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InforMATIon Blog

The MATI blog features articles pertaining to translation and interpretation. Subject matter includes issues pertaining to the field in the form of explorations into language, methodology and technology, book reviews, biographies, notes on presenters and meeting summaries. The views, opinions and statements expressed within each posting do not necessarily reflect the position of MATI as a whole.
  • 07/24/2015 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    Member Spotlight: Meet MATI Secretary Amy Polenske

    Amy Polenske serves on MATI’s Executive Committee as Secretary, a role in which she has contributed to our organization since 2013. She holds a Master’s Degree in Translation and her language pair is Spanish to English.


    Where do you live and/or work? Milwaukee

    How long have you worked in your field? How did you get started in the field of translation and/or interpretation? 

    I’ve been working professionally in the field for around two and a half years. My first experience came from the graduate program at UWM where I had the opportunity to translate for UWM Language Services. I then completed an internship at a translation and interpreting agency, which turned into employment after graduation. I currently work at Iverson Language Associates as the Quality Team Lead.

    Where do you see your field going in the future?  What are the most urgent issues to be addressed? 

    The translation and interpreting industry is rapidly growing. With this in mind, an important issue that should remain a focus of our profession is education in language, translation, and interpreting. I believe it is important that the individuals newly entering this field come with the proper education and understanding of what it takes to be a professional translator, interpreter, or project manager. MATI is a great place for professionals at all levels to connect and promote education and awareness of our field.


    Do you have any tips for those starting out in the field? For those who’ve been in the field? 

    Get involved! The people I’ve met through school, work, and organizations like MATI and ATA have opened up opportunities to me that I wouldn’t have had working just on my own. It’s also fun to collaborate with others who have the same passion for language as I do. 


    What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your profession? 

    Expect the unexpected. While it’s smart to be prepared and anticipate potential project issues, unexpected problems do happen. In these situations, it’s important to manage these problems with a level head by taking the time to think through possible solutions before jumping to action.


    Why did you decide to join MATI? 

    I was interested in meeting other professionals in my field to see how others were using their skills and learn what different career options were possible.

  • 07/22/2015 8:00 PM | Anonymous

    Taking pride in your work even 
    before you translate a single word

    By Joseph Wojowski

    Article reprinted with permission from Wojowski’s Translation Technology Blog.

    I was asked a few months ago to write a post on translator scammers by a respected colleague of mine. At first I did not think that it related to the overall theme of my blog, but after some thought, I realized that not only did it apply, but it was also an important topic to talk about for the continued success of my fellow translators and interpreters. This is not the first time this issue has been brought up in the industry, but for some, it bears repeating. So let me start with a little anecdote.

    As Director of Operations and being in charge of hiring in my regular full-time position, I write in every job posting, “Please send résumés in PDF format. Only résumés in PDF format will be considered.” I have been criticized a few times by co-workers because they do not see this as a necessity. My reasoning behind asking for this is in two parts: first, I want to see if an applicant can read and follow directions, and secondly, I want the applicant to understand that I, as a prospective employer, respect their work history and that I expect the same respect from them for the same. So how does the second point apply? Editable documents such as text files and word documents are called that for a reason – they are editable. If someone were to receive a CV or résumé and did not want to make it look as if the applicant were as qualified as they actually are, it would be very easy for the recipient to modify the applicant’s résumé and make modifications. While PDF documents can still be modified, the person carrying out these modifications would have a harder time doing so than with Word documents.

    The same thing applies to translator and interpreter résumés and CVs, perhaps even more so. Contracted positions are at a higher risk because CVs are not simply sent out every couple of years to get a salaried position. CVs are our ambassadors for our brand and draw people in to contract us out for work. We have spent years going to school and years building a name for ourselves in the field but there are people who are actively seeking out CVs and resumes that are editable, changing the contact information, nothing else, and submitting the fraudulent CV as their own to get work. The unsuspicious agency receives the fraudulent CV, checks out the legitimate translator’s credentials and uses the contact information found on the CV to hire the thief; the thief will delay delivery of the translation and if s/he delivers at all, the translation will almost always be poor in quality due to free, public machine translator use without post-editing. The scammed project or quality manager may then contact the actual provider regarding issues and the translator would then be completely unaware that the scam was going on, then having to deal with the headache of trying to repair a damaged reputation.

    Similarly, these scammers can pose as translation companies or independent project managers and prey on unsuspecting freelance translators. They will set up jobs and contract freelancers out for projects, overpay by check and then ask the freelancer to send a check with the difference. Meanwhile, the original check to the freelancer is bounced, the freelancer gets charged a bounce fee, and the check to the thief with the difference gets cashed. What ends up happening is that the freelancer gets taken for a ride and penalized twice for performing a legitimate service.

    Combating these con-men

    First and foremost, I believe in being pro-active in all matters dealing with fraud. The harder you make it for someone to steal your credentials the less-likely someone will be to do so. In my honest opinion, it is worth the time to make stealing your credentials harder when preparing your CV than the damage caused by a ruined reputation

    1. Stop sending out your CV in editable document format.

    I cannot stress this enough. If I were not receiving any more CVs in Word document format, I would not need to be writing this post. I would not even recommend password protecting the word document and sending out a read-only word file, the text can still be copied and pasted. I do not even recommend simply saving a word document as a PDF and sending the resulting PDF; again, the content can still be copied and pasted into a different document.

    For a medium level of security, save your CV as a PDF, export to jpeg files, and reassemble the images into a single PDF (this will also make the file size smaller). Next, go into password encryption and modify Document Restriction Settings; not allowing text access or content extraction from the document and only allowing low-res printing. This level of security prevents the reader from using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to lift text from the flat image, prevents them from copying the image via snapshot, and prevents others from exporting the images to other file formats.

    For a higher level of security, use the document open settings to restrict the opening of the PDF in addition to the medium level document restrictions using a different password than the medium level password. This will enable you to control who can and cannot open your CV and still control what they can do once they have opened the document. If you chose this higher security route, I will leave it up to you as to how you would like people to get the password to be able to open the document. A simple suggestion might be to have someone who would like to see your CV submit a request on your personal website asking for the password. Get creative, but always be aware of who you are giving viewing access to.

    2. Translators, cross-reference contact information with information found on the actual company’s website. There are also a number of references on LinkedIn and translator fora that you can go to see if anyone else has written about a company that has contacted you for services. And head over to and do a quick search to see if someone who contacted you is on the scammer list.

    3. Translation companies, when looking over resumes, check out the person’s contact information on their resume as well as cross-reference it on their profiles on translatorscafe, proz, professional association directories, etc. (when all else fails, I would trust the professional association directory over any other source). If something does not quite add up, the translator might appreciate it if you sent them a message letting them know about the contact information discrepancy.

    4. You can also always run a check on the sender’s IP address and verify that the message was sent from the translator or company’s documented location.

    It all just boils down to how pro-active you are. You do not want to be in a situation where you have a translation company on your back accusing you of providing poor translations, asking you to fix the errors when you did not have any prior contact with them to begin with. Or wasting time and energy hounding a translation company for payment when the company never really existed in the first place. If you would like another person’s point of view on this issue, please check out Carola Berger’s article in the October 2014 ATA Chronicle and check out, it has a list of aliases, e-mail addresses and listed offenses of these translation identity thieves. As always, my opinions should never be the definitive command on what to do and what not to do, but hopefully if you were not aware that this was an issue before, now you know that there is a risk and something to be aware of.

    Joseph is Director of Operations at Foreign Credits, Inc. in Des Plaines, IL, Chief Technology Officer at Morningstar Global Translations, and a Certified MemoQ Trainer. 
  • 05/14/2015 11:02 AM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    How to Build Healthy, Long-Lasting Relationships with Project Managers

    By Meghan McCallum, MATI Director

    Arguably, our main goal as translators is to provide excellent translations. We ensure that each translated text is accurate, consistent, and error-free. Many more factors come into play in a translator’s day-to-day business interactions, however. Beyond providing spotless translations, what can a translator do to build healthy relationships with his or her translation agency clients?

    This is the first installment in a series focused on the translator-agency relationship, and how translators can ensure they are providing a complete package of excellent service.

    Getting Your Foot in the Door

    Q. With more and more translators marketing their services across a variety of platforms, how am I supposed to stand out from the crowd?

    A. Getting your foot in the door with an agency can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be!

    • Be visible. Set up profiles on Proz, LinkedIn and on the websites of professional associations (including ours!). Keep them up-to-date with language pairs, experience, specializations, contact information, and a professional headshot, if possible. A project manager’s first impression of you may come from one of these profiles, so you want to be sure to make a good one!
    • Be active. You may not have the opportunity to meet your project manager in person, but he or she can still “see” you participating in online forums, webinars, blogs, and social media. If you have an active, professional online presence, you’re more likely to get noticed.
    • Be available. List your contact and social media details (e-mail, phone, Skype, website, Proz, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+) across platforms. A project manager shouldn’t have to spend time figuring out how to get a hold of you! While you’re at it, does your e-mail signature need a makeover? Be sure to include at least the basics (phone, website) in your signature.
    • Start with baby steps. PMs will likely not send you their biggest and best projects until they know they can trust you with the small stuff. That is not to say that you should accept projects well below your rates or with impossible deadlines, but if you make it a habit of rejecting all but the very best projects, PMs may stop reaching out to you all together.
    • Take advantage of networking opportunities. Participate in events offered through professional associations, such as MATI’s webinars and annual conference. Not only will you make some new contacts, but with active participation in an association you also show potential clients that you are committed to the profession.

    Mastering the Art of Online Communication

    Q. My relationship with project managers exists almost entirely online. How can I approach communication to ensure that I will get repeat work from a project manager?

    A. Project managers can receive hundreds of e-mails per day, and communication etiquette (or lack thereof) can make or break your relationship with them. Here are some tips for successful communication.

    • Respond in a timely manner. One of a project manager’s most important tasks is to keep his or her projects running on schedule. With multiple projects happening at once, they need to be able to communicate quickly and effectively. You’ll make a PM’s life easier if you respond to messages quickly. Even a simple “Thanks for the project offer, but I’m unavailable for the rest of this week.” will do.
    • Use (but don’t abuse!) instant messaging. Many translation agencies use Skype; consider using it yourself if you don’t already. This way, if a project manager has a quick question for you (“Hi, could you please confirm you received the source files?”), they can receive your answer right away. On the other hand, some messages are still better via e-mail; if you have detailed questions on a specific project or anything that a PM isn’t able to answer instantly, it’s probably better to e-mail.
    • Keep messages concise. With hundreds of e-mails flying around every day, a project manager can’t afford to spend time decrypting drawn-out messages. Of course, your PM does want to know if you have questions or issues with an assignment! Always notify the PM as soon as possible when you encounter an issue. When composing your message, make it as easy as possible for the PM to figure out what your question or problem is and what information you need from them to resolve it.
    • Stay positive. Although we’re all working behind computer screens, don’t forget that there is always a live person on the other end of your messages. PMs will remember the way you communicate with them. Don’t like a rate or deadline that a PM is offering? Did the PM accidentally offer you a job outside of your area of expertise? No problem; you’re not required to accept it! If you’re not able to take a project, a quick e-mail politely declining the job will go a long way.

    Learning the Ropes of Translation Technology

    Q. How can I master translation technology to improve my relationships with PMs and bring in more business?

    A. In today’s translation industry, professionals cannot afford to not master their own technology. PMs tend to remember translators who accept their projects on a regular basis, so if you regularly turn down projects because you can’t work with CAT tools, you may fall off of a PM’s radar. Of course, you have the ultimate choice of which technology (if any) to use for your translation services. Once you do choose to use a certain technology, however, you should take responsibility for learning how to use it correctly. Hurdles are bound to come up when working with technology, and troubleshooting skills are a must.

    • Take advantage agency-provided discounts and training. Some agencies offer discounts on their preferred translation environment tool, and many provide basic instructions and training for how to use the tools within their specific project process. Take advantage of these offers!
    • Keep an eye out for training offered by your tool vendor. Webinars, YouTube videos, and other training materials are often offered at no cost directly from translation software vendors.
    • Encountering an issue? Google it first! You’re wrapping up a project due tomorrow, and suddenly an error message pops up. Don’t panic! First, Google the specific error code and/or message in the pop-up window. Chances are, someone else before you has encountered this issue and discussed resolutions online. Many technology issues can be resolved independently with a little online research.
    • Ask a colleague for one-on-one help. Some of your fellow translators may be willing to provide individualized training sessions for specific tools. This allows you to learn the ropes at your own pace and ask a trusted colleague for insight. Trainers may charge a fee for this personalized service, but it’s certainly worth the investment.

    The above tips are sure to get you started on the right foot with your project managers. Remember that among a PM’s many duties is to serve as your advocate to the client, and the best way to ensure successful projects and a mutually beneficial relationship with your PM overall is through open and timely communication.

    Do you have specific questions on fostering positive relationships with your translation agency clients? Visit our Member Forum to discuss questions with your colleagues or to request specific topics for future articles.

    Meghan McCallum is a freelance French to English translator based in Milwaukee, WI. She worked in-house at a Milwaukee LSP from 2010-2015 before starting her freelance business. Meghan currently serves on the MATI Board of Directors.


  • 05/12/2015 8:46 PM | Anonymous

    Translation Memory Tools

    By Joseph Wojowski

    The below has been adapted from "Translation Memory Tools (Part 2)," an article posted by Wojowski on April 3, 2015 on his Translation Technology Blog.

    Those who create hardware or software in any form must always focus and stay on top of how users currently use the technology and how they may want to use it in the future. An excellent example of this outside of the translation industry is the credit card. Magnetic stripe credit cards were invented by International Business Machines (IBM) in the late 60s. In 1971, they started producing magnetic striped credit and identification cards in Dayton, New Jersey. This was quickly adopted around the world. Until just a few years ago, the magnetic stripe was the basis of all credit and debit transactions in the United States. Meanwhile, Europay (Belgium) established the EMV Chip as a means for a more secure transaction medium – the first version of the EMV Standard was published in 1995. Any American who has frequented to Europe in the last decade can tell you about the looks we get after handing a shop clerk a card they don’t know what to do with because there is no EMV chip. The United States had been slow to adopt this technology because it would mean changing the hardware that has been employed for the past forty years. Only now is the Chip and PIN system becoming more frequent in the United States. This is quite common with technology and ideas, the innovators are often the slowest to adapt.

    In my very honest opinion, translation technology has operated much in the same way for the past twenty years. In the 90s, Translator’s Workbench took off as a translation technology tool. To this day, the tool known as SDL Trados Studio since its acquisition by SDL in 2005 is revered as the industry standard in CAT Tools. But I would like to pose some questions about this tool. Is SDL Studio the best option for all or most of the industry’s needs? Does SDL Studio pass the kindergarten test (does it ‘play well with others’)? Is SDL particularly responsive to the support and functionality needs of its users? With so many other tools on the market, is Studio the best bang for your buck? More likely than not, SDL is not the end all-be all of CAT tool solutions, and if one were to blindly adhere to Studio and only Studio (or any one program for that matter), CAT tool technology will pass him or her by and he or she will be left crying in the dust.

    So let’s look into the different CAT tools and see what various benefits or downfalls exist. First and foremost, let us establish that Integrated Translation Environments pretty much operate in the same way; the basic functionality of all of them is the displaying of source and target text and translation memory matches. If all you are looking for is a program to assist in the translation of MS office documents, by all means, buy a CAT tool as a commodity and go for the lowest price.

    For many, the native operating system of a tool is the biggest attraction. Some tools only run on Windows, some are web-based, and others run on java and are thus able to be run on any operating system. The two most prevalent programs, Trados Studio and MemoQ, run natively on Windows but can be run on OS X in a cross platform solution – a virtual machine. There is an issue when running these programs in a parallel environment that Mac users need to be aware of: these programs need to have the Windows folder structure (c:\) mapped in order to function; if the shared folder structure (psf\) is used, the programs will crash.

    Java platform-based tools are appealing because Java works on Windows, OS X, and Linux-based operating systems. The downside of these tools is that with the current tools available, there is limited functionality. Java platform based tools include OmegaT, Wordfast, and GlobalSight.


    The most common of the Java platform based tools would be Wordfast. Wordfast exists in four different versions, Wordfast Classic, Wordfast Pro (3), Wordfast Anywhere, and Wordfast Server. For the purposes of addressing freelance translators, I will only be discussing Wordfast Pro 3. Wordfast Classic is an MS Office add-in (a set of macros) and relies on antiquated technology; Wordfast Anywhere is free, web-based, and is greatly limited in functionality in comparison with other tools available. In addition, Wordfast Autoaligner for Wordfast Anywhere is quite possibly the worst alignment tool ever imagined. With Autoaligner, you upload the files you would like to align, it identifies the source and target files (which can be switched), you put in your e-mail address, and it sends you a translation memory – because we all know running alignments are always just as easy as that.

    The Wordfast Pro 3 user interface is toolbar based and lacks essential features that are available in other tools, like a real-time preview. The alignment tool is a separate application, and editing resources within the application are a pipe dream. The only resources available to you are a translation memory, a glossary, and machine translation is available via Google, Microsoft, and WorldLingo. While Wordfast works on all operating systems and has the cheapest initial cost of the three main translation programs, with limited licensing (licenses [$500/each for Wordfast Pro 3] are granted for a period of three years and can be renewed after that period for 50% of the full list price), limited functionality, and antiquated often user-unfriendly UI, Wordfast is last on my list of software recommendations. (Don’t worry, I have said this to Wordfast representatives’ faces when asked why Wordfast was not my go-to CAT tool.) In a nutshell, Wordfast tries to execute multiple functionalities? and provide multiple options for a CAT tool and does not do any of them well. You can try out Wordfast Pro with a free trial that allows you to translate up to 500 translation units; this trial may be found here.

    Web-based CAT tools

    Web-based applications include a variety of services such as MemSource, MemoQ Cloud, XTM, Wordfast Anywhere and one of the newest CAT tools, MateCat. It should go without saying that every single one of these tools should be used with caution (for more information, see my post on Data Storage and Security); in fact, a big part of me wants to dismiss these solutions immediately because of the potential risk to confidential information, like the vulnerability of translation memories and glossaries, or the potential leak of information to a third party through machine translation add-ons (see my post on Machine Technology and Internet Security from 9 December 2014). However, there is great value in the collaboration abilities possible through MemoQ Cloud (also possible with MemoQ Server) and XTM – this ability allows for all members of a workflow to collaborate on a project simultaneously for example, it facilitates communication between a translator and the editor and/or terminologist and proofreader. This type of collaboration is ideal for companies that need to process large documents in a short amount of time. This capability is only available with premium services like MemoQ Cloud and XTM and despite the fact that the free web-based CAT tools use https, I would still be cautious before sending documents to Wordfast Anywhere or MateCat.

    Now, on to the Windows-based translation tools. Programs in this category include SDL Studio, MemoQ, and Déjà vu. Now, before I begin this section, I would like to establish the grounds and acknowledge that I am a MemoQ trainer, I am a MemoQ evangelist, and loudly sing its praises at conferences. My bias ends there. If I recommend something to someone, I am doing it because I was in the rare position to weigh all my options and have determined that my recommendation was the best fit for me and may be for my audience as well; a luxury not very many in this profession have. (To read about my experience testing the various CAT tools, see my post Translation Memory Tools Part 1.)

    SDL Trados Studio

    Trados Studio continues to be the leader in CAT tools and I do not need to toot its horn or stroke its ego; but a positive thing about Studio is its translation window UI. The UI is tab-based and gives it a very user-friendly feel. It looks and feels a lot like working in MS Office, a definite plus. While the UI can be very comforting while translating, in navigating the program on the whole, the layout takes some getting used to.

    However, in my honest opinion, it boggles my mind that use of Studio continues to be so widespread despite areas where it falls short. Customer support has always been lacking from SDL. If you call them on the phone for help, chances are you will not talk to anyone. If you try to e-mail them, you will not get a response. I went to an SDL lunch where they were showing off new features for Studio 2011 and how if a computer is connected to the internet, the user accesses the most current help file. I asked the representative if when the computer is connected to the internet, a local version of the help file was updated. He did not know but said he would find out for me. I took his card and sent him an e-mail later that day asking my question and never received a response.

    Regarding the technical aspects, Trados Studio does not play very well with others. In fact, instead of listening to user’s needs and building additional functionality into Studio, it went the desultory route and created SDL OpenExchange, a place where third-party developers can create applications for Studio. Do you want interoperability? No problem, download the app. Do you want to exchange the proprietary SDLXliff file format to TMX? No worries, there’s an app for that. Problem with an app? No… oh, I guess you have to go back to OpenExchange, get the developer’s contact information, and contact the developer directly. That is a bit inconvenient especially considering that in order to gain the functionality you needed; you had to download a separate application from OpenExchange in the first place, is it not? When you are in the middle of a project and you have a problem, you need to be able to go to one point of contact and get the solution fast. OpenExchange is therefore not really the best possible solution for increasing functionality.

    So now let’s look at price. A Studio 2014 Freelance license can be purchased for $825.00, if you already have a Studio 2011 license, you can purchase an upgrade for $275 (≈33% for the full list price). Unlike Wordfast, once you buy a license for a version of Studio, that version is yours forever. When SDL issues a new version of Studio, you must buy an upgrade to get the newest, most up-to-date version of Studio. You can try out SDL Trados Studio for a free 30-day trial here.


    So what about MemoQ? For all intents and purposes, Kilgray just gets it. When they came out with track changes in the editing window a few years back, there were some issues. When I discovered this, I reported it to Kilgray and the change was in the next program update that was released within a month. I had an issue last year updating to MemoQ 2014, I e-mailed them in Hungary at about 10PM CEST on a Saturday, and I received a response within two hours. MemoQ is an ideal platform for collaborative projects in that all members of the translation workflow can work on a project together and even pose questions in a project-specific chat room. Kilgray writes functions into the program that users did not even know they needed, and when users see what it can do, they think, “Why DIDN’T we have this before?” The most recent of these functions is the ability to apply cascading filters to documents (example: javascript filter applied as a secondary filter to the MS Excel filter used to import the spreadsheet) and a localization package for images, so text present in images can be transcribed, translated, entered into the TM, and then packaged for a desktop publisher, so they have the text to put into the image and specialized instructions on how to lay it out. They understand the importance of interoperability and gave MemoQ the ability to import TIPP packages and the Translation Memory, Glossary, and translatable documents from an SDL Trados Studio Project Package. And did I mention the Tag insertion mode? Enable this mode and just click where tags need to go in the segments. Because of these features, for freelancers and small LSPs, MemoQ is a great tool to have in your toolbox.

    So how about price? A Translator Pro license for MemoQ is $770.00 and a yearly support and upgrade package can be purchased at 20% of the full list price (about $153) this includes all updates and upgrades, if you had MemoQ 2013 R2 when MemoQ 2014 was released and your support and upgrade package was current, you received MemoQ 2014.

    The main reason why I tell people to try MemoQ is because they truly can. Right now, anyone can download MemoQ 2014 R2 abandon their current CAT tool, and use MemoQ as their sole CAT tool for 45 days. You can try out MemoQ by clicking here. Only once have I heard anyone say anything bad about MemoQ and based on how they worded their e-mail, it was clear that the person did not understand the current state of CAT tools as a whole.

    So to bring it back around full-circle, I would like to reiterate that those who create hardware or software in any form must always be focused and remain cognizant of how users currently use the technology and how they may want to use it in the future – SDL is the magnetic stripe to Kilgray’s EMV Chip and PIN. I am of the opinion that because of programming innovations and responsiveness to customers’ needs, MemoQ truly does stand out above the rest. These are my opinions and I acknowledge that what is currently the ideal program for me may not be the ideal program for someone else, or may not be my ideal program in the future. I also recognize that I did not go into very much detail on the programs, and if anyone reading this would like me to do so, I would be more than happy to.

    One last thought to end this post: if I represent an LSP and SDL offers translation services, why would I give money to a [perceived] competitor to use their product when I can give it to a company that also produces great CAT Tool software but is not a competitor in respects to also offering translation services?

    Joseph is Director of Operations at Foreign Credits, Inc. in Des Plaines, IL, Chief Technology Officer at Morningstar Global Translations, and a Certified MemoQ Trainer.

  • 05/04/2015 11:17 AM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    MATI Member Spotlight: Meet Joseph Wojowski    

    Joseph Wojowski is a French- and Spanish-to-English linguist with an MA in French and Spanish linguistics. He has been a MATI member since 2013.

    Where do you live and/or work?

    I live in Chicago and work in Des Plaines. I can watch planes take off from O’Hare from my office.

    What inspired you to get into your field?

    I was inspired to get into languages by my own personal history. I was adopted from Korea as an infant and ever since I was a child, I longed to connect with the larger world; language and translation are the manifestation of that desire.

    What continues to inspire you?

    Technology. It’s an area that is always changing and always in need of clarification to others. I never feel stagnant when I’m testing a piece of software or building a computer.

    What is your favorite thing about working in this field?

    I love translation because it’s the living embodiment of a Roddenberry society. No one gets into translation for their own personal gain; a lot of people do it because, whether they realize it or not, they want to translate for the good of humanity. Sure, you can become successful and make money translating, but the profession as a whole is very altruistic.

    Where do you see your field going in the future? What are the most urgent issues to be addressed?

    I like to think that translation as an industry has a lot of great work ahead of it. This really is a great time to be a translator: communication is fast, the tools are powerful, and there’s plenty of work to do. The most urgent issue that needs to be addressed is Internet security—not just in translation, but around the world. It’s an ongoing process and people will always be looking for ways to break in to the most secure systems. Currently, the only way to be 100% safe is to be 100% offline. Information is in a perpetual state of being at risk and while translation data is not currently a high target, it’s only a matter of time before people become aware of the types of information we deal with.

    Do you have any tips for those starting out in the field? For those who’ve been in the field?

    For those starting out, get into the industry through project management and learn as much as you can as fast as you can. For those who’ve been in the field for a while, be a mentor to someone who’s just getting started, take on an apprentice during his or her breaks in college.    

  • 04/29/2015 8:12 PM | Anonymous

    MATI Member Spotlight: Meet Tyann Zehms


    Tyann Zehms is a French to English linguist with a BA in French from UW-Milwaukee. She has been a MATI member since March of 2014.


    Where do you live and/or work?

    I live and work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    How did you acquire your B language(s)?

    I started learning French, my B language, in high school. I had an incredible teacher who was so enthusiastic and supportive that it was impossible not to love the language after his class. From there, I continued with private study, language exchanges, and finally got my degree in the French language.


    Describe an especially memorable or fulfilling professional experience.

    I don’t think I will ever forget my first real life, big-kid, professional interpretation job. My father owns a software company, which has recently started to expand into Canada, including the province of Quebec. His product is primarily used in cheese factories, which are located in rural areas, where the use of English is very limited or non-existent. As any good French-speaking daughter would do, I offered to help in whatever fashion I could to bridge the communication gap between my father and the employees of the factory. Over the course of a five day installation, I became the sole point of contact between the Canadian clients and my father, a position which was slightly daunting at first, but which became very empowering. By the end of our trip, I felt incredibly accomplished. I was reassured that investing so much time and effort into learning another language was worth every mind-crunching minute of study.

    What program/tool/dictionary couldn’t you live without?

    WordReference. Of all the dictionaries and resources out there, WordReference has been my go-to for years. It may not be the most technical reference, and there is certainly a plethora of online dictionaries that encompass a much larger scope, but I can’t help myself. WR is the Goose to my Maverick.

    What do you do in your free time?

    In my free time, I love to do anything outside; primarily sailing (in the summer months, of course!). I spent about five years working on yachts and sailboats in Wisconsin, Florida, the Bahamas, and England. Needless to say, I love being on the water, and sailing is a fantastic medium by which to experience the natural world around us. I’m also into carpentry, frisbee, board sports, and bonfires. 

  • 03/31/2015 6:10 PM | Anonymous
    The Next Generation of Translators

    By Joseph Wojowski

    I recently went back to my graduate school alma mater to speak to its “Careers in Foreign Language” class. This was not a new occurrence for me; I do it every year to give something back to the university that gave me so much. Being a normal school, the vast majority of its graduates pursue careers in teaching after graduation. Among the many graduates of the languages department, I am one of a select few who went into translation. It was during this year’s presentation that I started thinking about when I got started as a project manager in August of 2009.

    I had already been translating documents for visa applications for two years by the time I started with my first company as a project manager. It is interesting that I have built my career around translation technology when I could not tell you the difference between translation memory and machine translation when I started. At that time, I did not even know that translation memory technology existed. I was thrown into the translation industry blind and I had to find my own way through the myriad of software tools that existed. Translator’s Workbench 2007, WinAlign, TagEditor, ProMT, MemoQ, OmegaT, Wordfast; not only were these tools new to me, but also, the concepts were new as well. I quickly came to realize that while academia had done a superb job at creating a young linguist, it had not prepared me for a business career in language, short of some translation courses I took in undergrad and a stylistics course I took in graduate school. So what did I do? What could I do? It was not as if I had the political power to try and persuade language departments to create a translation curriculum – that is an uphill battle considering time and money alone.

    In the early months of 2012 a few months after I had left my post as a project manager and gone freelance, I was invited by an instructor from my alma mater to present something on translation to her Careers in Foreign Language class. This was my outlet; this is where I can help those who are in the same situation I was once in. I gladly accepted the invitation and gave my first presentation on “Translation as a Profession.” The presentation explained roles in the industry, language pairs, necessary education and specialization, and a basic introduction to the concepts behind Translation Memory and Machine Translation, and I ended the presentation with a demonstration of MemoQ and showed how we gain leverage from repetitive text in a document. Over time, the presentation changed based on the interests of the attendees. Sometimes we discussed different ways to get started in the industry, things they could do before graduating from college to better prepare themselves; other times we discussed what employers were looking for in resumes and what they did not want to see; but one thing has remained constant over the past few years, the joy of sharing my love for the profession. Are there times as a freelancer when I wanted to wring a project manager’s neck? Sure. Have there been times as a project manager or administrator when I have wanted to yell at a freelancer to get out of the profession? Of course. We all have those days and instances, but nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing the translation industry with students of language.

    So, before I get too sentimental and sappy, I would like to encourage you, my colleagues, to take some time out of your year to give back to your almae matres. If you do not have a line of communication with the translation or language department, send a quick e-mail, introduce yourself, and offer to speak to their students for an hour. I believe that this is how we can inspire the next generation of young translators and interpreters – and we should. Aside from the translation work itself, it is our job to inspire and show language learners that translation can be and is a great field to get in to, rich with technological innovation and a variety of subjects to specialize in.

    Joseph Wojowski is Director of Operations at Foreign Credits, Inc. in Des Plaines, IL, Chief Technology Officer at Morningstar Global Translations, and A Certified MemoQ Trainer. This article was originally posted on Wojowski's blog on February 6, 2015.

  • 03/15/2015 10:00 AM | Anonymous
    Cloud Data Storage and Security
    By Joseph Wojowski

    I have been getting questions about internet security and cloud solutions, and rightfully so; everything these days seems to be about the cloud. Cloud-based data storage, cloud-based computer backup and restore, cloud-based applications, cloud-based translation memory… These all are words that are floating around the internet, TV, radio, blogs, and discussion boards. The cloud, abstract while the idea may be, has revolutionized the way we store our data—for better or worse.

    What is the Cloud and how does it work?

    Cloud data storage and computing, simply put and just as a quick overview, refers to online access to data or applications which are stored in a centralized location – a server. Public clouds, like Amazon AWS, allow clients to rent space on a larger server which contains or may contain data from other clients. Private clouds have an entire server dedicated to one client and can be hosted locally or by a third party. Applications such as translation programs can also be hosted on the cloud server for executable application data, as well as for documents and resource data. The biggest appeal to these types of applications is that a lot of them are not limited to a specific operating system. Whether someone is using Windows, OS X or Linux, he or she need only have a browser to access the application.

    Breaches in Data Security

    In recent years in the United States, we’ve learned (the hard way) how vulnerable our IT systems can be. Solutions that companies trusted with secure information, such as customers’ credit card information, have been found to not be as secure as previously thought. If nothing else, these incidences have shown that in order to hack into a program or database, all someone really needs is malicious intent and time (See Bloomberg Business from 21 October 2014).

    In 2010, the US and Israel were able to hack into Iran’s Natanz Nuclear Facility and disrupt operations, by way of a worm that found its way onto a worker’s USB flash drive, which was then inserted into one of the facility’s computers (See Wired from 3 November 2014).

    Furthermore, August 2014demonstrated that even individuals can be at risk, as celebrities’ personal cloud accounts were hacked and personal, discriminating photos were leaked (See Forbes from 2 September 2014).

    While I am not condoning these acts, I wish to use them to illustrate that threats to data clouds, servers and computers are numerous, and only intent and time are needed to break into any networked computer or server.

    Cloud-based data storage

    Risk awareness is essential to the use of any form of technology, and this begins with being cognizant of where items are being stored. For example, some programs will go so far as to automatically save documents to a connected cloud-storage server. (I discovered that little nugget when I accidentally saved a list of planned blog articles to my One Drive instead of my local folder and tried to go back and find it.) It goes without saying, therefore, that sensitive documents do not belong on a cloud server, nor do files and resources related to those documents – like project backups, translation memories, and glossaries. While it may be very convenient to be able to work with a document or resource at home, leave for the office empty-handed and work with that same document at the office, there is still a risk (if only very minimal) of that cloud server being hacked, resulting in the unintentional disclosure of the information contained.

    So what about cloud-based TM Solutions?

    I would first like to establish and make clear that cloud-based translation environments are great tools in a Language Service Provider’s toolbox. The ability for project managers, translators, editors, proofreaders, terminologists, et cetera, to collaborate and work on a project is an incredible advancement and does great things from a project management standpoint.

    Internet security-wise, while cloud-based TM tools may not be the specific target of hackers, the potential is still there and, again, it would only take intent and time for someone to hack into TM cloud servers.

    So, while cloud-based TM applications are highly beneficial for their collaborative capabilities in an industry dictated by tight deadlines and high expectations on quality, as a technology-oriented person and as someone who understands the risks involved with the use of networked devices, I cannot say that cloud-based TM solutions have replaced local applications in my project manager or translator toolbox… yet.

    Retail transaction records and governments are common targets because they deal with information that people know is valuable. While information we as translators deal with is just as important, it’s not as well known that we deal with this type of data as well. As a member of the industry I’m addressing, I would rather we be aware of the risks involved and actively exploit every measure possible to secure the data we work with, than be subject to an information breach and wish we had done more, sooner.

    And when you're looking into Cloud solutions, do not simply accept the sales pitch on how seriously a company takes information security. Ask for details: how exactly are they actively preventing an incident? The more a company touts having the most secure anything, the shinier it appears to those with malicious intent, which makes them want to hack into it that much more.

    Joseph Wojowski is Director of Operations at Foreign Credits, Inc. in Des Plaines, IL, Chief Technology Officer at Morningstar Global Translations, and A Certified MemoQ Trainer. This article was originally posted on Wojowski's blog on January 29, 2015.

  • 02/20/2015 5:36 PM | Anonymous

    Justice, Language Access, and the Interpreter: Court Interpreter Certification Program Well Underway in Illinois

    By Sasha Federiuk Carrillo, MATI Board Member

    It is an exciting time for legal interpreters in the State of Illinois. At the end of October, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) concluded its first round of two-day orientations for aspiring court interpreters in the state. Experienced professional court interpreter trainers such as Agustín de la Mora, Patricia Michelsen-King, Melinda Gonzalez-Hibner and Tony Rosado facilitated a total of four orientations, which were held in Chicago, Springfield, and Grayslake. Over 190 interpreters were in attendance, representing a variety of language pairs. Later, many of these interpreters participated in the first written exam cycle that ended in mid-January.

    The AOIC will finish its first round of oral exam administration in March, with plans to offer the orientation, written exam, and oral exam several times per year. The Illinois court interpreter registry is already available online, and interpreters who have earned their court interpreting credentials or certification in other states have started to apply for reciprocity in Illinois.

    The State of Illinois has been a member of the well-recognized organization National Center for State Courts (NCSC) since 1998. Still, it only recently began administering the NCSC’s vetted and nationally-recognized written and oral testing program to certify court interpreters. To take part in the exciting process of becoming court-certified, interpreters no longer need to travel to neighboring states such as Wisconsin and Indiana.

    Like many other interpreters, I wanted to better understand the roots of language access efforts in Illinois, what prompted the launch of a court interpreter certification program there, and to further explore why court interpreters in the state should participate in the certification program. With this objective in mind, I navigated through the wealth of resources available on the AOIC website and on January 22nd, interviewed Sophia Akbar, Language Access Services Specialist, who has worked tirelessly to further the AOIC’s initiatives for language access within Illinois courts. In this article, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look into the creation of the Illinois’ Supreme Court Language Access Policy, which served as the launching point for the statewide interpreter certification program.

    More than just interpreter certification—access to justice

    The implementation of the court interpreter certification program in Illinois, although important, is only one of various strides made by the courts toward ensuring equal access to justice for all people in Illinois. In 2012, the Supreme Court of Illinois created the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice. Later, in January of 2014, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts’ (AOIC) Civil Justice Division was formed, to partner with and support the work of the Commission. The objective of the AOIC Civil Justice Division, according to the Illinois courts’ website, is “to help the legal system efficiently deliver outcomes that are fair and accessible to all court users, particularly to those who are low-income and vulnerable. This work is informed by the principles of eliminating barriers that prevent people from understanding and exercising their legal rights, ensuring fair outcomes for all parties and increasing efficiencies to avoid waste and duplication.”

    It makes sense, then, that beyond the division’s oversight of statewide standardized forms, development of training materials and education programs for courts, and expansion of statewide civil justice data collection, it also provides language access-related resources and support to the courts in order to help overcome language barriers and improve interpreter services.

    Creation of the Statewide Language Access Policy

    In September 2013, Sophia Akbar, who has a background in legal advocacy and policy, began her important work with the AOIC. Akbar, bilingual herself, is “passionate about ensuring equal access to the justice system” and has a “personal appreciation for the struggles that people face” within diverse communities. The AOIC’s first undertaking was to oversee the creation and adoption of a Supreme Court Language Access Policy, which would later serve to identify the broad scope of individuals eligible to receive interpreter services, establish a tiered certification system for court interpreters and provide standardized guidance to promote language access in Illinois courts statewide.

    The process of drafting and approving this Policy did not come without its challenges. The document went through numerous drafts, and was passed from the Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice to the AOIC for further additions and edits. When the document reached its final draft, the Supreme Court was prepared to adopt the document in principle, but wanted the support of the Chief Circuit Judges prior to doing so. Akbar explained that this was an important step in increasing awareness of the Policy’s contents among the judiciary and streamlining the implementation process. The AOIC’s next move was a step not undertaken by many other states in which Language Access Policies have been enacted—the AOIC brought the Language Access Policy to the Conference of Chief Circuit Judges.

    The Conference of Chief Circuit Judges is a group comprised of Chief Circuit Judges from the state’s twenty-four judicial circuit courts that meets regularly to discuss administrative matters related to the circuit courts. Approaching this Conference with the Language Access Policy was a meaningful step to ensure buy-in from judges across the state for access to interpreter services, while also revealing the challenge of changing court culture. After all, circuit courts would need to re-evaluate their resources and budgets in order to support the implementation of the new policy. Bringing the plan to the Conference of Chief Circuit Judges ensured that philosophically, everyone would be on the same page. Akbar explained, “The funding issue is very real [within the courts]. A lot of courts are struggling in very real ways. Some courts require litigants to provide their own paper copies, some courts have no telephone lines in the courtroom. There are circuits that receive $900 per year from their County Boards as a budget for providing interpreter services. One potential way for courts to increase awareness among County Boards is to collect data about interpreter requests and present that data to illustrate their need for language access services and justify [more funding]”.

    In the current fiscal year, the AOIC is offering reimbursement to circuit courts at a fixed rate for utilizing the services of interpreters who appear on the statewide interpreter registry: $30 per hour toward services provided by “registered” interpreters, and $40 per hour toward the services of “certified” foreign language interpreters and sign language interpreters. In addition, the AOIC helps courts offset costs incurred for interpreter travel charges, because rural counties in particular have difficulties locating interpreters nearby.

    Interpreter Certification Program

    The courts and Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals are not the only groups who benefit from having access to qualified professional court interpreters. Interpreters themselves have much to gain by earning their professional credentials through the court interpreter certification program. Upon meeting the requirements defined by the AOIC, interpreters appear on the statewide interpreter registry, which serves as a resource for courts and various agencies to locate and hire well-qualified freelance interpreters. As a result, interpreters gain visibility and may be called upon to provide services more frequently. Although it is too early to determine the definite effects of certification within the state, the consensus among interpreters across the nation is that interpreter certification serves to bolster our professionalism, and may serve to provide us with more leverage during wage negotiations with clients and agencies.

    The AOIC website provides detailed information about how to appear on the statewide interpreter registry. Interpreters who have already earned certification through a member state of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) simply submit an application for reciprocity. For all others, the process is as follows: the interpreter pays a fee of $200 and attends a mandatory two-day orientation. Later, she/he must pay a fee of $50 to sit for a 135-question, three-part examination. Interpreters who successfully complete this written exam are included on the statewide registry of interpreters. Full certification is not achieved until the interpreter has successfully completed the applicable oral examination for their language pairs, which costs between $170-$200, depending on the language.

    It is time for interpreters to reap the rewards of becoming certified. In doing so, they will not only support access to justice for Limited English Proficient individuals within the state, they will further their careers and contribute to the professionalism of our industry as a whole.

    To learn more about the Illinois court interpreter certification program, visit the AOIC website.


    "Administrative Office Divisions - Civil Justice." Administrative Office of the IL Courts. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <>

    "Illinois (joined 1998) | National Center for State Courts." Illinois (joined 1998) | National Center for State Courts. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Feb. 2015. <>

    "Illinois Circuit Court General Information." Illinois Circuit Court General Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <>

    "Illinois Courts - Language Access Program." Illinois Courts - Language Access Program. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Feb. 2015. <>

    "Illinois Supreme Court Language Access Policy and Code of Interpreter Ethics." Language Access Policy. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Feb. 2015. <>

    "Sophia Akbar, Language Access Services Specialist, AOIC." Telephone interview. 22 Jan. 2015.

    "Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice." Access to Justice. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <>

  • 02/17/2015 8:25 PM | Anonymous

    MATI Member Spotlight: Meet Max Zalewski

    Max Zalewski translates from Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese into English. He holds a Master’s Degree in Hispano-Arabic Literature from the University of Granada, a Certificate in Arabic into English Legal Translation from the American University in Cairo, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish Literature from the University of Wisconsin. Max has been a MATI member since August of 2014. 


    Where do you live and/or work? 

    Currently I live part of the year in Madison, WI and part in Granada, Spain. In Madison, I work from home, coffee shops, a co-working space and the UW-Madison libraries; in Granada, I work from home, the Escuela de Estudios Árabes in Albaycin, the University of Granada library, and if I am working on projects that do not require internet, I will often venture up to the mountains behind the Hermitage of San Miguel. The view from there is mesmerizing: from Sacromonte, the Valparaiso extends to the left, the Alhambra and Generalife are perched on top of the Sabika Mountain in the center, and the Vega extends into the distance to the right. Being surrounded by such serene scenery may sound distracting, but conversely, it is here where I find the most clarity.

    How did you acquire your B language(s)? 

    I started learning Spanish in Grade School and subsequently travelled to Nicaragua in High School for a summer immersion program. That trip infected me with the proverbial travel bug and I have had my eyes set on the horizon ever since. While majoring in Spanish at UW, I took several Portuguese and Arabic classes and studied abroad for one year in Madrid. After graduating, I moved to Damascus to continue learning Arabic and supported myself by translating Spanish and Portuguese. I quickly fell in love with the lifestyle of living abroad, working as a translator and learning a new language. In addition to Damascus, I have spent the last 5 years living in Barcelona, Aleppo, Madison, Cairo and Granada.


    Do you have a book, blog or methodology that you would like to recommend? 

    I love reading fiction and highly recommend La Alhambra de Salomón, written by José Luis Serrano. It is a historical fiction that revolves around the life of Samuel Nagrela, the most prominent Jew in Al-Andalus. There is a theory that the Alhambra was initially designed to replicate the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem in order to create a Solomonic Republic in Granada. This novel explores this theory, and perhaps most interestingly, Serrano invents female characters who earn the respect of men through their intellect, including Ilbia, a fictional character to whom he attributes the original architectural design of the Alhambra. José Luis, his agents and I are working to get my translation published in English, but as yet it is only available in Spanish. It is an excellent read for anyone interested in Jewish history, the romantic history of Al-Andalus, the enigmatic tale of the Alhambra, as well as the untold stories of the women of yesteryear.

    Where do you see your field going in the future?  

    What are the most urgent issues to be addressed? I find it fascinating that we don’t have a way to quantitatively measure the quality of translation. People have been writing about translation theory for millennia and yet our industry still has no consensus about what translation is. The ATA has a magic grading scale, but how many times has a client, writer or publishing house ever used that as a reference for measuring the quality of a translation you’ve done? For me, never. Poof! 

    I think it is possible to quantitatively measure language and perception by measuring brain waves. It seems to me that the goal of the translator should be creating the same average perception for the target audience as the original average perception of the source audience. Naturally, this has its challenges. What is an average perception? How do perceptions of texts change over time? Are all perceptions possible to create in every language or are some inherent to the languages themselves?  The argument over whether or not to favor the author or the reader in the face of linguistic barriers needs to take a step forward and explore the essence of the translator’s task: creating access to a set of perceptions to an audience that is otherwise capable to accessing these perceptions. In the future, I see our field increasingly incorporating science into the art of translation. Machine translations already have their place in the market, but poetry and literature will be the last to use machines because they are significantly more open to human interpretation. By mapping the brain’s perception of language across cultures, I believe it will lead us to a clearer understanding of what each language’s limitations are and what we can do as translators to overcome these barriers.



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