A symposium on raising the bar in professionalism, quality of service, remuneration, and working conditions

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
John Jay College of Criminal Justice | City University of New York
524 West 59th Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

The event is free, but you must RSVP to:

We are pleased to announce our second annual symposium on professionalization in translation and interpreting under the auspices of the New York Circle of Translators (NYCT), the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), the Association of Language Interpreters of Greater New York (ALIGNY), and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York.

Morning plenary session will feature:
-An overview of the translation and interpretation industries
-Stories from experienced translators and interpreters: training, credentials, getting started, challenges, success stories

Afternoon breakout sessions will address current and ongoing areas of concern in the specific fields of translation, legal/court interpreting, and healthcare interpreting. Local and regional spokespeople will present their experiences, research on best practices, and recommendations for raising the bar in the future.

An ending plenary session will summarize
the major conclusions of the day and provide attendees with resources for further steps in professionalization.

Email to reserve your spot. Remember to bring government-issued photo ID for lobby security checks.

Why Should Translators Combine Skills And Technology?

For years now, translators have been worried that they may soon be replaced by computers. Personally, I hardly believe it will happen in our lifetime―or in my kids’ lifetime―but that doesn’t mean translators should shun away from technology altogether. Once you see technology as your ally, you’ll notice how much easier your job gets. By combining technology and your sharp translation skills, you can become the most efficient translator you could ever be!

For example, I’ve been using the same computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool since 2008. It’s called Swordfish and the reason I migrated to it after using another tool for about four years was the fact that it’s a cross platform solution. What does that mean, exactly? Well, it means that regardless of the operating system you use (Windows, Mac OS, or Linux) you can run this tool without the need for any “magic” (i.e. emulators to “trick” your computer into thinking it’s something that it is not, just because some software may have been designed with a single operating system in mind.) We use Linux in our offices by the way, or the Ubuntu distribution to be more precise, and Swordfish has eliminated our need to have a Windows computer, making our company’s operations more reliable, virus-free, and with minimal bugs and downtime.

By using the same CAT tool consistently, I’m able to keep my translation memories (TMs) organized. These TMs are databases where you record your work, so you can use it later on―days, weeks, or years down the road―without the need to remember how you’ve done it before or go through old files to locate that same sentence you feel like you’ve translated in the past. Deja vu much?

I decided to create different TMs, one for each client, in order to keep things separate. Should one of these clients ever request a copy of their dedicated TM, I could send it to them without breaching the non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) we’ve signed. In other words, I could send Client A a TM containing past translations completed for them without disclosing any confidential information about Client B, because the latter’s content won’t be mixed up in the same TM.


Actually, let me take a step back to talk about how TMs work. First of all, it’s important to say that no, CAT tools don’t do the work for you. All a CAT does is separate a file into segments, which can be sentences, titles, headlines, photo captions, or any other complete line of text and have it ready for you to translate it. You basically see the original segment on the left (or on the top, depending on your settings) and then have a blank field on the right (or the bottom) where you’ll type the respective translation. Once you’re happy with this source + target combination, you save the translation unit (TU) to your TM.

If you work for the same client very often, or translate the same subject time and time again, you can “leverage” your past translations when working on new material. Think about legal translators who work with contracts that have very similar clauses, dispositions and wording. Once they translate a sentence and record it to the TM, they can use that same translation―with some adaptation, when needed―whenever a similar new sentence comes up.


The best part of it is that good CAT tools actually highlight or somehow indicate exactly what needs to be changed while comparing the current segment to your legacy material. Then, all you have to do is use your past translation and change a couple of words to make sure your current translation is faithful to the source text.

When this wonderful thing happens, you have what we call a “match.” Using some complicated computer equations that we don’t need to dwell on, these matches can be classified as having a 50-99% similarity between the source and target sentences. When you get a 100% match―jackpot!―that means the sentence you are about to translate is IDENTICAL to a sentence you’ve translated in the past, and the CAT found it for you.

Just to make it clear, that can only happen if you have been consistently working with the CAT and feeding your TM with your work. As I mentioned before, CATs won’t do the work for you, but they’ll remind you how you translated something in the past.

CATs will also identify what we call “repetitions,” which are similar to 100% or exact matches. The only difference between them is that repetitions only exist inside the document you’re translating. In other words, they don’t refer to a TU that has been previously recorded to a TM; they refer to a segment that repeats itself several times throughout your current project.


Everything I’ve talked about so far refers to the translation of the source text itself. TMs will recall TUs based on the sentences you’ve translated in the past, but they’ll only be able to provide recommendations at the word level if you create a glossary, or terminology database (TB), and feed it as well. In my particular case, I have a single multilingual glossary to which I can add terminology in all my work languages (English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian) and it allows me to cross-reference them in a central location.

Different CATs work differently, but what I do on Swordfish is pretty much highlight the source term, then highlight its counterpart in the target segment, and use a hotkey to record it to my TB. That way, I don’t have to research the same terminology several times. When that same term shows up on a different segment, the CAT will display your glossary entry and―if it matches the context―you can use it again.

I don’t know about you, but if I translate something during my first shift (let’s say, between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.) then I get up, get lunch ready while watching some T.V., talk to my husband or discipline the kids… Well, my point is, when I go back to my second shift (between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.) I’ll most likely have forgotten how I translated a particular term. And, because some expressions can be translated differently―very few translations are absolute!―keeping an updated glossary, sometimes with several options for the same term, saves me a considerable amount of time when it comes to remembering how I’ve translated it a few hours, weeks, or days ago.


swordfishSo that these concepts won’t be too abstract for people who have never used a CAT before, here’s a more practical example. Because I’ve been using Swordfish for 90% of my translations since 2008, keeping a very organized TM and recording every single sentence I type in the target language, as well as updating my TB with key terminology after proper research and context verification, my CAT helps me reuse my translations whenever needed.

The other day, I was able to complete 9,652 words on an English-to-Portuguese technical manual in only three hours of work―all before lunch time! And how did that happen? Swordfish identified several repetitions inside the same manual, as well as some matches to what I had previously translated in other manuals for the same client.

Besides translating everything that was considered “new” material―segments that I had never translated in the past―my job in this particular translation was to make sure that matches were aligned with what I had translated in the past, given the changes needed, and all repetitions were uniform across the document.

In a different scenario, had I not been using a CAT, I’d have to go back and forth through the pages of this document, and possibly have opened several other documents I previously completed for this client, so that I could cross reference everything and make sure my translation was consistent throughout the document and the length of my collaboration with this client so far. That would have taken me hours (maybe a couple extra days!) were I following a purely manual system.


The takeaway message here is: Having sharp translation skills is a given for anyone who intends to become a professional translator. But, if you want to become efficient, effective and accurate, having the ability to improve your average output (how many words you translate per hour, day, week, or month) you must take advantage of the resources that technology makes available to you.

Would you like to learn more about Swordfish? Check out this Proz webinar. If you’re an English/Spanish translator, you can also take this 6-week online class to get feedback on your work.

RAFA LOMBARDINO is a translator and journalist from Brazil who lives in California. She is the author of “Tools and Technology in Translation ― The Profile of Beginning Language Professionals in the Digital Age,” which is based on her UCSD Extension class. Rafa has been working as a translator since 1997 and, in 2011, started to join forces with self-published authors to translate their work into Portuguese and English. In addition to acting as content curator at eWordNews, a collective blog about translation and literature, she also runs Word Awareness, a small network of professional translators, and coordinates Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories (CBSS), a project to promote Brazilian literature worldwide.*


The NYCT would like to welcome our new members:

Gretchen Begley
Silvia Buzzallino
John Eyck
Geraldine MacDonnell, CT
Elena Mancini
Genevieve Quansah
Carmen Ring
Charlotte Whittle

We hope that all new members become actively involved in the Circle. Your fellow members are looking forward to seeing you at the different events.

Please join us for the 29th Annual Translation Prize honoring the best French-to-English translations in Fiction and Nonfiction published in 2015

Since 1986, the French-American Foundation, with the longstanding support of the Florence Gould Foundation, has awarded annual translation prizes for the best translations from French to English in fiction and nonfiction.

Tuesday, June 7 / 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
The Century Association
7 West 43rd Street
New York City

Keynote Address by Lydia Davis

Acclaimed fiction writer & translator, three-time winner of the Translation Prize & 2016 Translation Prize Laureate

For more information, please contact Ilana Adleson at


Emily Boyce
Nagasaki by Eric Faye, Gallic Books

John Cullen
The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, Other Press

Christine Donougher
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Penguin Classics / Penguin Random House

Julian Evans
The Foundling’s War by Michel Déon, Gallic Books

Frank Wynne
The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaitre, Quercus / MacLehose Press


David Broder and Catherine Romatowski
Good Neighbors: Gentrifying Diversity in Boston’s South End by Sylvie Tissot, Verso Books

Malcolm DeBevoise
Birth of a Theorem by Cédric Villani, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Bruce Fink
Transference: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VIII by Jacques Lacan, Polity Press

François Raffoul and David Pettigrew
Heidegger in France by Dominique Janicaud, Indiana University Press

Steven Rendall
Bonaparte: 1769-1802 by Patrice Gueniffy, Harvard University Press


In addition to honoring the winning translators, the French-American Foundation will introduce Lydia Davis as its first Translation Prize Laureate. Lydia Davis is a three-time winner of the French-American Foundation Translation Prize for her translations of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust, and Rules of the Game I: Scratches by Michel Leiris. Her impressive literary career also includes such distinctions as the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for fiction and translation, the Man Booker International Prize, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award of Merit Medal.

The Translation Prize has established itself as a valuable element of the intellectual and cultural exchange between France and the United States, promoting French literature in the United States and providing translators and their craft greater visibility among publishers and readers.