January 17, 2019

Gross’ Honor

Last week, The Washington Post reported that Presidential asset Trump absconded with his interpreter’s notes after meeting with his handler, Vladimir Putin at the Hamburg G20. If true, this is correctly understood as an unprecedented breach in protocol and a violation of the Presidential Records Act. The noble individual at the center of this diplomatic disaster was Marina Gross, the only other American in the room, who has worked as a translator and interpreter for the State Department for at least a decade. Presidential interpreters often bring years of diplomatic experience to a summit and are required by the Office […]
April 4, 2018

Why Non-native English Speakers Have Trouble with ‘The’, ‘A’ and ‘An’.

This blog article is about articles, grammatically speaking. It is an analysis of that little word preceding ‘analysis’, ‘an’, and I am certain it is indefinite. The English article system presents many problems for non-native speakers of English, particularly when they do not have the equivalent structure in their first language. Learning their proper use is considered to be one of the most complicated aspects of the English language. For example, as a native speaker, I instinctively knew to use ‘an’ rather than ‘a’, in the second sentence because ‘analysis’ begins with a vowel sound. This is done in speech […]
March 24, 2018

A.I. On The Mind

Across the United States today English to Spanish and Spanish to English are the dominant language pairs in business translation. Experienced translators are kept busy working on Employee Manuals, Benefit Guides, Settlement Documents, product labels and Workplace Safety Manuals. But lately, Artificial Intelligence (AI) assisted machine translation is being promoted as being the next best alternative in getting the job done. Machine translation, which has been around since just after World War II, is getting better and better with each iteration, and in the end may prove to be the breakthrough that we all, in this industry, fear. But, fear […]
March 9, 2018

Prepositions are notoriously tricky to get right for non-native translators when going into English.

According to the on-line Oxford Dictionary: “A preposition is a word governing, and usually preceding, a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element in the clause, as in ‘the man on the platform’, ‘she arrived after dinner’, ‘what did you do it for?’.” On, after and for are the prepositions in these phrases and fairly straight forward for the average English speaker; however, for a Spanish speaker, when going from Spanish to English it is a mine field. The origin of the word itself gives a strong clue to what it does in a sentence. […]
February 27, 2018

Translation agencies: When price is more important than quality

A recent article in the January/February issue of the ATA Chronicle* written by John M Milan discusses the “Economics of Language Services” and more specifically why freelancers find it difficult to raise their rates. The article zeroes in on the several points: value, scarcity, marginal utility, supply and demand, consumer perception and competitive markets to mention most but not all of the topics. Mr. Milan appears to have a good grasp of economics but fails to point out that often freelance translators are not able to raise their rates because they lack significant volume. In today’s world anyone, anywhere can […]
May 23, 2017

How to Choose a Translation Agency

In the translation industry, a translation agency is useful for freelance translators for a number of reasons. There are many translations agencies out there and searching for the best one can be a difficult task. Here are a few things to consider during your quest to choose the best translation agency: Tell the agency what you expect and find out what they expect. For example, let the agency know, as a translator, you expect to be paid on time. Any reputable translation agency respects and abides by the rule of paying translators and interpreters on time. Any agency that balks […]
September 17, 2016

How Medical Translation Services Help Patients

Let’s imagine a few situations without medical translation services. A Spanish speaking male patient who is LEP (limited English proficient) has trouble explaining his Acid Reflux symptoms to his physician. A Korean speaking woman has to bring her 5 years old daughter with her to understand the doctor as he explains a sensitive medical condition. A physician, barely able to speak Japanese, struggles to explain ADHD to a child’s Japanese speaking parents. Cases like these happen often in the medical community simply because of a lack of medical translation and interpreting services. Patients have trouble understanding and conveying messages to […]
August 29, 2016

Hitler and the Birth of Modern Interpreting

In the summer of 1945, the technology and application of translation and interpretation needed a great push forward. The Nuremberg trials were to begin on November 20th. Twenty-one Nazi officials faced the consequences of their atrocities, and it was in the best interests of the assembled judges and counselors to conduct the trial in as fair and expeditious a manner as reasonable. U.S. Chief Prosecutor and Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson understood that the longer the trial, the more likely the Germans could use it as a platform for justification and sympathy. To allow for traditional, consecutive interpreting, in which […]
July 5, 2016

How to Become a Good Literary Translator

Literary translation refers to the process of translating literary works like novels, poems, short stories, plays, rhymes, and songs from a source language into a target language. Although literary translation is indeed a type of translation, in many ways, it is so different from traditional translation that it requires a different set of skills. Being a literary translator is a really difficult job. When translating literary pieces, the words often don’t have any direct translation in the target language. It is the job of the translator to strike a balance between staying true to the text’s meaning and crafting a […]