THE NORTHWEST LINGUIST Blog

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  • 07/29/2022 16:32 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)

    A Conference Preview 
    b
    y Shelley Fairweather-Vega

    Sometimes, you have to go to California to meet your neighbors. Sure, one of the perks of attending a big national conference like ATA is meeting colleagues from all over the country, and the world. But it’s extra thrilling to meet a fellow NOTIS member when networking far from home. Conference veterans recommend that you go to all the conference networking and social events, and count the NOTIS members you run into at your division dinner, "Buddies Welcome Newbies," or the job fair. The Northwest Literary Translators will be well represented at the Book Fair and After Hours Café, and you’ll meet plenty of Washingtonians, Oregonians, and (we hope) even Idahoans, Alaskans and Montanans you can boogie down with at the Saturday night dance party, or break a sweat with at Zumba every morning. And if you meet someone from our five-state area who isn’t a NOTIS member, turn on the charm, and recruit them to join!

    For those of you who prefer to treat conferences as more serious educational opportunities, we’ve compiled the following list of NOTIS members and friends who will be presenting at ATA63, arranged in program order. Stop by and say hello!

    Stacey Brown-Sommers, the owner of Mindlink Resources, LLC (Oregon) and member of the WASCLA board of directors
    Be an Ally: Using Inclusive Language in a Divided World (007)
    Thursday, October 13, 2022 11:00 a.m.

    Caitilin Walsh, past NOTIS president, Bellevue College instructor
    LSP vs. LSP, or What's Happening in World Language Education and Why Should We Care? (031)
    Thursday, October 13, 2022 3:30 p.m  

    Javier Castillo, frequent NOTIS instructor and member of the board of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators
    Language and Culture: American English Profanity (082)
    Friday, October 14, 2022 3:30 p.m.

    Caitilin Walsh, past NOTIS president, Bellevue College instructor
    ATA Advocacy: Stand Up and Speak Up for Translators and Interpreters! (112)
    Friday, October 14, 2022 4:45 p.m.

    Svetlana Ruth, NOTIS and OSTI trainer
    Americanisms: To Use or Not to Use? (111)
    Saturday, October 15, 2022 8:30 a.m.

    Shelley Fairweather-Vega, past NOTIS president and member of the advisory board of the University of Washington Translation Studies Hub
    Translating for Authors: Risks and Rewards (101)
    Saturday, October 15, 2022 8:30 a.m

    Sameh Ragab, past NOTIS workshop presenter
    All a Translator Needs to Know about PDF Files (122)
    Saturday, October 15, 2022 10:00 a.m

    Tim Gregory, member of the Northwest Literary Translators
    A Literary Translator's Second Brain: Note-Taking and Recordkeeping for Book Translation (161)
    Saturday, October 15, 2022 3:45 p.m.

    The 63rd Annual Conference of the American Translators and Interpreters Society (ATA63) will be held October 12-15, 2022 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in Los Angeles, California. The complete schedule and all other info, plus conference registration, is available now at a click of the button below! 


  • 07/19/2022 15:41 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)

    On July 1, the Northwest Linguist Committee published our second (ever!) issue of NOTIS News Quarterly. Our summer newsletter includes:

    • snapshots from our Finnish Translation Slam ⚡
    • a poem about leaving home
    • a Turkish recipe for Red Lentil Cake
    • telephonic interpreting blunders (true tales!)
    • and more!

    If you missed the latest issue, you can read it here

    Want to subscribe? Follow the link above and click the "Subscribe" button in the top left corner of your browser. 

    Want to contribute? Email social@notisnet.org.
    We look forward to publishing your work! 

  • 05/04/2022 08:54 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)

    Since 2017, Yvonne Simpson has been actively participating as a trainer and events organizer for the Community Interpreter Division at NOTIS, promoting professionalism and excellence in interpreting in service of our region’s diverse language communities. She officially joined the NOTIS Board of Directors in March of 2022, and we couldn’t be happier to have her! 

    Below is our conversation with Yvonne—NOTIS board member, Director of Interpreter Services at Harborview, hammock enthusiast, and interpreter extraordinaire. 

    Hello, Yvonne! When did you begin studying the Spanish language? What drew you to it?

    My original intended course of study in college was journalism, a major that required a few semesters of a foreign language. I chose Spanish because I had brief exposure to the language in high school, although I needed to start with Spanish 1. My first instructor, a non-native Spanish speaker, was very engaging and encouraging. She made me think, “If she can learn the language, so can I!” Finding I enjoyed it so much, I ultimately changed my major and looked for every opportunity to learn and improve.

    I've spoken to a lot of emerging translators and interpreters about the difficulty of breaking into their fields. After completing your degree in Spanish Sociolinguistics, how did you decide to get started as a medical interpreter?

    When I lived in Arizona, a friend of mine was the director at a local community center and invited me to interpret at their weekend volunteer health events. At the time I had no formal training in medical interpreting, but when there was a job opening at a hospital in Phoenix, I decided to apply. I never thought they would offer me the position! Arizona does not have a medical certification credential, and I started in the field before the creation of national certifications, so I had weeks of on-the-job training and received a ton of collegial support from my coworkers.

    What do you find most exciting about your work? Most challenging?

    For me, working at a Level 1 Trauma Center is a great fit. I’m honored that we get to participate in such intimate moments of patients’ lives. It’s also really fun to meet colleagues from around the world (prior to COVID we had the best potlucks!). At our facility we share a common goal of putting the patients first and we use that objective to bring us together when there are differing views about how to manage issues. Certainly, the last two years have brought specific challenges: figuring out how to keep staff safe while caring for vulnerable populations, responding to community concerns about the pandemic response, as well as individual burnout. Many facilities are also currently challenged to provide in-person interpreting services, as it appears that many medical interpreters have moved to work in remote modalities or have left the field.

    You’re currently working as Director of Interpreter Services at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and you state in your bio that your work consists of “providing language access and culturally humble healthcare.” Can you explain what this means to you—both in theory and practice? 

    It’s important to me that the work that I do align with my values. I love that my work helps to assure that everyone in our community can meaningfully communicate with their healthcare providers. “Language access” refers to the tools or resources for meaningful communication. “Culturally humble” refers to the mindset that none of us can be culturally competent in any culture but our own; however, we sincerely open ourselves to learn about the cultural views, values, and practices of others. As medical interpreters, we serve as a bridge between the patient/community and the healthcare team. Our role is not limited to just transmitting individual words, rather we support clinicians to build trusting rapport with their patients and help patients successfully maneuver through the American medical system.

    When and how did you first get involved with NOTIS? And what went into your decision to join the Board of Directors?

    In 2017 I was invited by the Community Interpreter Division (CID) to facilitate a continuing education training. From there, I joined the CID and became Chair of the committee in late 2020. I’m grateful to be on the NOTIS Board of Directors to provide representation for the great work that the CID is doing for our members and our colleagues throughout the region.

    Any words of advice for those interested in becoming medical interpreters? 

    A solid understanding of the American medical system is crucial, so read, learn, and ask as many questions as you can. Reach out to professionals already in the field to share their experiences with you - there are loads of us who would be happy to talk! For in-person interpreting jobs, certification will help open doors to opportunities. When you are on assignment, never feel ashamed to ask for clarification or explanation - you can’t interpret if you don’t understand the concept yourself. Practice makes progress.

    ______________________________________________________

    Yvonne Simpson is certified as a Spanish Medical interpreter by the National Board (NBCMI) and Washington DSHS. She holds an MA in Spanish Sociolinguistics from Arizona State University. She taught Spanish at ASU and Phoenix College and was Lead Interpreter at a level 1 trauma center in Phoenix. Returning to her native Washington, she knew she wanted to work at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and she is now Director of Interpreter Services at that facility. There, she supports a team of interpreters, translators, and cultural mediators providing language access and culturally humble healthcare. Yvonne began participating with NOTIS in 2017 as a trainer for Community Interpreter Division workshops. Her favorite time of year is the summer when you can find her gardening, hiking, traveling, and swinging in her hammock. 


  • 04/17/2022 04:18 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)

    Dear NOTIS members, 

    The NOTIS Board of Directors would like to thank you for taking the time to fill out our recent survey and, in so doing, helping us gauge your willingness to begin attending in-person events. 

    Of the 334 survey respondents, 32% said they were ready to attend in-person events now; 26% preferred to remain online “until the situation is clearer”; and 23% asked that we continue to host online events indefinitely.

    Some of you also asked about hybrid events. We are looking into this, and it would certainly be ideal, but hybrid events are complicated and very expensive to produce; they would require a significant increase in our attendance fees.

    With your responses in mind—and in accordance with local and CDC guidelines—we have recently added some in-person events to our schedule (such as our April 11 Feedback Forum) while continuing to offer a wide range of online meetings and webshops to support our members throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. 

    Thank you again for your feedback, and please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns. You can reach us directly at info@notisnet.org. It is important to all of us at NOTIS that you feel supported and heard. 

    Very best wishes,
    The NOTIS Board of Directors

  • 03/09/2022 11:24 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)

    Did you know that NOTIS provides financial aid to its members and colleagues every year in the form of training and conference scholarships?

    In 2017, NOTIS president Elise Kruidenier established the society’s Scholarship Committee. Since then, we’ve set aside an annual budget of $5000 for this purpose alone. 

    These are reciprocal funds: they come to us in the form of membership dues and event registration fees, and we then return them to our community in a number of ways—chief among them, with our scholarship program. It is our responsibility—and our pleasure—to support our colleagues in their efforts to serve the community as best they can. 

    Twice a year (in the spring and fall), NOTIS accepts applications for two different kinds of scholarships: 

    While the conference scholarships are only available to NOTIS members (anywhere in the U.S.), the training scholarships are open to non-members as well (in the five states NOTIS represents: WA, OR, ID, MO, and AL) with the added bonus of a one-year free membership. Scholarships are not available to NOTIS board members.

    Earlier this year, NOTIS’s Scholarships Committee surveyed scholarship recipients from 2020 and 2021 about their experiences. Among them were translators and interpreters of varying levels of experience working in such languages as Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and Chinese.

    They used their scholarship earnings to attend a wide variety of useful courses, webinars, and conferences, including but not limited to: 

    • The Japan Interpreting and Translation Forum (JACI)  

    • American Translators Association Conference (#ATA62)

    • How to Succeed as a Freelance Interpreter or Translator

    • Human Plus Machine Translation

    • Exam prep courses (e.g., FCICE and De la Mora) 


    These scholarship recipients said that they had selected the above events hoping to, for example, “expand work opportunities”; improve their understanding of idioms or terminology; gain “a deeper understanding of how to become a court interpreter”; improve their organization skills; earn CE credits; and, generally, “stay current” in their fields.

    Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive! One conference attendee recalled a “triumphant event,” complete with “rich, educational content” and excellent networking opportunities. Several of those who participated in courses and other trainings also mentioned networking as a perk (though some were eager to return to in-person gatherings; breakout rooms are great, but they’re no substitution for the real thing). 

    Many also celebrated the quality of the courses they attended, speaking highly of the presenters and the valuable tools, techniques, and personal feedback they had provided. “My experience,” one said, “was uplifting to say the least.”

    Here’s one testimonial from 2021, which we feel obliged to reproduce in full: 

    The networking experience was fabulous because I met other professionals seeking for similar information and the exchange was educational for me. The best part was that I was inspired to use my skills at a professional level in community interpreting. The webinar with Judit Marin was an eye opener for me as a professional to set competitive rates. That webinar changed my perspective about the business in such a way that I feel more confident about speaking with clients and seeing myself as the language expert in the conversation. I appreciate NOTIS so much for giving me the scholarship last year. My funds were low. Though funds are still at minimum, but not at zero as they were through this pandemic. I have grown professionally as a result. I was just starting out putting myself out there as a translator/interpreter, but being part of the NOTIS group through the scholarship program and attending the webinars provided by NOTIS was a big chance for me to discover I can be a business owner. Thanks, NOTIS!

    We at NOTIS are endlessly impressed by our members and colleagues in the fields of T&I. In the words of Pinar Mertan, NOTIS board member and chair of the Scholarship Committee: “We are truly proud to support you in your efforts, and we look forward to continuing to provide these services in the years to come.” You are, as it were, our raison d'être.

    NOTIS’s Spring Scholarship Round will open in April, 2022. Any NOTIS member or colleague in the states served by NOTIS is welcome—and encouraged—to apply. All applicants are asked to select a translation or interpretation-related conference or educational program and to explain in their applications: 1) why they wish to attend the conference or course, and 2) how they will give back to NOTIS and the greater T&I community.  

    Stay tuned for the official announcement! 

    Click here to read more about our Scholarship Program. And don’t hesitate to contact us with questions. You can reach our Scholarship Committee directly by emailing scholarships@notisnet.org


  • 02/08/2022 13:58 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)


    Spanish translation of Sezen Aksu's "Avcı" (Hunter)

    [Guest submission]

    Some 217 artists have released a joint statement in support of Turkish singer Sezen Aksu, after she was targeted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the content of a song she released in 2017.

    “...We stand fully against this attack initiated against Sezen Aksu, who has been writing, singing and gifting several songs to the cultural accumulation of these lands for 47 years,” reads the artists’ statement. 

    “We do not want a country in which Aksu's freedom of expression is restricted and she is threatened with 'cutting off her tongue',” they wrote, adding that the singer “will never walk alone.” 

    This show of solidarity came in response to remarks in which Erdoğan threatened Aksu over her 2017 song, “It is a wonderful thing to live.”

    “No one can defame our Prophet Adam. It is our duty to cut those tongues,” Erdoğan said on Jan. 21, without explicitly mentioning Aksu's name. (He has since claimed that his statements were not directed at Aksu.)

    Erdoğan's comments came after Islamists accused the song of going against “moral values” over lyrics which call Adam and Eve “ignorant.”

    In response, Aksu penned a new song titled “Hunter” (Avcı) with lyrics such as: “You cannot crush my tongue,” and, “You cannot make me sad; I am already very sad; wherever I look is pain; wherever I look is pain; I am the chase; you are the hunter.”

    Within just a couple of days, the lyrics of “Hunter” had been translated into more than 51 languages—from Arabic to Zulu—and disseminated widely across social media. 

    .  .  .



    Turkish artist Alaz Pesen performs a cover of Aksu's "Hunter" in his own translation:

    A sample of the multiple, multilingual translations of Aksu's "Avcı" lyrics (click image for better quality): 
    Image source: Rober Koptaş, on Twitter @roberkoptas 

  • 12/24/2021 12:53 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)

    Hello, NOTIS members and friends: 

    We're excited to share another issue of our newsletter, The Northwest Linguist, with you!

    Our Winter 2021 issue includes:

    • farewell messages from our outgoing board members: Olga, Melody, and Shelley
    • updates and announcements from NOTIS's Committees and Divisions 
    • an exclusive interview with the University of Washington's Translation Studies Hub
    • a recap of Career Day 2021
    • a sneak peek into 2022... 
    • and more! 

    Intrigued? 
    Click here to read the full newsletter. 

    We hope you'll enjoy what awaits you inside! 

    Happy holidays to all.

    Yours, 
    NOTIS

  • 11/11/2021 18:57 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)

    It’s that bittersweet time of year again: December, or, more specifically, NOTIS elections season; a season in which we must bid a melancholic farewell to those beloved members of our board whose terms have come to an end and, at the same time, open our arms in welcome to new members who will continue diversifying and advancing our constantly evolving organization.

    In other words: on December 11, 2021, NOTIS will elect a new
    Board of Directors at our Annual Meeting. As there are no contested positions, the candidates on this slate will be elected by acclamation.

    This year’s outgoing board members include Shelley Fairweather-Vega, our fearless leader, the multi-talented Melody Winkle, and Olga – the inimitable – Cuzmanov.

    While I have only been working with NOTIS for 6 months, I feel well-poised to speak for all of the board in saying that NOTIS will be forever grateful and forever changed by the influence of Shelley, Melody, and Olga. Kudos – and many thanks – to all three of you!

    Continuing their terms into 2022 are Pinar Mertan, Maria Lucas, Tarja Sahlstén, Alma López, and Zakiya Hanafi; whereas Laura Friend and Yasemin Alptekin will be running, uncontested, to serve another two-year term.

    I'm excited to announced that, beginning in January, they will be joined on the board by four new members! Without further delay, meet our 2022 candidates (and soon-to-be board members)!

    They are, as Shelley avers, “an impressive group … who will bring diverse interests, experiences, and languages to the Board of Directors.”



    Nada Conner

    Nada Conner has been a WA State court certified interpreter since 2011. Passionate about learning languages, she studied English, French, Italian, and Spanish during high school. She began her interpreting career working for Yugoslav Air Force Training Depot in Tripoli, Libya. After graduating from the University of Belgrade with a degree in Arabic Language and Literature, she went on to work in Baghdad, Iraq as a translator/interpreter for the Directorate of Supply and Procurement on three construction projects for Iraqi military forces. After hostilities broke out in Croatia, she was hired as a translator and interpreter for the United Nations Protection Forces in Croatia (Republika Srpska Krajina). After coming to the U.S., she became an authorized medical and social services interpreter for Bosnian/Serbo-Croatian. With some additional studies in the field of medicine at Whatcom CC in Bellingham, WA, she has been successfully working for several interpreting agencies as a medical and social services interpreter. Currently she is a freelance telephonic interpreter for courts, attorneys’ offices, hospitals, and clinics around the country. She loves to read, work out, and play with her three beautiful bunnies.


    Yoseph Petros 

    A first-generation immigrant from Ethiopia, Yoseph has been living in the United States since 1983. He studied and completed his second degree in Human Resources from the University of Pittsburgh in 1985. His work experience includes: teaching; Assistant General Manager and Curriculum Development (Tourism Training Institute, Addis Ababa Ethiopia); Senior Social Worker (New York); Production Line Supervisor (Cardiac Pacemakers, St. Paul); Ministry (here in Seattle); and last, but definitely not least, interpreting and translating since 2003. In short, he believes that his vast and diverse experiences in education and other, wide-ranging public and private entities will make him a positive addition to NOTIS.

    Born on the border between Ethiopia and Kenya, Yoseph grew up surrounded by more than 7 languages. He has lived in and visited Ethiopia (using 4 languages), Kenya, Botswana, Germany, Canada (visit only), and, since 1983, the United States. He has had his share of growing and living in many cultures, among many different peoples and he enjoys visiting and staying with people from various cultures. He used to love traveling, but not anymore. He is now settled, if it means anything. Yoseph endeavors to improve his interpreting and translating skills and would like to serve – in any capacity – to help the career/trade grow.


    Rosemary Nguyen

    Rosemary Nguyen is a native speaker of English who learned Vietnamese during 4 years working with Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong and 2 years living, studying, and teaching in Vietnam. She began working as a medical interpreter in 1990, earned her DSHS certification in 1993 and her AOC court certification in 1994. In addition to her work as a full-time contract interpreter and translator, Rosemary has participated in designing and rating certification exams as well as teaching interpretation and translation skills. She has also translated one novel and two books of short stories, all of which have been published. Rosemary currently lives in Renton and splits her time fairly evenly between interpreting for local courts and translating for clients nationwide.


    Katerina Warns

    Katerina is a native of Novosibirsk, Russia where she began her career as a technical translator for a major Siberian geological research institute before moving to the United States in 1992. She lives in Poulsbo, Washington, on the Kitsap Peninsula, and works as a freelance translator, editor, and interpreter. She loves her profession, and she believes that bridging linguistic and cultural gaps helps companies succeed in the global marketplace while allowing individuals to gain self-confidence and trust.

    Katerina has been certified as an English to Russian translator by the ATA since 2001, and she is also certified by the State of Washington as a medical interpreter and translator. Her favorite assignments over the last few years have been reviewing translations for the U.S. State Department’s Russian language website, translating and recording children’s books for the Unite for Literacy Project for beginning readers worldwide, and - most recently - being a part of the King County COVID Language Access team.

    She loves theatre, both as a spectator and a former volunteer. Her newly discovered passion is hiking the beautiful trails in the Puget Sound area. Her favorite quote is from Theodore Roosevelt: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”


    Welcome to NOTIS Nada, Yoseph, Rosemary, and Katerina! We look forward to working with you! 

  • 10/06/2021 12:50 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)

    Women in Translation Month (#WIT) has come and gone, but we at NOTIS believe that women, transgender women, and non-binary authors and translators should be celebrated not only throughout the course of one month, but all year round. 

    As you may well know, painfully few books published and sold in the United States are translations (approximately 3%). And of those translated texts, only about 30% are written by women.

    To read more about these numbers and see them in charts and graphs, check out this blog post from the excellent Three Percent website.

    These numbers are dismal––yes––and we must absolutely continue working towards a more equitable future for women in translation.

    That said, the purpose of today’s post is celebratory

    Did you know that the current Board of Directors at NOTIS is made up entirely of powerful and talented women linguists? Theirs are the faces of translation and interpreting, and working with them is truly inspirational. 

    Read NOTIS board member bios here

    One of our organization’s primary objectives is to highlight and amplify historically underrepresented voices. To that end––and in late (but never too late) observance of #WIT month––we have spoken with a few local translators about their current projects. 

    Without further delay, I will now yield the floor to Mia Spangenberg, Shelley Fairweather-Vega, and Takami Nieda so that they may tell you, in their own words, about the women they are translating.


    Mia Spangenberg



    Mia Spangenberg holds a Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Washington with a focus on Finnish literature and cultural studies. She translates fiction, nonfiction, and children's literature from Finnish and German into English.  

    Here’s what Mia has to say about her experience translating Small Crescendos, a genre-bending work of autofiction by Finnish author Pirkko Saisio:  

    Pirkko Saisio is a giant on the Finnish cultural scene, and I have long admired her both for her novels and plays. Her prose is unique: an autofictive, genre-bending style that incorporates elements from theatre, poetry, and postmodern aesthetics. I love her visual focus on objects and the setting, as well as her rhythm and pacing and how it moves her narratives forward. Translating anything she writes is always a challenge, but it is also always a joy. Someone told me that you can tell when a translator truly loves the work they are translating, and I guess I am doing something right because I received the best compliment from Saisio herself - she told me she was moved by my translation and how I had perfectly captured the rhythm. It's wonderful to have this connection with her, and I hope to make more of her work available in English soon!

    • Read Mia’s translation of “Small Crescendos” here (published by Asymptote) to get a sense of that perfect rhythm!
    • Read more about Mia's work here


    Shelley Fairweather-Vega



    Shelley Fairweather-Vega translates from Uzbek and Russian into English, specializing in texts concerning culture, history and politics. For six years, she has been an active member of NOTIS’s Board of Directors and she currently serves as its president. Shelley is also a member of the Advisory Board at the University of Washington’s Translation Studies Hub. 

    Here's what Shelley has to say about the upcoming anthology of Kazakh women's literature she's collaborating on: 

    This month my colleague Zaure Batayeva and I got the news that our anthology of Kazakhstani women's writing, Amanat, will be published by Gaudy Boy in July 2022 - just in time for next year's Women In Translation month. We've been translating these short prose pieces since 2017, with our first three translations appearing in Words Without Borders in 2018. Kazakhstan is a big and complicated country from which we have very little literature in English. As a former Soviet republic, it's home to people writing in both Kazakh (a Turkic language with a long oral tradition) and Russian (a Slavic language with a storied literary tradition). In the old Soviet writing bureaucracy, male writers occupied most positions of authority, and they won the bulk of the funding and publication contracts. While the Soviet system is gone, some of its institutions remain, and male authors still receive more than their share of attention in English translation. That was part of what motivated us to focus on female authors. They are telling their own stories and the story of their country, and doing so with very little institutional support. Women in Kazakhstan are also helping to bridge the gap between the two languages spoken there and their associated cultures. I was surprised to learn that at least half of the twelve authors in our collection are translators themselves, either between Kazakh and Russian, or between those languages and others. That makes it a special honor to work with them. Even the way Zaure and I have divided up our labor on this collection reflects the linguistic diversity in Kazakh literature today - she is in charge of author relations and translated the Kazakh-language stories, while I am in charge of publisher relations and translated the Russian-language stories; I answered her questions about the English language, and she answered my questions about Kazakhstani culture. So our small team of female translators will, I hope, bring this larger team of female writers, from a country we need to know more about, to the attention of a wider audience.

    • Read more about Shelley and her translation work here


    Takami Nieda



    Takami Nieda was born in New York City and has degrees in English from Stanford University and Georgetown University. She has translated more than ten works from Japanese into English and has received numerous grants and residencies in support of her translations, including the PEN/Heim Translation Fund. Formerly an assistant professor of translation at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, Nieda currently teaches writing and translation at Seattle Central College in Washington State.

    Here’s Takami on her experience translatingThe Color of the Sky is the Shape of the Heartby Chesil:

    The story is about Ginny Park, a teen in search of belonging. As a Zainichi Korean born and raised in Japan, she isn’t fully accepted at Japanese school because she’s Korean, and isn’t fully accepted at Korean school because she’s not Korean enough. This sense of in-betweenness, by the way, is something that I’m certain many readers can identify with. Ginny can’t fit in. She won’t fit in, and her wild tongue gets her into more trouble than out against her bullies. Furthermore, when she sees an injustice, she’s fearless enough to say, “This is wrong” even when others wish she wouldn’t, and when she commits a certain act of defiance, she is forced to leave her native Japan. Bouncing around from Japan to Hawaii to Oregon, Ginny is looking for that one thing everyone wants—a community that will accept her just the way she is.

    I fell in love with Ginny for her righteous anger and courage to call something out when it’s wrong, especially since this isn’t particularly encouraged in Japanese society. I was also heart-stricken by how Ginny has to navigate the complexities of discrimination and injustice all alone, without anyone to help her or to validate her anger. I thought the novel wasn’t merely a story directed at young readers but was also calling out adults for creating a society that is fraught for young girls like Ginny. In doing a bit more research about the author Chesil, I found an article where she mentioned how growing up, she disliked hearing a certain catch-all excuse that grownups used to avoid involvement or to ignore the plight of others: “It doesn’t concern me.” The novel is, in part, a response to those grownups. Reading this gave me the sense that I had connected with the novel in the way the writer had intended, and also gave me the confidence to ask permission to translate the book. Chesil very graciously said yes.

    Every aspect of translating the book was challenging and delightful, and I especially enjoyed being able to consult Chesil during the translation and editorial process. She very generously answered every question I sent her, giving me insight into her intentions and process. By combing through the details of the novel with her, I came to learn how deeply personal this story is to her, and fell in love with Ginny even more. I’m excited for English readers to get to know Ginny through her journey.

    • Follow Takami on Twitter @TNieda to stay informed about her recent translation work, teachings, etcétera


    Thank you for joining us in celebrating and amplifying the voices of women in (and of) translation, not just in August but year-round. 

    If you would like NOTIS to feature a publication of yours in a future blog post or via social media, please contact Brianna Salinas.


    Further reading






  • 09/09/2021 10:17 | Brianna Salinas (Administrator)

    Written by 2021 Conference Scholarship recipient, Mariko Kageyama.

    NOTE: Our second round of 2021 scholarships is open through 27 September 2021. Read more about our Conference and Tuition Scholarships here. 

    Mariko Kageyama is a Washington Courts Registered Court Interpreter in English/Japanese and a translator in the same language pair. She is also a licensed attorney in Washington.

    I am excited to share with the NOTIS community my unique experience as a first-time conference attendee at the Japan Interpreting and Translation Forum 2021 (JITF), hosted by the Japan Association of Conference Interpreters (JACI). I joined remotely from my home in Seattle during the month of August––yes, the whole month. In the years leading up to this triumphant event, starting in 2015, JACI organized one-day annual conferences in Tokyo, known then as the Japan Interpreting Forum (JIF). This changed in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But the JIF has now successfully metamorphosed into JITF: a month-long online festival for Japanese language professionals, attracting interpreters, translators, and linguists of diverse backgrounds and skill levels.

    The registration fee for non-JACI members like myself was JPY 9,800 (about USD 90). This included full access to 40 live and recorded presentations delivered via Zoom by more than 40 leading language professionals. These sessions took place from August 1st to the 31st, one session per weekday and two on Saturdays and Sundays. While Japan is 16 hours ahead of the Pacific Time, I do not think it seriously disadvantaged overseas participants because video recordings for all segments were posted within the day and remained available until the end of September. I regret not attending the live, open-networking sessions to meet new people, but I was not disciplined enough to stay up till 2 am! 

    On a side note, I made a small volunteer contribution to the JITF 2021 by creating and sharing a data file containing the entire event schedule––including daily entries for lecture titles and Zoom links––for an easy, one-click Google Calendar import, which was wildly popular and greatly appreciated by other attendees.

    The sessions were moderated, ran an average of 1.5 hours, and included plenty of time for interactive Q&As. I watched all of them, meaning that I immersed myself in more than 60 hours of rich educational content! They covered a wide variety of practical and theoretical topics, including Oscar Wilde grammars, subtitling Japanese indie films, translating German and Italian operas, voice training, language service company startups, Brexit, linguistic biases, how to properly charge for remote interpreting, the history of wartime interpreters, and so forth. One thing in particular that caught my attention was a lecture on the present situation surrounding legal interpreters who work for Japanese courts and immigration offices. I was shocked to learn that Japan has no formal laws addressing court interpreters and their services!

    JITF 2021 effectively mobilized various social media outlets, ranging from the hashtag #JITF2021 campaign to a closed Facebook Group for posting speakers’ bios; facilitating pre-talk surveys and follow-up Q&As; and (with speakers’ permission) sharing lecture slides, web links and reference materials. I fully enjoyed JITF 2021––a huge success with over 770 registrants from all over the world! Kudos to the JACI board members and JITF2021 organizers for running a seamless conference.

    Last but not least, I am tremendously grateful to NOTIS for the Conference Scholarship, which made it possible for me to gain valuable experience at professional meetings of my choice and advance my knowledge and skills as a Japanese interpreter and translator during this challenging time. Thank you very much!

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