A little bit of the translation and interpretation industry in Venezuela

This brief article aims at outlining to New York’s translators the experience of a Venezuelan remarkable professional and business owner, convinced of the key role of high quality translators in multicultural communication.


Maria Josefina Quijada Aponte is a Venezuelan Spanish, English, French translator and interpreter. She graduated at the Universidad Central de Venezuela on Modern Languages and pursued high level studies on Translation and Interpretation at the School of Interpreters and Translators of Paris (ESIT) and has a master´s degree in International Relations. She started to work as a professional interpreter and translator in 1986 when she founded ENLACE SERVICIOS LINGUISTICOS PROFESIONALES, a company that offers comprehensive translation and interpretation services.

In Venezuela, because of the reduced size of the market, it is difficult to specialize; however, the oil sector, the most important industry in the country, certainly employs much of the available interpreters, due to the intensive training programs of the oil industry, largely dictated by instructors who use English as the language of communication.

Claudia Layas (CL): Maria, what motivated you to found Enlace?

Maria Quijada (MQ): I was motivated by the desire to be financially independent and the realization that there was the need in the country for high quality and comprehensive translation services.

CL: What do you consider as your main challenges as a business woman in the Venezuelan translation industry?

MQ: The challenges in the translation industry do not differ from those in other business areas: permanent innovation, attention to the clients’ needs and never compromise on quality. Additionally, the market for translation and interpretation in Venezuela is not very large, so we all compete for the same clients, mainly the oil industry, to some extent medical congresses, the public sector and some technological areas such as computer industry.
Fortunately, the country has a training school for interpreters and translators at the university level that has been a remarkable seedbed of professionals, whose integrity and discipline have allowed them to overcome obstacles and outshine both inside and outside the country.
About the access to technology, in the early years of my career it definitely represented a challenge. I remember that back then computers began to be sold, cell phones were not as ubiquitous as today and fax machines were almost magical. Nowadays, with the available technology, access to information is no longer a problem.

CL: When you offer interpretation services for international conferences in Venezuela, do you follow any certification standards or internationally agreed guidelines?

MQ: Of course, although sometimes the strict compliance with some of these international rules is impossible. For example, while in international organizations it is mandatory that interpreters work into their native language, the reality is that, to work in our market, you have to translate in both directions. Otherwise, nobody would hire you.

CL: Translating in Latin America, what do you think is the main feature of Venezuelan Spanish?

MQ: Besides the regional peculiarities or the use of idiosyncratic locutions, I think that the communication in Latin America is not at all impeded by localisms. The professional translator learns to overcome these obstacles through research. The Spanish language of Venezuela, like in other countries in the region, has also its local nuances but I think it lacks some of the richness observed in other countries of the region with a longer tradition of production and reading of books.

CL: Your Company has accompanied many intergovernmental meetings. How would you describe your feelings after your team is able to recreate discussions towards the Latin America and the Caribbean union? Is it rewarding? Do you think it could be possible without translators and interpreters contribution?

MQ: It is not possible to have a successful multilingual meeting without high quality interpreters and translators. But besides the mere professional perspective, I have been fortunate enough to practice my profession at the highest political level and at a landmark moment for Latin America and the Caribbean, where our services have been instrumental in fostering dialogue to achieve the Bolivarian dream of uniting and integrating our peoples, not only in the commercial field but socially and spiritually. I can say it has been an additional source of pride and satisfaction for me.

CL: You work as High Level Officials interpreter, including Heads of State. What is the main skill do you think is needed for this job?

MQ: Command of the languages, constant pursuit of knowledge and permanent self-update. It is also important to observe discretion and respect for the rules of the protocol.

CL: You were President Hugo Chavez’s interpreter. Do you have any special memory of him regarding interpretation?

MQ: He was an exceptional speaker, not only by the quality of his ideas, which ring true today more than ever, but by the consistency and clarity of thought, which is a treasure for any interpreter. Although the length of his speeches constituted sometimes a challenge to the endurance of any professional, he was extremely respectful of the work of the interpreter and very attentive to his/her requirements. He was mindful of the importance of translation in international events so was always careful to ensure the service to his foreign language speaking guests.

About the author: Claudia Layas is a Venezuelan English to Spanish translator who recently joined the NYCT. She has devoted her career to international negotiations and has contributed with translations mainly in Latin America. For any comments about this article please contact in twitter: @claulayas

Census Bureau Reports at Least 350 Languages Spoken in U.S. Homes

postsU.S. Census Bureau released a set of new tables today detailing hundreds of languages that U.S. residents speak at home. American Community Survey data on languages spoken at home were previously available for only 39 languages. These tables, based on American Community Survey data collected from 2009 to 2013, expand the languages and language groups tabulated to 350.

These tables are among the most comprehensive data ever released from the Census Bureau on languages spoken less widely in the United States, such as Pennsylvania Dutch, Ukrainian, Turkish, Romanian, Amharic and many others. Also included are 150 different Native North American languages, collectively spoken by more than 350,000 people, including Yupik, Dakota, Apache, Keres and Cherokee.

“While most of the U.S. population speaks only English at home or a handful of other languages like Spanish or Vietnamese, the American Community Survey reveals the wide-ranging language diversity of the United States,” said Erik Vickstrom, a Census Bureau statistician. “For example, in the New York metro area alone, more than a third of the population speaks a language other than English at home, and close to 200 different languages are spoken. Knowing the number of languages and how many speak these languages in a particular area provides valuable information to policymakers, planners and researchers.”

The tables provide information on languages and language groups for counties and core-based statistical areas (metropolitan and micropolitan areas) with populations of 100,000 or more and 25,000 or more speakers of languages other than Spanish, as well as for the nation, states and Puerto Rico regardless of population size. These data show the number of speakers of each language and the number who speak English less than “very well” — a common measure of English proficiency.

In addition to making the tables available for download as a spreadsheet, the Census Bureau will release the data as part of its application programming interface, or API.languages

Highlights for the 15 largest metro areas:

New York metro area
At least 192 languages are spoken at home. 38 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Bengali, with 105,765 speakers.

Los Angeles metro area
At least 185 languages are spoken at home. 54 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Indonesian, with 12,750 speakers.

Chicago metro area
At least 153 languages are spoken at home. 29 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Serbian, with 17,490 speakers.

Dallas metro area
At least 156 languages are spoken at home. 30 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Telugu, with 12,630 speakers.

Philadelphia metro area
At least 146 languages are spoken at home. 15 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Malayalam, with 10,370 speakers.

Houston metro area
At least 145 languages are spoken at home. 37 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Tamil, with 4,690 speakers.

Washington metro area
At least 168 languages are spoken at home. 26 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Amharic, with 43,125 speakers.

Miami metro area
At least 128 languages are spoken at home. 51 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Romanian, with 5,295 speakers.

Atlanta metro area
At least 146 languages are spoken at home. 17 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Swahili, with 4,195 speakers.

Boston metro area
At least 138 languages are spoken at home. 23 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Albanian, with 6,800 speakers.

San Francisco metro area
At least 163 languages are spoken at home. 40 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Panjabi, with 19,985 speakers.

Detroit metro area
At least 126 languages are spoken at home. 12 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Syriac, with 23,175 speakers.

Riverside, Calif., metro area
At least 145 languages are spoken at home. 40 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Dutch, with 2,425 speakers.

Phoenix metro area
At least 163 languages are spoken at home. 26 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Pima, with 3,050 speakers.

Seattle metro area
At least 166 languages are spoken at home. 22 percent of the metro area population age 5 and over speak a language other than English at home. One of the smaller language groups found there is Ukrainian, with 15,850 speakers.

About the American Community Survey
The American Community Survey is the only source of small area estimates for social and demographic characteristics of the U.S. population. It gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results. Visit the ACS helps communities page to see some examples.
These statistics would not be possible without the participation of the randomly selected households in the survey.

A Word from the Editor

Well the end of the year is almost here. There is still much to do. Work projects, interpreting assignments, updating or learning new tools and of course the everyday details of life that keeps us humming.

Many members attended the ATA conference in Miami and are still catching up with work projects. I was very happy to meet up with many NYCT members. It was good to see you in Miami and I hope it was as good a conference for you as for me. There were so many interesting sessions to choose from this year. I’m planning to have some of the presenters write for the NYCT Gotham, so if you missed a session you may be able to read an article by the presenter you missed.

As far as things to do there is one thing I do hope all members take seriously. It’s the opportunity to vote in the NYCT Board Elections.

Please read the candidate statements and cast your vote. Unfortunately many members do not vote and we hope this will change. While our NYCT election is not as exciting as what is happening on the national level it still affects us personally as members.

If one the reasons that you do not cast a vote is because it “does not matter” or “there’s no one I know running” then please contact our nominating committee or one of the Board Members at a meeting and state that you would like to run for the Board. The Board needs new ideas and fresh insights, perhaps an idea you have leads to big changes for the Circle.

Hope to see every one of you at the Holiday Party,

Candidate Statements

New York Circle of Translators 2015 Election

Candidate Statements

Miosotis Vargas (Candidate for Program Director)

The very first time I walked into a New York Circle of Translators meeting, I had no idea that it was going to change my professional life forever. I met so many wonderful high caliber people that day, including the then president Leonard Morin who so graciously welcomed me and put me in contact with people who have helped to advance my career as an interpreter.

Since that fateful day, becoming a member of the Circle has continued to exceed my expectations, and today I am running for the privilege to serve as your Program Director.

In my two enriching years at the New York Circle of Translators, I have worked with other dedicated members on an outreach initiative to bring together like-minded individuals in a symposium to advance the professionalization of public service and commercial language assistance in the New York City area.

By working on this project, I have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively serve as the new Program Director. I also have extensive experience in project management, having worked in several community-based organizations where I have lead successful campaigns and programs.

After Kate Deimling I will have big shoes to fill, but I am determined to continue serving the New York Circle of Translators by bringing the kind of quality programs that have characterized our organization for the last several years.

I love the Circle, and I am fully committed to our community and the future of the translation and interpretation industry. I am looking forward to bringing my passion and dedication to service to its members.


Ana Salotti (Candidate for Program Director)

My name is Ana Salotti. I’m an English-Spanish freelance translator, and a translation instructor at Hunter College. I have had the opportunity to study translation and interpreting in two very different parts of the world: my native Argentina, where I undertook a BA in Spanish Translation back in 2005, and Australia, where I earned an MA in Interpreting and Translation Studies in 2012. I have been working as a professional translator since 2005, and as an interpreter since early 2015. I am an active member of the NYCT, and I am now honored to have been asked to run for the position of Program Director.

Coming from two diverse training settings, having worked in this field for almost ten years, and now teaching two Translation courses at Hunter College, I can see the great strengths, weaknesses and exciting opportunities lying ahead in our market. I firmly believe that the NYCT is breaking new ground with the monthly programs they have been putting together. I also believe that there is still more to do, to keep building our membership, provide ongoing learning opportunities, and educate clients and the general public on the importance of professionalization in our industry.

If elected, I will be looking forward to the opportunity of organizing relevant training workshops, talks and events with these goals in mind. I think training is the key to raising the bar of our profession. As a Program Director, I am ready to embrace that mission. I am committed to do as I as much as I can to make the NYCT the leading non-profit organization that every translator and interpreter in the city goes to for membership, training courses, interesting talks, and the latest trends in the market. I would also like to help build a higher profile for the Circle in the public eye. I promise to work with passion, and to engage in a meaningful dialogue with our members and stakeholders.


Lisa M. Rodriguez (Candidate for Secretary)

The New York Circle of Translators is gaining steam, seeking ways to support current members and to encourage other professionals to join us. The current Board has provided useful and interesting opportunities for members to learn about different aspects of translation and interpreting. Their efforts have inspired me to join in, and I would like to contribute to our organization’s efforts as Secretary for the 2016 term.

To help you make your decision about the position of Secretary, I would like to offer a summary of my professional background. I have been a professional translator since 2011. I am ATA Certified in Spanish to English Translation, and I hold the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies Certificate in French to English Translation.

I was raised in Union County, New Jersey. After completing my B.A. at Lynchburg College in Virginia, I lived in Spain for sixteen years. There, I worked as an English teacher, and I obtained a Licenciatura from the University of Seville. Upon returning to the U.S., I worked in the financial services sector for eleven years. For two of those years I was a secretary, after which I worked in positions which involved trade support, operational and record keeping functions for my department. In 2011, my job in financial services moved to the West coast.

At that time, I decided to seek a profession in which I could combine my experience with languages with my experience in business. Friends and acquaintances working in translation generously offered information and training. The conferences, training and support I experienced helped me conclude that freelance translation was the right choice for me.

It was one of the best decisions of my life. Courses and information offered through the ATA and its members allowed me a relatively smooth transition, and I currently work from a home office as Constantia Language Services LLC. The word Constantia is Latin for perseverance. As all translators and interpreters know, perseverance is key to developing the complex language and business skills necessary for success in our field.

As Secretary, I would not bring decades of experience as a translator or interpreter to the table. However, I have a broad-based and multi-cultural work background, and I have the writing skills, discipline and availability necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

Most important, I am eager for an opportunity to work with the current board members to support the growth and modernization of our organization. It would be an honor to serve the NYCT as Secretary. Thank you for reading my statement and considering my candidacy.


Andre Kononenko (Candidate for Treasurer)

I am excited to accept the nomination to run for Treasurer of the NYCT. I have been a member of NYCT for 3 years now and have been impressed with the latest improvements and accomplishments that current leadership is actively pursuing. I am particularly motivated to work on supporting efforts for continued improvements and increasing overall member satisfaction with benefits that an NYCT membership offers.

I believe I have a number of valuable qualities I would bring to the position of Treasurer. First, I have 15+ years of practical experience as a business analyst in a large financial organization, which should allow me to accurately record, keep and maintain accounting information as well as prepare financial reports and balance sheets. I am confident that my MBA degree will complement my experience in all matters related to keeping books and records at the highest level of proficiency and to the highest standard of integrity.

Secondly, my experience and relationships with NYCT members and the Circle’s leadership would allow me to step into the role quickly.

Finally, I have energy and passion to serve the NYCT and consider it a great privilege to be of service to an organization that I fully support and endorse. As a translator, I know firsthand how important and valuable peer support and encouragement are to any translator or interpreter, to one who is just starting or to one with many years of experience. I can’t think of a better way to integrate my passion for supporting a professional group and my dedication to service than through this organization. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments about my candidacy for this position, by phone (203) 273-5691 or via email: akonon@aol.com.

Sincerely yours,
Andre Kononenko



You must be a current member of the New York Circle of Translators to vote in this election. Please read the candidate statements. When you are ready to cast your vote, please print out this page by using the print icon at the top of the page, just below the title and then mail to address below.

Program Director

Your vote?
Ana Salotti □ Miosotis Vargas □


Your vote? Lisa Rodriguez □


Your vote? Andre Kononenko □

Mail your completed ballot via regular mail and with a valid return address to:

New York Circle of Translators
PO Box 4051, Grand Central Station
New York, NY 10163-4051

Your ballot must be postmarked by December 4th.

What’s Right Is Right – by Martin Cross

Reprinted with gracious permission from the author and the Northwest Linguist.

“In the end, isn’t translation a matter of personal opinion?”

The question was thrown at me by an attorney for the other side who hoped what she was saying was true. If it were, and translations could only be evaluated in the same way we make decisions about fashion or flavors of ice-cream, then the one she had in her hand would be just as valid as the one that my client had submitted.

Obviously, the answer is, “No.” But the question the attorney put to me is an interesting one, and deserves a longer answer. For one thing, this wasn’t the first time I had heard it. The notion that translation is a nebulous art, ill-suited to clear rules or standards, is not uncommon, especially among those who have a little multilingual knowledge. That said, I have been working in technical and legal translation for more than a quarter of a century and, out-side of the very special context of a court room, where some people can be particularly disinclined to change their minds, I have never seen two translators remain in disagreement over the proper translation of a phrase for more than a few minutes. Invariably, a short discussion is enough to satisfy one of the translators that the other is right, and an evidence-based consensus is quickly achieved.

So where do non-translators (and even some novice translators) get the notion that there is no such thing as a wrong answer?

Part of it comes from the general idea that language itself is mysterious. It is, after all, amazing that so many of us manage to generate complex and flawless grammatical structures without even knowing the rules. (Be honest, gentle reader, if I were to ask you to give an example of the future subjunctive mood, would you be able to do so?) And then there is our awareness of the ambiguity that pervades our communication. If you have ever spent time with a teenager who has just learned how to tell “That’s what she said” jokes, you will know that there are very few short utterances that cannot be taken in two ways.

Another potential source of confusion is bilingual dictionaries. The entry for the French word “adhésif,” for example, is likely to include such English translations as, not only “adhesive” and “glue,” but also “sticker” and “seal.” If they are all listed in the dictionary, who is to say which one is correct?

Going further, even amateur translators will have come across situations in which the same idea can be expressed in two different ways. There is not much difference between saying that, “the cargo is carried by the vehicle” and saying that “the vehicle carries the cargo.” Both are possible, so isn’t the translator’s preference the ultimate arbitrator?

There are two fallacies at work here. The first lies in assuming that, because human choice is involved, the choice is inherently arbitrary. The second is imagining that, because more than one possible correct translation can be conceived, all translations must be correct.
In any form of complex communication, ambiguity in-creases as the sample length decreases. One bit could mean anything, and a handful of bytes in a data transmission is generally useless without knowing which packet it came from. So while it is true that an “elongate member,” mentioned by itself, might mean any number of things to a thirteen year old, when we hear that it is “eccentrically coupled to a rotary drive means,” the possible interpretations narrow significantly. Context, in short, determines which readings are right and which are clearly wrong.

It is also context that tells us which of the many terms in the bilingual dictionary will be appropriate. Even if “sticker” is one of the terms listed under the entry for “adhésif,” it is simply incorrect to translate “collés par un adhésif liquide” as “bonded by a liquid sticker.”

The question of how to select the most suitable phrasing is a little too complex to address in a blog post, but is covered in some detail in my chapter on literal translation in the ATA Patent Translator’s Handbook. Suffice it to say, there are rules and, while there may be more than one possible right answer, there are also unquestionably wrong answers. Forming an option is indeed part of the translation process, but not all options, or translations, are equal.


Martin Cross began his career in as an in-house editor of Japanese patent translations in Tokyo. Later, he lived for many years in Italy and France, where he translated from those languages into English. His articles have been published in the New York Law Journal, the Westlaw Journal, The ATA Chronicle and Intellectual Property Today. He is currently the president of Patent Translations Inc., where he continues to translate and to serve as an expert witness on translation. He spends much of his time editing translations and training translators and editors in the ins and outs of legal and patent translation.