2023 Candidate Statements – Please Vote!

 

Dear Circle Members,

It’s that time of year again when we vote for our new leadership. Please review the candidate statements below and make your voice heard by mailing in your ballot (see related post below for the ballot). The Circle thrives because of the efforts of you, our members, and our dedicated Board of Directors.

CANDIDATE FOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR: ANTHONY ALENCAR

I joined the New York Circle of Translators as soon as I relocated to New York City about one year ago. I was interested in connections with fellow professionals and any other resources that would contribute with my profession. I am truly happy I joined!

This year I was invited to serve NYCT, by running as Program Director for the 2023-2024 term. But first things first, recognition to Alexia Klein for her efforts as current director. She had said on her 2021 statement that her goal following the pandemic was to “keep this organization afloat and strong, serving its vital role as a place of support and encouragement”. Mission accomplished. Thank you, Alexia!

I believe NYCT is a platform for great things to come. The world has a need for language professionals more than ever in its history, despite Google Translate, AI, and whatever else technology will bring. If chosen for the role, I propose we work together on three fronts.

First, I think we must learn how to capitalize on the need for our work as language professionals. Too often we miss opportunities, not because of the quality of our work, but for lack of other abilities. How to attract clients, the use of sales techniques for language professionals, marketing strategies, career investment ideas, and so forth. I have a background in sales, and believe me, when I started in this profession around ten years ago it truly made a difference, and still does. Knowing how to sell yourself and your work is as important as your work. Without the first you don’t have the latter.

Second, after we find more work, we must always explore avenues on how to improve as language professionals. Contrary to my first proposition, here we have plenty of materials, lectures, books, and other resources that can make us better translators. I believe NYCT can continue to be a great channel for such resources.

Third, we must keep on working on our fellowship as language professionals. Once again, using the words of Alexia for last term, New York language professionals must “come together, form meaningful relations, feel inspired and uplifted, and feel that they belong to a community”. I could not have expressed it better, and I can’t wait to meet you and come together as a family. Thank you!

 

CANDIDATRE FOR TREASURER: RANDAL GERNAAT

My name is Randal Gernaat and I am pleased to be running to be your treasurer. At the beginning of the year, I was appointed by then NYCT President, Milena Savova, as interim treasurer to fill out the final year of the previous treasurer’s term.

I currently work as a freelance German-to-English translator focusing on economics, business, and financial translations. I have been a member of the New York Circle of Translators and ATA since 2021. Prior to becoming a freelance translator, I worked in the field of economics and finance for nearly 20 years in New York. I worked for Haver Analytics and Bloomberg LP where I was involved in international and European economic research, economic and financial translations from German and French into English, and the development of economic software products for global financial markets.

I appreciate the support that organizations such as NYCT can provide to language professionals and am happy to volunteer to help keep our organization strong both now and in the future. Over the past year, I have been working carefully to document all of our revenues and costs in order to ensure our financial situation remains strong. I also began working on figuring out ways we can spend our money in responsible ways to better support our membership.

If I am elected treasurer, I look forward to continuing to find ways to make sure our costs remain reasonable and to responsibly use NYCT resources to support our members. Thank you for your consideration.

 

CANDIDATE FOR SECRETARY; LAURA RODRÍGUEZ O’DWYER

Laura works as a freelance translator, interpreter, entrepreneur, and language tutor. She is a translator for German, English, and Portuguese into Spanish and is now doing a Masters in Translation and Interpreting at Hunter College-CUNY. She has served at the Argentine Association for Translators and Interpreters (AATI) as a board member and was tenured professor for German language at Universidad Nacional del Comahue in Argentina. In 2019 at the Polyglot Conference in Fukuoka she spoke about multiple intelligences and learning styles and in 2014 at the XXth FIT (International Federation of Translators) World Congress in Berlin she delivered a presentation about reading comprehension as a means to acquiring foreign languages more quickly and efficiently. Laura would be honored to serve all translators as a secretary connecting NYCT with other organizations and defending our rights as translators. Laura loves travelling, cooking, learning new languages, and creating spaces for personal and professional self-development. 

 

NYCT Election Ballot 2023

Please familiarize yourself with the candidate statements provided in today’s post and cast your vote. Print the ballot and mail it to the Circle at the address shown below. You may also print the ballot, fill it out, scan it and send it as an email to nycirclemanager14@gmail.com.

All ballots must be postmarked or received via e-mail by December 7, 2023. Ballot received after that date will not be valid. Only one vote per members.

 

NYCT ELECTION BALLOT 2023

 

CANDIDATE FOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR:

 

______ ANTHONY ALENCAR

 

CANDIDATE FOR TREASURER:

 

_____RANDAL GERNAAT

 

CANDIDATE FOR SECRETARY:

 

_____LAURA RODRÍGUEZ O’DWYER

 

Mailed completed ballot by December 7, 2023 to:

 

New York Circle of Translators

PO Box 4051

Grand Central Station

New York, NY 10163-4051

GUTEKUNST PRIZE CEREMONY FOR EMERGING TRANSLATORS

On August 16, 2023, I attended the 13th annual award ceremony of the Gutekunst Prize which was held at the Goethe Institut in New York. This year’s winner was Betsy Carter for her translation of an excerpt from Simone Scharbert’s novel Rosa in Grau. Eine Heimsuchung which was published in 2022.

The ceremony was attended by Mariella de Carvalho, Head of Cultural Affairs and Science Department for the German Consulate of New York, David Detjen of the non-profit organization Friends of Goethe New York which funds the prize and by the noted German translator Alta Price, herself a former recipient of the prize. Danielle Drori, a scholar of Modern Hebrew literature, also spoke about the intersection of translation and politics.

The Gutekunst prize was established in 2010 in memory of Frederick and Grace Gutekunst with the goal of identifying outstanding young translators of German literature into English. The competition is open to college students and to translators under the age of 35 who have not yet published a book-length translation. The award seeks not only to honor the translator for an outstanding translation but also to assist young translators in establishing contact with the translation and publishing communities.

In 2023 there were 20 applicants for the prize, each of whom had to submit a translation of a 10-page excerpt from Ms. Scharbert’s novel. The assignment was not an easy one since Ms. Schargert’s novel is often fragmentary in nature. It portrays the thoughts and recollections of a woman who has been in and out of mental institutions while struggling to raise a young daughter. The novel is set in 1950’s Germany in which the trauma of World War II is still fresh in the minds of the inhabitants. The novel contains flashbacks and hallucinatory episodes which present notable challenges to the translator as do its various cultural references, some of which are pulled from the worlds of music and history.

Ms. Price described how Betsy Carter had effectively captured the voice of the troubled middle-class mid-twentieth century narrator. Her translation was able to successfully reflect the more formal tone of a woman of the era while still translating the test into an idiomatic English. Betsy Carter then spoke to the audience about the experience of translating this novel. One of her goals was to keep the sound and rhythm of the original German while making its cultural references meaningful to an English-speaking audience.

Ms. Carter is a Ph.D. student in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) at the University of Arizona and a graduate associate teacher with the university’s Department of German Studies. She holds a master’s degree in German studies from the University of Colorado Boulder and a bachelor’s degree from Brown. Her award-winning translation is available on the Goethe Institut New York website. The translated title of the book is “Rosy Shades of Darkness. A Tribulation.”

 

Patricia Stumpp

 

 

CAN TRANSLATORS BE AUGMENTED BY TECHNOLOGY?

On June 27, 2023, the Circle hosted an online event about AI and a technology known as Augmented Translation. The featured speaker was Miguel A. Jiménez-Crespo, an ATA certified English to Spanish translator. He also holds a PhD in Translation and Interpreting Studies from the University of Granda and is a Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Rutgers.   He is particularly interested in how humans interact with technology so that the technology can become more ergonomic.

According to Mr. Jiménez, almost all human translation nowadays involves an interaction with a machine or some external source of information other than our own brains. For example, if a translator uses a computer and a Word program to prepare a translation, the translator is interacting with a machine. In using translation memory, we are actually using someone else’s brain to do our work. Even the use of a dictionary involves dependence on an external source of information.  These external sources enable us to do our work better and more rapidly.

Human Interaction with machines on the part of translators can often generate negative emotional reactions to automation. For example, translators are concerned about the downward pressure on rates posed by machine translation which may negatively impact their opinion of machine translation. Some translators may also have negative reactions to certain features of machine tools such as CAT tools. These reactions can create anxiety on the part of the translator. This kind of reaction is known as cognitive friction.

Mr. Jiménez then introduced the concept of Augmented Translation. Its purpose is to help humans solve problems better and faster. It is a human-centered approach to translation in which the human is in control. It seeks to enhance the work done by humans by uniting the strengths of both humans and machines. This technology is different from AI since in AI there is no human involvement.

Mr. Jiménez then discussed the technology known as neural machine translation or neural architecture.  This is the technology used by DeepL, ChatGPT and Google translate. It seeks to replicate the workings of the human brain.

While machine translation is statistical in nature in that it generates word choices by means of probabilities, neural machine translation captures the long-term dependencies between words in a particular language. By accurately analyzing the positions of words within sentences, the technology chooses the word that is correct for a particular context. It is not that the machine is actually thinking: it is merely predicting the next word because it has been pre-trained with huge amounts of data culled from the human translations available on the internet.

Mr. Jiménez sought to dispel the fear that technology will replace human beings. He believes that humans will continue to surpass machines when they are translating high value content or engaging in tasks that involve creativity, critical thinking, judgment and storytelling. AI on the other hand is more appropriate for lower order tasks and lower value content.

The speaker believes that the future of AI in translation will involve striking the right balance between humans and technology and determining which tasks can be automated, which can be augmented, and which can be left exclusively to humans. The level of technological support will depend on the complexity of the task at hand.

Patricia Stumpp

 

PRESENTATION ON COMPUTER-ASSISTED INTERPRETING

On September 27, 2023 the Circle sponsored an online presentation on the subject of Computer-Assisted Interpreting. The featured speaker was Cris Silva, an ATA-certified Portuguese to/from English conference interpreter and translator. In addition to her extensive conference interpretation experience, Cris also has an MA in translation, an MAS in interpreter training from the University of Geneva and a terminology manager certification from the European Certification and Qualification Association.

Cris began by describing how CAI can enhance and improve the conference interpreting experience by increasing quality and extending productivity. Much of the presentation focused on how an interpreter can best prepare for an assignment in over the phone (OTP) or video remote (VRI) interpreting. A crucial part of preparation is knowing how to best manage terminology and glossaries.

We learned that many software applications exist that can help interpreters to extract terminology from documents and manage it effectively. One such method is through the use of Google Sheets, a spreadsheet application which allows users to create and edit files online. Since this app is compatible with Excel, the interpreter can create glossaries in table form in either a single language or in a dual language format. Other useful apps include:

  • Sketch Engine: this application can assist the interpreter in managing a text corpus, which is defined as a large collection of texts in digital formats. It can help the interpreter not only to master terminology but also to become more knowledgeable about the words, phrases and texts most often encountered when interpreting in a particular field.
  • Interplex: a first generation application which can import and export data from Excel and create multi-lingual glossaries.
  • IH (Interpreters Help): a second generation application with a sophisticated dashboard which can assist conference interpreters in preparing for a particular job by specifying the particular requirements for the job such as equipment needs, dress codes, security codes, etc. It also allows interpreters to share glossaries with the community, extract terms from text quickly and prepare flashcards to review glossaries.
  • Fillerbuster: is an interesting application which records the interpreter’s voice and provides analytics about delivery, thus helping to eliminate fillers. Another app which can assist performance is Orai, which makes a video of the interpreter’s delivery and critiques it as regards characteristics like pitch and energy level. It produces a scorecard which evaluates the interpreter as a public speaker.

It was very interesting to learn about new developments in the ever-changing worked of computer-assisted interpreting. The Circle thanks Cris for her very informative and enjoyable presentation.

 

Patricia Stumpp

 

A PRESENTATION BY AUTHOR HIROMI ITO AND TRANSLATOR JEFFREY ANGLES

On February 26, 2023 I attended an online presentation co-sponsored by the City of Asylum, the University of Pittsburgh Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and Stone Bridge publishers. The event featured Japanese author Hiromi Itō and her translator Jeffrey Angles who read selections from The Thorn Puller, Ms. Itō’s first novel to appear in English. The readings were in both English and Japanese.

Hiromi Itō is a highly prolific author of poetry, prose and essays and a winner of several important literary prizes. She first came to the attention of the Japanese reading public in the 1980’s with her ground-breaking poetry focusing on themes of pregnancy, childbirth and female sexuality. After emigrating to the US in the 1990’s, her themes shifted to those of the immigrant experience and biculturalism. Her most recent works reflect her concern with death and dying and how those forces impact the lives of women caretakers.

Ms. Itō is also an experienced translator. Her translations of American literature for young readers include Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! as well as Out of the Dust and Witness by Karen Hesse. She has translated Buddhist texts into modern Japanese and has also written a modern Japanese translation of a short story by Meiji era author Ichiyō Higuchi, Japan’s first professional female writer of modern literature.

Translator Jeffrey Angles is a scholar as well as a poet who writes in his second language which is Japanese. An award-winning literary translator, he is a professor of Japanese language and literature at Western Michigan University. He has a long standing relationship with Ms. Ito, having met her in the year 2000 when he was a graduate student.

The title The Thorn Puller refers to the Japanese divinity Jizō, a bodhisattva revered in East Asian Buddhism. Ms. Ito stressed the importance of Jizō to many Japanese women. There is a site in Tokyo dedicated to him often visited by Japanese women which included some of her own ancestors. Japanese women view Jizō as able to remove the thorns of human suffering from human beings.

The bi-lingual readings from the novel were darkly humorous and serious as the author addresses issues of particular concern to women such as the stress of being a caretaker to one’s parents while taking care of one’s own family. In the novel, the author is raising a family in California while her aging parents in Japan depend on her to ease the burden of their failing health. The novel deals with issues such as guilt and feelings of failure as the author tries to meet the expectations of both her husband and her parents.

Punctuating the novel are many references to Japanese folklore and religion, including Jizō. The translator Jeffrey Angles mentioned in the Q&A how rich the novel is in these references and what a challenge is was to translate them. The book includes quotations from many different Japanese sources, both classical and modern, in which the language varies from the highly refined to the very humble. Some of the quotations come from eras when the Japanese language was the equivalent of our Middle or Old English. Mr. Angles made the decision to translate the more ancient quotations into modern English.

It was enjoyable listening to the highly idiosyncratic readings by the author and to learn about her bi-cultural journey.  Hearing about the challenges that her translator faced when translating works of such diversity was also illuminating and informative.

Patricia Stumpp

 

FREELANCERS UNION WEBINAR

 

On April 18, 2023 the Circle hosted a webinar featuring Rafael Espinal, Executive Director of the Freelancers Union. Before joining the Union in 2020, Mr. Espinal was a member of the New York City council for 8 years where he represented the 37th district in Brooklyn. During his tenure, he co-sponsored the “Freelance Isn’t Free” legislation that gave freelancers protection from nonpayment and late payments. In addition to his City Council service, he also spent two years in the New York State Assembly.

Founded in 1995, the Freelancers Union advocates for independent workers across the US. Mr. Espinal estimates that approximately 60 million Americans are freelancers, up from 54-56 million pre-pandemic.  In addition to translators, freelancers are found in many industries where creativity is involved such as graphic designers, writers, and photographers.

Membership in the Union is free and gives members access to the Union’s website which provides a lot of information about critical issues such as:

– health and other kinds of insurance: while the Union does not currently offer its own health insurance plan, it does curate insurance offerings for its members.

– accounting topics such as how to incorporate or create an LLC.

– advice on how translators can protect themselves against and deal with issues of non-payment. The Union website contains a sample contract for freelancers who may not yet have their own version. When there is a dispute with an employer, the Union can also write a letter for the freelancer on their letterhead which may get the attention of non-payers more quickly than if the freelancer approached the non-payer independently.

– AI: Mr. Espinal made the point that AI is smart and is getting smarter. Consequently, freelance translators will have to master basic AI tools and adapt to the ever-improving technology.  For example, translators who work in post-editing will be expected to work more efficiently and faster than ever before.

The Union provides a wide variety of resources to help freelancers grow their businesses. These include community networking, seminars and training events which are offered at the Union’s co-working Hub in Industry City, Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Membership in the Union entitles the member to 8 days of free coworking space at the Hub. The Union also offers free 30-minute in-person consultations with business experts in fields such as finance, retirement planning, tech and business development.

What emerged from the presentation was that it behooves freelancers to band together to expand the safety net available to them and to advocate for laws that address their needs. The Freelancers Union appears to be an important tool in that ongoing effort.

Patricia Stumpp