Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Is There A Better Way?

By John Rock

On reading “Translation in Canada,” an article in The Chronicle (October 2010) about translation in Canada, I was struck by the certification practices of OTTIAQ where, according to the article, there is no certification exam; rather, one must have a translation degree and perform a mentorship under a certified member for five years. Without a translation degree, a person must prove that he or she has worked at least five years as a full time translator and can submit a corpus of work for evaluation by committee. This immediately rang a bell with me, since I have always maintained that it takes five years of hard work between when you think you are a translator and when you know you are a translator and can handle almost anything thrown at you.

It also highlighted what, in my opinion, has been a serious defect with the ATA certification exams: a suitable process does not appear to exist to certify translators who have come to translation from any field other than the language arts. Although here I am addressing primarily technical translators, this also applies to medical, legal, and financial translators. Thus we have the bizarre situation where newly minted language graduates take the ATA certification with flying colors, and then feel competent to tackle any subject matter under the sun.

On the flip side of the coin, experienced translators who have been working in the field for literally decades performing the heavy lifting for the translation community, continue to flunk the ATA exam because they have not dotted some “i” or crossed some “t”. Any translator who has taken the exam will realize the examination process is not transparent and is shrouded in secrecy. Why, may we ask?

Yet, any agency or company going to the ATA website looking for a translator is mainly going to find the “certified” translators and not necessarily those translators which have the in-depth background experience to provide a professional service. The question should be asked: “Is the ATA failing in its duty to provide qualified professional translators for American businesses and industry?”

As for my own experience, I obtained certification in one of my languages and simply gave up trying to achieve certification in my other languages. It was like throwing good money after bad. The sad truth is, I am willing to bet, based on the cross-section of translators I have met, that there are probably several hundred “long-term” professional translators out there who are frankly disillusioned with the ATA examination process.

I have railed against not only the certification process itself, which I suspect is dominated by language arts professors, but also against those language professors who claim to be able to teach technical translation, legal translation and medical translation by giving their students a few glossaries and test translations on which to whet their teeth.

So situations continue to arise in which long-standing technical translators find themselves editing poor translations from “certified” translators who really do not have the background or experience to know the subject matter. The corollary to this is that perfectly good technical translations are shredded by an editor who thinks they know what they are doing.

As an example of this, I have a shelf and a half of Oil & Gas dictionaries, I have probably translated close to a hundred oil refinery projects, yet I had a translation come back shredded by an “in-house” editor who thought they knew better. I could not be bothered to argue.

ATA itself balks at any call to re-examine its certification process, claiming that the only model which suffices is “the language itself.” Spoken like a true language arts graduate. Yet our Canadian cousins offer an alternative model for certification. Is it not at least worth close examination? No pun intended.

I am sure some readers will simply say “sour grapes,” and it would be if I were writing simply for myself. But as indicated earlier, I have given up on the ATA certification exam because in my opinion, it is not worth the paper it is written on. However, I am thinking about those generations of technical translators who are coming after us and who are struggling to make a living in the translation community where certification would mean a lot; it could mean the difference between making it or not.

So I make this assertion: the ATA is not in fact serving the translation community that it purports to serve.

I challenge ATA to take a survey of its members to find out what percentage of its members who have been working as full time translators for 5, 10, 15, and over 20 years are not certified in the languages in which they normally work.

I challenge ATA to review its certification model in the light of alternative models such as our Canadian cousins and come up with a better one.

ATA should be a world leader in translator certification, and I fear it is not.


John Rock holds a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from the University of Liverpool, U.K. He has worked for the Instituto Oceanografico, USP, São Paulo, Brazil, and for UNESCO in Athens, Greece. His career in the Oil Industry involved the former Gulf Oil Company with geophysical seismic research, and Schlumberger Wireline Services. He has been at various times: a Marine Engineering Consultant, Computer Consultant, Geophysical Consultant and University lecturer in Applied Mathematics. For the last twenty five years he has been a full time freelance technical translator initially based in Houston, Texas, and now in Charleston, S.C., working with Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Italian to English.

21 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Please don't comment to promote your own services in comments! Comment on the article.
    Speaking of which...I will when I get a few minutes!

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  3. First, who I am: I'm a practicing professional translator in German>English and Dutch>English legal, commercial, and financial translation, and I'm ATA-certified in both combinations. I also happen to be a professor of translation studies at Kent State University. And finally, I am the current chair of the ATA Certification Committee, so what I write here is based on a thorough knowledge of the program.

    The ATA Certification Examination is designed to test translators' abilities to transfer meaning from the source language to the target language using texts that are selected by professional translators and vetted to be at a particular level of difficulty. It is not designed to test subject-matter expertise. It requires candidates to translate a general topic text (such as an essay or editorial) and to choose a second text from either a semi-technical or a business/legal topic. Thus the exam is aimed at a general baseline of translation (transfer) skill. It does not claim to test specialized subject-matter knowledge. What evidence is there for the claim that somehow language graduates are more successful than other candidates? The ATA has not researched this.

    As for professionals with experience failing the certification examination, I suspect (but have not done the research yet) that these types of exams, which largely--but not entirely--transfer meaning correctly, fail not because of minor mechanical errors (we don't count off for missing dots on "i"!), but because of a general lack of precision in translation. In other words, some candidates get most of the gist of the translation, but obscure meaning in some way because of such errors as imprecise term choices, inaccurate register, or a lack of cohesion compared to the source text. One of the metaphors that we use in training graders is the idea that the translation is a mirror that reflects the source text. The size and amount of any flaws, distortions, or spots on the mirror will influence the ability to perceive the underlying message. And it's surprising how many translators get the main points of the source text, yet repeatedly obscure details of the translation. The ATA Certification Examination does not require perfection, but it does have a fairly strict threshold that allows for only a fairly limited number of errors.

    Also, the examination process is hardly "shrouded in secrecy", since the ATA website (atanet.org) provides extensive information on the types of texts, the testing process, the pass threshold, and the error categories. There are also articles on the website that discuss the changes that were implemented in 2002. Sessions are offered by graders at every ATA Conference for individuals seeking to take the exam; these sessions provide information and the opportunity to ask questions. Hardly secret.

    Mr. Rock "suspects" that the certification process is "dominated by language arts professors". Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are more than 125 graders in 30 language pairs. To my knowledge, all of the current graders are practicing professionals. At the same time, less than 5% of the graders are professors--and they are all practicing translation professionals as well. I do agree, though, that language professors should not teach translation without experience in the field.

    I am surprised, though, that the author claims "ATA itself balks at any call to re-examine its certification process..." This strikes me as another assertion that lacks evidence. We on the Certification Committee are constantly reviewing the certification process and trying to improve it. Some of us (yes, the professors) are starting to develop research projects to examine a variety of factors in the process, specifically with the goal of improving the certification examination to make it more reliable, more authentic, and more valid.

    Dr. Geoffrey S. Koby
    Chair, ATA Certification Committee

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  4. Hi John,
    I hope the certification committee sees this. I don't know how often they consider major changes to the system; indeed, whether they are on the table at all.
    Here's my take on the subject. There are inherently subjective aspects that make the concept of translator certification a difficult one. Disgruntled exam-failers do abound. ATA is not alone in having problems with this: ITI in the UK does too (they have a hybrid peer review/exam system). Presumably in Canada the corpus submitted is reviewed for quality? Personally, I would have a hard time finding a corpus of work that I could submit. It would be heavy on published patents. I imagine that over a long period I could find enough non-proprietary texts to submit.
    I think language must rule. Excellent translators must write correctly and effectively. Excellent technical translators are rare. I do a lot of editing of all kinds of translators. I don't see those from a technical background producing better or worse technical work than language arts grads overall.
    I have no idea if the ATA’s certification process is dominated by language arts professors as you suggest. Anecdotally, the graders I know are not language arts professors.
    When a text comes back to me marked up incorrectly by an editor, I always respond. It’s been a while, but I have experienced this. I think it is our duty as professionals to correct errors. If they tell us "Never mind. We're doing it our way" then the problem is theirs and they wasted their time paying for me, a subject matter expert, to do the translation.
    For what it’s worth, I fall into your category of technical translators not trained in language arts. I am certified, but it took me a while to pass both passages at one sitting. Finally I did pass in my main pair. My income went up so it appears to have been worth the effort.
    Karen

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  5. I'm the chair of the ATA Certification Committee, and, briefly, I'll comment on a couple of points:
    1. The ATA certification program was developed and is run by practicing professional translators. There are a few professors (of translation studies, not language arts), and they are also professional translators. Well over 95% of the more than 125 graders are practicing professionals.
    2. The ATA Certification Committee works with the graders constantly on training and continuously looks for ways to improve the program.
    3. We have reviewed the Canadian review materials and found them rather skeletal in terms of categories and weighting, compared to the well-developed ATA system of categories and points.
    4. Anecdotally, based on exams I have reviewed, there are many translators who get the main thrust of the translation, yet have a pattern of many smaller errors that distort meaning. Enough of these errors will cause a candidate to fail the exam. The quality of their work is not bad, but not at the level of accuracy that we consider acceptable for certification. I would expect that this level of quality is accepted in the marketplace because of high-quality editors.
    5. The ATA website has extensive information on grading practices, types of texts selected as exam passages, error categories, etc. We do not operate in secret. I'll also be happy to answer any questions, as long as we maintain test security.

    Geoff Koby
    ATA Certification Committee Chair
    gkoby@kent.edu

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  6. Here's a comment from Geoff Koby. His post disappeared when he posted so I'm putting it up.

    “I'm the chair of the ATA Certification Committee, and, briefly, I'll comment on a couple of points:
    1. The ATA certification program was developed and is run by practicing professional translators. There are a few professors (of translation studies, not language arts), and they are also professional translators. Well over 95% of the more than 125 graders are practicing professionals.
    2. The ATA Certification Committee works with the graders constantly on training and continuously looks for ways to improve the program.
    3. We have reviewed the Canadian review materials and found them rather skeletal in terms of categories and weighting, compared to the well-developed ATA system of categories and points.
    4. Anecdotally, based on exams I have reviewed, there are many translators who get the main thrust of the translation, yet have a pattern of many smaller errors that distort meaning. Enough of these errors will cause a candidate to fail the exam. The quality of their work is not bad, but not at the level of accuracy that we consider acceptable for certification. I would expect that this level of quality is accepted in the marketplace because of high-quality editors.
    5. The ATA website has extensive information on grading practices, types of texts selected as exam passages, error categories, etc. We do not operate in secret. I'll also be happy to answer any questions, as long as we maintain test security.

    Geoff Koby
    ATA Certification Committee Chair
    gkoby@kent.edu”

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  7. A few comments:

    1. As long as it costs hundreds of dollars simply to view one's own full results, people will think the ATA is trying to hide something. Viewing the results should cost no more than $20 or $30 (something reflecting the cost of copying and postage), and the hundreds of dollars should be required only for an appeal.

    2. Everyone would be better served if certification were modular. Under the current system, excellent, technical, medical business and legal translators with years of experience are denied certification of any kind because they failed on a political thought piece that was considered "general", while many relatively green translators can get the whole enchilada. Providing modular certification for the subject matter areas would make it clear who is good at what. (This may be enhanced by making the technical passages truly technical, which now they don't seem to be.)

    3. It would be interesting if a study could be done of how many people fail the ATA certification exams after receiving equally or more stringent certification from other bodies. I have met highly competent translators, with decades of experience, who could get various sorts of government and international certification but have repeatedly failed the ATA exams, while people who are not remotely capable of the work these experts do can pass.

    4. It's not only the ATA exam. When I was 18, I scored off the charts on standardized English grammar and writing exams. After a decade of editing in the communications industry, and right after earning an MA in linguistics, I decided just for fun to do some practice tests for the SAT English portion. I dismally failed them. However,when I looked at the answer key, I realized that the criteria for judging the "right" answers were quite divorced from the real world of clear communication. So there is some argument to be made that accumulated years in a language-related profession will diminish one's chances of passing tests on the subject matter.

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  8. I am a freshly minted grader and language chair for the new English-Swedish certification in ATA and here are my two cents to this discussion.

    I believe a certification is good for most translators, especially if you do not have a minimum of five years of experience. This is a way for new translators to prove that they indeed can provide good translations.

    I started out as a translator nine years ago and then there was no certification for Swedish in the US. I have not needed this, but I think it takes longer to prove yourself if you are not certified, plus the tendency to get paid less is more prevalent for beginning translators with no certification.

    After spending three years working on establishing a certification program for Swedish, I also have a few comments on the ATA certification program. The texts we select need to be of a general character and we have three different "fields" of texts; general, technical and legal/financial. A person taking the test needs to pick two texts out of these three options. The texts cannot be too technical, so that you cannot find words in a general dictionary, but still tests the ability of the translator in different fields of translation. I am myself not from the language arts field and do not agree with the author here that you have to come from the field of language arts to take and excel at the tests.

    Perhaps the certification committee could become better at promoting the work we do, but during the few years I have been involved, I have seen many efforts at providing both feedback to the translators taking the tests and at explaining to the general public or test takers how the certification process works. There is a constant effort made to "standardize" the rules behind grading in order to provide a fair evaluation of a test.

    Lastly I would like to comment that the certification in ATA is not any harder than any other certification program in other countries or organizations and I agree with Karen that all certification program struggle with the same issues. However, it is still a good means to test translation proficiency, especially when you lack in experience, and it is definitely not only for people coming from the field of language arts.

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  9. I, Franco Gamero, had the honor of joining Chair Karen Tkaczyk on a tour of the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
    Boulder Laboratories, along with a very distinguished group of translators, mostly technical. The citizenship requirement prevented many colleagues from attending.
    In an impromtu meeting with half the group, I asked if everybody would be agreeable for me to ask questions related to the NEW technology that invariably results in NEW terminology; because this would help us "keep up" with the new terminology. Everybody agreed enthusiastically. The right moment came in when they were telling us about the "new" power unit: the "quandal"?
    The question was immediately begged: How can we, translators, know about this new terminology?. The answer was just as immediate: "From our publications".
    The counter-question/comment was just as immediate: "But, Sir, this technology/terminology is 'secret' until it is disclosed in the publication. And IT IS this publication the document that we might have to translate."
    By this time we were all gyrating in the LaPlace swirl of technical terminology, without any possible way of getting out. This is what I call a Dialectic Contradiction (DC), the worst one there is.
    And here comes the ugly face of the DC: IF the new term will only appear in the publication of the "creator" of the term, then NO dictionary in this world will contain it, nor will contain it in ______ years?, decades? Now, IF a translator was lucky enough to have been present at this quantum moment, he/she will 'own' the term and the right to decide what the translation in the target language will be (by the principles of Uti Possidetis De Facto and Status Quo).
    And this is how, agreeing with Dr. John Rock, the ATA exam, or any exam, is drastically affected.
    Why is it hard to "accept" a translator/interpreter as an authority or expert (beyond examinations) in a certain area when he/she is one, by experience?
    It is the lack of expertise that is harming the community.
    I was extremely shocked when I saw the Dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish language (through its technical committee) adopt the word "adaptativo" that someone translated for "adaptive". It refers to the headlights turning in conjunction to the steering system, to illuminate the curving path as the vehicle turns. What happened to the beautiful word "synchronize" used for years and in many languages?
    And is it "airbag" or "air bag"? Will it help to know that I was a voting member when it was decided that the inflatable restraints HAD to be called "air bags"? (I don't remember how many THOUSANDS of Dollars were spent on this, but they were.)
    Am I going to be "disqualified" by a reviewer on these and similar situations?
    I have had many instances of Editors "changing" my expert and well researched terminology that I provide this comment: you're welcome to have my translation proofread, but, aside spelling errors, any changes in the terminology will eliminate my name from this translation, and I am no longer responsible for it. Unofficially.

    Experts are PEOPLE too!!!!
    Thank you.

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  10. Hi everyone: yet another person has had trouble posting a comment and asked me to post it for him. We'll have to investigate why that might be. Posting in two portions as it is long.

    "I, Franco Gamero, had the honor of joining Chair Karen Tkaczyk on a tour of the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
    Boulder Laboratories, along with a very distinguished group of translators, mostly technical. The citizenship requirement prevented many colleagues from attending.
    In an impromtu meeting with half the group, I asked if everybody would be agreeable for me to ask questions related to the NEW technology that invariably results in NEW terminology; because this would help us "keep up" with the new terminology. Everybody agreed enthusiastically. The right moment came in when they were telling us about the "new" power unit: the "quandal"?
    The question was immediately begged: How can we, translators, know about this new terminology?. The answer was just as immediate: "From our publications".
    The counter-question/comment was just as immediate: "But, Sir, this technology/terminology is 'secret' until it is disclosed in the publication. And IT IS this publication the document that we might have to translate."

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  11. By this time we were all gyrating in the LaPlace swirl of technical terminology, without any possible way of getting out. This is what I call a Dialectic Contradiction (DC), the worst one there is.
    And here comes the ugly face of the DC: IF the new term will only appear in the publication of the "creator" of the term, then NO dictionary in this world will contain it, nor will contain it in ______ years?, decades? Now, IF a translator was lucky enough to have been present at this quantum moment, he/she will 'own' the term and the right to decide what the translation in the target language will be (by the principles of Uti Possidetis De Facto and Status Quo).
    And this is how, agreeing with Dr. John Rock, the ATA exam, or any exam, is drastically affected.
    Why is it hard to "accept" a translator/interpreter as an authority or expert (beyond examinations) in a certain area when he/she is one, by experience?
    It is the lack of expertise that is harming the community.
    I was extremely shocked when I saw the Dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish language (through its technical committee) adopt the word "adaptativo" that someone translated for "adaptive". It refers to the headlights turning in conjunction to the steering system, to illuminate the curving path as the vehicle turns. What happened to the beautiful word "synchronize" used for years and in many languages?
    And is it "airbag" or "air bag"? Will it help to know that I was a voting member when it was decided that the inflatable restraints HAD to be called "air bags"? (I don't remember how many THOUSANDS of Dollars were spent on this, but they were.)
    Am I going to be "disqualified" by a reviewer on these and similar situations?
    I have had many instances of Editors "changing" my expert and well researched terminology that I now provide this comment: you're welcome to have my translation proofread, but, aside spelling errors, any changes in the terminology will eliminate my name from this translation, and I am no longer responsible for it. Unofficially, though.
    After taking interpretation tests and reading about the ATA tests, my comments/suggestions are:
    1. The tests should be Pass/Fail at 100%. (We all know that 1 mistranslation can render a whole document useless).
    2. The grading of the translated word should be accepted at three levels: definite, probable, possible.
    3. Misspellings during tests in Latin American high schools and universities are graded as wrong and are subtracted as 1 point. So, even if you answer the question correctly, it might not bear the full credit. THIS should not apply to the ATA translation tests because of the built-in spellers in the software.
    4. As demonstrated above, technical dictionaries are of very little value, and useless if the translator holds the best and latest translation.
    5. How can ATA provide a "generalized" technical test and grader when there are so many technical fields?
    It's analogous to a written driver licensing test. A person can pass it at a 100%. Does this mean the person is now qualified to drive all types of vehicles in all types of roads?
    6. If a translator claims technical expertise, it should be subject to proof, not to a general examination.
    One of ATA canons is for a translator to excuse himself/herself from a job that is beyond his/her capabilities.
    Does the ATA SEAL or certificate trump this? So far, yes.
    Experts are PEOPLE too!!!!
    Thank you."

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  12. Karen has been writing very lengthy comments, but mine seem to have been booted every time I post them, so let me break them up and see which part gets deleted.

    First, as long as the ATA charges hundreds of dollars for people to see their marked-up results, many people will suspect -- rightly or not -- that the ATA has something to hide in the test grading process. It should cost about $20 or $30 to see the details of one's results (reasonably reflecting the cost of copying and mailing them). It's the appeals that should cost hundreds of dollars.

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  13. Secondly, I would like to see a study done of how often people with other types of valid certification, or with very august credentials have failed the ATA certification exam. In my own state chapter there was one man of more than 30 years' experience, who had various government and international certifications, but who could not pass the ATA exam. He was widely acknowledged as one of the best in the industry, so this was always puzzling. We also have people with very intensive translation degrees from places like the Monterey Institute, also with years of practical experience, also acknowledged as excellent by colleagues and those who use their services, who cannot pass the ATA exams. A compiling and analysis of the credentials of highly qualified translators who failed would be a first step toward discerning whether there is a problem or not.

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  14. Thirdly, everyone would be better served if ATA certification were modular. Someone who passes the scientific/technical section should be given "scientific/technical" certification, and likewise with people who pass the "business/legal" section. Under the current system, highly experienced, eminently qualified technical, medical, legal and business translators can be denied any kind of certification at all if they have not translated a political thought piece or a general magazine article to the graders' taste. This means that clients searching the ATA directory are liable to pass over many translators who are far more qualified to do their type of translation than many of the people who are shown to be certified. This is a disservice both to the potential client and to the ATA member who is better qualified to translate the given subject matter. So people should receive certification for the sections they pass.

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  15. Lastly, there seems to be a correlation in many fields between years of professional experience and the inability to pass standardized tests. At 18, I scored off the scale on English grammar and composition exams. After more than a decade in the communications field, and after having earned an MA in linguistics, I fail dismally on practice tests for the SAT English section. Looking at the answer key reveals a conflict between how academics expect one to use language and how one uses it in the language professions outside academia.

    And taking Karen's "airbag/air bag" example, I can come up with a hypothetical scenario in which practical experience may work against the test taker. Due to my work history and familiarity with certain corporate style guides, I am generally able to switch between Ford and GM styles (among others). I have been in disputes with other translators who insist that a term should be written one way or another (such as V8 versus V-8), but I know that one company prefers a term be written one way and another company wants it written the other way.

    So, what happens when you get a test taker with broader experience and deeper terminology knowledge than the grader? Can this result in a failing grade? Rumor has it, from high-level professionals who have seen their exam results, that in the ATA it can. Hearsay only, I should stress.

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  16. Applying the ATA certification model to the computer industry shows just how maladapted it is:

    Suppose the computer industry had just one certification exam for all purposes. It might look like this:

    1. A "general" task, such as manipulating an image in Photoshop.
    And the exam taker's choice of the following:
    2. A coding task in JavaScript or HTML.
    3. A harder task in VisualBasic, Java, C++, Cobol or whatever; you'd never know from year to year what it would be.

    People would take the test, and new kids would do the Photoshop "general" task. They might find that task No. 3 was too hard for them, so they would do the HTML coding. They could pass with this and be certified.

    Meanwhile, a computer programmer with 25 years' experience might be able to do tasks No. 2 and 3 impeccably, but because he's never needed to manipulate images in Photoshop, he would fail the "general" portion and thus the whole exam.

    Then customers, looking for "certified" computer experts would look in the professional association's directory and be distracted by the kids who could do the Photoshop and HTML tasks, and they might not notice legions of outstanding VB, Java, C++ and other types of programmers who had "failed" the certification.

    This analogy applies precisely to the ATA certification system, and it is a good argument for modular certification.

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  17. @James. I like your modular idea. I passed one each time before I passed both so it would certainly have benefited my case.
    I also like your V8 vs V-8 example. I have the same situation in the industries I work for, and have often wondered something similar about those who edit my work in general, though not specifically about the ATA exam.

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  18. I mostly agree with John's opening article. There has got to be a better way to judge someone's competence than one's performance on two short passages. Even if I had passed it on my first try (which I didn't), I can think of several ways to judge ability that would be much more indicative of how a translator is thinking.

    For example: why not present a sentence, and a proposed translation, and ask us to describe what's wrong with the translation (if anything)? This week I was critiquing a document that had clearly been translated in a big hurry. Among the more serious criticisms: (a) omission of the word "not"; (b) excessively literal rendition; (c) misunderstanding "equally likely" as "substantially likely"; and (d) failure to recognize and raise a question about an ambiguously written source phrase.

    The first three examples are particularly appropriate, in the era of translation memory. Some of us can say that we don't really translate any more; instead, we edit a machine-furnished first draft. It's important to recognize the mistakes that the software makes, in order to fix them.

    My fourth example reflects another aspect that are not acknowledged by the current system. Sometimes we have the luxury of asking the author what they meant. Not all source documents are clearly written, and we translators often find errors that the client missed.*

    * acknowledged in the pamphlet, "Getting It Right"

    Still another difference between the exam and "real life": Sometimes we need to furnish print-ready, presentation-quality translations. Other times, we're translating a confusing document, from a language that the client doesn't know at all. In the latter case, sometimes it's necessary to leave notes to explain ambiguities or alternate meanings, or to explain cultural references. It takes a long time to develop judgment in this area, but in my experience, it's part of the added value that an experienced translator can provide to a client.

    Early this year, I had a long conversation with a relative about the architecture licensing examination. That's a much longer exam, basically taking all day. It includes several multiple choice sections, also sketches and some written answers. California requires an additional oral exam, about 1.5 hours long, administerered by a panel of three judges.

    Reading about those two exams, there's lots to like and to consider, compared to the ATA exam.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Architect_License_Exam

    http://www.ncarb.org/ARE/

    Cheers,

    Steven

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  19. From J.V. Guy-Bray: I am one of ATA’s many uncertified technical translators, and I strongly agree with John Rock and his challenge to the ATA. After a full career as a mining geologist and UN Technical Advisor, translation is a paying retirement hobby for me, and I haven’t noticed any particular handicap from not having an ATA certification. I promised myself when I got out of graduate school many years ago that I would never take another examination, but if I wanted a certificate I would simply seek the Canadian one: it sounds better. My impression is that the ATA is too heavily invested in its current academic process to ever change on its own.”

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  20. Can anyone provide a point-by-point analysis of the differences in the certification processes of the Canadian and American Associations? I would be very interested to see this, as I am contemplating taking one of these exams for the first time. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. I can help with comparing UK (ITI) and ATA. Maybe you could email one of the people who posted about the Canadian system to find out more.

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