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Fall 2023 Newsletter 🍂

Hello to all, and happy fall! We have had plenty to be thankful for in recent months, most notably two opportunities to gather in person, converse, learn from and break bread with our friends and colleagues. Thanks to those of you who made it out to our Summer Picnic (photos below) and our Annual Conference in celebration of International Translation Day.

For all who contributed to the success of the latter, NOTIS President Laura Friend would like to share a few words: 

“Heartfelt thanks go out to all of the many people and organizations whose hard work and generosity helped make this event possible: our dedicated volunteers and staff; the all-volunteer Board of Directors; the outstanding speakers and panelists; the Museum of Flight; and of course our generous sponsors.”

We’re excited to announce that the NOTIS Annual Holiday Party will also take place in person this year on December 2. We’ve yet to settle on a location, but we hope you’ll save the date! 

For those of you who don't live in the area and are unable to make it our in-person events, not to worry. We will continue hosting webshops, literary sessions, and other social hours (such as the upcoming Member Meetup) online. Whatever the format, we look forward to seeing you.  

In today’s issue, you’ll find: 

  • Snapshots from Our Summer Picnic
  • Oops! T&I Bloopers and Other Moments of Exceptional Awkwardness
  • Upcoming NOTIS Events
  • Meet Our Newest Board Members: Kay Heikkinen and Christina Woelz
  • Lately on the NW Linguist Blog
  • And more... 

Keep on scrolling! 

Snapshots 📷 from Our Summer Picnic! 

Every August, NOTIS members meet and mingle at a local park for our Annual Summer Picnic. This year’s event, at Five Mile Lake Park in Auburn, WA, included a potluck and a bake-off — rich with delicious, homemade treats — fun and games and great conversation. Thanks to all who came out! 

In our line(s) of work, the occasional mis-interpretation (or mis-translation) is inevitable. Sometimes we hear something wrong, sometimes Freud slips in, sometimes we rely on a false friend, sometimes... we’re simply human. The stakes can be high, this is true, but today, as the sky darkens and the chill settles in, we’re looking to lighten the mood with some — if only in retrospect — less than serious slips of the tongue. 


“I have had a few bloopers in my interpreting career. The most recent one involved a female LEP having an annual physical exam; when the provider told the patient she was going to feel her neck for thyroid disorder, I somehow interpreted it as ‘prostate disorder.’ The patient looked at me, then looked down at herself and said: ‘I am sorry, but I don’t think I have a prostate.’ It was a really embarrassing moment!”
—Howard Chou, interpreter (Cantonese/Mandarin – English) 

“An awkward experience of mine had to do with an elderly hospice patient who used her home visits to reminisce about her love life with her late husband and ask the social worker about her own love life.”
—JN Martin, interpreter (Spanish/Mixtec – English)

“Suffice it to say there was a miscommunication about how to give a urine sample.”
—Emily Lemonds Ewing, interpreter (Spanish – English) 

“Mine involved what I thought was a direct translation of ‘preserves,’ as in jam or marmalade, into Spanish. ‘Un bote de preservativos,’ I said—to an audience made up almost entirely of 13-year-olds. That, in fact, is not how you say ‘preserves’ in Spanish. Plus, ‘preservativos’ aren’t generally found in a jar. Awkward, indeed.”
—Brianna Salinas, translator (Spanish – English) 

“I was interpreting a telephonic arraignment for a suspended license:
    - Judge: ‘When do you plan to get your license?’
    - Interpreter: ‘¿cuándo piensa sacar la licencia?’ 
    - Defendant: ‘¿mande?’
    - Interpreter: ‘What?’
    - Judge: ‘I think he said Monday.’
    - Interpreter: 🤔”
—Deirdre Ruth Murano, interpreter (Spanish – English)

“It involved a mail-order bride, lots of profanity, and my kid playing trains on the floor by the phone. Never again!”
—Elizabeth Adams, translator (Russian – English) 


Have you got something awkward/funny to share? Send it by email to social@notisnet.org and we'll include it in our next “Oops!” feature. 

NOTIS also offers a variety of on-demand webshops. Watch them on your own time and in your own space, and earn continuing education credits! To learn more about our in-person, online, and on-demand events, click the button below:

Visit our full events calendar

Meet Our New Board Members!

Kay Heikkinen began as an academic, earning a Ph.D. in French literature which unexpectedly included a detour to study Islamic Spain. In midlife, she began working for an undergraduate degree-completion program and then went back to studying and teaching Arabic, most recently at the University of Chicago. During that time, Kay began translating Arabic literature and became a member of the Third Coast Translators’ Collective (TCTC) in Chicago. In 2020, she had the good fortune to win the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Translation from Arabic for Huzama Habayeb’s novel Velvet (American University in Cairo Press). Kay continues to translate actively now that she has retired to Seattle, and she has since joined NOTIS and begun to attend NW Literary Translators meetings.

Christina M. Woelz has been working full time as a Spanish interpreter and translator in the Seattle area since completing her certificate in Translation and Interpretation at Bellevue College in 2008. She has been a NOTIS member most, if not all, of this time. Christina started out as a medical interpreter, then moved into court interpreting. She is also a freelance Spanish-English translator and has taught Advanced Translation at Bellevue College.

Lately on the NW Linguist Blog 📓

We’ve been busy blogging. Click the link below to catch up:

  • Women in Translation by NOTIS Women of Translation
    5 NOTIS translators discuss their recent publications in celebration of Women in Translation Month
  • ChatGPT: A Translator’s Business Consultant (read or listen)–
    Tim Gregory demystifies the tool and explains how we can use it to our advantage 
  • Beware Scams Targeting Translators & Interpreters
    recent scams targeting T&I professionals; how to recognize and avoid them
  • Join the NOTIS Board of Directors–
    what service means and how to apply

Read our latest posts at notisnet.org/Blog.

Call for submissions ✏️

Want to be published in a NOTIS blog or newsletter? We accept a wide variety of content on a rolling basis, including: articles, personal and professional anecdotes, comics, translations (prose, poetry, journalism), recipes, miscellaneous industry updates, etc...

Submissions are open for our Annual Newsletter, which will be released in early December. 
➡️ Submission deadline = 10 November ⬅️

For more information about submissions, check out this blog post! Have a question? Ready to submit? Email social@notisnet.org.

Also of Note 🗒️ 

Have something to share? Send your calls for submissions or proposals, your latest publications, your upcoming events (or those of your friends), and other exciting updates to social@notisnet.org

  • Congrats to our 2023 Membership Development Grant recipients: James Martin, Catherine Bedeski, Shelley Fairweather-Vega, Charlotte Schwennsen, Diana Malach, and Zakiya Hanafi!
  • New NW Literary Translators pages are up on the NOTIS website and on bookshop.org!
  • Announcing the Fall 2023 Cycle of the of the “Discover Healthcare Interpreting” CoreCHI Scholarship! CCHI will award up to five (5) scholarships during this round in the amount of $231 each. Applications are due by October 31. Learn more and apply here.
  • Check out this brilliant translation by new NOTIS member Sabrina Fountain: “Mismarriage” (“Smatrimoni”), an excerpt of Leonardo G. Luccone’s 2022 novel Il figlio delle sorelle. The piece was recently published online in a beautiful bilingual presentation by the people at Exchanges: Journal for Literary Translation.
  • A round of applause to translators and Slavic Studies professors Sasha Senderovich (University of Washington) and Harriet Murav (University of Illinois), who were recently awarded a two-year grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) for their translations, from Yiddish and Russian, of short stories about the Holocaust by Jewish writers from the Soviet Union. Read more about their project here
  • Congratulations to poet Ricardo Ruiz, whose 2022 book of poetry, We Had Our Reasons — a bilingual edition with translations by NW Literary Translator Brianna Salinas — was recently awarded the 2023 Washington State Book Award for Poetry. Info & purchasing options here
  • Call to Poetry Translators: Second Cycle of Mo Habib Translation Prize! Established in partnership with the Mo Habib Memorial Foundation and Deep Vellum Publishing, this prize aids in the publication and dissemination of exceptional English-language translations of Persian literary works. This cycle’s focus is on Persian poetry. Read more about the prize here, on the UW’s Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures blog. The submission deadline is March 1, 2024.

Artwork by Amelia Ossorio, UW MELC student


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