The Linguist

The Linguist 56,6 – December 2017/January 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 16 of 35 The Linguist 17 FEATURES of the national and international community of translators and interpreters, we are greatly alarmed at the implications of your Executive Order on immigration for our colleagues who work in conflict zones." Rob Cruz, NAJIT's Executive Director, added: "At the present time, there is a great deal of concern about possible impacts of some of the new administration's policy on immigrant groups, but how that would affect interpreters is a speculative matter and the NAJIT board does not have comment on that speculation. There seems to be a great many 'what-if' scenarios." Meanwhile David Rumsey, President of the American Translators Association (ATA), which also co-signed Red T's letter, commented: "ATA is also interested to see how the new administration's position on travel and immigration will affect the work of translators and interpreters. Early indicators are pointing to significant interest in the ATA conference, which is being held in Washington DC Oct 25-28th 2017 [sic], where some of these issues may be discussed." The Association of Language Companies (ALC) and the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) were even less forthcoming. The GALA does not sign single country letters, and according to its Executive Director, Laura Brandon: "We do not have a position statement about Trump's immigration policy." According to ALC President, Doug Strock: "The ALC doesn't have a statement. We were asked to sign a joint letter, but the wording was such that I felt we were better off not signing it." Should translators be worried? In truth, Trump's immigration policies – many of which, including the 27 January order, have been struck down by state courts – may not affect our industry. Cruz, Strock and Brandon knew of no direct impact on members, good or bad. If companies have experienced difficulty finding human resources or meeting demand they aren't talking about it. Gio Lester, Chair of NAJIT's Public Relations (PR) Committee and a legal interpreter, believes that cases are now moving faster, although she has not experienced a heavier workload herself. However, since interpreters are paid by the hour, faster cases don't equal more business – just a busier day. Hearsay does seem to be the basis of most of the industry analysis, as client-side there is no change either. After reaching out to multiple firms and issuing a call for information, I found just one law firm – in Houston, Texas – which indicated that Trump's immigration policy had impacted its interpreting purchases, although this had created no major problems. The best practice of keeping language services local may be the industry's saving grace. On the translation front, Stephanie Harris from localisation provider Venga says, "As we use in-country linguists for our translations, we do not have to worry so much about the travel ban." In any case, translators can usually work remotely, even from other countries. For an American market, though, quality interpreting usually requires the professional to be physically present. The battle to find trained, competent professionals working in the languages spoken in the countries targeted by Trump's immigration policies is nothing new. Presidents come and go, but the quest to find a reliable Somali community interpreter goes on. "Is it going to make that situation that's already pretty challenging worse?" asks Bill Rivers, Executive Director of the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Language and International Studies (NCLIS). "We'll see." He adds: "Don't panic… The fundamentals of globalisation – that's not changing," pointing out that Trump's campaign promise to break the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) didn't cause the decline in Chinese translation purchasing that many companies feared. Similarly, recent threats to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) did not disrupt the French or Spanish translation markets. "Keep calm," he cautions, "but be ready to react". Perhaps that's why a select number of American schools have finally started to teach the languages of limited diffusion spoken in so-called 'terrorist' countries: because, linguistically, the United States is anything but ready. As the American Council for International Education completes its census of foreign language instruction in US high schools, Rivers comments: "We're seeing some growth in Arabic in high schools. There are places that are teaching Somali as a language. I believe they're starting a programme in Portland, Oregon. This is driven by community interest… and by school leaderships – school boards – recognising that language is a powerful tool." Of course, these developments must have begun long before Trump took office, due to the time it takes to bring such measures to the classroom. So perhaps, as far as the translation industry is concerned, there really is nothing to see here. Only time will tell. A US Army interpreter was en route to the US while the order was being signed and was detained after landing CAUSE FOR CONCERN? Donald Trump speaks at a news conference in New York (left); and a caricature (below)

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