Webster’s and the Crystal Ball

Do you often eat al desko because of a mahoosive job? Has queso become English? And why should you know?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the year 2012 there were just fewer than 64,000 people in the United States working in the field of Translation & Interpretation. This number includes staff positions as well as full-time freelance work. It also includes sign language interpreters. To give a little perspective, that’s less than 10% of the total number of physicians and surgeons in the country.

Why do statistics like these matter? They matter because of the next number provided by the Bureau: projected growth. While those physicians and surgeons are expected to see their ranks swell by about 18% by the year 2022, during that same time period translators and interpreters are facing industry growth of roughly 46%.

To put it another way, in less than a decade there should be half again as many translators and interpreters in our line of work in the US (including sign language interpreters).

This projected growth reflects the public’s need for our services. It also highlights how important it is that we each remain at the top of our game. Growth brings competition and competition – while sometimes painful – tends to promotes excellence.

We must increase our familiarity with technical terminology, learn the latest lingo, hone our skills.

And speaking of honing: languages all around our ever-shrinking world are growing at an accelerated pace. The editors at Webster’s Dictionary analyze new terms daily for possible inclusion in the next year’s edition. Today, Dictionary.com published its list of newly-added words (http://static.sfdict.com/content/press/Words%20Release%20FINAL%2004May15-4fdac.pdf). And Oxford Dictionary now updates its content quarterly (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/words/what-s-new); the italicized terms in this article can be found in the December 2014 release.

MITA is organizing additional activities for this year. The American Translators Association publishes an industry magazine and holds an annual conference. Look around you. There are classes, workshops, publications, online training, seminars, organizations – in short, a myriad of resources at your fingertips to keep you absolutely amazeballs at your job.

-Carol Shaw, Editor

MITA is back! – Vignettes of Our March 7 Meeting and Speakers

by Tereza Braga

April 2015 Meeting attendees enthralledCurrent president Holly Behl joined forces with former president Norma Pace for a long-awaited meeting this past March 7. I am not a literary translator but I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed a MITA meeting this much.

After posing pretty for a professional photographer (always a great idea to have new pictures done), our all-dressed-up group managed to stop chatting and sit down for two delectable presentations.

The first speaker was Jorge Correa, a Chilean immigrant who teaches high school Spanish and was featured in a story entitled “A Translator & Lifesaver” (The Remarker magazine, St. Mark’s School). The blurb says it all: “Inspired by Julie Hersh’s book, ‘Struck by Living’, Jorge Correa found the strength to help his wife, Patricia Inda-Correa, in her battle with depression. Now, with his translation, Correa is helping countless others as they fight their battles”. The article is short and worth reading:


April 2015 Meeting Jorge CorreaJorge enthralled us with his courage to face the pain and help his wife in her heart-breaking battle with depression. His son heard about Julie’s book on NPR and the rest is a beautiful story. We all received a complimentary copy of the book (Jorge’s translation), which came out last year: Decidí Vivir. The original, Struck by Living, is available in the Green Library. Julie Hersh talks about the amazing coincidence of hearing about Jorge’s interest in the book and finding out that she had a child in the very same school where he teaches. She also explains the approach they took with the translation and its adaptation from Chilean into Mexican Spanish to reach a wider audience:


The second speaker was another unique revelation. My personal thanks go to Norma for spotting this innovative translation entrepreneur mentioned in the Dallas Morning News.


April 2015 Meeting Will EvansWill Evans talks a mile a minute, especially when he talks about publishing books by foreign authors. He is an American guy with a Russian degree in history, turned foreign book advocate. His attorney wife got a job in Dallas and they moved here two years ago. He noticed that the only Dallas-based bookstore is Wild Detectives, in Oak Cliff, which happily now hosts literary nights with readings by the translators themselves– organized by Will, of course.

This new Dallasite decided to start his own nonprofit publishing house. It is headquartered at The Common Desk, an amazing co-working concept in Deep Ellum of which I am now a happy member (but that’s another article). In search of a catchy name, he asked a friend who said: “Deep Vellum, of course!” I loved this beautiful word – vellum. From the French veau, it refers to a parchment made from calf skin. It reminds me of veludo, in my native Portuguese, meaning velvet.

“I found out there’s all of this great stuff being written in every language in the world – award-winning books, best-sellers – and very little of it gets translated and published into English,” Will explains. The result was Deep Vellum Publishing. Check out the website and look under Authors and Translators:


Will plans to open a bookstore in Deep Ellum similar to Wild Detectives in Oak Cliff, only twice as big and with 20 times more books.  (Will is hiring translators – spread the Word!)

A week after the MITA presentation, I met up with Ana Jewell (also present at the meeting), for one of the literary nights at Wild Detectives and bought our first books from the brand new publishing house, now signed by our new publisher friend. The translator for Sergio Pitol was a favorite and read many excerpts of his translation. I have already finished and absolutely loved The Indian, by Icelandic author Jon Gnarr. Mr. Gnarr just moved to Houston to work at Rice University and is on a speaking tour in the U.S. His book is a hilarious and heart-breaking account of growing up with ADHD – then going on to become the Mayor of Reykjavik.


Keep an eye on your email: I hear MITA’s planning another event soon!

April 2015 Meeting Attendees and Jorge Correa


Tereza head shotTereza Braga is a Brazilian Portuguese translator and interpreter, past chair of the ATA Portuguese división, speaker, newsletter editor and long-term member of MITA.  She can be reached at terezabrazilian@gmail.com.


ATA sittings and upcoming workshops – September’s busy!

Late last month your MITA Steering Committee, led by current president Holly Behl, met through the miracles of modern technology: Holly and Karen Sharp enjoyed a quiet corner of La Madeleine’s, with Holly’s laptop, and Martina Heine-Kilic, Norma Pace and I joined them via video conference.  We discussed upcoming events and reviewed the responses to the survey sent out recently (thanks, all of you who responded.)  “Stuff” is in the works!

Next Saturday, September 13, MITA is hosting an ATA certification exam. Thanks to Marilyn Retta for once again kindly serving as proctor.  Best of luck to all who are testing!

The following day, September 14, anyone in the DFW area with an interest in legal translation and interpretation will have the opportunity to attend a workshop on Spanish/English Criminal Law Terminology and recent reforms in Latin America, offered by Sandro Tomasi and Katty Kauffman. In addition to the wealth of information, this course will provide ATA, NAJIT and JBCC continuing education points.  For more information, see http://www.bilinguallawdictionary.com/workshop.htm

(P.S. Sandro’s dictionary has had a key spot on my desk for years, so I would obviously be there if I weren’t going to be at my sister’s, in Ecuador. Would someone who does go, please write up a short report for the MITA Reader? Thanks!)

Our own Biljana Karamehmedovic will be offering another medical interpretation workshop soon. The ATA Conference is coming up in November, in Chicago. And we’re in the planning stages for the year-end MITA party to be held early in December. Details will be coming soon.

Sounds like things are about to get busy!

This blog is your newsletter; if you have anything you’d like to include, please email me (editor@dfw-mita.com) for guidelines.

Houston Technical Translator Steven Marzuola on Writing for Translation

By Holly Behl

Have you ever been asked to translate a document full of acronyms, and had to spend hours doing research and emailing with your client to figure out what the acronyms mean? Have you wished you could talk with the authors of your source text about those little writing habits that make translation more difficult and expensive?

Last week, Steven Marzuola, a technical translator from Houston, visited Dallas to address some of the very people who author documents destined for translation in his specialty field, at a meeting of the North Texas chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC).

Steven and the STC graciously invited MITA members to attend the presentation. Many of the STC attendees have some experience with document translation through their work. They were very engaged with the topic and asked very specific questions throughout the evening. Steven did an excellent job of providing a clear introduction to the translation process, explaining in broad strokes when it is advantageous to hire an agency and when it is better to hire a freelancer, and teaching how translation software aids translation (but does not displace the translator).

Here are some of Steven’s practical tips for documents destined for foreign-language translation:

Provide an acronym/abbreviation table.

  • Use standard terminology instead of multiple terms to refer to the same concept.
  • Use words instead of symbols. For example, in the U.S. “#” can represent “number,” “pound key on the telephone,” or “pounds (weight).” Don’t make the translator guess.
  • Inform the agency/translator who the intended audience is for the translation. For some audiences, it is appropriate to leave certain industry terms in English or to include both languages.
  • To ensure quality, consistently hire the same people to do the translation and provide previous translations and style guides.

Steven has kindly made his presentation available on his website and the North Texas Lone Start Chapter of the STC has generously invited MITA members to attend their future events.

Holly Behl is a Master-Licensed Court Interpreter, Spanish>English translator, and owner of Preciso Language Services in Dallas, Texas. You can reach her by email at holly@precisolanguage.com or through Twitter at @hbehl.

It’s a new (Gregorian) year!

Happy 2014!

As we begin a new year, your MITA blogger has made a new resolution: at least one new post a month!  Last year was a difficult one for me on a personal level, and I appreciate your patience.

To start out the year, I thought I’d share a couple of techie tidbits that might come in handy, plus a fun article about newly-minted English words.

a)   Use your phone/iPad as a portable scanner!  There are several apps available for Apple and Android devices, most costing between $2 and $5.  Scanner Pro by Readdle, however, is currently available for free; snap the picture and it turns your document into a PDF.

b)   Need to extract the text from a PDF, but don’t want to pay for the heavy-duty programs?   Try the free utility, A-PDF Text Extractor (http://www.a-pdf.com/text/index.htm).

c)   And finally, for your reading pleasure: http://www.learn-english-today.com/new-words/new-words-in-english.html

May this coming year be good to you!

Meet your Steering Committee – Communications Director

TCK. Third Culture Kid. It’s the technical name for children raised across cultures. With that early multilingual and multicultural exposure, a good number of TCKs end up in jobs that require an ability to easily move between languages and cultures – like translation and interpretation.

So I invite you to meet Susan Rials, MITA’s Communications Director and consummate TCK. The daughter of a US military family, Susan grew up in cities spanning the continental US and in Taiwan. She studied French and Spanish in college, and then followed up with a year of school in Europe. Shortly after her return to the US, she went to work for Berlitz Translation Services.

After sixteen years with Berlitz, Susan embraced the freelance life and has never looked back.

However, her experience as an in-house translator, multilingual editor, project manager and resource manager has given Susan an unusual insight into the relationship between contractor and agency. “My approach.” she shares, “is to do the best work I can, to learn from successes and failures and to be open to feedback and communication from colleagues and clients alike.”

Susan uses humor to connect with her clients and colleagues, dispel tension and make her job fun. Once, as a new manager in her Berlitz days, she was conducting her very first interview of a freelance translator. The candidate was a distinguished gentleman who had just arrived from China. Susan began fiddling with a paper clip in an attempt to calm her nerves. All of a sudden, the paper clip flew out of her fingers and whizzed right past the translator’s left ear. The candidate kept his calm, and so did Susan. “Congratulations,” she told him, “You have passed the serenity test portion of the interview.”

One big perk that Susan finds in her work is the opportunity to constantly learn. Another is that she never need wear shoes to work. To learn more about Susan, her story and the presentations she has given, visit her website at www.barefoottranslator.com.

Through the years, Susan has written several articles for industry publications and given presentations to national and local groups. Everywhere she moves, she makes a point of becoming involved in the local translator and interpreter community – and MITA is all the better for it!


SusanRialsSusan Rials is a Spanish/French/Portuguese>English translator who can be reached through her websites, www.barefoottranslator.com and www.susanrials.com, or by email at susanrials@gmail.com

Idiomatic Winds

“March comes in like a lion”, folk wisdom tells us, and given the winds that have raced across North Texas of late, the analogy seems accurate.  It also got me thinking about the layered meanings of the word “wind”.

In many languages, wind means far more than the movement of air.  It may symbolize change, unpredictability, inevitability.  It is a force that can be harnessed, but never  tamed.

In English, “wind” is found in a multitude of idioms.  A (very) few of these are listed below, along with a definition and an example of usage.  So here’s my challenge: what is the best idiomatic way to translate the meaning and tone of these into your non-English language?

get wind of – to learn of something, usually through unofficial means (Henry caught wind of our plan to surprise him on his birthday.)

knock the wind out of my sails – to have my momentum stopped by a sudden challenge (Henry’s announcement that he would be out of town knocked the wind right out of my sails.)

three sheets to the wind – also “two sheets” or “four sheets”, but the meaning remains the same: to be drunk.  Very drunk.  (Kate was so upset over Henry’s plans that she overdid it on the margaritas and ended up three sheets to the wind.)

bag of wind – also “windbag”, someone who is full of pretentious talk but not much else (Geoff said he could change Henry’s plans but we all knew he was just a bag of wind.)

be in the wind – this one has two very different meanings.  On the one hand,  “about to occur”; on the other hand, “on the run”.  (As it turns out, when Henry realized the party was in the wind he took things a step further. He snuck out the back door, stole my cousin’s car and now he’s in the wind.)

see which way the winds are blowing – to determine the most expedient course of action based on current conditions. (Geoff could see the way the winds were blowing and decided it might be wise to change course and  also leave town.)

between wind and water – similar to being between “a rock and a hard spot” or “the devil and the deep, blue sea”, except that where the other two idioms focus on the lack of viable options, this one  speaks to the vulnerability of a precarious position.  (Meg found herself between wind and water, not knowing whether to throw her support behind her boss, Kate, or her landlord, Geoff.)

twisting in the wind – this one also has multiple meanings, all in some way alluding to the gruesome image of death by hanging.  The meanings range from a dire punishment for crimes committed, to a loss of support or answers.  (So there I was, twisting in the wind as my henchmen abandoned me and no one had word of Henry’s whereabouts.  For a moment, I got angry and swore I’d see that Henry twisted in the wind.)

it’s an ill wind (that blows no good) – the word “ill” in this context means bad, not sick, and the phrase   means that something good comes for someone, even in calamitous times.  The idiom is often shortened to simply “it’s an ill wind”, with the rest implied. (Then I realized I had overlooked something.  Cake.  Chocolate cake.  Henry in hiding, Geoff gone, Kate drunk, Meg waffling… and me with all the cake.  It was indeed an ill wind that blew that day.)

Cake picture

 – Carol Shaw, MITA Reader Editor

January Grab Bag

Happy 2013!

     Here’s wishing everyone a happy and prosperous journey throughout the year, both personally and professionally!
     Several people have sent links to articles, training opportunities or tools that might be of interest. If you come across any as well, please send them in for a future Grab Bag!

The Reader

For your reading pleasure:

Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World is a fantastic look at our world, written by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetsche (available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.)  A recent review by interpreter Michelle Hof in her blog included a few questions, which Nataly Kelly kindly answered.  Anyone interested in the follow-up can find the article at http://theinterpreterdiaries.com/2013/01/15/found-in-translation-book-review-nataly-kelly-responds/



A handy site for research: https://www.khanacademy.org/

Literary translation, anyone?  Check out: http://k1nlitra.ca/

How about a little medical interpreting practice? http://practiceinterpreting.com/

Or learn about all sorts of things at https://www.coursera.org/



And finally, a brief word about security. Scammers and hackers are busy people: be careful when opening attachments or links, especially from unexpected sources.

The other day, an email dropped into my inbox that appeared to be from the manufacturers of my accounting software.  They notified me of a glitch in my current version and provided a link for a patch to fix the problem.

Something about the wording raised a flag with me, so I rolled my mouse over the link and looked at the actual website address that popped up (usually on the lower left side of the screen.)  Sure enough, the link actually led to a site completely unrelated to my accounting software people.

Problem avoided.  But it served as a good reminder to keep a weather eye out and exercise a little judicious caution when clicking on links.

Meet your Steering Committee – Treasurer

All roads may lead to Rome, but Martina Heine-Kilic’s path to Dallas crisscrossed the Atlantic.

Born in Ravensburg, Germany (home of the Ravensburger puzzles), Martina moved to Mexico as a teenager.  While her parents lived in Morelia, Michoacan (Mexico) where her father worked, Martina and her sister lived the grand adventure, living and studying in Mexico City.

After graduating from high school, Martina spent a year in Morelia and travelled extensively.

Mexico was followed by France, where Martina worked as an au-pair in Paris and attended the Institut Catholique. The next move was back to Germany, where she obtained her Master’s degree in translation (Spanish and Italian) from the Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Institute of Translation and Interpretation.

Her next move came with a bonus. During a year in Trieste, Italy on a scholarship from the European Union, Martina met her husband, Gordan (who is Croatian, further expanding the family linguistic mix.)  Back in Heidelberg, Gordan worked at the Max Planck Institute and Martina at Springer Verlag.  Settling down, you think?

Not quite.  Three years and one daughter later, Martina and Gordan moved across the ocean to live and work in Denver, Colorado. But one more move was in store.  In 2004, the family (now including a son born in Denver), moved to Dallas where Gordan took a position with UT Southwestern.  Martina felt the need to get out of her office for a while.  After meeting Yvonne Stegall at an ATA conference, Martina went to work as a Project Manager at Transnation for three years before the freelance bug bit her again. She recently added voice talent to her list of services.

Martina’s move to Dallas provided MITA with a dedicated member of the Steering Committee, currently serving as our treasurer.  So, hurrah for the grand adventure that crossed her path with ours!


For more about Martina,check out her website, www.heinewords.com


Grab bag

Every so often, someone comes across a fun or interesting blog that relates to our industry.  For your reading pleasure, the Reader would like to share some of these with you:






(The Reader Editor is chasing a few deadlines.  As soon as they are met and conquered, another introductory post will be uploaded. Next up: Martina Heine-Kilic!)