01/23/2019 10:37 | Anonymous

Two years ago, the United Nations declared September 30th International Translation Day, and in 2018, NOTIS celebrated that weekend with a two-day event! 

On the first day, we hosted the NOTIS Language & Job Fair, where professionals and students were able to meet and network with several organizations who offer a range of opportunities, from local interpreting jobs, to contracts with an internationally based translation agency, to volunteer opportunities with the Northwest Justice Project to provide interpreting for refugee populations. The Northwest Literary Translators even set up a booth to promote their creative work and sell their published books. 

In order to continue the fun, and for some of us, in order to avoid peak rush-hour traffic, we gathered for drinks and snacks afterwards. Happy Hour was filled with lots of laughs and some much-needed socialization, as we swapped work stories and travel adventures with our fellow language professionals. This time was especially valuable to those of us that work alone most of the time!

The autumnal air was crisp the next morning, as eighty translators and interpreters came together over coffee, pastries, and professional development! For translators, terminology was the initial topic of the day. Mr. Tim Gregory led a presentation that reminded us that efficiency and consistency are the main purpose of terminology organization. He also taught us about several free tools that are available to help in the often overwhelming and time-consuming effort of researching and recording terms. One of the most accessible resources that Mr. Gregory suggested was Microsoft OneNote.  OneNote catalogues everything that is uploaded, including scanned documents with handwriting on them. With proper exploration and practice, this often-underutilized product in the Office Suite could be a translator’s answer to merging and quickly searching through his or her assortment of vocabulary spreadsheets, bilingual documents, and even scanned source texts scribbled with annotations.

Next up, Mr. Roger Kohn and Ms. Jackie Leader from Tousley Brain Stephens law firm kindly donated their time to discuss legal issues freelancers often face, such as what types of businesses we can own and how to write and enter into contracts with our clients. Their main piece of advice, above even the most minute details, was to record everything at all times. If you have not documented in writing where your money is going, and which services you agree to provide, it is as if the agreement never existed!

Meanwhile, many interpreters chose to attend two sessions regarding medical interpreting and interpreting in high profile, high pressure situations with Ms. Hiroko Ishii, who has interpreted for prestigious clients such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama. Thanks to experiences such as these, Ms. Ishii learned and shared with us that in preparation for an intense interpreting assignment, it is vital to watch and listen to videos of people for whom you are going to interpret. If you do, you will have a sense of which words they like to use most often and the cadence of their speech, which will help you provide a better rendition when it is your turn to interpret what that individual has just conveyed. Also, during her workshops, Ms. Ishii challenged attendees to consider the side effects of extended and all-day interpreting assignments, as well as the importance of taking days off to decompress and study. 

After a delicious lunch of bánh mì sandwiches, all attendees came together for an ethics presentation by former ATA president Caitilin Walsh. Mixed in with a few witty quips and a bit of humor only interpreters and translators would understand, Ms. Walsh analyzed various codes of ethics within our field and how these compare to an individual’s moral code. She shared several scenarios in which colleagues had to juggle their personal moral beliefs with their professional code of ethics. She then called upon the audience to give our input regarding whether or not interpreters in various real-world examples had properly observed their code of ethics. Attendees were encouraged to think critically about how we would respond in certain situations where our moral beliefs might conflict with our code of ethics. She concluded her engaging talk with a reminder that “we need to be mindful that [what one does as an individual] reflects upon us as a profession,” and that we are all in this together.

We concluded our day with a translation and interpreting agency discussion panel in which representatives from Academy of Languages, Universal Language Service, and King County Superior Court graciously participated. After sharing a bit about each of their organizations, the speakers shared ideas on how to achieve harmony between freelancers and project managers by being able to tactfully give and receive feedback, as well as general tips and tricks within our industry. Workshop participants were able to submit questions and receive feedback on a range of topics from advice on getting started in the field, such as joining relevant organizations like NOTIS and getting certified, to ways of building a steadier income stream, like working in remote interpreting. Finally, all of our panelists encouraged freelancers to view contracting agencies as teammates in the industry and to leave lines of communication open at all times.

NOTIS strives to provide rewarding events, workshops and presentations for its member base.  We look forward to offering another exciting International Translation Day event next year, and welcome any suggestions about subject matter you would like to see presented in 2019.  Please feel free to e-mail us at


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