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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.
  • 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.


  • 02/15/2015 11:57 AM | Anonymous
    Courtroom Dilemmas for the Court Interpreter
    Presented by Alexandra Wirth

    Among the presentations at MATI’s 11th Annual Conference in Madison, Wisconsin in September was Alexandra Wirth’s presentation, titled “Courtroom Dilemmas for the Court Interpreter.” Wirth’s introduction addressed common misconceptions surrounding court interpreting, as she first defined what court interpreters are NOT: “translators,” advocates, social workers, community liaisons, drivers (gasp!), courthouse tour guides (ugh!), and “the help” (EEK!).

    Examples from Wirth’s personal experiences with unprofessional conduct on the part of court personnel toward the interpreter demonstrate the extent to which court interpreters are misunderstood and taken for granted. Wirth, who holds an MA in Applied Linguists and was among the first certified court interpreters in the state of Wisconsin, has encountered such undermining treatment as a judge instructing bilingual members of the jury to evaluate the interpreter’s performance and bilingual attorneys acting as interpreters for their own clients—and often quite unsuccessfully.

    Both examples compromise the quality of legal representation and consume valuable time when the interpreter must “re-render” court proceedings for the client. Thus, according to Wirth, those entering the field must have a strong sense of their role within legal proceedings to confront misconceptions and conduct themselves professionally.

    For Wirth, court interpreters are, fundamentally, professionals of the language services industry with highly specialized skills that allow them to accurately render the proceedings of a court. They are, moreover, officers of the court who assist individuals with limited English proficiency to understand their legal proceedings. This means that the court interpreter is an essential component of due process, without whom proceedings with parties of limited English proficiency could not take place.

    Still, Worth noted that the court interpreter must also understand her limitations. While she strives to remain impartial, she must also foster an awareness of her own limitations as a human. As a professional ensuring the transparency of due process, she must also take the necessary actions to ensure that her limitations do not affect the proceedings of the court.

    Limitations that the court interpreter faces include a lack of professional training, lack of familiarity with the subject matter, what Wirth referred to as the “know-it-all syndrome,” physical limitations due to fatigue, and conflicts of interest. She presented many steps that the court interpreter might take to overcome these limitations. Solutions include formal training, improving one’s skills through specialization, carrying out self-study through the development of glossaries, and reading materials in one’s working languages.

    Understanding one’s limitations also requires the court interpreter to be candid about her skills, turn down jobs beyond her knowledge base, and work in teams to ensure that fatigue does not hinder due process. Wirth noted that while interpreters may feel inclined to impress by interpreting beyond the recommended 20-30 minute periods of continuous interpretation, that decision will compromise the quality of the court proceedings, resulting in distortion of meaning, more frequent errors and an overall decline in quality that will have a permanent impact on the outcome of a case.

    Wirth pointed to team interpreting as an excellent solution for mitigating the physical limitations that all interpreters face, and she provided guidance for how interpreters might operate successfully as a team. This includes establishing ground rules before the start of proceedings to agree on breaks, signals, terminology, handling discrepancies, etc. Wirth also noted that creating an environment of positive team support begins with being there for one’s teammate (i.e. not taking a trip to the vending machine during one’s “break” period). And, as Wirth noted, working collaboratively and interdependently allows for a better overall collective product in which each interpreter can take pride.

    Finally, Wirth conveyed concern about where decisions on court interpreters currently originate, as committees to improve interpretation under-represent court interpreters. Wirth noted that it’s all about how the community perceives court interpretation. Her presentation aptly demonstrated that the perception of the court interpreter should begin with the court interpreter, and by conducting themselves professionally, participating in training and working cohesively with legal practitioners and other interpreters as an officer of the court, interpreters will only raise their standing within the field.

    Alexandra Wirth is a Federally Certified and Wisconsin Certified Spanish Court Interpreter. She received her Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics from Pontifica Universidad Catolica del Ecuador (PUCE). In addition Ms. Wirth has a B.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Ms. Wirth frequently interprets in Juvenile and Adult Court in Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Washington counties. Ms. Wirth also works in Federal court and for several governmental agencies. Ms. Wirth is working on her PhD in Applied Linguistics with a focus on Psycholinguistics research in the area of Second Language Acquisition in Children in the Autism Spectrum.

  • 02/09/2015 9:23 AM | Meghan McCallum (Administrator)

    University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: 

    Master of Arts in Language, Literature, and Translation


    This is the first installment in a series on translation and interpreting programs in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

    The Translation & Interpreting Studies (TIS) MA concentration within the Master of Arts in Language, Literature, and Translation (MALLT) program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is an ATA-approved online degree program offering professional and research tracks as well as joint Master degrees with the School of Information Studies (MLIS/MALLT-Translation Professional Track) and the Lubar School of Business (MBA/MALLT-Translation Professional Track); the different tracks allow alignment with a student’s professional goals. A Graduate Certificate program is also available. Language pairs offered include Arabic to English, English to Spanish, French to English, German to English, Russian to English, Italian to English and Spanish to English. Students complete the program in two to seven years, depending on their degree.

    TIS courses include language-specific introductory, advanced translation and literary translation courses as well as non language-specific courses such as editing for translation, translation theory, comparative systems for translation, project management in translation, computer-assisted translation, consecutive interpreting, ethics in interpreting, and an internship in translation.

                All applicants to the Translation concentration must pass a two-part qualifying exam including a translation and an essay written in English; see for more information on eligibility requirements.

    Kate Scholz, Senior Lecturer, Lorena Terando, Chair of Translation and Interpreting Studies, and Leah Leone, Assistant Professor, answered MATI’s questions on the program.

    Q.    What draws students to the program?

    A.  The intense pace of globalization—which remains strong even in times of economic slowdown—creates demand for qualified translation and interpreting professionals that far exceeds the supply of qualified linguists. Many students are attracted to Translation and Interpreting Studies because they are passionate about language, and they are excited about gaining the skills and knowledge needed to build a long-term career on that passion.

    Since UW-Milwaukee’s program is fully online, our community of online students currently includes students in the Midwest, throughout the United States, and in South America, Europe, and the Middle East. As long as students have reliable Internet access, they can fully participate in our courses. The diversity of our student population is a tremendous asset to our online classrooms, as students contribute linguistic, cultural, and professional perspectives that enrich discussion and collaborative projects.

    Many students find UW-Milwaukee to be an affordable option for graduate study. UW-Milwaukee charges a flat fee for all graduate courses in Translation & Interpreting Studies. This means that non-residents of Wisconsin pay the same tuition rates as our in-state students. Also, full-time students in the Milwaukee area can earn tuition remission by working as part-time Teaching Assistants for undergraduate language courses at the university. Teaching experience often proves to be a rewarding form of professional development for our students and opens up additional career prospects after graduation.

    Q.    How has the program evolved over the years?

    A.  From its beginning as an on-site Master’s/Graduate Certificate program in 1997 with a limited number of language pairs, UW-Milwaukee’s program has evolved into a fully online program with seven language pairs and a broad array of course offerings. Our student population has grown from three students in 1997 to 20 by 2001, all located in Southeastern Wisconsin, to more than 50 students located on four continents now. This diversification of our student population is one of the most exciting aspects of our program’s growth, and we look forward to collaborating with an even broader range of students—both local and remote—in the coming years.

    Q.    How does this program prepare students for their chosen career paths?

    A.  The Translation and Interpreting Studies curriculum at UW-Milwaukee is designed with the diverse global marketplace for language services in mind. Students in the Master’s and Graduate Certificate programs tailor their coursework to align with their unique set of professional goals. Our Professional and Research tracks enable students to choose courses that prepare them to navigate careers in industry or academia. The joint degrees offer them a competitive edge in niche markets in the language services industry.

    Many of our students begin UW-Milwaukee’s program after completing their undergraduate degrees, but many others come to us with an extensive professional background. The flexibility built into our online instruction and our course array enables students to craft a graduate experience that aligns with their areas of interest and expertise—whether that’s healthcare interpreting, video game localization, project management, entrepreneurship, teaching and research, or the many other professional paths that our alumni pursue.

    Students work one-on-one with a faculty advisor to select courses that advance their professional goals. Students also complete an internship, which is a required course for all students. The internship is an opportunity for students to gain experience in their area of specialization. Students in our interpreting courses also observe practicing interpreters or spend time interpreting in their own communities as part of their coursework.

    Q.    What facets of the program do students seem to find the most valuable?

    A.  Based on feedback we get from our alumni, we’ve learned that students in the professional track benefit from the industry focus of the program. Those in the research track benefit from the industry focus as well, but add an academic twist by completing a required thesis and critical theory courses that prepare them to enter PhD programs around the world. UW-Milwaukee’s program aims to prepare well-rounded translators and interpreters with linguistic expertise, cultural knowledge, and critical thinking skills—as well as a firm grasp of business trends, professional ethics, quality assurance practices, technology, and entrepreneurship that drive the translation industry. One of the most valuable aspects of the program is its flexibility: the many track options allow students to craft an MA that helps them achieve their individual goals.

    Many students have a chance to apply the skills they learn in the classroom by working as UWM Language Service translators and interpreters. UWM’s Language Service employs graduate students to deliver translation and interpreting services under faculty supervision. Clients include UWM faculty and students as well as local businesses and organizations, so students can gain valuable professional experience that reinforces their learning and enhances their readiness for the job market.

    All students complete an internship at the end of their degree/certificate program. Many students have reported that this is one of the most rewarding and valuable aspects of their graduate experience. Our internship partners include hospitals, legal clinics, language service providers, museums, manufacturing companies, schools, government agencies, NGOs, non-profits, libraries, research institutes, freelance translators, and two zoos. Since our students are all over the world, our internships are, too. Just as the plan of study can be tailored to a student’s interests, we encourage students to pursue an internship that will provide a meaningful, well-rounded professional development experience.

    Q.    Any particular success stories from graduates?

    A.  Yes! Since the launch of UW-Milwaukee’s graduate program in 1997, we’ve been fortunate to attract a remarkable population of students who continue to make valuable contributions to the profession in both industry and academia. Many current members of the MATI board are graduates of our program, as is Hélène Pielmeier of Common Sense Advisory and Jennifer Flamboe, Chair of World Languages at Alverno College—both featured speakers at MATI’s 2014 conference. Other noteworthy alums are Selase Adzima, General Manager for CETRA Ghana and the many alumni who’ve earned PhDs in Translation or related fields and now teach at universities throughout the United States, including Monica Rodriguez, Tatiana Batova, Kathleen Farrell-Whitworth, and our own Leah Leone and Nina Familiant. Our alumni network also includes a growing list of entrepreneurs who run their own freelance businesses.


  • 02/05/2015 6:31 PM | Anonymous
    Finding and Keeping Direct Clients
    for Your Translation Services
    A Workshop by Janice Becker
    Reported by Silvia Fosslien

    This article, originally printed in the Summer 2004 edition of inforMATIon, recounts a presentation given at MATI's First Annual Conference, held in July of 2004 at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

    At the end of a long day filled with workshops, participants sometimes suffer from an overflow of information, and audience attention begins to wane. However, this was not true of our MATI conference. The last presentation of the day, “Finding and Keeping Direct Clients for Your Translations Services; Developing lasting relationships with direct clients” by Janice Becker was so lively and informative that everybody stayed focused until the very end.

    Janice started out by defining three types of translators: in-house translators (the smallest percentage), translators who work for translation agencies, and translators who have direct clients, i.e. who deal directly with the end-user of a translation. Janice explained why direct clients are a useful part of any translator’s client mix. The biggest advantage of having direct clients is the opportunity to build a long-term relationship. The translator can find out about client needs by asking specific questions: For whom and for what is the translation, what is the time frame, are there alternatives? This is particularly helpful for client companies that are just starting to enter a new market. By consulting with the client, you are offering translation as a service which goes beyond the mere counting of words.

    What made the presentation so realistic were the examples Janice quoted from her own personal experience. After several years of in-house work with two law firms in Germany, she had returned to Chicago and needed to build a client base from scratch. Here are a few highlights of what worked for her:

    1. Seek out people in your field of specialization. Check the calendar of events in business papers, go to trade shows, promotional meetings, business breakfasts, SBA events, etc. You can find out who is doing business where, what companies were awarded new contracts, who is planning to go international. As an added benefit, you also become more knowledgeable about the industry in which you specialize. Janice pointed out that this strategy is particularly helpful in the early stages of your marketing efforts when you usually have a lot more time than money.

    Another possibility is finding a group that is a good fit for you and becoming involved. Janice, whose major fields are legal and business, attended meetings of Women in Trade, career nights of Women Employed, events sponsored by the German American Chamber of Commerce, as well as breakfast meetings on legal topics. When appropriate, you can hand out your business card or give a short (3 to 4 sentences) description about yourself and your services at these events. Janice advises against giving out resumes since you are not looking for a job but are offering a service instead.

    2. Write articles. An article about a translation-related topic in a trade journal can be an effective marketing tool. Also, whenever you read an article in which translation is misunderstood, use the opportunity and write a letter to the editor. This helps educate readers about our profession and establishes you as a translation expert.

    3. Learn from your earliest clients. Ask them what they read, how they heard about you, where else they would look for translation services.

    4. Solicit recommendations from clients. When satisfied clients send you an email thanking you and commending you for your work, ask whether they would put it on their letterhead so that you can use it as a reference for potential clients.

    5. Treat all clients equally well. Do not look down on small jobs. If you do not want to do them, pass them on to someone who will. Janice told about a client who was a refugee and needed to have his birth certificate translated. A few years later, he worked in a big company that needed translation services. He remembered her, and that contact a few years back brought her a major new client.

    6. Participate in continuing education courses. For her fields of specialization, Janice mentioned courses offered by the Chicago Board of Trade and the banking industry as examples. Continuous education will improve your skills, and you never know whether the person sitting next to you just might not become a client one day. This actually happened to Janice when she took an English writing course at the University of Chicago.

    7. Say thank you. When someone refers a client to you, never forget to thank the person who referred you. If you omit this courtesy, you may never get a second referral.

    The presentation was interspersed with lively discussion. Participants asked questions and shared their experiences and success stories throughout the workshop, so everyone went away with new ideas.

    Silvia Fosslien is a free-lance translator and interpreter for German and English. She holds degrees as a certified translator and interpreter from the University of Heidelberg and a Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literature from the University of Chicago. Silvia is ATA accredited from English into German.

  • 02/02/2015 7:27 PM | Anonymous

    MATI's 11th Annual Conference: Interpreting in Pediatrics

    At MATI’s 11th Annual Conference in Madison, Wisconsin in September, Jennifer Flamboe gave the presentation “Interpreting in Pediatrics: Building Blocks for Success.” Flamboe began her presentation by defining pediatric medicine, or the branch of medicine geared toward the physical, emotional and social health of individuals between the ages of 0 and 21.

    Flamboe noted that pediatrics encompasses a wide range of subspecialties, including pediatric critical care medicine, neonatal-perinatal medicine, and developmental-behavioral pediatrics, among others. The age group and wide range of specialties associated with pediatrics require a special awareness and knowledge base on the part of the interpreter.

    According to Flamboe, pediatric interpreters must continuously reassess their environment in order to fulfill their roles as facilitators of communication. This continual reassessment allows the interpreter to make adjustments as necessary in such areas as register (i.e. more simplified language for children) and in the mode of interpretation (i.e. switching between consecutive and simultaneous interpretation).

    Along with fulfilling the role of advocate for the patient and her family plus the role of cultural broker for all parties, the pediatric interpreter must also establish a rapport with both patients and their families. Taking a moment to extend ritual greetings at the onset sets the tone for the entire experience, according to Flamboe, and goes a long way toward building the trust necessary for navigating the medical encounter.

    Flamboe emphasized the importance of understanding that child health decision-making is family-centered decision-making, and that families and children are more likely to adhere to treatment plans when the child is included in the establishment of that plan. Successfully including the child requires medical personnel to adjust their communication based on the age of their patient.

    Flamboe noted that children communicate before they can even use words, so for infants (ages 0-1 year old), crying might convey anxiety at being around strangers. When working with early childhood aged children (1-5 years old), personnel need to allow for a “warm up” of sorts, by using simplified words and giving the child the opportunity to handle basic equipment. For school-aged children (ages 6-11 years old), practitioners will respond to children’s curiosity, sharing explanations, asking for patients help, and encouraging expression of feelings. Finally, for adolescents (12-17 years old), doctors and nurses will consider such issues as privacy and the influence of peers, while avoiding judgments or criticisms.

    For Flamboe, pediatric interpreting is also about controlling the flow of communication. She noted that decisions on the child’s health must include family members and providers and that it’s the interpreter’s job to facilitate the discussion among those individuals. That facilitation requires assertiveness, as the interpreter mitigates family power dynamics, cultural behaviors, understanding children’s speech patterns and ensuring they are allowed the time to interpret. At the same time, interpreters must also learn to deal with their own feelings, which can be especially difficult when experiencing a natural protectiveness and desire to nurture their child patients. Overall, Flamboe encourages the pediatric interpreter to maintain her professional boundaries and neutrality.

    Jennifer Flamboe is Chair of the World Languages department at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis., where she is also assistant professor of Spanish and director of the Spanish/English Healthcare Interpretation program. She holds an M.A. in Foreign Languages and Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with concentrations in Spanish linguistics and translation and is a nationally-certified Spanish interpreter through the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI).

  • 01/29/2015 12:00 PM | Anonymous
    The article posted here was originally published by MATI in the Summer 2005 issue of information. MATI members can access PDFs of previously published newsletters by navigating to the Members Only section of the website.

    MATI Member Publishes Spanish-English Law Dictionary

    From the Editor: Cuauhtemoc Gallegos (known to friends and colleagues as Temo) is a familiar and respected figure among interpreters and translators in the Chicago area, where he has worked in and promoted the profession for years. In fact, Temo was one of the earliest supporters of our efforts to form MATI. Now we learn that his long-awaited Spanish-English legal dictionary is available. Of course we wanted to give inforMATIon readers a behind-the scenes look at the making of a dictionary by one of our own, so we asked Temo a few questions about his project and the outcome.

    What gave you the idea to compile a dictionary in the first place?

    I work as a bilingual lawyer and professional translator and interpreter myself and I always wanted a bilingual dictionary constructed so it would list the target language single or multiple equivalents, while also offering the tools needed to choose the most appropriate ones for the task. Since most bilingual legal dictionaries don’t follow this approach and typically limit themselves to listing equivalents, I felt a need existed for a compilation of legal terms, in English and Spanish, in a format that makes them more accessible to the user and also provides the necessary tools to be able to choose the most fitting. Following such a design, Merl Bilingual Law Dictionary offers a multifaceted navigational structure and a wealth of contextual information that make it unique and extremely practical.

    What do you mean by a “multifaceted navigational structure”?

    Yes, adopting cyber language, this refers to the multiple options available to the user to find a particular word, concept or phrase. For example, the term lawyer is considered the equivalent of abogado, as are attorney at law and legal counsel in English and licenciado en derecho in Spanish. But are they really? You would want this clarified and discussed. And what about the terms jurist and jurisconsultus? Ideally you would want to have all these terms linked and at your fingertips. Simply listing cross-references is usually not sufficient to develop the necessary understanding of the connotation and legal import of these and most entries. A more complex organization of entries is necessary, one based on the structural nature of legal institutions and legal culture.

    And “wealth of contextual information”?

    You need information to understand the meaning and determine the appropriate usage of legal terms, but not just any kind of information. It has to be contextual, that is, directly relevant and describing the various possible uses of the term or concept involved. The term estate, for example, appears with four distinct and identifiable legal meanings in this book, and so does the word carga. You want to get a clear and precise distinction in each case so you are in a position to determine the equivalent or term you need. Merl Bilingual Law Dictionary does that using a variety of tools: lexical and legal comments, background comments, comparisons of same-language terms and target-language equivalents, synonyms, antonyms, lists of related and connected terms and specialized glossaries, all in addition to cross-references.

    How different is Merl Bilingual Legal Dictionary really from other works?

    On one level this book feels and looks like other bilingual dictionaries. It has been designed and printed to be portable and user-friendly. But the differences are many. A perfunctory review of a few of its 432 pages reveals that the text is tightly packed and includes many main entries rich in detail and many subentries that cover variations and combinations of the term in question. These features begin to show you that this book is and feels new and highly functional.

    If you’re looking for the target-language equivalent of attachment, for instance, you can start on page 24, where you see that embargo is the answer, but you also want to make sure you are using the appropriate equivalent and using it correctly. Besides, embargo is a broader term. You can verify the term by reviewing the information included in the entry: a definition of attachment, a comparison with sequestration and garnishment, an explanation of how embargo is broader, a list of sub-entries, and a list of related terms. Still in doubt? You may want to go to page 279 next and look up the entry at embargo, where other target-language equivalent alternatives are listed and discussed together with sub-entries, comments, related terms, and legal references from various countries.

    How long did it take to compile and write this dictionary?

    This dictionary was long in the making. Although compiling took perhaps a decade, the actual writing and final research was done over the last thee years. It took several visits to Mexico and Canada, and countless hours in libraries and courthouses in many places.

    What background do you bring to the undertaking?

    My professional training is as an attorney and as a translator and interpreter. In these capacities I have been immersed in legal terminology and in particular the interaction between common-law and civil-law traditions most of my professional career. So it is really not surprising that I decided to write about one of my favorite subjects.

    Did you consult with others in the process?

    A dictionary is traditionally a team effort. This work was no exception. Besides quoting leading scholars and experts on the subject, many others contributed directly or indirectly to this publication. I am indebted to all of them, and in particular to my contributing editors who introduced points of view and modifications that significantly changed and enriched important sections of this book.

    How is your dictionary being promoted?

    Merl Bilingual Law Dictionary’s official publication date is July, but books are already being sold, mostly through the Internet. At this point reviews are being sought and received, and promotion will start in earnest soon. Initial sales will be exclusively through direct mail and on-line, and the book will not be available through distributors or bookstores, at least during the first part of its promotion.

    Who is buying it?

    This book is especially attractive for translators, interpreters and other bilingual professionals, but I have been pleasantly surprised to learn that a few copies have been bought by English speakers with the intention of using the English language sections of the book.

    Temo, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, and thank you for your work to advance our profession.



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