April 19, 2017

To Do or Not to Do


PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Luebke with Unsplash. Taken in Rowena Crest Viewpoint, Mosier, USA

PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Luebke with Unsplash. Taken in Rowena Crest Viewpoint, Mosier, USA

This & That ― Vignettes of a Professional Journey
a column by Ines Bojlesen

Have you noticed how revered philosophers seldom give us solutions? They raise questions, they sow seeds of curiosity and trigger the desire to probe further, but give no concrete answers.

This is my intent in writing today: to mention some of the dilemmas we face in our daily work and let you ponder what you would do. A good idea would be to first brush up on one of the codes of ethics for translators and interpreters (ATA, NAJIT, FIT, ATPIESP, SINTRA or your local translators/interpreters chapter) and then consider the scenarios below. Imagine a Jiminy Cricket on your shoulder serving as your official conscience.

  1. You are asked to edit the work of a colleague with whom you have worked several times. The agency tells you the end client was unhappy with your colleague’s work and saw the need to make many changes. The agency wants a second opinion.
  • Would you agree to do it, or would you recuse yourself claiming your opinion would be biased because of your work relationship with the translator in question?
  • If you took the job and indeed found many typographic, grammar and even translation errors:
    • Would you return the text with your opinion without contacting or warning your colleague?
    • Or would you agree with the corrections but warn your colleague before providing your opinion to your client?
  1. You translate a large project with partial deliveries being a requirement. Near the end of the job, you realize you misunderstood a word—or found a better translation—so the parts already delivered should be changed accordingly.
  • Would you explain the issue to your client and the need to change what you have delivered?
  • Would you say nothing to the client and continue to use the same translation for that word?
  • Or would you correct your files, say nothing to the client, but write a note to self not to ever take a partial delivery project?
  1. You are a telephone interpreter and start answering calls from people looking for romantic adventures abroad. You spend over 30 minutes interpreting between a man and a woman. He tells her she is the love of his life, promises love ever after and even implies marrying her. The call ends with an exchange of smooches (no interpreting needed for those, relief!). A couple of minutes later, you have that same caller on the line but with a different woman. It sounds like he had his script taped, and was simply playing it to another gullible or maybe naïve woman. Unfortunately, this client likes the way you interpret and asks for you next time he contacts the agency. The calls become a daily agony; you feel you are an accessory in this deception game.
  • Would you just relax, maybe clip your nails, knit or do something while interpreting, to make those calls bearable?
  • Would you speak with the agency manager to share your concern these luring schemes could have grave consequences?
  • Or would you tell the agency you no longer want to accept these kinds of calls?
  1. You receive a large project from an agency accompanied by a Translation Memory (a .tmx file) for that client. The PO shows only 20% of 100% matches/repetitions. You assemble the project and include your own TM. The resulting analysis shows a different reality: 80% of the text had already been fully translated (by you).
  • Your contract with that agency does not mandate you delete or destroy the memories you create. Using your saved TM is not a violation of your agreement with the agency.
  • Would you alert the agency of the fact and suggest the PO be revised accordingly (adieu to $$$)?
  • Or would you say nothing, since it is not your fault the client does not store their TMs properly?
  1. I will bring up one last of many thought-provoking scenarios we may face. Three different agencies request a quote for the same end client. Because you have worked for these agencies for a different number of years, the rates they pay you are not the same.
  • Would you quote your regular rates to each agency and wait for the result?
  • Or would you only provide a quote to the agency that pays you higher rates, warn them that two of their competitors are also asking for your quote and let them figure out where else to cut costs?
  • Or yet, would you quote the same higher rates to all three agencies, taking the opportunity to inform the other two your rates have been updated?

Codes of Ethics do not cover everything and can be subject to varying interpretations. They aim to inspire and encourage ethical behaviors. My conscience and experience have taught me that there are no easy answers. It is a daily endeavor to preserve my ethical posture with the resolve to know when to do something and when not to.

April 12, 2017

2017 MICATA Annual Conference

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Melissa Harkin

Early morning on Friday, March 24, 2017. I pack my stuff and hit the road with former Brazilian Olympic athlete and long-time translator Élora Ugo and newbie translator Bruna Picker.

We are headed to Overland Park, Kansas, to attend the 2017 Annual Conference of the Mid-America Chapter of the American Translators Association (MICATA). Never having attended a regional conference before, all three of us are unsure what to expect.

We drive through Missouri’s lavender fields and corn and soy farms—a beautiful view along the road—and arrive just in time for the welcome reception at Johnson County Community College.

A reception is always a great way to start a conference. The camaraderie and networking make you feel less of a stranger the next day when sessions begin. I make some great connections and meet wonderful new people, such as Marcela Renna, Hamideh Gerami, and Amy Randles; get hit by the unexpected (such as Dr. Jason Jolley, an associate professor of Spanish at Missouri State University in Springfield, who is also fully fluent in Portuguese, and who surprises Élora, Bruna, and me by approaching us with a big “Oi! Vocês estão falando português?” which is Portuguese for “Hi! Are you speaking Portuguese?”); and catch up with friends and colleagues I’ve met through the years while attending other conferences and following them online (Hi, Karen Tkaczyk and Abigail Dahlberg!).

A lot of work goes into putting a conference together, and, after attending MICATA’s conference, I will try to go to as many other regional conferences as possible. Of course, the ATA national conference is and always will be a must-go event, but regional events also provide you with growth, learning, and networking opportunities. It’s a big mistake to completely disregard them and not support your regional ATA chapter.

Just like any other conference, MICATA has multiple sessions happening at the same time; I want to attend them all, but time traveling isn’t a thing yet, so I have to pick and choose the ones that best fit my interests, learning desires, and this point in my career.MICATA-Logo-Smaller

We all start with a plenary session by Karen Tkaczyk on Professionalizing: Find your Place in the Industry. What I find especially interesting are all the examples from personal experience she gives us, showing the crowd the similarities within diversity that can be found among translators.

While Bruna attends Starting Up Your Own Business, by Jeana Clark, Élora and I hit the ATA Certification Exam Preparation, presented by Rudy Heller and Diego Mansilla. Afterwards, Bruna mentions that her session was great and that she left it having a clearer idea of some of the next steps in her career. Élora and I report that the overview of the ATA Certification Program was excellent. It became much more obvious to us why it is a good idea to seek ATA certification, and we left knowing how exams are graded, what graders look for (and what they’d rather not see), and many other details about the exam.

Next I head to Planning Effective Translator Training, by Dr. Jason Jolley. He guides us in a discussion to outline what an effective competency-based program in translation should look like. It is quite interesting to see the perspective of educators rather than students. The fact that he discusses competency-based programs is valuable to everyone present because, as we all know, not every translator has a degree in linguistics. Some become translators later in life, after retiring, or after realizing they have a passion for writing and for the languages they speak.

At lunch, we are all gifted with Angela Tamae Liu’s fun and loving personality while she shares her knowledge and experiences with translation. What a great presentation! She speaks specifically about Differences in Anime and Manga Translation. The heavy historical and cultural load behind every story makes me want to learn more about this type of translation.

I then accompany Bruna and Élora to the session Getting Started in the T&I Industry, by Gabby Doherty and Jean Marie Trujillo. Since I’ve been trying to guide Bruna in the past few months, I feel it is important to attend this session with her so we can discuss the content afterward. Other reasons for attending sessions about getting started are to learn about paths other translators have taken when starting in the profession, and to check out new info and trends. Not every translator is keen to attend such sessions, but I highly recommend they do so. Even if you think you know it all, you’ll always come out with new knowledge.

I end my day attending Karen Tkaczyk‘s second session, A Lucrative Sideline: Editing Non-Native English Scientific Writing. Karen and I both work with technical translations but in different fields. She is a role model to me when it comes to research and technical writing in translation. So imagine my goofy happiness (which I don’t show, of course, because one must keep oneself in check) when she sits down for coffee with me, and we talk about translation, kids, traveling, and politics for an hour. It is so much fun that we forget to take a picture! Oh well, now she has to meet me again for that picture (YAY!).

What I take from attending MICATA’s conference is that regional events should not be underestimated. To quote the About page in MICATA’s website, your ATA chapter “exists for the benefit of translators, interpreters and language professionals, and for those who use our services.”

By joining your regional chapter you get the chance to meet people from your hometown (Hey, Amy Randles and Mercedes Stephenson, how about a cup of coffee?), which can help alleviate some of the loneliness we face being work-from-home freelancers. You also get a forum, a helping hand, and a bunch of colleagues who can chip in with professional advice and other relevant information.

Translators and interpreters, unite! Love your ATA chapter!

IMG_5014 copybw

MELISSA HARKIN ― A Brazilian translator residing in the United States, Melissa Harkin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law, an MBA in Strategic Management from Faculdades Metropolitanas Unidas (FMU), and a Certificate in Translation and Subtitling from Cultura Inglesa. She specializes in technical translations, especially of legal and environmental content, and has worked for several years in other markets (oil and gas, aviation, pharmaceutical, human resources, construction, energy, and environmental). As an experienced translator and project manager, Melissa has translated for large international NGOs, Ivy League universities, national and international multilateral development banks, multinational companies, and even celebrities. She is a member of the American Translators Association (ATA), the Mid-America Chapter of the American Translators Association (MICATA), and the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters (MATI).

March 29, 2017

Desafio “Mexa-se” para tradutores e intérpretes

Photo Credit: Pixabay

A partir do mês de abril, um grupo de colegas de profissão (incluindo integrantes da PLD) vai começar a participar do desafio “Mexa-se”, cujo objetivo é ajudar tradutores e intérpretes a encontrar motivação para praticar atividades físicas e, assim, reverter os efeitos das horas e horas que passamos sentados diante do computador ou na cabine de interpretação.

O desafio foi organizado por Rafa Lombardino, tradutora credenciada pela ATA e editora do blog da PLD, que convidou tradutores e intérpretes que trabalham com o idioma português a levantarem-se da cadeira e entrarem para uma competição saudável. A divulgação foi feita em alguns grupos do Facebook e o evento, com duração de três meses, está sendo coordenado dentro do aplicativo Endomondo, que usa o GPS para calcular a distância percorrida pelo usuário durante atividades físicas como caminhadas, corridas, ciclismo e natação.

O período da “competição” é de 1º de abril a 30 de junho e será exibido um ranking dos participantes na página do evento dentro do aplicativo. Para participar, basta baixar o Endomondo no seu telefone, criar uma conta gratuita (é possível se cadastrar com a sua conta do Facebook) e entrar para o desafio. Sempre que for praticar uma atividade saudável que envolva o acúmulo de quilometragem, abra o aplicativo, selecione a atividade desejada, aperte o “play” e comece a se mexer. A distância será registrada automaticamente, até o usuário pressionar o botão “stop” para concluir o exercício, e um mapa será adicionado à atividade para indicar a distância percorrida.


Para quem frequenta academia, também é possível cadastrar as atividades manualmente. Como o GPS do aplicativo não registra mudança no posicionamento do usuário durante o uso de uma esteira ou ergométrica, por exemplo, é necessário tirar uma foto do visor do aparelho usado, criar a atividade manualmente no Endomondo e anexar a fotografia ao exercício, comprovando assim os quilômetros acumulados.

“Sei que é difícil assumir um compromisso para melhorar a própria saúde quando parece que a gente está numa daquelas rodinhas para hamster: correndo e correndo sem sair do lugar enquanto vai atrás de clientes, trabalha arduamente traduzindo ou interpretando, pesquisa terminologia, tira dúvidas linguísticas e tenta manter uma atividade financeiramente sustentável”, Rafa explica. “O melhor a fazer nesses casos é combinar uma atividade com alguém ou um grupo de amigos, pois assim levamos o compromisso mais a sério. E essa é a ideia do desafio, porque faz os participantes sentirem que não estão sozinhos.”

“Mexa-se” foi inspirado em outro desafio criado por e para tradutores. O “1,000,000 miles challenge” é organizado pela tradutora italiana Tanya Quintieri e reúne tradutores e intérpretes de todo o mundo, que acumulam milhas coletivamente durante os meses de maio a abril. A temporada de 2016/2017 está chegando ao fim, mas Tanya já confirmou que organizará o mesmo desafio de maio de 2017 a abril de 2018. Quem quiser aproveitar a quilometragem percorrida em dobro, pode se cadastrar para ambos os desafios e se divertir competindo com colegas de profissão, aproveitando também para conhecer tradutores e intérpretes dos quatro cantos do mundo e, quem sabe, até fazer networking enquanto cuida da saúde.