A Translator is Always Learning

ATA Conference

Hyerim, a graduate student studying KR>English translations, has shared her experience and insights from 3 sessions she attended.

The ATA 57th Annual Conference took place this year on November 2-5 in San Francisco, California. There were over 170 educational sessions in a variety of subjects, tracks, and languages. So many sessions in so few days! It was quite difficult to choose which ones to attend. But ultimately, I had to decide and I’d like to share my takeaways from three of those sessions.

Patents Translation: Befriending a Few Tools of the Trade

One that piqued my interest was “Patents Translation: Befriending a Few Tools of the Trade” by Françoise Herrmann, who teaches medical and patent translation at the New York University School of Professional Studies. I decided to attend this one because I heard that patent translation was a popular field among some translators. Since there aren’t any classes specially geared toward this topic at my translation university, I was interested in learning more.

As described in the title, the speaker of this session presented on which resources patent translators should refer to when translating such documents. The tools included the European Patent Office (EPO), the United States Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for a combined total of over 150 million documents.

One particularly memorable remark was her explanation of the difference between patent translation and other types of translations. For patent translation, the best source for background research is the actual patent itself. Mainly because patent applications require information detailed about the invention such as its use, field, and background context. There may also be multiple versions of the patent in different countries, meaning more information for perusal. Additionally, some of the patent organizations have websites in multiple languages, which means there are official translations readily available for translators to use.

Ensuring Payment Before, During, and After the Project

Another topic of interest was “Ensuring Payment Before, During, and After the Project” presented by Ted R. Wozniak, treasurer of the ATA, translator, and president of Payment Practices. This session covered a sensitive, but important issue to translators. Since I had heard and read so many stories about translators not getting paid for their work, I wanted to learn how this could be prevented.

An important takeaway from this session was that everyone decides what payment term is acceptable for themselves. For example, some may not want to work with an agency that provides payment in 90 days, while others might be fine with waiting. It is ultimately up to the translator to determine.

In terms of agencies’ payment practices, the speaker highlighted the importance of diligent research in minimizing risks of working with ones with subpar payment practices. He named some of the resources available such as LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Google groups; mailing lists; and translator websites like Some, such as the Hall of Fame & Shame at the TranslatorsCafe, require paid subscriptions but others are free. The speaker discussed the pros and cons of some of the resources. Overall, it was a very informative and helpful session for translators concerned with payment practices.

Localization Quality Check at Netflix: Driving Quality in Audiovisual Localization

I couldn’t miss out on attending at least one presentation from the perspective of a translation consumer—Netflix. Netflix, a major global online entertainment service provider, launched its service globally across more than 130 new countries in 2016. The same year, they added 20 new languages to their list. This means there is a great need for localization and translation of its content.

Netflix presented on their very own QC (Quality Control) platform for their localization of content. The company has a linguistic and technical quality control process in place to ensure positive customer experience and creative content. Since their platform is cloud based, Netflix can work with many vendors and linguists efficiently. The speaker also shared that Netflix QC specifications and guides are freely available on their website. The golden nugget from this session was the information shared about how they choose their QC freelancers. Native linguistic proficiency in the target language, familiarity with English, and experience in subtitling and dubbing are key.



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