Category Archives: Translation

News

Reflections on the 2016 OSTI Annual Conference

-by Jazmin Manjarrez

On a beautiful sunny weekend in Bend, Oregon, a group of translators and interpreters came together to celebrate the Third Annual Conference of the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters.

Friends and colleagues gathered to share coffee and pastries, in anticipation of a promise of an exciting day of learning.

First up was Detective Pat Hartley.  He was very knowledgeable and forthcoming as he took us behind closed doors to a place most of us have never been: the process of polygraphs while working with interpreters.  What truly happens as the process of a polygraph begins, adding to the mix an interpreter?  He walked us through the initial interviews; deciding if the subject is fit for a polygraph, and how the detectives work closely with an interpreter to ask the crucial questions.  It was all so very interesting.

Up next was Cindy Roat, who spoke to us about technology and how it can be incorporated into language access in healthcare.  Who knew there were so many technologies being developed specifically for language, some more effective than others. What does the future have in store?  Will interpreters and translators eventually be replaced?  Interpreters and translators have a keen sense that observes and detects little nuances that machines could never do.  Not to mention machines could never understand culture in healthcare.  As a colleague once said, “machines do words, people do languages.”

After a well-deserved lunch break, we quickly got back to business.  The Annual Board meeting got on the way.  Various reports were presented to the members, including the treasurer, membership, Facebook progress, etc.  Then the time came to elect a new OSTI president, director and secretary.  Each candidate spoke eloquently as to why they were running for the respective posts.  Our members asked candidates about their vision for OSTI, and how OSTI will advocate for the profession, among other things.  The votes were in, members had spoken, and a new board emerges.  Congratulations to Lois Feuerle, president, Susanne Kraetschmer, director, and Svetlana Ruth, secretary.

Time for the learning to continue.  Jacquie Hinds and Sierra Groenewold, LPC  delivered the challenges of interpreting in behavioral health.

The group is hungry for more knowledge, some eagerly awaiting our presenter Martin Cross, none more interested than our translators as to what this knowledgeable man would reveal.   Translation is tricky, but we already knew that, yet Martin brought up some excellent points keeping our audience engaged.

As we near the end, we discuss the ATA exams.  Susanne and Denise share their experiences preparing and taking the ever so challenging exam.  The participants were quickly engaged and enthralled by the complexity.  We learned that the best resources are paper dictionaries, technology not so much.  We found out that soon the ATA would be rolling out a keyboarded exam, a relief for many hoping to take the exam next year.  This year there were seven individuals who signed up to take the ATA exam the day after the conference, and we wished them the best of luck!

Also, this year OSTI organized an ATA exam study group, the brainchild of Helen Eby.  She and the study group briefly shared what it was like to study as a group and how they supported each other in this grand adventure.

As the conference ends, we thank the organizers, presenters, table guests for making this year’s conference a success.  Moreover, a very special thank you and a well-deserved standing ovation is given to our departing President, Helen Eby.

A great day of learning and networking was had by all.  Many head out for some food and libations, while others begin their journey back to Portland. We say goodbye to our colleagues; good luck and good night, see you next year at OSTI’s Fourth Annual Conference.

News

“Death by a Thousand Cuts”

By Juan Lizama

It is not the complex syntax, long sentences or technical passages that dash the hopes of most candidates seeking to pass the American Translators Association (ATA) certification exam.

According to ATA exam graders Holly Mikkelson and Paul Coltrin, it is the many one- and two-point errors throughout the exam that add up to a failing grade.

“One of my colleagues calls it ‘death by a thousand cuts’,” Mikkelson said.

Mikkelson and Coltrin recently agreed to review translations into English and Spanish of past ATA exams done by a group of Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters members studying for the exam. The group of about a dozen members meets online on a weekly basis to discuss translation assignments, different resources and strategies for translation. They also correct each other’s work using the ATA list of mistakes and the ATA grading scale. Mikkelson reviewed the Spanish to English translations and their corresponding peer reviews, and Coltrin reviewed the English to Spanish ones. Each of them presented their findings to the group in separate online sessions.

The ATA currently offers exams in 29 language pairs. According to the recent March-April issue of the ATA Chronicle magazine, the overall passing rate for foreign languages into English was 15.81% between 2004 and 2014.  Meanwhile, the overall passing rate for English into foreign languages was 14.11% for the same period.

The vast majority of translations that are out there in the real world, which in some cases are mediocre, fall short in the sense that they are “a word by word rendering of the source text, slavish of the patterns of the source text,” Coltrin said.

“People often say that [a document] ‘smells like a translation’,” Coltrin said in Spanish, quickly switching to English. “And that’s not a compliment when they say that. If it has a strong feel of a translation, it’s probably not a good translation.”

“It’s perfectly fine for the translator to take freedoms in a translation as long as it preserves the meaning and flows nicely,” Coltrin said.

“It’s not just desirable to make the translation smooth and functional,” he said. “It is our obligation.”

Mikkelson echoed Coltrin’s comments, adding that not using common sense and not reading the whole passage before starting the translation has led exam takers to mistranslate parts of the source text.

“They can be prepositions, grammatical mistakes, misspellings that in and of themselves are not serious, but they add up,” Mikkelson said. “Those [errors] may be from carelessness, failure to proofread. They have a ‘yes’ instead of a ‘no’, ‘black’ instead of ‘white’.”

ATA graders use guidelines in the form of a flowchart with a scale of zero to 16 points per error. A score of 17 and under is a passing grade. The mechanical errors, those having to do with the misuse of the target language have a maximum of four points per error. On the second column are errors that can impact content, language use and understanding of a sentence, paragraph, and even the entire text. These errors can be zero to sixteen points.

“I’ve never seen a sixteen-point error,” Mikkelson said. “Even eight-point errors are rare.”

One of the many concrete examples Mikkelson highlighted from the group’s Spanish to English translations was the use of “earth” in a passage about agriculture, instead of using “land” or “soil”. This type of error distorts the meaning because the reader might think the sentence is referring to the planet as a whole.

“This would be a two-point error because it would cause confusion,” she said. “But it doesn’t take out a whole paragraph and the text is still useful.”

Mikkelson advised the group to be careful with the little quirks of English in adverbs such as either…or and neither…nor. Using them with “without” or “not” would make them a double negative. There’s also a reversal of the subject and the verb with the use of these adverbs.

“So you say, ‘neither did he do this’, instead of, ‘neither he did this’; or, ‘only then did I realize, rather than, ‘only then I did realize’,” she said.

Coltrin warned about falling for the traps within the passages, such as punctuation marks. He referred specifically to how the use of the dash in English is so different from its use in Spanish.

“Make no mistake,” he said, “when we choose passages, we like putting that type of challenge in there because it definitely helps us to differentiate between people that really have a strong awareness of Spanish writing conventions and how they are different from English and test takers who don’t have that awareness.”

Coltrin advises to take advantage of the practice tests ATA offers for a fee.

“Sometimes, people waltz in to take the exam, unprepared, and then they are surprised that they didn’t pass,” he said. “Later, they ask for a review of the exam, which is much more expensive.”

They could have gotten that feedback beforehand with the much less expensive practice test, which can be a good tool to prepare.

Coltrin commended the OSTI study group for their approach to preparing not only for taking the exam, but also as a way to become better translators. Mikkelson said that translation is also a great way for interpreters to improve their delivery in the target language.

And the response to the burning question from group of whether they have a chance of passing the exam—which only one member dared to ask Mikkelson—was:

“I did see some good translations there,” she said. “There were definitely some passing translations among the batch. Good luck to everybody.”

About the Author:
Juan Lizama is a native of El Salvador and currently works as a full-time interpreter and translator at OHSU Hospital in Portland, Oregon. He is a participant of the OSTI study group preparing to take the ATA certification exam.

News

Federal regulations for translation and interpreting in medical settings

Below please find the new federal regulations for interpreting and translation services in health programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Through agencies such as the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS provides federal financial to health programs and activities of local governments, state governments, and the private sector. An entity may receive federal financial assistance from more than one component in the department. For instance, federally qualified health centers receive federal financial assistance from CMS by participating in the Medicare or Medicaid programs and also receive federal financial assistance from HRSA through grant awards.

US HHS rule on Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On September 8, 2015 US HHS posted the proposed rule online and opened it for public comments. The comment period closed on November 9, 2015. On May 13, 2016, the HHS Office for Civil Rights issued the final rule implementing of Section 1557. There were 2,166 comments received by US HHS. Comments can be found at this link.

The following language organizations submitted their comments:
• National Association for the Deaf (NAD) 11/17/2015 HHS-OCR-2015-0006-1824
• National Language Access Advocates Network (N-LAAN) 11/17/2015 HHS-OCR-2015-0006-1834
• National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) 11/13/2015 HHS-OCR-2015-0006-1008
• Washington State Coalition for Language Access (WSCLA) 11/17/2015 HHS-OCR-2015-0006-1561
• Language World Services, Inc. 10/30/2015 HHS-OCR-2015-0006-0254

Full text of the rule:
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/18/2016-11458/nondiscrimination-in-health-programs-and-activities#sec-92-201%20

Code of Federal Regulations TITLE 45 PUBLIC WELFARE
Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities
A Rule by the US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) published on May 18, 2016

Highlights of the rule applicable to language access in translation and interpreting for healthcare:

This final rule clarifies and codifies existing nondiscrimination requirements and sets forth new standards to implement Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in health programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS or the Department) and entities established under Title I of the ACA.

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News

How can I become a licensed translator or interpreter in Oregon?

Recently, one of our readers asked this question and we thought others might benefit from this answer.

In Oregon, the steps to obtaining health care interpreting certification are listed here while information on becoming a certified court interpreter is available here.

OSTI strives to announce all trainings available for interpreting and translation at the OSTI calendar page. It’s also worth pointing out that many courses offered by the Oregon Court interpreting program are beneficial not only to court interpreters, but to those wishing to improve their medical interpreting skills as well.

There is no translation license in the United States. The American Translators Association has a certification process of its own for translators interested in strengthening their resume in this way. OSTI has a study group that is preparing for the ATA certification exam, and we have put together a wealth of information on how to get ready for it here.

There is more information on translation and interpreting certifications on the OSTI website.

News

ATA study program – week 1

By Sarah Symons Glegorio
Translator | Spanish, Portuguese → English

Introduction
The first live online session of the OSTI ATA certificate study group kicked off with a round of introductions by all the attendees. In addition to the Spanish-English participants, we also welcomed a couple of French-English participants and it seems as though the group may be growing throughout our 25 weeks together. Helen Eby, the OSTI president and study group organizer and moderator, explained that “As an association, we thought we should help colleagues cross the certificate finish line.” Last year study meetings were attempted but they weren’t structured enough so she developed this syllabus to provide just that. Disclaimer: This course is an experiment and is not a guarantee to pass the ATA certification test!

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News

ASTM: A framework for teamwork and quality in interpreting and translation

Thursday, May 19, 2016, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm.
Brown bag lunch.
Free presentation.
Space is limited. Click here to register
Location: Oregon Health Authority Transformation Center Conference Room, 421 SW Oak St., Suite 775, Portland, OR 97204.
This presentation is made possible thanks to the Oregon Health Authority generously providing the space.

Helen Eby, OSTI President, has been the Technical Contact for the Translation standard. She will explain how ASTM interpreting and translation standards can provide practical guidance and help set up projects to ensure effective budget use. Another member of the ASTM Translation team, a Portland based language services company owner, may participate in the presentation. This reflects the ASTM way, in which all stakeholders participate.

All stakeholders are welcome, in an effort to invite dialog about the needs of clients and other stakeholders as standards continue to be developed, and in an effort to help all stakeholders work effectively with interpreters and translators.

OSTI thanks the Oregon Health Authority for its generosity in allowing OSTI to use the Transformation Center for this event. Practical worksheets that the Interpreting Standard drafting team enthusiastically supported will be shared and made available.

This is a brown bag lunch event.

After the presentation, the worksheets and the PowerPoint will be made available as links to this blog post.

Space is limited. Click here to register.

News

How Susanne passed the English to German ATA exam

Susanne Kraetschmer, an OSTI member, passed the ATA English to German certification exam that she took at the OSTI 2015 conference. We asked her how she prepared. You can find her profile in the OSTI member profiles!

This year, OSTI members are connecting in a study group. Click here for more information.

Susanne’s recommendation:

Are you considering taking the ATA certification exam this year? Don’t know where to start? Let me give you a brief, easy-to-follow breakdown of how I managed to become an ATA-certified translator for English to German last year:

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News

Translator and Interpreter Descriptions

In an effort to raise the public’s awareness of the role of translators, interpreters, transcriber-translators and terminologists, a group of leading professionals convened to draft an outreach document describing who we are, what we do, and how we do it.

For eight months, OSTI President Helen Eby and National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) Chair Esther Navarro-Hall led this team of colleagues from start to finish, gathering comments to draft a consensus document that could be endorsed by national professional associations. The purpose of this document is to advocate for the profession by educating third parties about the role of professional interpreters and translators. This will result in an improvement of the public image of interpreters and translators as well as a demand for higher standards and quality from those using language access services.

Please distribute this document as you see fit.

What Translators and Interpreters Do

This document is also published on the NAJIT website.

Click here to see NAJIT’s blog post about this document.