucky and good at negotiating!

PHSA logo.jpg

I began attending online free monthly sessions with interpreterslab.org. Through them I heard about the non-profit Abbotsford Community Services' Interpretation & Translation Services (ITS) and DiverseCity in Surrey, and signed up with both of them. Although the pay isn't great in any of these organizations, I've become more familiar with the healthcare system in the Lower Mainland. Working a few hours a week, mostly with new Canadians, is rewarding - people are all very friendly and very grateful for the linguistic help.

ITS logo Diversecity logo

Now, after almost a year, with a mixture of work from these and other interpreting agencies, translation assignments from my long-term contacts in Europe, the USA, and Vancouver, plus direct clients through ICBC, along with the translations I do as a volunteer for Translators Without Borders and other non-profits, I was kept fairly busy while I was awaiting the results of my certification exams.

twb logo

If you've just joined STIBC as an Associate Member and haven't decided what to do next, I hope that these ideas will help you organize your freelancing better until you become certified. Once that happens, doors to more work (and hopefully higher income) should open for you!

Interview with Angela, Interpreter and Translator from French and Spanish to English

This was an interview published online in July 2011, by one of the agencies I work for.

First things first, we would love to learn more about you: why and when did you decide to become a translator/interpreter? Where did the idea stem from, and have you ever considered doing anything else?

I took a course in high school regarding career choices and wrote my final project about those options in which foreign languages (as these were my strongest subjects at school) could be used. Of all the professions I researched, I liked best the idea of becoming a conference interpreter at the United Nations, as it offered the opportunities of a great deal of travel, a good salary, meeting important people who could change the world for the better (by preventing war and promoting peace) and, more importantly, I would be using my language skills to help people communicate with each other. I then planned my university curriculum around obtaining this goal. It involved studies in Vancouver, Quebec, California, Spain, France and the École de Traduction et d'Interprétation in Geneva, Switzerland.

If the language career had not worked out for me, I did have a few back-up options. The first of these was as a classical musician since I studied piano up to the A.R.C.T. (Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto) performance level. More recently, however, I have added language teaching, editing & proofreading, photography, videography, writing, marketing & sales, website creation & design, tour guiding and other skills to my own company's business package, so as to keep things fresh and stimulating, to exercise different parts of my brain, and to offer a wider range of products and services to my clients.

How different is being a translator/interpreter from what you had expected?

Well, I never made it quite so far as becoming a UN conference interpreter, although I did write the UN translation exam after completing studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California - at the time, the only university in North America that offered a Master's Degree in Conference Interpretation. Moreover, I did contract work for the European Communities for four years so had the chance to experience being part of a large multi-governmental organization. However, I am much happier in my current situation, since, as a freelancer, I own my own company, enjoy traveling for business all around the world and am at liberty to choose when, where and for whom I work. However, interpreting for business meetings can be stressful as I am more often than not the sole interpreter for these assignments that can go on for several days in a row and include interpreting during meals as well as tour guiding!

In your opinion, what is the best way to learn a foreign language? How did you learn your languages?

The first way to learn a foreign language is to be born into it - i.e. to be born to bilingual or multilingual parents or into a community where the language of communication is different from that spoken by your family at home, and consequently to hear both (or more) languages around you constantly from a very young age. Languages are much easier to learn when you are young.

The second way is take courses in the language. I studied French, German and Latin, in addition to English, in high school, and started Spanish and Swedish at university, ending up with a B.A. in French and Spanish. After my post-graduate studies at Monterey, I worked in Belgium for six years and took some courses in Dutch. I later worked in Hong Kong for eight years where I picked up a little Mandarin and a little Cantonese. On my return to Vancouver, I studied Italian, and the addition of this language to my linguistic portfolio enabled me to work in the Caribbean on cruise ships catering to European passengers. Portuguese has been my latest language acquisition as I now work with the Portuguese and Brazilian markets for a couple of clients so need to be able to communicate with them and/or their customers.

The third way to learn a foreign language is to become completely immersed in it by living, working and traveling in the country where the language is spoken and, consequently, being forced to speak it. Living in Hong Kong as I did when it was still under British rule, I was never really obliged to learn Chinese as all my colleagues spoke English as did most shop people I came in contact with. Today things are different and were I to live and work in Hong Kong today, I would probably have to work harder to learn Cantonese and Mandarin.

What are the challenges of being a translator/interpreter? What are the perks?

The principal challenges are finding enough work to keep the bills paid and enough variety of work to keep the brain stimulated, but this is probably true of any freelancer and is mainly why I personally offer a diversified portfolio of skills to serve a number of markets and a range of clients. The extra challenge in a polyglot is managing somehow to compartmentalize all your languages in separate areas of your brain, not to mention to be able to call instantly upon the specialized vocabulary that you have built up in your memory throughout the years.

The perks of a linguist in general are multiple: you understand a lot more of what is going on around you when you travel or when you are in multilingual situations, such as conferences and trade shows. You get to travel a lot for business and have interesting conversations with people you would not ordinarily meet if you did not speak their language. Your world of possibilities widens exponentially every time you learn a new language. But the main perk is still, ultimately, the satisfaction you feel when you do help two or more people who don't speak the same language to communicate with each other.

   
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