Sep 23, 2013
- "Mark Spahn" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sep 23 03:17AM -0400
The best relationship between a translator and a translation
agency is one that minimizes the non-essentials of the
money-for-translation transaction. But some agencies are
fond of establishing a legalistic relationship, with a contract
("agreement" is the euphemism) setting forth what is supposed
to happen. There is nothing wrong in principle with this,
but it can be overdone. Consider the following provisions
of a contract between agency and translator. Commentary
follows each, in square brackets [...].
(1) "Fees may not be disclosed to any party outside this
agreement." This is restated as "Translator agrees that
Translator will never disclose to any Company clients
*or to any third party* [emphasis added] Fees paid to
Translator by Company."
[Why would the agency want the translator's spouse and
the tax authorities to be kept in the dark about this part
of the translator's income? Isn't this illegal?]
(2) "Governing Law. This Agreement shall be governed
by and construed in accordance with the laws of [country C]."
[What motivates this provision, when the agency is headquartered
in country A, and the translator lives in country B?]
(3) In a list of what constitutes Confidential Information,
which must be kept secret, is the unobtrusive phrase
"the terms and conditions of this Agreement itself".
[Huh? The contract itself is secret? What would be the
motivation for this provision? And this presents a logical
conundrum: How could you ever recruit translators?
You will have to reveal the entire text of the contract to
prospective new translators, some of whom will decide not to
agree to it and will therefore be free to make its text public.]
(4) In an orthodox contract, both parties sign and date it.
But here the contract is on a password-protected website
and cannot be downloaded. Instead of a signature, the
translator is asked to click on an "I Accept" button.
How can this possibly be legally binding? Moreover,
no company officer signs, or is even named in, this contract,
or clicks on any "I Accept" button. So is this meant to be
a one-way contract that is binding on one party but not the other?
[That "I Accept" declaration in lieu of a signature is an
interesting choice of words. It's not the bland "I Agree",
but "I Accept", which calls to mind Billy Graham at a
revival meeting: Billy says, "Do you accept Jesus Christ
as your Lord and Savior?" The crowd roars as one,
Until recent days, I have never seen a contract with
any of these provisions (1) to (4). Have you?
(Maybe I just lead a sheltered life not to have seen such
Please be assured that there really is a contract with
these provisions. As Dave Barry would say, I am not
making this up. (While poring through this contract, which
I was asked to read carefully before "I Accept"ing,
I jotted down notes on its various provisions. In the
unlikely event that anyone would like to see those notes
(8 pages!), just contact me and I can attach the Word file
to my email reply to you.)
Comments on these translator-agency contract provisions
are welcome. Have you had any experience with such
provisions, and how did you handle them?
I have a little theory that explains what the above provisions are
doing in a contract, but I'll keep it "confidential" for a few days,
lest I skew anyone's response.
-- Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)
Sep 20, 2013
by Tracy Miller
It was a cold night in January a few years ago when I received a phone call very late.
"You don't know me, but I'm a friend of the family whose son disappeared on Mt. Fuji. You may have heard about it on the news," replied an unfamiliar voice.
"Can we possibly call on you to do interpreting if the family decides they need an interpreter?"
Having been involved in a missing persons investigation several years ago locally, I knew what this meant. Despite a sense of impending doom, I said, "Of course, I will do whatever I can to help."
Thus, began the weeks-long, heart-wrenching process of interpreting between the family of the young man missing on Mt. Fuji since January and the rescue team in Fuji-Yoshida-shi. The rescue team struggled to overcome searing winds and freezing temperatures in order to find him alive. I interpreted daily reports about the rescue team’s plan for the day. Would weather allow them to proceed with rescue operations? Did they find any clues that the son left behind? How cold and windy was it? What was the likelihood of avalanches? The questions seemed endless in the family’s quest to cover as many bases as possible. All I could do was reassure them of the experience and expertise of the rescue team. I could hear it in the voices of the men and women searching the mountain. They were making every effort to find the missing man alive.
Interpreters are often called upon to step up and serve in uncomfortable situations like this one. Our conduct leaves a lasting impression on the people we serve. Keeping this foremost in my mind, I quickly learned everything I needed to know about Mt. Fuji—the elevation, rescue activities, weather patterns, vocabulary for climbing, etc. I tried hard to concentrate and handle this job using the same protocol I would for any other. I know as a professional interpreter that I should maintain an emotional distance, but in a situation like this one it’s almost impossible not to become emotionally invested and personally involved. The family hung on the words of the rescue team as interpreted by me. Many times, I could not help but have a heavy heart when delivering grim news or no news at all. On the other hand, I also think that skillful interpreting in a case like this can make Japan seem a little less foreign. They asked me questions about Japanese culture, customs, and societal norms, hoping that a better understanding might bring some reassurance. Throughout the process, the family kept a special Facebook page to keep friends and loved ones updated on the efforts to find him.
Sadly, this story does not have a happy ending. The young man’s body was discovered in the spring, a few months after he went missing. A beautiful, peaceful photograph atop Mr. Fuji is the the last surviving image these parents have of their beloved son - a photograph showing him very much alive and well, doing what he loved
This experience reminds me that what we do as interpreters is more than just providing communication in another language. Sometimes, we provide a vital link with lives hanging in the balance. Interpreting for parents searching for their lost child and the rescue team diligently searching for him renewed my appreciation for the art and science of language, and how important it can be in human interactions.
Sep 17, 2013
ATA 54th Annual Conference
San Antonio, Texas
November 6-9, 2013
ATA members can SAVE 20% when they register
by October 1.
WHAT IS THE ATA ANNUAL CONFERENCE?
* More than 175 seminars, sessions, workshops, and events
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Review the conference program and learn more about speakers,
sessions, and events!
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attendee. New this year! A pre-conference event on Wednesday will
provide an opportunity for “newbies” (first-time attendees) to pair up
with “buddies” (experienced attendees) and learn how to make the
most of their conference experience.
Early registration discounts end TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1
Don't miss the early registration savings. Register online now!
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Please share your ideas if you have more or different ones.
Templates - Case Reports, Government Forms (marriage, koseki), Patents, etc. I would be happy to share mine (marriage registration forms, case report outlines). I just spent a long time scouring the internet for the marriage registration form. It seems like reinventing the wheel to translate them over and over, but I don't know how people feel about that (proprietary?). I was surprised that it wasn't online, or maybe I just couldn't find it.
Funny stuff - translation mistakes/speaking mistakes. I have a few. It would be fun to compile them. And it would provide some comic relief.
How to translate your personal website into Japanese, or from Japanese into English. This is an amorphous idea, and maybe not relevant to the blog, but I want to do it. I thought it would be nice to "partner" with a Japanese native to do reciprocal translations.
Asking people who give talks at conferences/local ATA gatherings to provide summaries for the blog (including relevant links, documents, if possible).
Article on new language learning or foreign language apps/new technology.
Helpful little translating tools. Like CodeZapper. Or how to zap codes (I hate them!).
A comparison of CAT tools and the best picks for Japanese. I use Swordfish. Only because someone told me it was the best, and I believed him. So it would be nice if someone out there with real knowledge and experience of using multiple CAT tools could share his/her opinions.
Links to watching Japanese TV shows online. For some reason, this is always difficult for Japanese (must be copyright related).
Interview: I can try to interview my friend and colleague (interpreter/translator) Christopher Field (http://www.christopherfield.com/). He regularly interprets for government agencies (and high-ranking people, such as Chuck Hagel, most recently), and also does legal deposition interpreting. I would need help in formulating questions, though, because I'm not an interpreter.
Article: Chris Field also did a presentation at the ATA in Boston in 2011 about Commodore Perry's interpreters. It was quite interesting, and might make good blog content. I could ask him to write something up about that.
I also know Nadine Edwards, who is a J-E translator and will be the administrator for the JLD. We can try to enlist her in blog writing, too, since she will be most up-to-date on JLD administrative details.
An article about Japanese language jobs for the federal government. I don't have one, but I live in the DC area, and so it's a relevant topic here.
Article about current language trends in Japan (popular culture).
Asking a seasoned medical, legal, patent, technical translator to provide his/her top 10 most used websites in his/her work.
Reviews of book translations. I did one review of a novel for the ALTA last year. (Can't remember the Japanese title, but the English title was A Room Where the Star-Spangled Banner Cannot Be Heard).I didn't review the book itself so much as the translation, by comparing passages in Japanese and English, and talking about the translator's stylistic and linguistic choices, how they worked and to what effect, etc. I think it was a helpful exercise for thinking about the nuances of translation, but in a concrete way.
From the University of Michigan Health System Interpreter Services Program
Mastering complex medical terms can be hard. UMHS Interpreter Services' Medical Terminology and Body Systems course makes it easier.
This great 40-hour course is ideal for medical interpreters, and everyone who works in the medical field. It teaches the Word Building Technique, which helps you decipher medical terms by dividing them into three basic parts: the prefix, root and suffix. By learning common prefixes, suffixes, and root words, you can easily make sense of even the most complex terms. It’s a quick, efficient and amazingly easy way to learn medical terminology.
Each class also covers a different body system, including terms and phrases used during specific appointments, diagnoses, tests and procedures. The course includes weekly homework, tests, games, role playing and a final exam that students must pass to receive a Certificate of Completion.
The course is divided into five all-day workshops:
- Workshop 1: Welcome and Introduction to Word Building/The Body/Skeletal and Muscular Systems
- Workshop 2: More suffixes/Special Senses/Cardiovascular and Lymphatic Systems
- Workshop 3: More prefixes/Gastrointestinal System/Respiratory System
- Workshop 4: Medical Specialties/Endocrine System/Nervous System/Special topics: Pain and Cancer
- Workshop 5: Reproductive and Urinary Systems/Review of Word Building Technique/Final exam
Time: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Duration: 5 weeks
Dates: Wednesdays, 10/9/13 – 11/6/13
Location: UMHS Interpreter Services' Traverwood office, 2025 Traverwood Dr., Suite A4, Ann Arbor, MI
Teacher: Rita Galin
Cost: $280 for all five workshops (for general public) or $265 for UMHS interpreters (lunch and books are included). Register and pay online at:
Sep 15, 2013
If you're an interpreter/translator in Michigan, don't miss the MITIN Annual Conference. It's well worth a trip to Novi to make new contacts with colleagues. It's also a great warm-up for the ATA coming in November.
For more information, go to the Website: http://mitin.org/conference/
For more information, go to the Website: http://mitin.org/conference/