Monthly Archives: September 2013

Interpreter’s pride comes through in her translation


TOKYO: When an International Olympic Committee member asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe why he thought the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture has no effect on Tokyo, the atmosphere became tense at a venue of the IOC general assembly in Buenos Aires.

Tokyo made the final presentation there on Saturday, but media from many nations had reported that radioactive water leakage from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was a mounting concern for IOC members.

When Abe began explaining in Japanese, interpreter Mariko Nagai, 70, who was sitting in a booth at the back of the seats, told herself: “Interpret in a tone just as the prime minister puts it.”

Abe said in a clear, strong voice that he is taking responsibility by implementing programs for a fundamental solution. His strong words were delivered to IOC members in English through Nagai’s interpretation.

Nagai is an interpreter for the Tokyo bid committee. When Tokyo competed for the 2016 Olympic Games, Nagai worked with then Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara. She has visited more than 50 places in Japan and abroad for bidding activities since around 2007. Having also been involved in the 1998 Nagano Olympics from before its start, she has a lot of experience with Olympic-related activities.

Many people put strong faith in her, saying Nagai interprets remarks by understanding context.

Nagai said she pays attention to every word she chooses, aiming to give a positive impression at such occasions as a press conference. For example, she prefers to use “a challenge” or “a point to be improved” instead of “weak points.”

“I love the Olympics. I never change the words of a speaker when I interpret, but I guess my wish that Tokyo be chosen as the host city naturally comes out in my interpretation,” she said.

Her strong feelings for the Olympics date back to a vivid memory half a century ago.

It was the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. When planes flying in formation drew the five-ring emblem in the blue sky at the opening ceremony, Nagai was at the National Stadium in Tokyo, wearing a white jacket with an emblem of a rising sun. VIPs from around the world passed by in front of her eyes.

To read more of this article courtesy of Astro Awani, click the link below.


Tagged ,

For interpreters for U.S. forces, time may be running out to get visas –via Military Times


For interpreters for U.S. forces, time may be running out to get visas

Backlogged visa program for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters expires soon

The Taliban came for Ehsan’s life in the night a month ago, knocking on his father’s door, asking for Ehsan to come out. Ehsan is gone, his father told them and refused to open up.

Once, three strange men approached his 10-year-old brother asking, “Where is Ehsan?”

Ehsan used to elude Taliban checkpoints, but now he just stays indoors and hides. His face is too familiar, he cannot go out and he cannot work.

Ehsan, an interpreter for U.S. forces in Afghanistan for seven years, says his life is in danger as he waits to hear from the U.S. State Department about the status of his special visa application, which he hopes will enable him to emmigrate to America.

“Everybody knows, if they find me, they will kill me,” Ehsan, 32, told Army Times. “They told my father, ‘Tell Ehsan one day we will find you, and we will kill you.’ ”

To read more of this article courtesy of the Military Times, click the link below.


Tagged ,

Google’s next ‘moonshot’: Tearing down language barriers –via BGR



Google’s “moonshots” — that is, projects that the company pursues even if they seem far-fetched — are one of its defining features. Spiegel reports that Google’s Translate team has enormous ambitions to eventually eliminate language barriers with the development of a voice-enabled universal translation system. Although such a system is certainly a long way off, Google has already started working on a voice-enabled translator smartphone app that can translate roughly 24 different languages so far.

Franz Josef Och, who leads Google’s Translate department, admits to Spiegel that this voice-enabled translator is fairly slow and clunky right now but he points to improvements in Google’s text-based Translation service over the years and projects that the app will grow by similar leaps and bounds. The biggest barriers remain nailing down the more subtle nuances of language such as syntax and ambiguity.

What makes Google’s approach so interesting is that the company doesn’t actually employ a linguist anywhere on its team. Instead, the Translate app is simply designed to get better with experience. Since Google’s specialty is collecting, sorting an analyzing data, the Translate algorithms aren’t designed to understand grammatical rules. Rather, as Spiegel puts it, they “search through the clutter, gather data and learn along the way.”

To read more of this blog article courtesy of BGR, click the link below.

Tagged , ,

State courts must provide foreign-language interpreters under new rule -via Detroit Free News


In one court case in Michigan, a judge asked a man who had abused his non-English-speaking wife to interpret for her when she was asking for a personal protection order.

In another, a child of parents who can’t speak English was asked to interpret for them in a child custody case involving the same child.

These types of cases prompted the Michigan Supreme Court to create a new rule that will require all courts in the state to provide foreign-language interpreters when needed for those who can’t comprehend English.

“We want to make sure that never reoccurs,” Justice Bridget Mary McCormack said Wednesday in announcing the new rule.

The new requirement comes after the Department of Justice launched a probe in February 2011 amid complaints that courts in Michigan were failing to provide interpreters for people with limited English proficiency. The Justice Department helped the court develop rules and policies for non-English speakers in the courts.

To read more of this article courtesy of the Detroit Free Press, click the link below.


Tagged , ,

U.S. Attorney: State Supreme Court rule may hinder access to interpreters –via Detroit Free News


Barbara McQuade / Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press

The top federal prosecutor in Detroit is criticizing a new rule announced this week by the Michigan Supreme Court on court interpreters for people who can’t speak English, saying it might fail to cover everyone.

The state Supreme Court said Wednesday it has created the rule requiring all courts in Michigan to offer foreign-language interpreters for people involved in the court system who can’t understand English. The move comes amid an investigation by the Department of Justice started in 2011 that’s examining whether courts in Michigan are failing to provide translators.

One part of the new rule requires people who make more than 25% above the poverty level to pay for translators; that would mean a single person who makes more than $14,362 would have to pay. Such a requirement could hinder access to the court system, potentially creating “a chilling effect,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade for the Eastern District of Michigan said Friday.

To read more of this article courtesy of Detroit Free Press, click the link below.


%d bloggers like this: