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.
  • 04/27/2017 5:33 PM | Anonymous

    Help Us Build Our Translator and Interpreter Community

    In 2017, the MATI board is focused on providing members with more opportunities to engage with one another and the organization. We want MATI to become a hub for connecting with like-minded linguists, finding help with a challenging business situations, providing educational resources, and promoting recognition and advancement of our professions. Here are a few ways to help us foster a vibrant translator and interpreter community.

  • 02/06/2017 10:41 AM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    MATI Announces First Round of 2017 Webinars


    MATI’s Webinar Organizing Committee is pleased to announce the first three webinars for its 2017 series. Please plan on joining us for one or more of these valuable continuing education opportunities!


    Thursday, February 16, 6:00 p.m. (CT):

    “Getting (and Staying!) on your PMs’ Favorites List”

    Meghan McCallum, French to English translator, MATI Vice President

    In this webinar, Meghan McCallum will share some of what she learned having worked in-house for several years at a global language services provider, serving as a project manager and quality manager. She will address things a translator can do to ensure positive, long-lasting business relationships with project managers. From making a good first impression to turning down work without risking losing the project manager as a potential long-term client, participants will learn how to get the most out of their interactions with project managers in order to earn a high rate of repeat business.

    Thursday, March 30, 6:00 p.m. (CT):

    “Bilingual Patient Navigation: The Next Step in Language Access”

    Cynthia Roat, International Consultant on Language Access in Health Care

    In this webinar, Cynthia Roat will describe how Bilingual Patient Navigators can assist families with medically complex children in learning to navigate the U.S. healthcare system. She will discuss how interpreters and navigators together can provide a comprehensive service that both improves patient care and – perhaps – provides a “next step” for experienced healthcare interpreters in their career path.

    Wednesday, April 26, 6:00 p.m. (CT):

    “Resources to Avoid Syntax Transference: English to Spanish”

    Alejandra Patricia Karamanian, Independent Translator, Proofreader and Instructor

    In this webinar, Alejandra Patricia Karamanian will address the incorporation of English loanwords and loan syntax structures into Spanish. She will focus on syntax transference in regards to translating verb tenses, the gerund, as plus past participle, among others. Her objective is to produce texts that are written in Spanish but also read and said in Spanish.

    Registration will open shortly at Registration is $20 for MATI members ($30 for non-members). Webinars are scheduled to run for one hour, including time for Q&A. Each webinar is approved for 1 CEU toward ATA and WI Court Interpreter certification requirements. Certificates will be awarded upon completion. Webinar recordings will be available for registrants who are not able to attend the webinar live. Please stay tuned for more details and additional webinar announcements.

  • 02/03/2017 12:41 PM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    Key Components of Successful Translator Recruitment

    By Alaina Brantner, MATI Member


    A fundamental tenet of language services is that an organization’s translation product will only be as good as the translator who provides the target content. To provide culturally and technically appropriate translations, translators must have a wide range of knowledge and capabilities, reflected in the standards issued by such organizations as the ASTM and the European Committee for Standardization. As indicated in the “Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation” of the ASTM, “Proficiency in two languages is important but does not necessarily guarantee translation competence” (6).

    Source and target language, translation, subject matter and text types are among the competencies necessary to carry out translation, according to the ASTM, and firms can use such indicators as certifications and degrees, experience, references and sample translations to determine if a candidate has the required competencies (6-7). In European Standard prEN 15038, the European Committee for Standardization adds research, cultural and technical (translation technology) competencies to those listed by the ASTM. These competencies are obtained through “formal higher education in translation[,]… a university degree or equivalent plus a minimum of two years of documented experience in translating, or… at least five years of documented professional experience in translating” (European Committee for Standardization 6-7). ISO 17100 certification is based on the language of prEN 15038. Notably, firms maintaining this certification must have documented processes for the verification and maintenance of records of professional competence (Ballou). Further requirements include processes for recording ongoing updates to linguist and staff competencies, highlighting the importance of continuing education in language services (International Organization for Standardization 3.1.8).

    Whether or not firms intend to pursue certification such as ISO’s, vendor managers can benefit from an awareness of the standards and certification requirements established by large standardization and certifying bodies. This information can be a great knowledge base for initiating recruitment efforts and designing vendor recruitment processes.

    Translator Directories: An Essential Recruitment Tool

    When recruiting translators in new language pairs or specializations, vendor managers have a variety of online directories at their disposal to identify candidates. Being aware of the characteristics, functionality and size of directories not only speeds up recruitment, but also aids in the design of language- or specialization-specific recruitment processes. This awareness also helps vendor managers put steps in place to mitigate the risks associated with carrying out recruitment primarily online, among them identifying the best talent available amongst hundreds and thousands of search results (in which all sorts of big claims are made about capabilities) and weeding out any translator scammers. (Joseph Wojowski’s article, “On ‘Lying Through Their Teeth: Identifying Translation Scams’,” offers great insights on translator scammers and precautions one can take to avoid them.)

    As a vendor manager, I prefer to start my own recruitment activities at the ATA Directory for several reasons—the overall focus of which is to set my recruitment efforts up for the greatest chance of success. First, for recruiters, membership to a professional association such as the ATA demonstrates translators’ understanding of the business investments necessary to operate as professionals within the language services industry, and presumably, their commitment to the field. Second, membership also represents a greater potential for participating in legitimate ongoing professional development, through webinars, articles in The Chronicle, or the ATA’s annual conference. Members of professional associations are also more likely to have strong networks of other members of professional associations to whom they can turn with language-, process- or technology-related questions—and who they can recommend to vendor managers!

    Other well-known translator directories include and Translator’s Café (TC). These directories are good resources for languages of lesser diffusion, in particular; however, when recruiting through these directories, vendor managers should be aware that the free profiles available on these sites are more likely to attract translator scammers, and new translators who are more likely to misrepresent their translation and subject-matter qualifications. That is not to say that professionals cannot be found on directories such as Proz and TC, only that added efforts are recommended to verify that individuals’ actual training, background, tools, etc. correspond to any claims they have made in their directory profiles—advice that holds true no matter the directory through which one recruits. (Recruiters can also limit their searches on Proz to display only vendors who have had their credentials verified by Proz, a worthwhile parameter to put in place.)

    While the ATA, Proz and TC directories are perhaps the best known, regional professional associations are excellent resources for recruitment efforts as well. For example, visiting the member directories of ATA chapters and affiliates (including MATI’s) is a great solution for recruiting US-based linguists for any projects with location or citizenship requirements. Vendor managers can also carry out simple internet searches to identify professional associations and their directories for specific target countries, such as the SFÖ for Swedish translators, ABRATES for Brazilian Portuguese linguists, and the ATIO for Canadian French. Beyond these online resources, there’s no substitute for meeting new candidates in person at local and national translation events and conferences. For vendor managers and all other translation professionals, it pays to get involved.

    Basic Criteria for Identifying Suitable Vendors

    An often-quoted statistic within the language services industry is that recruiters decide whether to pursue a candidate after spending just one minute scanning that candidate’s résumé, CV or profile. This is absolutely the case, and the speed with which this decision-making is carried out is based on the reality of recruitment. To illustrate, my own vendor management experience includes recruitment of talent in over fifty languages. To carry out that recruitment, I contacted 1,000 candidates in 2016 alone, and of these 1,000 initial contacts, approximately 40% of candidates responded to my request. Of the approximately 40% of candidates that responded, around 20% met the criteria established by my firm for experience, education, translation technology, payment capabilities, etc. That is to say, for every one translator who met the organizational requirements to be passed on to linguistic testing, 12.5 translators were contacted. That’s not to mention the countless profiles, résumés and CVs that were first screened to even establish a list of candidates to contact. Therefore, no matter the directory being used to identify candidates, vendor managers should have a well-defined list of basic criteria that will allow them to quickly determine (within one minute) if a translator’s profile meets their organizational needs.

    Basic criteria are determined based on an organization’s specific circumstances; however, in general, providers of language services look for a minimum amount of translation experience, a minimum amount of experience in the subject matter, education and continuing education in translation and the subject matter, and translation technology. Minimum requirements are determined based on the verticals in which an organization works, and on its workflows, capabilities and clients’ needs. For example, the complexity of content intended for use at medical instrumentation trade shows means that recruiters will work based off much more stringent requirements to ensure that the translated material is both technically and culturally (marketing) appropriate. On the other hand, for human resources content with a limited audience and a strong translation memory and editor, recruitment parameters are more flexible.

    Regardless of the specifics, vendor managers carefully develop organizations’ basic criteria for new partner translators. They carefully analyze the needs of their businesses to—once again—set up their recruitment efforts for the greatest chance of success. Carefully-determined criteria allow recruiters to quickly determine if a translator profile is a good fit. Being aware of red flags to avoid—such as potential candidates who list too many specializations or language pairs or who work into non-native languages—helps vendor managers ensure that their recruitment efforts establish relationships with qualified professionals whose experience and capabilities align with organizational needs.

    Making Initial Contact

    Initiating contact with candidates whose profiles seem to meet organizational requirements is another component of recruitment that requires a deliberate process. During initial contact, recruiters request the documentation that will allow them to verify that a translator’s background indeed aligns with organizational needs. Carrying out this verification is incredibly important in that it protects translation firms from working with individuals who do not have the necessary qualifications and training. This process also serves to elevate the field of translation as a whole, since requiring candidates to provide evidence of their qualifications (such as diplomas and certifications) is a check that allows vendor managers to avoid translator scammers and inexperienced translators who have misrepresented their capabilities. Bear in mind that checking documents like diplomas and certifications requires an understanding of degree equivalencies and the resources necessary to verify any target language documents submitted.

    On the other hand, this initial request for documentation must also be carried out in a way that recognizes the administrative time investments being made by all participants. Any initial contact should therefore clearly define a firm’s basic requirements and the documents for submittal. Further, any forms the translator is required to fill out and submit should be designed in a way so as to capture all of the information the firm requires to establish a working relationship (i.e. experience, education, contact details, billing details, translation technology, etc.) in a single pass. Having a clear set of requirements eliminates the back and forth that results when these parameters are not defined, thereby promoting efficiency. It also allows both vendor managers and translators to determine as quickly as possible if a potential working relationship is a good fit, allowing all parties to focus limited resources to areas of greatest impact.

    Aside from giving vendor managers the chance to verify credentials and collect necessary information, the initial contact and request for documentation is also an incredibly valuable opportunity to test candidates in a variety of other areas. For example, an initial contact email with a clearly defined list of required documents for submittal gives vendor managers an immediate opportunity to determine a candidate’s ability to follow directions. Any CVs or résumés submitted also serve as indicators of translators’ formatting capabilities and of their ability to organize and present information based on their audience’s needs (i.e. information should be presented based on the understanding that recruiters will spend no more than one minute scanning those documents). When a vendor manager requests samples and translators refuse based on non-disclosure agreements they have signed with other firms, the vendor manager can take this as an indication that any content translated for her or his organization will be handled with the same care. For any samples that are provided, vendor managers can also check that no client-identifying information is included in either the content or the file properties. Overall, the process for requesting documentation is therefore designed to allow vendor managers to carry out as much due diligence as possible at that stage. Like all the stages of vendor recruitment, having intentional processes in place allows vendor managers to ensure that their recruitment efforts will yield the greatest results, so that only the best talent available is passed on to any subsequent linguistic testing phases.

    A Comprehensive Process

    The design and implementation of successful recruitment processes requires substantial investments of time and resources, as evidenced by the descriptions of the stages outlined above—and this article does not even address the organizational parameters necessary for tracking recruitment efforts or the linguistic testing phase that follows recruitment. Still, since recruitment processes are designed to establish mutually beneficial relationships with professional candidates, organizations must approach recruitment with an understanding of what their investments will yield. For instance, communication between vendor managers and translators during recruitment sets the tone for the entire working relationship between a translator and a firm. A well-designed and efficient process not only accomplishes the explicit objectives of collecting information and verifying credentials, but also indicates a firm’s quality expectations to candidates, and the kind of approach they can expect when working with that organization. A well-designed process therefore aids in attracting the best talent available.

    More importantly, front-end investments in recruitment processes allow firms to prevent the translation mishaps that result when working with untrained providers, which reflect poorly on an organization’s services and reputation and are exponentially more costly to repair on the back end than good preventative processes. A well thought out recruitment process contributes to providing firms and their clients and target users with the implicit peace of mind that comes with a consistent translation product. That product is the result of working with quality providers.

    Vendor recruitment must therefore be counted among the most critical of processes for translation firms. After all, organizations can work with the most up-to-date technology and design the most intricate of production processes, yet even with the best supporting components in place, the translation product will only ever be as good as the translator who provides the target content.

    Works Consulted

    ASTM International, F 2575-06, “Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation,” June 2006.

    European Committee for Standardization, prEN 15038, “Translation services – Service requirements,” 2004.

    International Organization for Standardization, ISO 17100, “Translation services – Requirements for translation services,” 2015.

    Ballou, Gregory. “ISO 17100 Certification: Who, What, Why, and How?” ATA 57th Annual Conference, American Translators Association, 03 November 2016, Hyatt Regency, San Francisco, CA. Conference Presentation.

    Alaina Brantner is a translation consultant specializing in project, vendor, and translation memory management. A Spanish> English translator, she has an MA in language, literature and translation from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She served as a director of the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters (an ATA chapter) from 2012 to 2016. Contact:

  • 02/03/2017 12:35 PM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    MATI Reaches Out to Students
    By Meghan McCallum, MATI Vice President

    MATI members are actively visiting schools (both in person and virtually!) to speak to students about the exciting careers of translating and interpreting. Read on for a few recent examples of MATI members’ School Outreach visits.

    MATI Director Ghada Shakir, an English-Arabic translator and interpreter based in Mequon, WI, visited West Allis Central High School in March 2016 for the school’s career fair. She started with the basics, helping the students understand the differences between translation and interpreting. Next, Ghada explained potential career paths for these language skills, giving examples of translation and localization of websites, mobile apps, marketing materials and subtitling. She also provided examples of cultural differences and how important they are for translation. Finally, Ghada concluded her presentation with a demonstration of machine translation bloopers, showing the students the importance of professional human translators. Ghada reported that she thoroughly enjoyed her school visit. “It is my mission to pass on my expertise to the next generation of translators and interpreters,” she said.

    MATI Director Marina Ilari, an English-Spanish translator based in Milwaukee, WI, gave a webinar on freelance translation to translation students at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She told the students about lessons she’s learned from her many years of freelance translation, sharing resources and providing tips on running a freelance business. Her presentation included recommendations for marketing, attending professional conferences and networking events, continuing education and building a client base. Marina admits she was nervous to present the webinar, but in the end found the experience to be incredibly rewarding. Looking back, she said, “I wished my university had prepared something like this to help new translators enter the market more confidently!”

    MATI member Amanda Bickel, a French-English translator based in Monona, WI, has offered her expertise to language students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison each semester since 2015, and has plans to visit the university again early this year to participate in another alumni mentoring event. She has also developed and given presentations on freelance translating as a career. Her goal is to offer students candid knowledge about the logistics of being a freelance translator, as opposed to language-specific translation instruction. “You can learn actual translation skills from taking classes, but many are remote,” she said. “I lacked a personal connection with someone in the industry when I was starting out. I could have really benefitted from that when I was in college or after. I’m hoping to give the students some tips and insight that I had to learn over time through trial and error.”

    Are you interested in visiting a school to talk to students about translation and interpreting? Find out more about the ATA School Outreach program — and enter for a chance to win free registration to ATA’s 58th Annual Conference — at

  • 02/03/2017 12:28 PM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    MATI Translators Lead Workshops at University of Wisconsin-Madison

    By Erin Woodard, MATI Member

    Milwaukee- and Madison-based French into English translators Meghan McCallum and Erin Woodard each led workshops this fall for the Professional French Master’s Program (PFMP) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


    The PFMP is an interdisciplinary master’s degree program that allows students to study French alongside a specific concentration area including higher education, business, European Union affairs, international development, and media/arts/cultural production. Students complete graduate-level coursework before completing a professional internship abroad at a French-speaking organization whose work is related to the candidate’s associated concentration area. 

    The program recently restructured its concentration area coursework to incorporate professional skills workshops led by university faculty, staff, and outside professionals in the field. Adding the new workshops allows PFMP candidates to gain a deeper understanding of concepts required for their concentration-area learning, as well as provide them with specific professional skills.

    Of the workshops offered in the fall semester, MATI Vice President Meghan McCallum led the Translation Techniques and Strategies workshop, and MATI member and PFMP alumna Erin Woodard led the Introduction to Budgeting and Forecasting workshop. Each workshop met for a total of 15 hours throughout the semester. Students were exposed to a variety of translation and budgeting concepts, respectively, and had the opportunity to hone their skills through project-based learning.

    “The PFMP students were eager to apply their language skills to translation tasks as well as editing and critiquing exercises,” Meghan said. “This workshop was an opportunity to show them the important role translators play in global marketing and communications.”

    Erin added, “The workshop was a wonderful opportunity to share my professional experiences with the PFMP students. I enjoyed exposing them to budgeting concepts and having the opportunity to discuss financial tools in the workplace.”

    The PFMP candidates will be starting their second set of workshops and classes in the coming weeks as they return for their spring semester. Additional information about the PFMP can be found at

    PFMP students and instructors at a social gathering at the beginning of the fall 2016 semester.

  • 02/03/2017 12:23 PM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    Madison Gatherings for Translators and Interpreters

    By Thaís Passos, MATI Director

    For the past six years, a group of translators and interpreters in the Madison, WI, area have been meeting approximately every six weeks for informal get-togethers. The idea was hatched after MATI members Catherine Jagoe, Sasha Federiuk, and Diane Grosklaus Whitty met at an annual conference and decided to create a local space where they could gather with fellow professionals and “talk shop” without any specific agenda. The group remains unaffiliated and has no formal structure.

    What started as mixed meetings of translators and interpreters later split into separate gatherings: one for translators and one for interpreters. The gatherings are attended by medical and legal interpreters as well as translators specialized in fields as diverse as law, veterinary medicine, health care, and literature. Represented languages include Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, French, German, Catalan, Farsi, Bengali, Hindi, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Russian, and Swedish. Conversations run the gamut from accounting issues and CAT tools to sharing both good and bad news on the professional and personal fronts.

    Participants say that the major gain is a sense of belonging and support that helps them keep up their good work, encourages them to try new tools and approaches, and acknowledges their personal and professional achievements. Information on the meetings, which are open to all translators and interpreters, including students, are announced on the group’s Facebook page (Madison Area Interpreters & Translators). If you happen to be in the Madison area, you are cordially invited to attend!

    Some participants of the Madison Area Interpreters and Translators group met in December 2016. From left to right: Sylvia Gilbertson, Alex Wills, Huan-Hua Chye, Erin Woodard, Thaís Passos, Diane Grosklaus Whitty, and Manuela Francavilla.

  • 02/03/2017 12:10 PM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    MATI Member Spotlight: Kelley D. Salas

    Language Pair(s): Spanish>English (Translation); Spanish<>English (Interpretation)


    Degree(s)/Certification(s): ATA Certified for Spanish to English Translation since 2008; Graduate Certificate in Translation, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2012


    How long have you been a MATI member? Since August 2016

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

    I began studying translation and interpretation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee about ten years ago, while I was on leave from my job as a bilingual elementary school teacher at La Escuela Fratney. While I started translation studies mainly as a way to maintain and expand my Spanish language skills, I quickly found that I loved the work. I began freelancing for several local clients and agencies, and also worked as a medical interpreter at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital.

    My progress in the translation field was interrupted when I decided to return to a full time teaching job at Milwaukee Spanish Immersion School in 2009, and later accepted a job as communications director at the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association in 2012. Although I seldom had time for freelance work during these years, I continued to aspire to a career in translation and interpretation.

    In February of 2016, I decided to go full time in this field, and I am now making up the bulk of my work week with freelance translating and interpreting work, specializing in the medical and legal fields. I am also a medical interpreter at Columbia St. Mary’s, and I’m working to get interpreter certification through the Wisconsin court system.

    It’s exciting to put my degree and certification to use on a daily basis now! I have found that many of the things I learned in my role as communications director are helpful to my freelance work, including website design and maintenance, graphic design/desktop publishing, and coping with high work volumes and challenging deadlines.

    What is your favorite thing about working in this field?

    It’s important for people to have equal access to health care and the justice system regardless of their English abilities, and it’s gratifying to help make that happen. I also really appreciate the flexibility of freelance work. After working as a classroom teacher, where we commonly had to choose between eating lunch or going to the restroom, it’s wonderful to be able to schedule my own day, and vary my schedule throughout the week.


    What is your favorite aspect of your profession?

    One aspect of the profession that I really love is continuous learning. Every day I learn new terms and new concepts. Every day I am deepening my language skills and content knowledge in my areas of specialization. I also appreciate the variety. I love the quiet solitude of translation projects and the ability to work from home, and I also look forward to my shifts at the hospital, when I can connect on a human level with patients and colleagues. There was a time when I was quite intimidated by interpretation – I felt safer in translation, since you have more time to consult resources and double check your work. However, I have really grown to enjoy interpreting and the unique challenges and rewards it offers.

    Why do you think it’s important to belong to professional organizations like MATI?

    I’ve been an ATA member since 2007 and have learned so much during those years from the publications and emails. I joined MATI once I decided to work full time in the field. The ability to network face-to-face with local/regional colleagues is invaluable. I made some important connections at the MATI annual conference in September, and as I followed up throughout the fall, I was able to establish working relationships with two regular clients thanks to these connections. I will certainly continue to attend MATI events and annual conferences, and I also hope to attend the ATA conference in 2017.

    Are there any questions you would like to pose to your MATI colleagues?

    I’d love to hear my MATI colleagues’ thoughts on any/all of the following:

    • How do you feel about working for agencies vs. direct clients?
    • What are your preferred sources/forums for terminology queries (especially in the medical and legal fields)?
    • Do you have a specific colleague(s) that you go to for support while working on translation jobs, and what does this process look like for you?
    • Is there any specific agency or client that you would recommend I contact for work?

    Thanks in advance for your responses! You can email me at

  • 02/03/2017 12:06 PM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    Happy New Year from MATI

    MATI would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our members a very happy 2017. Thank you for being part of our association!

    2016 was another great year for MATI. We enjoyed seeing our members at several social events throughout the year. We held our board elections in the spring, and the association welcomed new directors Marina Ilari, Kristy Brown Lust, Thaís Passos and Ghada Shakir to the board.

    We hosted our annual conference in September at the University Center in Chicago, drawing a number of attendees for a day of educational sessions and networking. MATI also had strong attendance at the ATA conference in San Francisco in November, with several members presenting sessions. Throughout the year, we also offered benefits such as our quarterly newsletter and a wide range of webinars open to both members and non-members.

    In 2017, we look forward to continuing to offer you educational, networking and social events and resources. Plans are underway for our annual conference, and we are finalizing our webinar lineup for the year.

    This spring we will hold our annual board elections. If you have been looking for an opportunity to get more involved with MATI, consider running for a position on our board!

    Please stay tuned for announcements about upcoming events, webinars and elections. And if you haven’t done so already, please take the time to renew your membership for the year and make sure your directory listing at is up to date.

    We wish you a very happy and healthy 2017.

    Best regards,

    The MATI Board of Directors

  • 02/03/2017 11:58 AM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    Every Little Word Matters

    By Kristy Brown Lust, MATI Director

    As professional translators and interpreters, we know that one word can have many shades of meaning, depending on its context. We also know that even small errors can add up to big changes in meaning. However, when we’re facing the time crunch common in our industries, we sometimes forget the impact translation and interpretation errors can have. Let’s look at a couple examples.

    Case 1: Japanese Red Army member trial

    In October 2016, Tsutomu Shirosaki was on trial in Tokyo for alleged participation in a Japanese Embassy attack that occurred in 1968. Two interpreters were selected to interpret testimony from 11 Indonesians. After a review of the interpretations by the court found that one of the interpreters made more than 200 errors in interpreting testimony, the interpreter was removed from the case.

    According to The Japan Times, “The court found that the interpreter skipped some words without translating them and made mistakes in translating some others. In one instance, the interpreter translated ‘forensic identification officer’ as simply ‘officer.’” Other reported errors: “the year 1983 mentioned by an Indonesian police officer was found to have been translated as 1985. Another statement by the officer, that ‘I did not give heed to it,’ was found to have been changed into ‘I do not remember it.’” An editorial in the paper said the outcome of this particular trial was not impacted by the errors, but urged the courts to establish standardized examinations to ensure interpreters are qualified to provide legal [interpretation] services. The editorial concluded, “If a false conviction occurs as a result of an incorrect translation, the damage will be irreparable.”

    Case 2: Greek Subminimum Wage

    In a recent recommendation to the Greek labor ministry, a group of experts issued recommendations, written in English, for implementing a “youth subminimum wage.” The group suggested that a young person’s pay should be based on how much experience they have in the workforce. S. Papapetros writes, “Specifically, a passage on page 41 of the report envisions a ‘subminimum’ wage at 90 percent of the current level, gross pay, for the first year of employment; 95 percent for the second year of employment.”

    When the report was translated into Greek, subminimum was translated as minimum, which could lead to a debate on what rate the youth wages should be calculated on.

    Even the best translators and interpreters make mistakes. That’s why good proofreading and editing are important, along with certification credentials. And that’s also why it’s dangerous to place unrealistic demands and time pressure on translators and interpreters. Mistakes may complicate already challenging political, business, and personal relationships and cause serious harm to governments, businesses and individuals.

  • 02/03/2017 11:51 AM | Meghan Konkol (Administrator)

    ATA Certification Exam Undergoes Changes

    By Thaís Passos, MATI Director

    Becoming ATA certified requires passing a translation exam consisting of two passages of roughly 250 words each. The ATA Certification Program is going through some changes intended to improve accessibility and enhance the value of the ATA Certification Exam. Four major changes went into effect on January 1, 2017:

    1. There are no longer any education or experience requirements. The only requirements are ATA membership and agreement to the ATA Code of Ethics and Professional Practice.
    2. There are only general passages. Candidates are presented with three general passages and must choose two to translate. These are typically commentaries or essay-type articles. The exam will no longer include any medical, technical, or scientific texts or texts on legal, commercial, or financial subjects.
    3. More computerized exam sittings will be offered. Several computerized sittings have already been scheduled for 2017. On computerized exams, candidates can use their own laptops and non-interactive Internet resources, such as electronic dictionaries and glossaries. Candidates may not use CAT tools, translation memories, email, chat rooms, forums, or machine translation tools such as Google Translate. Candidates will save their translations on an ATA-supplied USB drive with grammar and spell check utilities disabled. Candidates may still bring and use their own print resources, and can also opt to handwrite their exam.
    4. Candidates will have more opportunities and accessibility for preparation and practice. In the near future, the ATA Certification Program will make the practice tests available for downloading (practice tests cost $80 per passage for ATA members and $120 per passage for non-members). In addition, the ATA Certification Committee is working to increase the availability of Candidate Preparation Workshops as both live sessions and webinars.

    For an up-to-date list of upcoming exam sittings, please visit