Want to post on our blog? The NOTIS Publications Committee accepts T&I-relevant content submissions on a rolling basis. Read more about the type of content we're intrested in here, and send any questions (or submissions) directly to our marketing specialist at Thank you! 

  • 12/23/2019 06:01 | Shelley Fairweather-Vega (Administrator)

    The American Translators Association has published an official statement about its stance on the new California law known as AB 5. If you are interested in learning more about the law and its potential impact on freelance translators and interpreters in California and elsewhere, or you would like to get involved in monitoring this issue, you can download the ATA's letter here.

  • 12/11/2019 11:06 | Anonymous

    Written by Mia Spangenberg, 2019 NOTIS Conference Scholarship Recipient

    Mia Spangenberg is a Finnish to English translator with a PhD in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Washington, Seattle.

    For the first time, thanks to the help of a NOTIS scholarship, I attended the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) Annual Conference, which was held on November 7-10, 2019, in Rochester, New York. I couldn’t have picked a better year to go because ALTA is growing significantly as an organization, and this year, the Conference had over 500 attendees for the first time.  ALTA is a very friendly and welcoming organization, and there were many opportunities for attendees to mingle and connect. ALTA offered a “wayfinder” program for first-time attendees, which paired newcomers with seasoned ALTA conference attendees. My “wayfinder” introduced me to several people at the conference and also told me about key events I should attend. There were also beverage breaks during the day and readings in the evenings which provided people with opportunities to connect. As I translate from Finnish, I was glad to be able to connect with other Finnish and Nordic language translators. In fact, after meeting and talking to Icelandic translator Larissa Kyzer, we set up a Google group for literary translators working to and from the Nordic languages as a forum to share advice and collaborate. 

    The ALTA Conference offered two opportunities to meet with editors: flash sessions and pitch sessions. Flash sessions gave translators fifteen minutes to discuss two pages of a manuscript (submitted in advance) with an editor. It was a wonderful way to get feedback from an experienced editor. The pitch sessions were offered for the first time this year and gave translators the opportunity to pitch a project to a particular press. About ten presses participated in these sessions. This was an exciting and slightly nerve-wracking opportunity. Pitches were limited to five minutes maximum! I’ve never talked so fast in my life as I provided the context for my author and gave a short summary of the plot, plus I submitted my business card and a translation sample. Then the waiting game began. However, I am grateful because this opportunity was yet another way to make connections that could bear fruit in the future.

    I also learned about how ALTA works as an organization and how different presses are profiling themselves. I began putting names to the faces of prominent literary translators, and I picked up tips on how to make it as a full-time literary translator and negotiate the best possible contracts. The Authors Guild was even in attendance, and they have started a new division for literary translators and will review contracts for their members for free. 

    I feel energized for the coming year and plan to attend the ALTA Annual Conference again next year. The 2020 Conference will be held in Tucson, Arizona from November 11-14. 

    If you are interested in going to the ALTA Annual Conference and will be a first-time attendee, feel free to reach out to me. Also, please email me if you would like to join the Google group for literary translators working to and from the Nordic languages. You may contact me, Mia Spangenberg, at:

  • 11/19/2019 20:46 | Shelley Fairweather-Vega (Administrator)

    With the end of one year and the beginning of another, changes are coming to the NOTIS Board of Directors. 

    We bid a fond farewell to two members. First, Adrian Bradley, who served in the Legal Division and on the Webinars Committee, and contributed in other, quiet ways to the smooth functioning of many NOTIS events. Second, Alicia McNeely, from the Translation Division and Social Media/Marketing Committee, whose graphic design work you have seen on our website, Annual Conference program and newsletters. We're glad to note that while Adrian and Alicia are stepping down from the Board, they've promised to stay involved with NOTIS.

    Our organization is lucky to welcome two new Board members who will begin new two-year terms in January 2020. French and Russian translator Laura Friend is returning to Washington State and the NOTIS Board after a stay in Japan, and Turkish translator and interpreter Yasemin Alptekin joins our team for the first time. Laura and Yasemin will be elected by acclamation (as this election is uncontested) at the NOTIS Annual Meeting on December 7, 2019. Their candidate statements are below.

    More about Laura Friend

    "I am a certified translator of French and Russian into English, specializing in legal and business translations. I have spoken French from an early age, spending several years in France, and I learned Russian in college and graduate school.

    In my spare time I enjoy literature, travel, music and nature. I am originally from the East Coast but lived in Seattle for 20 years until recently relocating to Port Orchard on the Kitsap Peninsula.

    Because I appreciate the vibrant community of translators and interpreters that make up NOTIS, and especially the robust continuing education program that NOTIS offers its members, I would like to give back by helping to run the organization. I was briefly on the Board of Directors but had to step down when my husband and I moved to Japan for a time. Now that I am back I would be happy to resume my duties and rejoin this wonderful group of leaders."

    More about Yasemin Alptekin

    "I am writing this letter of intent to communicate my interest in becoming a NOTIS Board member where I can be of assistance with my academic and professional background in T&I in a capacity that would best serve the objectives and mission of NOTIS.

    I have been a proud member of NOTIS and I have benefited from my membership considerably, as many other members have done, via training, conference and networking opportunities, all of which are essential for a field to grow bigger and better while gaining respect for its professionals.

    I am a native speaker of Turkish with bilingual fluency in English with years of experience in simultaneous interpreting from English to Turkish and Turkish to English equally proficiently. My areas of focus are legal, medical and educational interpretation/translation as well as literary. I am also academically involved in translation theories as well as translating literary and technical texts. I have linguistic knowledge of French with some conversational skill, and Arabic with basic reading.

    I have been involved in translation and interpretation work since I started learning English as a second language at Robert High School in Istanbul, Turkey. I started a Translation Club to understand the cultural nuances between the source and target languages to build strong bridges of communication. I later studied linguistics, literary translation theory and techniques while pursuing my BA in Western Languages and Literature at Bosphorus University, one of the top ranking universities in Turkey. When I came to the US for my graduate studies, I was hired by a Turkish Education Project funded by World Bank. During my years as a doctoral graduate associate working for that project I served as a liaison and interpreter for the Turkish delegations visiting the US, helping the administrators as a translator/interpreter for three years and as a Program Director later for another three years.

    I recently completed all the requirements to become a Registered Court Interpreter in Turkish."
  • 10/16/2019 10:56 | Shelley Fairweather-Vega (Administrator)

    Conference Bronze Sponsor Nimdzi wrote a glowing review of our 2019 Annual Conference. We're reposting excerpts from the review below with permission from the authors. To learn more about Nimdzi, visit their website. You can also read the full report here.


    The Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society (NOTIS) Annual Conference brings translators, interpreters, and language professionals under one roof to discuss the topics, trends, and challenges of working in the T&I industry. The thirty-year-old association attracted a motivated crowd to Washington’s Museum of Flight in Seattle for the two-day conference. The event offered sessions in a multi-track program – one for translators and one for interpreters. And it allowed participants to choose their own sessions in either. The conference is fitting for anyone looking to break into translation and interpretation work, to learn from those who have been in the field for decades, to network with translation and interpretation colleagues, and to look for new opportunities.

    NOTIS board members Pinar, Lindsay and Adrian at NOTIS2019.

    Translation, in a positive light

    Setting the tone with her keynote speech, Dr. Karen McMillan Tkaczyk, trained chemist, technical translator, editor, and American Translators Association Secretary, presented an insightful talk titled, “Translation Bloopers are Deaf: Long Live Abundant New Ways of Showcasing Yourself and our Profession.”

    You have probably heard the phrase, “The best translators and interpreters are those who are invisible.”

    If this rings a bell, you know that the best translations sound natural and not like translations at all. The line of work takes mastery of working languages and a life-long dedication to learning.  And yet, those working behind the scenes are often not seen, unless, of course, something goes direly wrong.

    Keynote address by Karen Tkaczyk.

    In her talk, Dr. Tkaczyk goes off a keen observation: we often hear about translation when a disaster occurs. The photos and memes of “translation fails” are, unfortunately, the content that gets the most engagement on social media platforms in the industry. Why is that, and how can we showcase the work in a more positive light? Dr. Tkaczyk’s opening speech brings our attention to this question.

    There are a number of actions linguists can take to show the work more positively. Here are some takeaways from the talk

    1. Promote your colleagues

    Show some love for the people you work with. Perhaps you have a talented editor, or a project manager who is on top of his or her work. Your reviews and recommendations on their sites and on LinkedIn profiles are a simple way you can promote their work.  And it brings visibility to an “invisible” profession.

     2. Refer your colleagues

    There will be times where translators are overloaded and cannot take on more work. When you cannot take a job, refer a colleague. There are plenty of newcomers and graduate students starting out in their careers, and a referral gives them a leg-up. If you have never worked with a particular person, mention it and let the client consider whether or not to hire. Referrals are another simple way you can add value to others and the translation community at large

    3. Promoting yourself

    Professional linguists have updated websites, which gain them trust and provide a place to showcase skills. Why not upload a video of yourself, adding a personal touch to your site? Portfolios are a great marketing tool. In Europe, it is common for translators to bring their portfolios to events and lay them out on tables. While language service provider NDAs make it challenging to get permission and sample your work, there is no harm in asking. If not, you may find published work online and leverage it in your portfolio. Dr. Tkaczyk shared several options for creating online portfolios:

    4. Ask for testimonials

    Asking for reviews and testimonials showcases your professionalism. Make a space for them on your site. They can work in your favor for a rate increase. Ask clients if you can use their LinkedIn profile photo. Clients can also generate new leads for you. Some linguists even add a message to the bottom of their email signatures saying that referrals are the highest compliments. 

    5. Be proactive

    Activism can take on many forms. Voice your opinions with constructive criticism by writing to editors of magazines. There is much talk on the profession, machine translation, mistranslations and so on. Activism can also include political activism. For T&I Advocacy Day in 2017, nearly 50 translators with the ATA made their way to Capitol Hill and met with Congressional offices and Executive Branch agencies to advocate for the profession with topics including inaccuracies in prevailing wages rate determinations for translators and interpreters, language services procurement, and machine translation versus human translation. By being proactive, you’d be shedding more light on the industry and on your work.

    While Dr. Tkaczyk’s speech presented participants with much practical advice, the conference had more to offer for translators and interpreters, especially for those looking to learn about the T&I industry. Other sessions  included: “Breaking into New Fields in Translation,” “Breaking into New Fields in Interpreting,” “Interpreting for Forensic Drug Analysis,” “Translating Long Projects,” “Interpreting for Immigration Court,” “Introduction to Practical Subtitling,” “Interpreting for Special Education,” “Editing and Proofreading,” and “Common Pitfalls in EN<>ES Translation.”

    The NOTIS Conference also holds a job fair, provides continuing education credits, and reserves a space for sponsors and exhibitors. Most importantly, it builds community and provides a space for professionals to share, learn, and grow in their careers.

    Nika Allahverdi Photo


    This conference report was researched and written by Nika Allahverdi. If you wish to find out more about the NOTIS Annual Conference in Seattle, please reach out to Nika at

  • 08/26/2019 05:26 | Anonymous

    Written by Natalia L. Rivera Fernández, 2019 NOTIS Tuition Scholarship Recipient 

    Natalia L. Rivera Fernández is a Spanish/English WA Certified Court and Medical Interpreter, Certified Document Translator, and CEO at Need a Translator Interpreting, LLC (NATI).

    This summer, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the University of Arizona’s Court Interpreter Training Institute (CITI). In June, I participated in a series of webinars covering a wide range of topics, from ethics to weaponry and medical terminology. In July, I attended the intensive in-person two-week component in Tucson, Arizona. On-site, I spent my time in a classroom and language laboratory setting. There are several lessons I learned from this experience for which I couldn’t be more grateful.

    To begin, I learned the importance of repetition of the same exercise for rapid improvement of simultaneous interpretation. In the language laboratories, we would listen to a recording, record ourselves interpreting simultaneously, then review new terminology. Afterward, we would record ourselves interpreting again while referring to our notes, if needed. We would repeat this exercise several times, each time trying to do better while referring less to our notes. The following morning, we would have a “re-lab,” repeating the exercise one or two final times without using notes. As one of our excellent instructors, Carmen Patel, put it, this gave us the opportunity for the new knowledge to simmer, “just like a good pasta sauce.” It truly worked! I found myself improving every morning and being able to more quickly retrieve new words and keep up with increasingly faster simultaneous interpretation exercises.

    Something else I learned at the CITI is the importance of studying with different colleagues for more effective and efficient learning. In doing consecutive and sight-translation exercises in groups of three or four, we would take turns interpreting specific sections of a document, and then alternating. I received constructive feedback, and I also learned new terminology by listening to different colleagues interpreting the same texts. Each one had a unique perspective and something to offer.

    Furthermore, at the CITI, I learned firsthand the importance of networking to be able to find more opportunities in our field. For example, I learned about the interpreting and translation programs and credentials currently available in some Central American countries from a Guatemalan colleague. I also learned that by joining international interpreter Facebook groups, I may be able to find conference interpreting opportunities. 

    Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned at the CITI was the importance of supporting our newer colleagues in the profession. I was surprised to meet a newer colleague from Seattle who was looking for mentorship. As I consider myself still relatively new in the trade, it never would have occurred to me that someone would look up to me for mentorship. However, it quickly became clear to me that new colleagues are often looking for support and guidance as they learn their way around in our profession. I am grateful for having met my mentee. I have already started sharing with her what I have learned in the last few years as a freelance interpreter and translator. It seems that we are so much better when we work together. By sharing our knowledge, we elevate our profession. In turn, we are giving back to our communities at large, as everyone benefits from having higher-quality interpretation and translation services.

  • 04/19/2019 07:59 | Anonymous

    In the last decade, social media has taken the advertising world by storm. If you are a freelancer or aspiring T&I entrepreneur who is not taking full advantage of this free form of marketing, now is the time to start. Read on for a few ideas on how to make Twitter, Instagram and Facebook work for you.

    Create bilingual content 

    Twitter: Now that tweets can be up to 280 characters, as opposed to the initial 140, you have twice the space to share your thoughts. So, instead of rambling for all of those characters, write something short and sweet in your second language, and then translate it into your native tongue.

    Facebook: Your content on Facebook should be translated as well. Don’t make your followers rely on using the “see translation” feature. However, should someone still choose to click this button, your thoughtful, bilingual post will surely show them the beauty of human-over-machine translation.

    Create eye-catching imagery

    Instagram: Turn any word, quote or thought into an attention-grabbing image by overlaying it on a photo (using Photoshop or any similar photo editing application). Then, caption your post with the translation of the text in the image. Just be sure to use your own photos so as not to infringe upon copyright.

    Facebook: Photos and images with text also attract a lot of views on Facebook. However, you should be selective about what content you share on both platforms. Every Instagram post should not be shared to Facebook and vice versa.

    #Hashtag everything

    Hashtags are your friends on social media. Add a few hashtags to all your posts that relate to T&I, your languages and/or your specializations. Use as many as you like on Instagram and then fewer on both Twitter and Facebook. Anyone searching the terms to which you attached a hashtag has an opportunity to visit your page. 

    Engage with your community

    The best way to continue driving traffic to your pages is by communicating consistently with your followers and others involved in your field. Be sure to follow potential clients and influencers who work in your specializations on their social media, as well as individuals and organizations you admire in the translation and interpreting sphere. Additionally, you should add posts with regularity and keep your content varied and interactive.

    Twitter: Depending on how relevant the content may be to your target audience, “like,” comment on, and re-tweet other posts and news articles.

    Instagram: End your photo captions with a corresponding question to encourage your followers to comment on your post.

    Facebook: Use the poll feature to ask your followers questions about themselves in order to gain a better understanding of who your audience is and how you may better serve their T&I needs.

    Perfect your grammar

    Before you post anything on social media, be sure to double and triple check your spelling and grammar. Editing is supposed to be our specialty as linguists, so be sure your reputation remains flawless with polished and precise posting practices.

    Have fun!

    More than anything, social media is supposed to be an exciting and enjoyable form of marketing that feels more personable and less forceful than traditional advertising. So, step a bit outside the box of what you may view as traditionally “professional.” Always remain respectful and smart, but feel free to be your witty, quirky and entertaining self.

  • 02/06/2019 11:52 | Anonymous

    As many of you know, the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has changed its certification requirements for interpreters and translators. Many of those changes come into effect in the next couple months. Please note that DSHS authorized/certified translators and interpreters who will lose their credentials before 06/30/19 may apply for a temporary credential reinstatement through 06/29/2019. These people will, however, still be required to re-test to become re-credentialed.

    Please see the following links for more information: 

    DSHS website:

    Maintaining credentials flyer: 

    Temporary credential application:

  • 01/31/2019 17:16 | Anonymous

    by NOTIS Board Member Pinar Mertan 

    Until I was asked to do some research about two months ago for a seminar for court interpreters, I had no idea there was a semi-official job definition of interpreting under the name of 'dragoman' in Ottoman Empire-era Turkey. As a Turkish-born person and a recently registered interpreter, I was surprised that I had missed this information. So when I was asked to contribute to NOTIS’ upcoming newsletter, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to introduce our society (and myself) to this interesting topic. 

    What is a Dragoman?

    "In the history of interpreting, a Dragoman was a man who acted as a guide and an interpreter in countries where Arabic, Turkish, or Persian was spoken” (Oxford Dictionary). The word dragomanis “tercüman” in Turkish, and the Ottomans used the word “tercüman” to refer to interpreters. This word originated from the Syriac language and passed into Arabic (Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies, 119).

    The Ottoman Empire and Its Subjects

    The Ottoman Empire was a multiethnic, multireligious monarchy founded by the Turks in 1299 that lasted for over 600 years. The English word Ottomanis the Anglicized form of the Turkish Osmanlı, meaning 'associated with Osman’ ( History With Resources). It survived until the end of World War I and was dissolved by the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. 

    Ottoman society was quite cosmopolitan. The Empire’s subjects came from many different ethnic and religious groups. At its height, the Ottoman Empire included modern-day Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Egypt, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, some of Arabia, Lebanon and a considerable amount of the North African coastal strip (BBC-Ottoman Empire, Empire). The largest ethnic groups were Turks, Arabs, Greeks, Slovenians, Serbs, Albanians, Ruthenians, Wallachians, Moldavians, Croatians, Armenians, Laz, and Kurds. Ottomans dealt with minorities by letting them self-regulate. Non-Muslim religious groups were called milletsand had the autonomy to regulate their own affairs with fairly little interference from the Ottoman government. The main millets were the Jewish, Greek, and Armenian ones. By the 19th century, there were 14 millets. These groups were spread across the empire. Often, there was little contact between different millets (New World Encyclopedia).

    Official Language

    The official language of the empire was Ottoman Turkish, an administrative language consisting largely of Turkish grammar, with Anatolian Turkish, Arabic, and some Persian vocabulary. Ottoman Turkish belongs to the Oghuz group of Turkic languages. Ottoman Turkish was written using Arabic script. Ottoman morphology and syntax was primarily Turkic, using the order of subject-object-verb. It was primarily a written language, and today, it is no longer spoken (Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, 322-323). After the Turkish Republic was founded, the Arabic script was replaced by the Latin alphabet.

    Emergence of the Dragomans

    In his article "The Role of Dragomans in the Ottoman Empire," Elvin Abbasbeyli writes that “the Sublime Porte and Western diplomatic missions in the Ottoman Empire needed individuals fluent in both Western and Oriental languages.” According to the Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies (p. 121-122), institutional efforts to educate interpreters began in the mid-16th century. The most significant dragoman in the Ottoman Empire was the dragoman of the Sublime Porte, also known as the Grand Dragoman. At first, bilingual converts were employed, and they were imperial civil servants. By the 17th century, Greek Orthodox families in the Fener District of Istanbul changed this. Greek dragomans had an advantage in education and understanding of Ottoman structures. In the Ottoman hierarchy dragomans ranked very highly, and the job had some advantages, such as tax exemption. The title of Dragoman of the Sublime Porte was passed from father to son. In 1821 a Translation Office was established where Muslims began to learn foreign languages, and the Greek families were expelled from this profession completely.

    Western ambassadors and merchants also employed dragomans in their relations with the Ottomans. Those dragomans were chosen among the Latin Catholic families of the Galata area of Istanbul. But since these dragomans were Ottoman and were not fluent in Western languages, the European countries decided to teach and employ their own citizens. The Venetians led the way by sending young language students to Istanbul to learn Oriental languages. Those “Giovani della Lingua” or “Jeunes de Langues” became dragomans in relations with the Ottomans. The French followed suit by establishing a school named “L’Ecole des Enfants de Langues” in 1669. The graduates would be employed as missionaries or dragomans by their government (Gürçağlar, “The Diplomatic Trinity,” 3-5).

    Dragomans' Role and Contributions

    According to Professor Nathalie Rothman, “Dragomans are often known as diplomatic translators, but their responsibilities and roles went much further than being mere interpreters.” Dragomans had diplomatic, consular, and commercial roles and they even served as pilgrimage guides and spies (Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies, 119). 

    Dragomans' importance to the Ottoman Empire peaked when the empire reached its widest territorial reach during the 15th and 16th centuries. They served as important intermediaries between the Palace and non-Turkish-speaking subjects well into the 19th century. Although most of them were the Empire’s own people, some of the imperial dragomans were from foreign countries (Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies, 120-121).

    Dragomans took assignments at different offices in many regions. They performed their job by interpreting in consecutive and in whispering modes, and they held a wide range of diplomatic, commercial, and consular duties in other Ottoman cities. It is known that Venetian dragomans served as official emissaries and recorded their diplomatic missions in writing. The Venetian dragomans in Istanbul were probably the largest group of these professionals, but by the 17th century, all foreign embassies in the Ottoman capital had at least one dragoman (Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies, 120-121).

    The dragomans enjoyed a legal status called beratlı, which means ‘holders of a patent'. Their numbers, privileges, and responsibilities were all listed in imperial charters granted by the Sultan to other countries (Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies, 122).

    As Professor Rothman notes, “Dragomans wrote some of the earliest works on the Ottoman-Turkish language.” Their contributions lasted through the 20th century, and their impact went far beyond diplomacy. Their writings about Ottoman society and culture were a huge contribution to the philological study of early Ottoman texts. They also translated several extended Ottoman chronicles. Their position in the Ottoman Empire and their connections with Ottomans and foreigners alike let them build strong ties with political elites. Having access to valuable knowledge allowed them to write about Ottoman language, history, arts, sciences, theology, music, and botany, to name a few (Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies, 123-124).

    Translation Office

    In 1821, the Translation Office was established and served more as a school by preparing young men to serve abroad as embassy secretaries. Some of these later became ambassadors, foreign ministers, and even grand viziers. The office became part of the Foreign Ministry when it was organized in 1836 ( and became a channel of the intelligence network. Documents in foreign languages were translated and stored in the archives of the Translation Office before going to the higher offices. The Translation Office employed primarily Muslim officers, rather than non-Muslim or Greek dragomans, many of whom later became prominent statesmen (Kamay, Public Diplomacy and the Translation Office in the Ottoman Empire, 3-6).

    For a generation, the Translation Office was one of the best sources of Western education in Istanbul. This office continued being an important place to begin a career, and it was in operation until the empire came to its end in 1922 (


    Professor Nathalie Rothman’s works in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies

    Public Diplomacy and the Translation Office in the Ottoman Empireby Berna Kamay

    The Diplomatic Trinityby Aykut Gürçağlar

    “The Role of Dragomans in the Ottoman Empire” by Elvin Abbasbeyli

    Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire

    New World Encyclopedia

  • 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


  • 10/31/2018 10:18 | Anonymous

    NOTIS is pleased to present this Q&A with our corporate member, The Academy of Languages Translation and Interpretation Services ( Thank you to Olivier Fabris for taking the time to participate in this interview.

    Q: Can you please tell us a little about your organization?

    A: The company started operating in 1979 as part of a language school. In 2002 we separated from the school and became an independent corporation focused on providing translation and interpretation services. Our mission is to empower our clients to connect with foreign language speakers at home and abroad through professional language services.

    Q: What are the main services you offer?

    A: We primarily offer translation and interpretation services in the business, legal, medical and technical fields. Our interpretation services are almost exclusively delivered in person. We also provide some multimedia services (e.g. voice over, subtitling, transcription), website localization and multilingual desktop publishing.

    Q: With what languages do you work?

    A: We work primarily with Western European, Asian and some African languages, but our network of professional linguists covers most languages requested by our clients. We work with organizations that serve the local LEP community, so the languages requested for those assignments roughly reflect the make-up of the local immigrant population. We also work with clients who sell their products and services overseas, and the languages requested for those projects don’t follow the same breakdown.

    Q: What sets you apart as a language serviced provider?

    A: We are a small family-owned operation and are able to adapt quickly to different requirements. We treat our translators and interpreters with respect, and we like to build relationships over time. We’ve been working with some of our translators for over 20 years! We do not compromise on quality. We recruit all of our linguists very carefully and we do not work with contractors whom we feel are not qualified or a good fit for the assignment. We hand pick our contractors for every assignment.

    Q: What advice do you have for translators/interpreters and project managers working together?

    A: Communicate, communicate, communicate! Given the line of business we are in, it seems obvious, but I’ve seen feelings getting hurt or relationships souring due to a simple misunderstanding or miscommunication. For all parties involved, be polite and respectful. Work together for the betterment of the industry, and promote high standards.

    Project managers need to give their linguists clear instructions. And in return, those instructions need to be read, understood, and followed. If something isn’t clear, say something! Adherence to the schedule is of the utmost importance – do not be late for an assignment or deliver a project past the deadline. Keep your commitments (don’t give back a job you are already committed to because a better opportunity comes along). Know your limits and be honest with yourself and your client.

    Q: What advice do you have for language professionals who are new to the field?

    A: Be patient and dedicated. If you are passionate about what you do, and you are good at it, you will succeed! Join professional organizations. Network and market yourself. Research the industry and potential clients. Try to specialize in a few specific areas. Find a mentor. Talk to more experienced colleagues. Work towards getting a professional certification. Price your services attractively. Triple check your resume and cover letter for typos. Be responsive when a prospective client contacts you.

    Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with translators, interpreters, students or other language service providers?

    A: We value our partnership with our freelance translators and interpreters and believe that agencies and independent contractors are better off working together to advance the T&I professions.

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