Category Archives: Industry News

Will Artificial Intelligence Make Interpreters Obsolete?

I read the news about Waverly Labs’ new in-ear realtime translation device (video below) with great interest. With rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI), interpreters are sometimes asked if technology will soon replace us. The short answer is that technology definitely assists good interpreters and translators, and may eliminate the need for expenditure of human brain effort on certain large-volume, low-priority projects. But, while I do embrace new technology to assist me in my translation and interpreting work, I’m not the least bit concerned that it will send me to the unemployment line.
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Preciso’s Holly Behl Joins TAJIT Board of Directors

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It is my privilege and honor to announce that I am now serving translators and interpreters at the state level, after being nominated to the Texas Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators.  As a longtime TAJIT member, I have long believed that TAJIT is the organization best positioned to unite court interpreters and legal translators from across Texas and promote both our profession and meaningful access to justice for Limited English Proficient court users. The Board will meet soon to review TAJIT’s programs and strategy, under the leadership of Interim Chair Marco Hanson.

If you hire court interpreters or legal translators, I encourage you to look first to TAJIT members.

If you are a court interpreter or legal translator and you haven’t yet joined TAJIT (or if your membership has lapsed), I take this opportunity to humbly encourage you to join, in support of the advancement of our profession in Texas.

More information at TAJIT’s website.

 

Content Copyright © 2015, Preciso Language Services

PERMISSION TO REPRINT: You may use any items from this article in your print, blog, magazine or electronic newsletter. But in order to do so, you must include the following paragraph, including a link to www.PrecisoLanguage.com.

“Information courtesy of Preciso Language Services and www.PrecisoLanguage.com, a translation and interpreting firm owned by Certified Translator and Master Licensed Court Interpreter Holly Behl.”

 

 

 

2014 – A Great Year at Preciso

As we open a new year here at Preciso, I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for 2014–a truly amazing year. Here are some highlights:

And, last but not least, the American Translators Association notified me that I passed its notoriously rigorous certification exam to earn the title of Certified Translator for Spanish>English. I can’t wait to update my business cards to display my Certified Translator seal.

In short, it has been an incredible year. I am grateful for every opportunity and to my wonderful clients and colleagues for your continued support. Here’s to an even better 2015!

-Holly

Evolution of a Dictionary Project: Interview with Legal Dictionary Author Javier F. Becerra

Each year, Mexico City’s Escuela Libre de Derecho announces a law-school elective course inconspicuously titled “Legal English Workshop.” Now approaching its twenty-fifth year, the course is still taught by attorney, professor, and author Javier F. Becerra. The professor has written two legal dictionaries, the Dictionary of United States Legal Terminology (with Spanish explanations) and the Dictionary of Mexican Legal Terminology (with English explanations), each more than 1,000 pages, that are prized assets in many legal translators’ collections.

Dallas Texas court interpreter interviews legal dictionary author Javier Becerra

Becerra’s dictionaries on my shelf, in brown and yellow.

The Walking Dictionary

To understand Becerra’s dictionaries, however, we must leave the professor at his lectern for a moment and find him as a young Mexican lawyer, Continue reading

NAJIT Conference Wrap-up

I am freshly returned from a weekend at the National Association of Judicial Interpreters and Translators annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Dallas Court Interpreter NAJIT

Before getting into some of the details of what I learned, I’d like to mention that this organization has a long history of working to advance the profession and advocating for both interpreting/translation professionals and those with limited English proficiency who use our services in the judicial system.  The conference had around 200 attendees, and it was an honor to be surrounded by so many pioneers of our profession.  NAJIT brings together human resources from the most progressive jurisdictions in the country, creates resources for its members, and advocates for our noble profession at the national level.  I highly recommend NAJIT membership to anyone involved in translation/interpretation in the legal field.

Sabine Michael discusses NAJIT's materials for educating the bench and bar on interpreting issues.

Sabine Michael discusses NAJIT’s materials for educating the bench and bar on interpreting issues.

As for the details, one of my main motivations in attending this conference was the 8-hour seminar taught by Tony Rosado on Mexico’s recently enacted reforms to its judicial processes.  Historically, the oral proceedings we interpret in the U.S. have generally not had direct counterparts in Spanish-speaking countries, where cases were resolved entirely in writing, through briefs and judicial opinions.

This dissimilarity meant that the Spanish terminology we study as court interpreters was always an exercise in description as we searched for terms that expressed each aspect of the U.S. judicial process in a way that would be understood by a Spanish speaker despite the lack of an equivalent proceeding in his or her home country.  For example, an arraignment is a court hearing in which the defendant, his attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge convene for a formal reading of the charges against the defendant.  There was no equivalent hearing, thus there was no single, authoritatively correct, Spanish term.  Instead, as a profession we continuously develop a lexicon of accepted terms, with no small amount of scholarship and debate along the way.

Agustin de Mora teaches memory-improvement techniques at NAJIT 2014.

Agustin de Mora teaches memory-improvement techniques at NAJIT 2014.

Now, after years of ramping up for the change, Mexico is converting its judicial system to one of oral proceedings like that of the United States. The most immediate effect for U.S.-based judicial interpreters is that there is now a body of Spanish-language legislation that officially names the equivalent concepts for many of our judicial proceedings.  This is also a revolution for the practice of law in Mexico, and there are already thousands of pages written in Mexico’s scholarly journals on the advantages and disadvantages of oral proceedings, as well as volumes of books published to prepare the bar for oral practice.

Interestingly, Mexico’s new legislation codifies the right to interpreters for those who do not speak Spanish or do not speak it well, in much more detail than does the United States’ legislation.  There are current efforts to develop licensing and training programs from the ground up, to train interpreters for this type of work, which previously had not been needed in most Mexican jurisdictions.

I recommend following Tony’s blog for updates as these changes take effect.

Thank you to all the presenters and NAJIT for hosting such an excellent event.

 

 

 

Announcing ATA’s Savvy Newcomer blog

After spending some time with UT Arlington students last month, my mind has been churning with ideas to help people interested in joining the profession. I’ve consulted many resources over the years, and many gems are freely available. But it would take a real commitment to retrace my steps and collect them into a little online guide.

Fortunately, right on time, the American Translators Association announced a new blog with this exact purpose. One of the first posts addresses a very common question: how does one find that first paid translation job?

With a diversity of industry contributors, I’m sure this blog will quickly become a point of entry that demystifies those normal newcomer questions.

San Antonio for Translators – An Insider’s Guide

Today, translators and interpreters around the world are gearing up for the 54th American Translators Association conference in San Antonio. I’m excited to meet everyone in such a uniquely Texan city. The downtown has a wonderful art deco feel, and the area still preserves a lot of flavor from its roots as a Spanish colony.

Of course, you can visit the Alamo. And any guide will tell you to visit the San Antonio Riverwalk, a special downtown hub for restaurants where you can ride a gondola or take a water taxi after dinner. But, there are a few other authentically San Antonio destinations that are well worth a little excursion.

 

  1. Boerne, Texas grew from communities founded by German revolutionaries who conversed in Latin. Now, it’s a lovely town with a nature center for birding and hiking, a Wild West theme park (open Saturday and Sunday only) and two living caves.
  2. Bandera, Texas is authentic cowboy country. Bandera hosts events almost every day, including a Western display on Saturday afternoons and a Cowboy Camp with traditional cowboy music on Sunday. You can also visit one of the dude ranches for hiking, horseback riding, fossil digging, and more.
  3. John T. Floore Country Store is part of a select group of Texas venues with terrible acoustics and a long history of hosting some of the biggest names in country music. It also also has a café where the food is named after musicians, and you can try country fried steak or fried pickles. There are shows on Friday and Saturday nights during the conference, and every Sunday Floore’s hosts a free dance with live music.
  4. King William Historic District. Named after King Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, this area offers a neighborhood full of 19th-century mansions and the historic Guenther House Restaurant. Guenther House is built on a flour mill property and gets very busy for brunch on the weekends, but in the meantime you can stroll the grounds and peruse the store for pancake and waffle mixes to take home as souvenirs. This District is located at the opposite end of the Riverwalk from the convention center.
  5. Japanese Tea Garden. An interesting, peaceful haven not far from downtown.
  6. Ranch at the Rim. By special request, I checked into the best place to buy cowboy boots and the answer was Ranch at the Rim. They offer boots, hats, and western accessories at a variety of price points. Click here for a free boot care kit with purchase. Cabela’s is another, less local, option.
  7. San Antonio Spurs. Basketball fans can catch a home game versus the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night or the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
  8. Legendary San Marcos outlets. I usually seek cultural and historical destinations rather than shopping, but these are not your average outlets. There are high-end stores like Burberry and Barney’s New York, and with 140 stores, there is a lot of price competition to attract buyers with the best deals. I’ve found some truly incredible deals on quality items. Serious shoppers make a week-long vacation out of this place. Tip: Guest services will sell you a $5 coupon book entitling you to a single-use additional discount on your entire purchase at many stores. Student, teacher, and military IDs can get you this book for free.

Finally, a mini attraction: I’ve got a few things up my sleeve for this conference. One is a special Texas edition sticker, and the other is a Galaxy Gear smart watch! Look for me around the convention center to get your sticker and a futuristic watch-camera portrait.

Dallas interpreter technology

See you in San Antonio!

-Holly

Urgent: Act Now to Save Iraqi and Afghan Interpreters

For the past few days I’ve been trying to raise awareness of an urgent issue that touches on interpreting but is really a humanitarian issue: the September 30th expiration of the Special Immigrant Visa program. This program benefits U.S. allies, including Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who served the U.S. military.

In creating the program, Congress has recognized the need for these interpreters to receive visas. But, the application process is so lengthy and arbitrary that the program is about to close down with close to 80% of the visas left undistributed. Meanwhile, these interpreters are being targeted with violence and death threats for their role in the U.S. occupations. Some have already been killed. Many more live in hiding, unable to show their faces or support their families (read first-hand accounts of their experiences here). Setting aside my opinions on the wars, I strongly believe we must follow through on our promises to these interpreters.

Despite wide reporting of this critical issue in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and NPR, the visa program is set to expire tomorrow.

There are a couple of actions you can take:

  1. Sign a petition asking the U.S. Congress to approve the Afghan Allies Protection Act (2013 petition: Sign a petition asking the U.S. Congress to extend the program)
  2. If you live in the United States, contact your congressional representatives directly. You can look them up on this site and be contacting them within a couple of screens. I believe this will be the most effective because the senators and representatives are able to see that you are from their state or district.

If you are just seeing this information and the deadline has already passed, I encourage you to still let your voice be heard so that your congressional representatives will know this issue matters to their constituents.

You can keep tabs on the issue by following The List Project or the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project.

[Updated 10/28/14 with current links]