Welcome to the Fall Edition of the Gotham.

I hope you enjoy my write-up of our gala 40th anniversary celebration which was held on September 28, 2019. Many thanks to all the Circle members who attended, to our sponsors and panelists and to our outstanding keynote speaker Renato Beninatto. A special thank you to Laurie Treuhaft for her contribution to this article.

Please make sure to review the biographies of our candidates for Program Director, Treasurer and Secretary who will fill those positions during the 2020 to 2021 term. They bring wide experience and great enthusiasm to these positions and we are indeed grateful for their willingness to serve. Please remember to vote.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Holiday Gathering and Happy Holidays to all!

Patricia Stumpp, Editor







The Circle celebrated its fortieth anniversary on September 28, 2019 with a gala event held at the beautiful Grand Street Settlement building on Delancey Street.  The President of the Circle, Milena Savova, introduced the meeting with a brief history of the Circle and its founding by translators Eva Berry, Charles Stern and Alex Gross.  She thanked the co-sponsors of the event: The Mencius Society for the Arts, EriksenTranslations Inc., Certified Interpreters United and Craney Interpreting Services.

The audience was then treated to a captivating performance of solo and ensemble music by the Youth Orchestra of the Mencius Society for the Arts. Julie Tay, Executive Director, gave a brief overview of the Society, a not-for-profit 501c3 which serves the Chinese community of Chinatown and the Lower East Side.   The performance, which was entitled “Translating Silk and Bamboo: A New York Heritage in the Making,” was rooted in the traditional music of the city of Shanghai. One of the goals of the Society is to pass on the social and historical context of this music to the second generation of Chinese immigrants from Shanghai now living in NYC.  The term “silk” is a reference to the string instruments in the orchestra while ”bamboo” refers to wind instruments.

Alexia Klein, Secretary of the Circle, then introduced our keynote speaker, Renato Beninatto. A former executive in some of the leading companies in the industry, he is the CEO of Nimdzi Insights, a think tank and consulting company. He is also the author of the book “Selling in America” and co-author of “The General Theory of the Translation Company.” Renato is also the co-host of the Globally Speaking podcast.

Renato’s topic at our event was “The Future-Ready Professional.” He discussed how machine translation is already a “done deal” which does not mean that translators should be negative about the future of the profession. There are certain markets in which translation prices have actually increased and where demand is continuing to grow, among which are subtitling, patents, engineering, software and videos. Translation has been growing 7% annually on a worldwide basis.

According to Renato, the most important question for individual translators is how to get themselves “on the map” so that they can be easily found by potential employers. He had three key recommendations:

1. Be Discoverable: build your personal brand and market yourself. This includes having a high quality LinkedIn profile and knowing your SSI score.

2. Networking: use referrals and social media to market your brand.  Renato pointed out the absence of young people in the audience; by not participating in events like this, they are losing valuable potential contacts.

3. Be Relevant: be a lifelong learner; stress your ability to project manage and provide high quality customer service to your clients as a way to build repeat business.      

Following Renato’s dynamic presentation, we enjoyed a panel discussion by long-time members of the Circle Laurie Treuhaft, Marguerite (Meg) Shore, Eileen Brockbank, Vigdis Eriksen, Elizabeth Scott Andrews, and Leonard Morin. Current Circle President Milena Savova was moderator.

Several of the panelists were former board members. Liz, a retired United Nations editor, was the panel’s longest-standing Circle member, having joined in the early 1980s.  Laurie, a retired United Nations translator, became a member in 1982, served as newsletter editor in 1983 and 1984, and was President during the 1985-1986 term.  Vigdis, founder and CEO of Eriksen Translations Inc., joined in 1984 and served as Treasurer for two years in the mid-90s. In 1994, she worked with a friend to develop the Circle’s logo, which is still used today. Eriksen has been a corporate member since its establishment in 1986. Meg, a freelance translator of art catalogs and publications, joined in 1993 and served as both Program Director and President. Eileen, a freelance translator specializing in finance and law, joined the Circle in1995 and was secretary for two years in 1997 and 1998. Leonard, a court interpreter, joined in the 1990s, rejoined in 2004 and was President for three years beginning in 2012.      

Laurie described the conviviality of the Circle’s early days, when monthly meetings were held in restaurants offering various ethnic cuisines around NYC. After several years of Circle members “eating their way through New York”, monthly meetings started to be organized around presentations by prominent speakers in the field. During Laurie’s term as President, “glamorous” guest speakers like “Queen of Subtitlers” Helen Eisenman and NY Times literary critic Herbert Mitgang, who often wrote about translated works, were balanced by speakers on industry and practical issues and the Circle’s efforts to build relationships with the business community, including by joining the NY Chamber of Commerce. However, the Circle’s restaurant meetings continued to play an important social role in the lives of the members. Laurie mentioned in particular a wonderful Christmas party in 1986 and a Chinese New Year celebration in Chinatown. In 1985 an important milestone was reached when the Circle became a permanent chapter of the ATA.

In the pre-internet, pre-computer era of the Circle’s infancy, the newsletter was strictly paper-based; it was typewritten, photocopied and mailed to the Circle members, which to today’s ears certainly sounds like a time-consuming labor of love.  Laurie was kind enough to bring copies of some early newsletters with her for the perusal of the attendees. Eileen also mentioned that in earlier years the Circle published a hard copy membership directory once a year, another time-consuming project. She held up a directory which had been designed under her watch after much discussion over the Circle logo and how many language pairs could be attributed to each member.

The name of our newsletter, The Gotham Translator, was the brainchild of member Leon Jacolev, responding to a 1986 call for suggestions.  He was inspired by the nickname “Gotham” that Washington Irving had bestowed upon the city of New York in the 1807 edition of his periodical Salmagundi. Other “star” members of the Circle’s early days who were fondly remembered during the discussion were Circle founder Eva Berry, Charles Stern, Bill Bertsche, Joanne Engelbert, Susana Greiss, Henry Fischbach – (Liz told a charming story about his insistence on replacing “in light of” by the more British “in the light of” in a job she did for him), Bernie Bierman, Tom Snow and Alex Gross. We were fortunate enough to have Alex Gross in the audience for the anniversary celebration.

Over and over, panelists talked about the Circle’s importance to their lives and careers.  Liz was grateful to be with fellow translators at a time when translation companies filled only one page of the NYC telephone book.  Laurie recalled the closeness of Circle members, who knew each other’s special strengths and talents (a real boon for meeting planning) and felt like family.  Vigdis said she might not have made it had it not been for the Circle and the American Translators Association (ATA).  Vigdis had come to NYC in the ‘70s from Norway and launched her career as a translator on an IBM Selectric typewriter she purchased on layaway. 

Meg said that when she joined the Circle, she realized for the first time that she was part of a community.  She later withdrew from that community when the Circle and the ATA failed to speak out against the imprisonment of Mohamed Yousry, translator and interpreter for the attorney of convicted terrorist Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman.  She rejoined after deciding that it was better to stay in and fight.  A meeting she had organized around that issue had drawn record attendance.

Eileen said that upon joining the Circle, she saw that her fellow members were not so much competitors as friends who referred extra work to each other and bonded over language-based issues. Leonard became President at a moment when the  Circle was struggling with communication problems, declining membership and low meeting attendance.  By improving the Circle’s communication strategy and website, and pitching its economic relevance, he brought it back to life.

The panelists then opined on how the Circle could stay relevant in today’s translation environment and offered some parting words of wisdom to newer translators. Laurie said she hoped the very human need to be with peers at meetings could prevail over the convenience of doing everything at home online. Her advice to the younger generation:  in embracing new technology, it is important not to lose sight of the love of languages and thirst for knowledge that are at the core of translation and drew them to the profession in the first place.  Leonard mentioned the possibility of the creation of a union for translators and the need to continue to educate the public on the work we do. He cautioned that it took time to master translation and interpretation skills, and that those starting out in the profession would need to be in it for the long haul.

Meg pointed out that the translation world has now evolved significantly beyond its original core of European languages to include many other languages such as Arabic and Swahili. Vigdis emphasized the importance of adapting to change and the need to be open to technology.  Eriksen Translations Inc. had had a decade-long partnership with Skype, and had recently changed with the changing times yet again by deciding to specialize in the arts.  Liz emphasized the importance of extensive reading in order to maintain good writing skills – something  for which artificial intelligence could probably never be relied upon.

The panel discussion was followed by a wonderful buffet of Chinese specialties which was certainly a gala ending to this anniversary celebration.

Our Panelists

Renato Beninatto

Mencius Society Youth Orchestra



It’s that time of year again when we vote for our new leadership. Please read over the candidate statements for the Board positions mentioned below and make your voice heard by mailing in your ballot. The New York Circle thrives because of the efforts of you, our members, and our dedicated Board of directors.


My name is Matt Goldstein and I’m running for Secretary. I’m a New York City based freelance translator, writer and native New Yorker. I began working as a part-time French to English translator in 2010 and transitioned to the profession full-time two years ago. I hold a BA in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh and a Certificate in French proficiency from McGill University in Montreal with additional language and translation study in Paris. I specialize in translations for the legal, insurance and marketing fields as well as for non-profit human rights & arts organizations.

 ​Prior to working as a translator, I spent 5 years as an editor and promotions content reviewer in the pharmaceutical industry for major US and international companies and 6 years as a staff writer and outreach material developer for JDRF, the world’s leading non-profit type 1 diabetes research organization.

I previously served as Secretary on the LGBT committee of the New York chapter of the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

Since joining the NYCT two years ago, I have gained invaluable industry knowledge, contacts and colleague camaraderie all of which have greatly benefited me as I sought to work as a full-time independent translator. I’m seeking to join the Board to help strengthen the Circle’s work and mission so it can remain relevant in the lives of working translators and support both newcomers to the field and long-time translators and interpreters achieve their career goals in an ever-changing industry. �


I am honored to be asked by the Nomination Committee of the New York Circle of Translators (NYCT) to run for the position of Program Director for the 2020 to 2021 term. Parallelly, I am naturally interested in serving our Circle by planning, preparing, organizing monthly meetings and events for the upcoming two years.

I have been a professional interpreter and translator since 2004. Certified by the New York State Court and the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters, I currently work as a freelance interpreter (mainly English <> Chinese) in New York Metro area, after serving as an in-house interpreter in France and China in the early years of my career and working in various business and information technology arenas. I have spoken on the interpretation, technology, self-care and beyond at New York-Nanjing Forum on Translation, Paving the Way to Health Care Access Conference, International Critical Link Conference and International Medical Interpreters Association Conference. 

In addition to my interpreting work, I lead pro bono community learning programs at i-Bridge Learning, a cross-cultural social venture I founded in 2011. Through organizing workshops and classes, other volunteers and I are dedicated to disseminating health and language access information and promoting fitness and healthy lifestyle in underserved communities.

The NYCT has been highly valuable to me for the past years. I always enjoy coming to the monthly meetings and events and connecting with other colleagues. I have contributed to the NYCT as a mentor and I am always happy to “give” while “taking” (and I am also interpreting and translating pro bono for several nonprofits regularly). We can always learn from one another. 

If I were given the opportunity to serve as the Program Director, I would first listen to our members, work with other board members and combine my business and information technology experience so as to bring more exciting programs for members and beyond. I have a vision to raise our profession’s profile by constantly building our own skills, educating employers, interacting with colleagues and networking. And the monthly meetings and events are the first and best places to start. I would like to take up the challenge and devote myself squarely to that goal, and make the NYCT home to both linguists and employers in the years to come. 


My name is Sepideh Moussavi and I am a Farsi translator and interpreter. I began my linguistic
career 31 years ago with translation and interpretation of Farsi to and from French and English
for companies in Iran, my native country. I moved to the US in 1992, to continue my studies. At
the same time I worked as a translator and interpreter at schools, healthcare facilities and
Universities. I moved to New York City about 10 years ago and founded my own translation
practice where I interpreted for TV news channels such as MSNBC, the Asia Society, and the
Federal and New York State courts systems, among others. I have translated memoirs, articles,
and publishing materials for individuals, museums, and universities. In 2016, in addition to my
translation and interpretation work, I began providing language coaching, subject matter
expertise and consulting services.

As a member of the American Translators Association (ATA), I am currently the Chairperson of
the ATA’s Farsi Workgroup that is working to create the Association’s very first Farsi
certification program by establishing the Farsi to English language pair. I joined the New York
Circle of Translators because I appreciate everything the Circle has to offer and in particular its
support for the translators in the City. I am honored to be asked to run for the Treasurer role at
the NYCT.

I have many years of experience in not-for-profit accounting and finance. My exposure to the
field began with my education at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) from where I
obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a Master’s degree in Health Administration. In
the early 2000’s, I worked in financial management at Mission Community Hospital in Los
Angles County and one of UCLA’s free clinics, Venice Family Clinic. Later on, I worked at other
not-for-profit organizations in New York City such as the New York Public Library, Harlem
United and JASA. If elected, I hope to collaborate with the President and the Board of NYCT to
make sure the organization’s financial management and oversight are done properly, its
financial records are maintained and that the Circle’s financial goals are reached



To vote for your candidates, please print out and mail the NYCT 2019 Election Ballot contained in this edition of the Gotham or click on the link below:





Please familiarize yourself with the candidate statements and select one candidate per position. Print ballot and mail 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 November 30, 2019. Ballot received after that date will not be valid. Only one vote per members.


_____Matt Goldstein, Secretary

_____Serene Su, Program Director

_____Sepideh Moussavi, Treasurer

Mailed completed ballot by November 30, 2019 to:

New York Circle of Translators

PO Box 4051

Grand Central Station

New York, NY 10163-4051




Letter from the Editor

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the New York Circle of Translators. On September 28th we will celebrate this milestone with a symposium featuring a keynote address by industry leader Renato Beninatto and a panel discussion with NYCT members who will reflect upon the Circle’s evolution over the years. The reception which will follow will be an excellent networking opportunity and we hope to see all our readers there.

The event, which is being co-sponsored by the Mencius Society for the Arts, will also serve to mark International Translation Day, which is celebrated every year on September 30th. The International Federation of Translators (FIT) chose this date to celebrate the pivotal role that translation plays in communicating ideas across international boundaries. September 30th was originally the feast day of Saint Jerome, the first person to translate the Bible into Latin from the original Hebrew. St. Jerome is considered to be the patron saint of translators.

I think it is also appropriate to mention that August was Women in Translation month. Since we did not publish in August, I am including my write-up of a September event at which the translator Minna Proctor read from her new translation of Natalia Ginzburg’s novel Happiness as Such. Acclaimed author Vivian Gornick also read one of Ginzburg’s most famous essays at the event.

I would like to thank the following women whose work is featured in this issue: Deborah Lockhart and Andrea González, who co-authored an article on multi-language subtitling; Kate Deimling for her write-up on Jon Ritzdorf’s machine translation presentation; and Renata Stein, who shared her translation experiences with me in a recent interview. Last and not by any means least, I am also including my interview with Alex Gross, one of the Circle’s founding members, who shared his fascinating and extremely varied translation career with me.

I hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to seeing everyone on September 28th.

Interview with Founding Member Alex Gross

Translator, author and activist Alex Gross is a true polyglot, speaking French, German, Italian and Spanish fluently and translating from all of them. His language abilities were honed with twelve years of residence and study abroad in Europe. He has published a wide variety of translations, articles and computer programs, many of which can be accessed on his website which is http://language.home.sprynet.com. Now 87 years young (going on 88), he is largely retired from translation.

Alex remembers how Eva Berry, who ran a translation agency in New York, and translators including Tom Snow and Charles Stern, joined together in 1979 to form the New York Circle of Translators. The first of the Circle’s monthly dinner meetings was held at a Czech restaurant on the Upper East Side. The monthly dinner meetings were a source of enjoyable social interactions for its members as well as a forum for the exchange of professional ideas and opinions. 

Alex entered the translation profession as a theatre translator. When he was living in London, he translated a play by Swiss author Friedrich Dὒrrenmatt entitled “Hercules in the Augean Stables” which was performed by a British theatre company and attracted the attention of the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1965, while on a fellowship in Berlin, he translated a seminal work by the post-war German writer Peter Weiss called “The Investigation” which was based on the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials. This play was very relevant to the period since the statute of limitations on war crimes was scheduled to expire that year and theatre companies around the world were looking for works on that subject to perform.

Alex was very involved in the radical activist movements of the 1960s and published a book called The Untold 60s: When Hope was Born based on his activist experiences in Europe and the U.S.  During this period he edited major underground newspapers in London, New York, Berlin and Amsterdam. He also founded The Art Workers Coalition, a group of radical artist activists who demonstrated in New York and elsewhere. In the 1980s, Alex studied Chinese language and culture with an emphasis on Chinese medical techniques.

Alex’s advice to new translators is to “study, study, study” and “learn, learn, learn” and, if possible, live in the culture you are translating. He also cited a book called Translation Matters by the German-American translator Jost Zetzsche as a work of particular interest to translators who wish to work with computers. The book contains stories and essays collected over a fifteen year period about  the importance of translation in our world and how translation tools and technology are the changing the craft.

Alex believes that translation is “primal” to our lives in helping to foster communication and understanding among people. Thank you, Alex, for sharing your fascinating and multi-faceted translation career with the Circle.

Important Elements of a Multi-Language Video Subtitling Project

by: Andrea F. González Ocando and Deborah Avril Lockhart

Deborah Lockhart

Andrea F. González Ocando

Andrea F. González Ocando

Multi-Language Video Subtitling is a type of audiovisual translation often referred to as “subordinate translation.” This is because the translation process is constrained by specific technical parameters of the project, including but not limited to the number of characters allowed per line and per subtitle, minimum and maximum on-screen durations, and reading speed, which refers to the average number of characters per second that the audience is able to read. These technical parameters are time-and-space restrictions that affect the final result on different levels.

Additionally, the translation of audio-visual files is influenced by two sources of information that add meaning and context to dialogue — content that is heard (audio) and content that is seen (video). This can be both beneficial and problematic to the process. On the one hand, audio and video content provides extra-linguistic pieces of information that are often crucial for understanding some dialogues, references, concepts, puns, and jokes. On the other hand, due to the project’s parameters, there are cases in which it is difficult to include everything that is heard in the audio or seen in the video. The subtitling team may encounter spoken content that is very fast paced in the video or long passages of text, notes, headlines, etc., appearing on screen in a short period of time. When this happens, it is almost impossible for the team to include all of the information that was conveyed without violating the time-and-space restrictions mentioned above. For these reasons, subtitling is a daunting task.

Below, we will discuss important elements of a multi-language video subtitling project.

Project Evaluation

In order to evaluate your project, you must check all variables. These include duration, video quality, number of speakers, intelligibility, number of files, target language and on-screen specifications. Durations of previewed videos in a file sharing service such as Dropbox can be different (usually shorter) than actual durations when you download the files and open them. Therefore, make sure you download, open and check the duration of each file so there are no surprises when you are wrapping up the project.

Team Assembly/Connection

Before you consider how your team will look, you must have an idea of what it will take to complete the work. This means breaking down the project into stages and considering particularities such as deadline, budget, specifications, etc. It is advisable to work with experienced providers. You will also need to connect team members so that they may share terminology, and scheduling information such as delivery timelines, etc. The team will also need to be in touch with each other in order to standardize parameters as well.


When you prepare your proposal, you must consider the output of the video. A transcript corresponding to one hour of video will yield approximately 10,000 words. You will need to estimate the time spent doing each portion of the project.


1. Preparation of the Transcript

This step comes first because the audio content in each video needs to be recorded in print before anything else can be done with the project.

2. Segmenting the Transcript

The segmenting process consists of breaking down the transcript and any relevant existing on-screen text into smaller sections or segments, following syntax and grammar rules to add line breaks at logical places in order to ensure and improve readability. Depending on the project and the purpose of the videos, these segments can have a maximum of two lines and their length may vary from 29 characters to 42 characters per line, including spaces, for a total amount of 58 to 84 characters per segment or subtitle.

3. Spotting

After the segmenting process is complete, all of the segments are introduced into a specialized computer software application where the time-codes are created and formatted so that the final spotted file can be used as a subtitling file. These time-codes indicate when the subtitles should appear and disappear, as well as other technical elements, such as their position if there is on-screen text overlapping. Time-codes are manually adjusted to ensure the best possible accuracy. At this point, the segments are ready to be translated.

4. Translation of Segmented Transcript

In the translation step, it is important to make sure that the text flows naturally and that it respects the style and linguistic features of the original text, such as register and language conventions. Also, due to technical requirements and specific parameters such as number of characters per line and reading speed, the translator always has to try to summarize the spoken dialogue in the most efficient way to create concise and easy-to-read subtitles. Some say that subtitles represent only two thirds of the spoken dialogue. However, at times – for example, when subtitling a training video that might contain very long nouns, omissions might lead to misunderstandings. The subtitling team must manipulate the time-codes and try to include as much information as possible (except for redundancies and hesitations). Nonetheless, as a general rule, the translator needs to summarize, depending on the specific parameters of the project, for the audience to be able to read and have access to all of the meanings rather than include every word.

5. Simulation

The simulation phase consists of ensuring that the translated subtitles in the subtitled video file meet all of the project’s requirements. In this step, the final deliverable is reviewed. Time-coding and synchronization are tweaked, as necessary, during the proofreading and editing of the text.

6. Burning Subtitles

Finally, after the translated subtitles have been reviewed, proofread and edited, it is time to insert them into the video. When it comes to subtitle output, there are two possible methods. The first is the hardcoding or hard burn method, which writes the subtitles on top of the image so they will be permanently displayed over the video. The second method is the soft burn, which allows you to turn the subtitles on or off as required, as they will be a separate selectable track in the output file. This second method allows you to have multiple tracks available for subtitles in different languages.

7. Uploading/Sharing

The final translated videos can be shared through Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, WeTransfer or any other cloud-based file transfer service, or via an encrypted file-transfer service, such as Firefox Send.


In closing, it must be said that certain characteristics must be present for the successful execution of a subtitling project. They are commitment to quality, respect for deadlines, constant communication and flexibility. Add these to a clear working knowledge and understanding of each respective piece of the project, and success will be inevitable.

Co-authored by Andrea F. González Ocando and Deborah Avril Lockhart 

A Venezuelan native, Andrea F. González Ocando has been a freelance translator, editor, and proofreader since 2013. She holds a B.A. in English/Spanish and French/Spanish Translation from Universidad Central de Venezuela; a Diploma in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language and a Diploma in Advanced French Language (DALF). She specializes in audiovisual translation (subtitling, dubbing, and closed captioning), and localization. She has worked for several direct clients and translation companies, and she has translated and subtitled over 5,500 minutes of video for movies, TV series, and documentaries.

Deborah Lockhart is the founder and director of operations of The Language Shop. She graduated from the University of the West Indies with a B.A. Degree (with Honours) in History with Language and Literature. She launched her translation and interpreting career working for government offices in Antigua and Barbuda. Her other clients included the Venezuelan and US embassies, various commercial and professional entities, and individuals seeking immigration-related translation services. After nine years, she moved to New York, where she worked as a freelance translator and legal secretary. At The Language Shop, which she founded in 2006, she directs project managers and team leaders to provide all language support to the Company’s diverse, worldwide clientele. Deborah speaks English, Jamaican Patois and other Caribbean Creoles, Spanish, French and basic Arabic. She also served as treasurer of the New York Circle of Translators in 2006.