Parting Words from NYCT’s Intern

As my internship at the New York Circle of Translators (NYCT) nears its end, it has been a great experience to be able to learn and grow in an environment full of others who share my interest in languages. My name is Hasia (Angela) Bronstein and I am an undergraduate student presently completing my Bachelor of Arts in Spanish/English Translation and Interpretation Studies at the City University of New York—Hunter College.

Ever since I can remember I have had a fascination with languages and human communication. Their unique phonetic compositions, distinct writing systems, and grammatical complexities fascinated me ever since I was a small child; how in one language we say “I miss you” and in another “I feel your absence”. I started learning Spanish when I was in sixth grade and it started out by happenchance as an error in my class schedule. My teacher insisted, “Stay a week and if you don’t like it you can drop it.” Learning languages soon became a pastime for me and I continued to study Spanish through high school. I now speak English, Spanish, Portuguese and Hebrew with some knowledge of French and I am now focusing my linguistic pursuits on Arabic. I continued to study Spanish through college. Like most college students, the focus of my major changed a few times starting out as an Applied Linguistics major and then a Romance Languages major I eventually transferred to Hunter College in the Spring of 2013 and decided to take my interest in languages towards a more focused career path majoring in Spanish/English Translation and Interpretation studies.

The program at Hunter is unique and still growing showing a great potential and is one of the only programs in the New York City area offering an undergraduate degree in Translation/Interpretation.

The degree is through the Spanish Department and consists of a wide array of courses which students must take in Spanish Grammar and Composition, Modern Literature and Translation theory and practice, Translation in the professions which focuses on a specific professional arena such as medical, legal or literary translation.

Classes in both consecutive and simultaneous interpretation are also offered. Course requirements are allied with the Hunter College English Department insuring that students have a strong basis and are well rounded in the culture, literature and structure of both language pairs.
I arrived as an intern at the New York Circle of Translators after meeting and discussing possible internship positions with my program director, Professor Maria Cornelio. Students seeking a BA in Spanish Translation/Interpretation must complete an internship.

The internship position is an opportunity for students to utilize the skills learned in class as well as to network and develop new skills from hands-on work experience. Professor Cornelio had invited students to attend a couple of events held by the New York Circle of Translators and I found them interesting and informative. While brainstorming with Professor Cornelio about possible internship positions, she suggested the option of interning with the NYCT and the rest is history!

My internship experience has been positive. While interning for the New York Circle of Translators I had the opportunity to attend events in which speakers and panelists discussed issues involved in the translation field and how to tackle the challenges involved in the fields of Transcreation and Subtitling. Other events included the NYCT Annual Networking Event which experienced great success in connecting translators and interpreters with Translation Agencies seeking to benefit from each member’s unique set of skills. I helped by making phone calls and spread sheets organizing member information and did my best to facilitate any difficulties involved in holding these events.

Overall the NYCT and their events are like a family which serves to help one another by offering advice and support. They have an up and coming mentoring program which that seeks to provide one on one professional guidance by experienced members to those new to the fields of translation and interpretation. I am very grateful to be able to have served as an intern for the New York Circle of Translators and have great expectations for the future both for myself and for the NYCT.

Hasia (Angela) Bronstein

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

Open Call – Interpreters Language Study

At the age of ten my school removed me from French class. “He shows problems at school, has challenges with modern languages and should be held back a year,” wrote my teacher.

My French language block changed to a tutor. They gave me supplementary classes – math and language arts. As a stranger, the French teacher would only allow me back to observe the class – not to be graded, marked or taken earnestly. Students surrounded me months ahead of my level. To pop up amongst the lessons on the past tense of être was a struggle.

Fast-forward 15 years. Currently my “languages learned” count stands at 9 – my top three languages are Deutsch, Español and 中文. Turns out there wasn’t much of a challenge but rather a hunger for languages. You can call me Andrew Carson – a language nerd, MBA degree holder, marketer and entrepreneur.

Today my tongues constantly demonstrate to me the power and relevance of other languages. As translators you have front row seats to the spectacle. Through your careers you have worked between languages. You have seen the underbelly of the beast and understand the role they play to uphold progress. Whether your work revolves around conferences or two-person exchanges, there are always thoughts to shuttle across the gap.

Now here’s where you can help me out.

Currently my energy has been focused on a set of language projects around NYC. One project looks at oral translators – at the moment they change between source and target languages. The study seeks to understand how languages are absorbed at that second and how they are processed. The project hopes to uncover common themes among translators and across careers.

So far the project has collected the anecdotes of 15 translators through casual tête-à-têtes at cafes around NYC. Many oral translators have offered remarkable accounts of how they process language already and hopefully you can too.

Do you have a few seconds to chat about your career?

Now, you’re busy and don’t have much space on your schedule to relax at a café and chat – understood. However the above paragraphs were just as hard for me to compose and work out as your schedule. The above text was constructed as a “Lipogram of I”. No letter “I” was ever used here. For the record, “is,” “interview” and “interpreter” were pretty hard to evade. For more “information,” or to “join” the study please feel free to “email” me –

Regionalisms: Pitfalls for Court Interpreters in Varieties of Spanish

The different varieties of the Spanish language pose a major challenge to interpreters. Each Spanish-speaking country has its own accent, and accents may vary again within a given Spanish-speaking country. In addition, lexical differences add another level of complication: some specific words may vary in meaning from one country to another, while different countries may use different words altogether to refer to the same thing.

In this workshop, Anthony Rivas will review these varieties of Spanish, with special attention on how interpreters can best prepare to handle them in a legal setting.

Date: Saturday, December 5, 2015
Time: 10 a.m. — 1 p.m. PST (1 — 4 p.m. EST)
Cost: $100 Register by November 14 for a 10% discount!


Instructor: Anthony T. Rivas, FCCI
CEUs available:
ATA 3 points; NAJIT 3 credits; California 3 CIMCE hours L 3504; Florida 3.8 CIE credits, 15-0094; Tennessee 3 FL; Texas and Washington state CEUs pending!

NCI webinars use Adobe Connect. You don’t need to download any software ahead of time to join the webinar. Watch a short video about Adobe Connect and its features here.

NCI alums: Don’t forget to use your code for an extra 10% off!
Questions? 520-621-3615 or

The Translator and Interpreter Self-Help Industry

Written by Leonard Morin

Rational people, when deciding whether to become translators and/or interpreters, will assess their own strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps they now live in a country where a language other than their native tongue is spoken, they have taken foreign language classes, or they grew up bilingual; and they have excelled in both languages. Whatever the case, succeeding as a freelance translator or interpreter is not something that even the most talented linguist can take for granted. Globalization and fragmentation of the industry and the worsening labor conditions in the overall economy play an important role, but starting a business is a risk in any economy.

Many capable translators and interpreters reach a point when they have doubts about their chosen career path and ask themselves about other ways to make money with their language skills. One such way is to found an agency, catering to direct clients and taking a cut of the earnings of other freelancers who work for you, becoming a bigger fish in the food chain. Yet even this route is not without problems since the downward pressure on rates is also felt by agencies, especially the smaller ones.

The demand for our services paradoxically continues to grow. This constellation of factors has fueled the growth of a translator and interpreter self-help industry at an even quicker pace than the industry it thrives off of. To a certain extent, of course, this side industry is useful and necessary. For example, the emergence of so many translator and interpreter training programs addresses a crying need for qualified professionals. Rigorous academic training for these careers is a prerequisite whose recognition has been a long time coming. And even the most seasoned and skilled professionals do not know everything; the requisite knowledge and skills for our professions are dauntingly extensive. Continuing education is indispensable. Yet what happens if your fancy degree or certificate does not translate into employment with commensurate remuneration?

Faced with inadequate return on your investment, you may now turn to the trade literature to devise tactics to boost your productivity or find high-paying direct clients. Once again, self-education is a necessary component of any successful career in this field. There is a lot to know about our jobs and about different approaches to achieving success. But the self-help industry has a pernicious side-effect: it tends to put all the blame on the individual translator or interpreter. Since the topic is taboo, we have barely scratched the surface of some of the structural issues that stand in the way of success in this industry beyond not being good at your profession. What happens when all this continuing education, strategizing, reference material, and translation technology exhaust your precious time and money?

Although this potentially lucrative side-industry is not the product of malicious intentions that feed off of our misfortune, I believe that sometimes we have to be able to see through the hype to make the most intelligent career decisions. While we’re at it, we can contemplate the future prospects of a side-industry that, in part, thrives off of luring people into exhausting their resources.

About the author: Leonard Morin is a staff Spanish interpreter at Manhattan Criminal Court. He also translates chiefly legal documents and cartography articles from Dutch, Spanish, and German into English. He formerly served as president of the New York Circle of Translators.Leonard Morin

Interpreting or Cultural Consultation

As interpreters, we are asked to translate the words and convey the intonation of the speaker into the language of the listener. As one can imagine, this process of interpretation yields terms or ideas for which there is no direct translation. This is often because a concept may not exist in both languages; we may all be human beings, but not all cultures are alike, right? For example, when I was recently assisting a case worker interact with a family who had recently resettled in the U.S. as refugees, the case worker told the mother that she needed to get a letter from the landlord verifying her residence in the apartment for her daughter’s school. For this woman, the fact that a school would require a document from her landlord made absolutely no sense. When asked for clarification, the case worker did not know how to clarify in any other way than to restate because she was unaware of what precisely was confusing the mother.

Another kind of challenge that arises in interpreting is expressions whose words have a close match but whose significance in context are very different. For example, the mother previously mentioned kept repeating “God willing” in response to anything the case worker said. To the case worker, this seemed to express a kind of sarcasm that expressed the mother’s lack of trust in the case worker.

As interpreters, we are not permitted (nor do we have the time!) to help each party understand one another on a deep psycho-social level. However, in home visits, medical or hospital settings and elsewhere, individual interpreters can and must clarify certain phrases or words when they feel the mere interpretation does not provide adequate meaning to a person’s message. I, for one, have done so on occasion. For the example of the case worker and the mother, I did find an appropriate time to step in and offer some clarifying words.

As speakers of both languages in interactions where we are a mere third party, it is hard at times not to step in and explain or even provide insight. This juggle of either resisting or interjecting to clarify leads me to ask: Where is the line between interpreting and cultural consultation, and furthermore, in an ideal scenario, where should the line be placed?

The answer is a classic: It depends. Sure, in some settings, the line is quite clear and there is no urge to step in as “referee.” For example, when interpreting between two parties who work in the same field or whose levels of education are fairly on par with one another, extra assistance from a cultural observer may not be needed. Or, at a UN conference, not only can you not interrupt from a speech to provide insight, but your cultural awareness may not even be as useful as, for example, that of experts in political rhetoric. Codes of conduct are central to ensuring the quality and professionalism of our services. However, might it also be that the very codes that define also, at times, inhibit?

Depending on your client or the agency through which you work, your responsibilities may slightly differ. Nevertheless, regardless of the specifics, our job is to precisely transmit the information or message of the speaker to the listener, from one language into another. The goal is not to provide additional insight into how or why a speaker might say something the way he or she does.

What if that were allowed? What if cultural consultation were a service that interpreters and translators could provide in addition to their linguistic expertise?

Imagine, you enter into an office to interpret between lawyer and client. Client is from your home country and you two share not only a language but a culture. Preparing for court, the lawyer is advising the client how to appear, only she does not feel comfortable taking his suggestion. You know why and you know why the lawyer is confused by her resistance. Imagine you had the power to alleviate both party’s frustrations with a simple contribution of cultural interpretation? Not only could you help save time, you would also help strengthen the relationship between lawyer and client, thereby providing your client with even more accurate interpreting services.

Or perhaps you are a historian with expertise in Latin American history. Would you not be doing your client a disservice by withholding valuable information pertaining to the historical relevance of a term or expression used in dialogue?

What about adaptation of educational curriculum from one country to another? Would it not benefit both parties to have a cultural liaison to advise each other on how students or “school culture” might affect implementation?

Sure, not all interpreters or translators can also double as a cultural consultant since many are hired on an assignment for which they do not have the relevant knowledge or expertise. In fact, when deemed necessary, a cultural liaison or “diplomat,” if you will, is called in to assist separately from the hired interpreter or translator. But isn’t the marriage between language and culture just too hard to ignore?

Perhaps the translators and interpreters are in the best positions to determine when or where this kind of additional service would be of use.

Written by Melissa Mannis

March Meeting Recap: A Look at the Interpretation Market

Our well attended March meeting focused on interpretation. The panel consisted of:

  • Loubna Bagnied, Interpreting Services Manager at Eriksen Translations
  • Michelle Santarpia, Interpreting Recruiter at Geneva Worldwide
  • Elodie Gonzalez, Senior Project Manager at Translingua Associates
  • Anthony Cosimano, Managing Director – Event Services Ubiqus


The panelist discussed their respective agencies and then what qualifications they look for when hiring interpreters. All the agencies stated that training on the CV was a good thing. Ms. Santarpia from Geneva stated that if there is no training, relevant work experience would help interpreters stand out. For example someone who worked as a paralegal and was now starting in interpreting would be considered by Geneva. It also helps to be recommended by interpreters who are on their roster. In fact all the panelists agreed that recommendations from colleagues were a plus. Ericksen tests potential interpreters for language proficiency and eloquence of delivery.

From Ms. Santarpia of Geneva: You need to establish a relationship with your agency – as recruiter, I like to meet my interpreters in person; there has to be a personal connection.

All agencies lamented about client education. Clients and other industries really need to understand about interpreting. It requires more than just a bilingual. They all breathe a sigh of relief when servicing clients who truly understand what interpreting entails. In fact Ubiqus has written in their contract that “if no materials are provided prior to the meeting then they cannot guarantee the quality of the interpretation.” This is quite unique in the industry.

Modes of Interpreting

In addition to the usual consecutive, simultaneous and escort interpreting the new types of technology are ushering in different modes of interpreting (video remote interpreting on a rise; telephonic)

While in-person interpretation is the ideal it is not always available in every circumstance. Geneva and Ericksen both agreed that in situations such as medical you prefer the “human touch”, an interpreter not only delivers what the patient says, but more importantly what is not said. An in-person interpreter can see if the patient scrunches up their face in pain, or looks confused or frightened. The telephone cannot relay those sentiments, video does not work that much better.

Many hospitals use VRI machines or phone interpreting (Woodhull Hospital using VRI machines) but for many situations, it depends on the condition of the patient him or herself before knowing whether or not VRI or phone interpreting works.

However, where face to face is not available these types of interpretation are the only choice. Hospitals by law must provide language services to patients.

What are the areas which have the most growth potential in the interpreting market?


Due to globalization there is a huge demand for web localization and branding a business into other markets. Interpreters are generally hired to help with visits and signing contracts between CEOs, CFOs and their international counterparts.

Ubiqus finds that business meetings and forums keep them quite busy are growing on a yearly basis. This part of the industry is quite robust and does not seem to be slowing down.

 What are the trends?

– People are becoming aware that everyone has a right to language access
– People are becoming more aware that there is a difference between a skilled interpreter and a bilingual
– People need and demand more certifications
– VRI and telephonic isn’t taking away from in-person, just expanding it

Can people do both interpreting and translating?
From our panelists:
-70% of interpreters at some of the agencies also do translation
-Most interpreters are not into translation, but do it in their areas of expertise
-Suggested it’s easier to go from interpretation to translation and not vice versa