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Interpreting the News

[Canadian] Interpreters call on government to scrap automated hiring system

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 20, 2016 2:48:57 PM / by Katharine Allen posted in interpreting, translation, interpreters, government contracting, translator, business, canada

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From CBC News Ottawa

Article Excerpt: Professional interpreters are urging the federal government to scrap an automated system for hiring freelancers, arguing that doling out jobs to the lowest bidder could further erode the Translation Bureau's ability to fulfil the requirements of the Official Languages Act.

The Act requires French and English spoken translation for a range of government activities, from sessions of Parliament to Supreme Court hearings to government conferences.

Public Services and Procurement Canada is preparing to launch the new procurement system for awarding contracts to freelance interpreters, who now perform 60 per cent of the government's spoken translation work, according to their association. 

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LanguageLine’s New Owner Says Tech Will Not Replace Interpreters

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 30, 2016 10:58:26 AM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen posted in Technology, business of interpreting, healthcare interpreting, interpreting employment

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From Slator

Article Excerpt: 

By selling to French call center operator Teleperformance, over-the-phone interpreter LanguageLine Solutions (LanguageLine) enters another chapter. The company’s history stretches back to 1982 when it was founded by a US marine and a policeman to help law enforcement officers communicate with Vietnamese refugees.

...LanguageLine is the dominant US player in remote interpreting. In 2015, the company generated revenues of USD 388m and EBITDA of nearly USD 150m. Of LanguageLine’s 8,000 interpreters, 92% work from home; 86% of the business comes from over-the-phone (OTP) interpreting with video and onsite contributing the rest.

Paris-based Teleperformance is new to language interpretation services. One of the largest call center operators in the world, the company was founded in 1978 by current Executive Chairman Daniel Julien. Its 190,000 employees share 147,000 workstations. Like LanguageLine, Teleperformance is highly profitable with an EBITDA of EUR 492m on revenues of EUR 3.4bn in 2015.

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An Unpaid Debt to Afghan Interpreters

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 17, 2016 8:36:20 AM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen posted in conflict zone interpreting, military interpreting, conflict zones, Afghanistan, interpreters, translator

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From the New York Times

Article Excerpt: 

Last fall, Congress made a change to the rules of a resettlement program for Afghan interpreters who risked their lives by working for the American government. To be eligible for an American visa, applicants would have to demonstrate that they had worked for the United States for at least two years, rather than one. There was no reason to think the new requirement would affect the roughly 10,300people who already had pending applications.

But the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, in a baffling move, decided to apply the new rule retroactively. Immigration lawyers fear that it could disqualify thousands of applicants, including some who have been waiting for a visa for years.

This is unfair, and reflects the callous disregard bureaucrats involved in the program have shown toward Afghan interpreters since Congress created the program in 2009.

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The Language Barrier Is About to Fall. Really?

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 2, 2016 12:47:09 PM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen posted in interpreting, Technology, machine translation, language

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From the Wall Street Journal

Article excerpt : It used to be the case when I traveled abroad that I would take a little pocket dictionary that provided translations for commonly used phrases and words. If I wanted to construct a sentence, I would thumb through the dictionary for five minutes to develop a clunky expression with unconjugated verbs and my best approximation of the correct noun. Today I take out my phone and type the phrase into Google Translate, which returns a translation as fast as my Internet connection can provide it, in any of 90 languages.

Machine translation is leaps and bounds faster and more effective than my old dictionary method, but it still falls short in accuracy, functionality and delivery. That won’t be the case for long. A decade from now, I would predict, everyone reading this article will be able to converse in dozens of foreign languages, eliminating the very concept of a language barrier. 

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For Help on Camera and Off, MLB Orders Interpreters for Latino Players

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 15, 2016 1:26:31 PM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen posted in interpreters, Major League Baseball

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From The New York Times

Article excerpt:  In April 2014, Michael Pineda, the Yankees pitcher, had been ejected from a game for having pine tar on his neck. Later the same night, he answered questions from more than a dozen reporters in English about the embarrassing incident.

Pineda, who is from the Dominican Republic, had only a rudimentary command of English, but in an effort to learn the language, he regularly conversed with reporters who spoke it.

Nevertheless, Carlos Beltran, a bilingual teammate, was upset that Pineda did not have an interpreter to help him communicate that night, and Pineda was roundly pilloried in the media afterward for using pine tar for a second time.

That incident was the inspiration for a new initiative, pushed by Beltran, to have each of the 30 teams provide a full-time interpreter for Spanish-speaking players.

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Nigerien, Malian soldiers aid U.S. Army's language-translation technology

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 4, 2015 2:37:43 PM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen posted in interpreting, Technology, business of interpreting, conflict zone interpreting, military interpreting, machine translation

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From www.army.mil

Article abstract: ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Dec. 2, 2015) -- The U.S. Army is testing and upgrading a language-translation program by training with African soldiers, officials said.

Recording foreign Soldiers' speech and providing the data to Army researchers is key to improving the technology, said Maj. Eddie Strimel and Bill Bergen, the Field Assistance in Science and Technology, or FAST, advisors assigned to U.S. Army Africa. Capturing French accents and dialects from across Africa helps scientists refine the translation software.

The FAST team recorded 1,664 lines of speech from 20 Nigerien soldiers during the Military Intelligence Basic Officer Course - Africa in Niamey, Niger, Oct. 26-30. They used the SQ.410 Translation System, a handheld, rugged, two-way language-translation device from a commercial vendor, VoxTec.

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Buyer Beware: Two Not-So-Laughable Google Translate Stories

[fa icon="calendar'] Nov 4, 2015 5:16:32 AM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen posted in interpreting, Technology, translation, machine translation

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From The Guardian...

Google Translate error sees Spanish town advertise clitoris festival

Article excerpt: It was meant to be a culinary festival celebrating grelo, the leafy green vegetable that is a staple in the Galician town of As Pontes in north-west Spain.

But for the past few months, the small town was marketing a very different kind of festival after it used Google Translate to put the Galician word grelo into Castilian Spanish, ending up with it inviting people to take part in a “clitoris festival”.

“It was quite a surprise,” Montserrat García, the town’s spokeswoman, told the Guardian. “At first, we didn’t believe what we were seeing.”

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This new smart glove can turn sign language into text and speech

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 20, 2015 10:31:12 AM / by Katharine Allen posted in business of interpreting, Interpreter, sign language,, machine translation

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From Science Alert news...

Article Excerpt: Sign language has helped the hearing-impaired communicate for many centuries, way before it was formalised and officially recognised, but this long-standing language of gestures has now been given a 21st-century technological upgrade. Saudi designer and media artist Hadeel Ayoub has invented a smart glove that recognises hand movements and converts them into the relevant text.

Much like Google Translate can give anyone a basic grasp of a foreign language in an instant, this glove is designed to help sign language users make themselves understood by those who can't usually interpret it. 

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Immigration Courts Could Lose A Third Of Their Interpreters

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 7, 2015 7:12:51 AM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen posted in business of interpreting, Immigration, Interpreter

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From BuzzFeed News...

Article Excerpt: Interpreters across the country are refusing to sign on to a new contract to service U.S. immigration courts, citing what they call unacceptably low pay and poor working conditions.

“They’re keeping me from making a decent living for me and family,” said Carmelina Cadena, an immigration court interpreter in Florida who is fluent in a rare and sought-after Mayan language from Guatemala. “It’s ridiculous.”

Language interpreters are crucial to the basic functioning of the country’s immigration courts, where business is rarely conducted in English–less than 15% of immigration court cases were completed in English in fiscal year 2014. The conflict between the interpreters and the new contractor, SOS International, or SOSi, threatens the ability of the immigration courts to function, and the ability of individuals to challenge their potential deportation.

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Telemedicine Expands, Though Financial Prospects Still Uncertain

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 2, 2015 6:00:00 AM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen posted in interpreting, Technology, healthcare interpreting, telemedicine

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From National Public Radio...

Article Excerpt: Say you're a Midwestern farmer in a hospital bed, recovering from surgery or a major illness. It's time for the nurse's check-in, but there's no knock on the door. At Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, a camera attached to the wall over the foot of the bed whirls around, as a video monitor next to the camera lights up to show a smiling face with a headset on.

"Good afternoon, this is Jeff with SafeWatch," the smiling face says. "Just doing my afternoon rounds." It's a little hard to shake the Jetsons vibe in this telemedicine training exercise, but this kind of health care isn't just futuristic; it's happening now and expanding.

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