May 30 2006

Immigrants Make English a Priority

As Congress weighs a Senate measure to make English the national or common language of the United States, many of the immigrants the legislation would affect say they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The need to learn English” is what Colombian immigrants Claudia Lopez and Christian Echeverry say drives them to attend night classes twice a week at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, near Azalea Park. They do so even though they have to bring their two daughters because they can’t afford baby-sitting.

They know that speaking English can open doors. And despite concerns from immigrant advocates who see the language measures as divisive, some newcomers, such as Lopez and Echeverry, echo advocates of the proposed legislation who say the U.S. is within its rights to decide what language to call its own.

It’s one reason English classes are in high demand in Orlando, where the immigrant population has surged as more Mexicans, Colombians, Venezuelans and Dominicans discover Central Florida’s strong job market.

Whenever free courses are offered, community groups say, waiting lists quickly soar from dozens to hundreds.

“One sees more opportunities with English,” Lopez, 33, said in Spanish. “You can connect to other people and get better jobs. I personally think that Americans become exasperated when we don’t understand what they say. I get frustrated, too.”

The immigration-reform bill passed Thursday by the Senate included a provision declaring English the official national language, sending immigrants such as Lopez the message that they should learn English if they want to live in this country.

In Senate votes on May 18, an amendment made English “the national language.” Another called it “the common and unifying language” of the United States. Both proposals stated that government should not be expected to provide services in any other language, unless specified by law, as in bilingual ballots and bilingual education.

But the language measures, some critics say, do not address a real problem.

“The vote was a waste of time. English is the de facto language of government and business in this country,” said Kenya Dworkin y Mendez, a Hispanic-studies professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “The officialization of the language is simply a rhetorical exercise. . . . Hispanic immigrants are learning and becoming English monolinguals faster than previous generations of immigrants.”

Numbers show that Hispanics — now the majority of the U.S. immigrant population — are not only learning English, but also are losing their language in the process.

A 2002 national survey by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 60 percent of all Hispanics either are bilingual or speak mostly English. Moreover, 59 percent of first-generation immigrants eventually become bilingual or even prefer English. By the second generation of U.S.-born Hispanics, only 3 percent prefer Spanish.

“It’s happening with all immigrants,” said Eduardo Blanchet, director of Berlitz Language Center in south Orlando. “Nowadays, the U.S. government is desperate to find people who speak Arab, Farsi or Chinese, and the same government knows that the pressure on immigrants to assimilate has led many to forget their languages.”

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May 30 2006

Maryland Lost in Translation

Ask people which states have a horrible language problem, and they are likely to name Florida, Texas and California. Maryland won’t be mentioned.

It should be.

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In 2002, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law requiring all state agencies to offer oral interpretation and written translation “into any language spoken by any limited English proficient population that constitutes 3 percent of the overall state population within the geographic area served by a local office of a state program.”

Canada has two official languages. The United Nations has six. Because of the 2002 law, Maryland now has several official languages. The available evidence suggests that no one in Annapolis is quite certain as to exactly how many.

The Maryland State Board of Elections Web site offers translations into eight languages, two more than the United Nations attempts: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

By contrast, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Web site merely offers translation into French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. The Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration Web site is solely in English.


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May 30 2006

WCMC-Q Training to Focus on Communication

Published by under Interpretation

Communication between medical students and patients takes centre stage this week as Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) has begun a seven-day training programme for medical interpreters. A total of 25 candidates, selected from over 150 who applied, are attending the 40-hour ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme that started on Sunday.

They are the first professional medical interpreters to be trained in Qatar.

The course is run by experts from the Seattle-based Cross Cultural Health Care Programme (CCHCP), an organisation that has trained approximately 10,000 interpreters in the US, Canada and Japan since 1995.

The immediate aim is to train the participants, who are all fluent in English and one of four other languages, to work as translators and interpreters between the medical students and patients who speak only Arabic, Hindi, Tamil or Urdu.

A professional medical interpreter provides an immediate, accurate translation as the doctor – or medical student – takes a patient history, gives commands or explains procedures during the physical examination, and discusses treatment options. The interpreter also communicates discharge and medication instructions as required.


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May 30 2006

Hispanics: Business Ownership Key to American Dream

It can’t be denied — Hispanics and hard work go together like American business and cheap labor.

This partly explains why the rate of Hispanics who start their own businesses far outpaces the national average by a 3-1 ratio.

Many Hispanics see being their own boss as the only way to true prosperity here.

In 2002, there were 1.6 million Hispanic-owned establishments, a 31 percent jump from 1997. Today there are an estimated 2 million establishments with more opening each month.

Of those Hispanic-owned businesses, nearly half are owned by people of Mexican descent, and the majority are mom-and-pop operators

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May 30 2006

Pinal County Program Taps Migrants to Teach

Anticipating a desperate need for teachers in Pinal County, Central Arizona College and Arizona State University have forged a partnership that will funnel legal immigrants with international teaching experience, particularly from Latin American countries, into classrooms in the fast-growing county.

Students in districts such as Coolidge, Florence and the city of Maricopa will directly benefit from the Pinal Post-Baccalaureate Partnership, which also looks to diversify Pinal County’s teaching staff to better reflect the area’s growing Hispanic population.

“This program is a way of recruiting some people who are traditionally underemployed, bringing them to the county where we have need and giving the schools some qualified bodies,” said Ray Polvani, a consultant with Central Arizona College who helped brainstorm the idea for the program about a year ago.

Approved by the Arizona State Board of Education and in partnership with the Mexican Consul General’s Office, the program will recruit specific students, ones living in the U.S. legally and who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution but aren’t certified to teach in Arizona.

The 2 1/2-year postgraduate program will earn the student a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and a provisional endorsement in English as a second language.

Program administrators are specifically looking for Latin American immigrants who were teachers before coming to the U.S. The program, a first of its kind in Arizona, will fast track the students through the certification and master’s degree process in addition to offering a mentorship program.

In exchange, the students must commit to at least a three-year stay at a school in a Pinal County school district.


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May 30 2006

Bush’s Won’t Support Official-English Bill

Published by under Bilingualism

The Senate’s vote to make English the “national” language of the United States is largely symbolic, and even that is not likely to pass into law. Certainly not as long as George W. Bush is President of the United States.

What Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.) proposed has been tried before, and then, as now, political demagoguery got in the way.

It was August 1, 1996, and the now-infamous former California Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham had authored a bill to make English the “official” language of the nation. The ensuing discussion—about such things as citizenship and the melting pot—was loud and raucous—but even so, the bill passed 259-169.

This bill had teeth in it. It would have required most official documents to be printed in English and would have allowed (but not required) states to stop using bilingual ballots. The bill also contained logical exceptions for such items as public safety warnings and to ensure that criminals could be informed of charges against them in their native languages.

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May 29 2006

Translation to Be Supervised

Published by under Translation

China will set up a translation assessment panel to supervise the quality of translation work and regulate the market, which has long been plagued by disorder and unfair competition, industry management officials said in Shanghai yesterday.

The announcement followed the opening of the First China International Forum on Translation Industry at Tongji University yesterday. Nearly 200 scholars, officials and translation professionals from about 20 countries and regions attend the two-day forum.

Organized by the Translation Association of China, the assessment panel will consist of university translation professors, veteran working translators and other organizational professionals with years of translation theory studies and practice.

The panel will be responsible for assessing the quality of translation products, translation training institutes and programs, as well as evaluating translation service providers’ qualifications according to the country’s existing translation industry standards and regulations.

Assessment results will likely be passed on to government and market watchdogs. The group won’t have the power to close down companies that do unsatisfactory work, change school curriculums or force any organization to change, however.

It will have the authority to send out public warnings to businesses and consumers about translation companies that aren’t doing quality work.

China currently has more than 3,000 registered translation companies, which reported revenues of 20 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion) last year, up from 11 billion yuan in 2003.

More than 60,000 translators are employed by professional organizations, while several more hundreds of thousands of translators work part time or on a freelance basis.

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May 29 2006

Found in Translation: King’s ‘Dream’ Plays in Beijing

For months now, Caitrin McKiernan has gone from place to place in this city to ask Chinese people an unlikely question: What does the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mean to you?

The questions don’t end there, either. In most of these gatherings, she gets far more specific, burrowing into the history and tactics of the American civil rights movement.

“Who knows what the Birmingham bus boycott was?” she asked a group of university students in May. “What is a sit-in?” “What’s the meaning of separate but equal?” At the level of language, every one of those terms presents a formidable challenge, even to a woman who has spent years in this country and speaks fluent Chinese.

But language is not the half of it. How can one translate Dr. King’s actions into the realm of ideas for an audience in a city notably hostile to protests? How does one convey to Chinese people the meaning of the life of a man who died fighting for civil rights nearly 40 years ago?

The answers may have begun to emerge since the production at the National Theater on Sunday of the play “Passages of Martin Luther King Jr.” by the noted King scholar Clayborne Carson and based on the life and words of the American civil rights leader. Ms. McKiernan, who studied under Mr. Carson at Stanford and is the play’s producer, was prepared for any kind of audience response, from deeply moved to completely stumped and anything in between.

But the responses of Ms. McKiernan’s discussion groups and the reactions of her cast suggested that Dr. King’s message would hit home here, that Chinese viewers would see parallels to divisions in their own society. That prospect poses a thorny problem for the government, which, on one hand, has endorsed Dr. King’s work as a blow for the class struggle and against American imperialism, but on the other insists that racism and discrimination are purely problems of decadent Western societies.

During one recent discussion at a Beijing university, after viewing excerpts from the PBS documentary “Eyes on the Prize,” students explored their feelings on the discrimination they discern between migrant workers and more affluent residents of the country’s eastern cities. Others spoke about the inferior position of women in their society or of being treated badly during visits overseas or the predominance of American power in the world.

Ms. McKiernan has avoided lecturing her audiences, or even steering the discussions. “I don’t want this to be about what happened in the U.S. in some past year,” she said. “I want this to be about what discrimination is, and how it relates to your life.”

The talks have usually begun with an explanation of how Dr. King’s life came to mean so much to her, a Californian who first came to this city at 16 as an exchange student and had to struggle to overcome cultural differences with her host family. Then she studied Dr. King in college, and she has had him on her mind ever since.

“I realized that King was this great bridge between the United States and China,” Ms. McKiernan said. “China is an emerging superpower, and the U.S. is the superpower, and King is someone that both sides believe in, and can be the starting point for a dialogue about how we wish the world to be.”

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May 29 2006

Worry Over English Erosion Hardly New

The way we English-speaking Americans see ourselves at home and in the world is necessarily changing. No matter how often we hear that we live in a big, diverse, multicultural country and a global economy, it still surprises us to see English as just one of our languages, not the exclusive one.

That’s because many of us didn’t grow up with language pluralism. The multilingual packaging that frustrated the Sunday shopper is the result of the demands of a global marketplace that blossomed in the 1990s.

The North American Free Trade Agreement, signed in 1992 by the first President Bush, requires multilingual packaging. Companies want to sell to Mexico and Canada as well as the United States without changing their packages. North America is one big store, and customers are a picky lot.

Mexican law requires that if you want to sell your widgets retail in Mexico, the label information in Spanish must be equally displayed with the English. To put it more plainly: The English can’t be bigger or more prominent on the packaging than the Spanish.

To make Canadian customers happy, a manufacturer will want not only to be sure the commercial information is in French but that the French is idiomatic, as spoken in Quebec, not in Paris.

Americans have been worrying about the erosion of English for decades. It may be some consolation to know that our neighbors in Quebec complain that, despite their best efforts to foster French, English remains the dominant language in the world for business, science and commerce.

That doesn’t mean English will be our sole language. The 2000 Census also found that 47 million people — almost one in five — speak a language other than English at home. The vast majority said they also speak English well. Only about 8 percent of people said they spoke English less than very well.

The reality is that votes in the Senate declaring English the “national language” and the “common and unifying language” were purely symbolic. The measures wouldn’t change a thing, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said. In this country, federal law protects the rights of those who speak other languages.

A brochure, “Federal Protections Against National Origin Discrimination” by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, explains that federal laws prohibit discrimination based on a person’s national origin, ancestry, culture or language.

“This means,” the brochure says, “people cannot be denied equal opportunity because they or their family are from another country, because they have a name or accent associated with a national origin group, because they participate in certain customs associated with a national origin group, or because they are married to or associate with people of a certain national origin.”

The brochure is available in 17 languages, including English.

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May 29 2006

Fed Playbook Not Outdated by Globalization — Yellen

Published by under Globalization

Cheap imports from China and the new global workforce shouldn’t cause the Federal Reserve to rip up its monetary policy playbook, Janet Yellen, the president of the San Francisco Fed said on Saturday

“My main conclusion is that globalization has no impact on the Fed’s ability to control inflation in the long run,” Yellen said in a speech at the University of California Santa Cruz. But Yellen said she had an open mind on the topic and wanted to see more academic research on the issue

“We still have a lot to learn about the mechanisms through which globalization is impacting the U.S. economy,” Yellen said

Yellen’s view on globalization is important because they are known to carry weight with other Fed officials

But Yellen said she was not saying that globalization did not matter for Fed policy

“Shocks and persistent economic trends associated with America’s involvement in the global economy must be factored into the design of an appropriate monetary policy,” she said

Yellen said globalization could either cause headwinds, holding back economic growth, if commodity prices trended upward. On the other hand, global forces could act as a tailwind, from falling import prices, allowing the economy to grow at a sustained pace with low inflation

These forces may require monetary policy to be “recalibrated” on occasion, she said

But the Fed knows how to keep inflation contained in this environment, she said

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May 29 2006

Translation as Performance

Published by under Translation

n 1970, the American PEN had promulgated a manifesto on translation with a nine-point programme and a Bill of Rights. This manifesto not only recognizes the act of translation as essential to the future of mankind, but also laments the lack of recognition of the crucial role of translators in human affairs. The manifesto says:

Who knows the names of translators? Who cares? Yet the names deserve to be known and it is necessary that we should care about them. It is absurd that they should be relegated to their own private no-man’s land, with no court of appeal and without recourse to the usual benefits reserved for authors. They are the proletarians of literature with nothing to lose but their chains.

The manifesto, in effect, pleads for professionalisation and institutionalisation of translation as a serious academic activity, and asserts, what Goethe seems to have remarked, that “Translation remains one of the most important, worthwhile concerns in the totality of world affairs.” The significance of this assertion is of course quite obvious. Much of what we have learnt about Greek, Latin and other literatures have been through translations. Today, the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Buddhist scriptures have been held in high esteem all over the world because they are accessible to the non-native readers through translations into English and European languages. Imagine the state of Christianity today if the onerous task of translating the Bible into English by the collaborative endeavour of fifty-six learned men had not taken place about three centuries ago!

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May 29 2006

Generations Lost in Translation

Published by under Bilingualism

A crucial point is being missed in the debate about which of the 11 Liberal leadership candidates are truly bilingual. We’re not talking here about a university grad who burnishes his résumé when applying for a job in the private sector. Nor is this about a botanist who’s sweating a federal language test in order to land, or keep, a job in Ottawa. We’re talking here about the job requirements for the highest elected office in the land.

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May 29 2006

UNICEF Chief’s Theme for Middlebury Grads is Globalization

Published by under Globalization

“Globalization is not a prediction, it’s a reality,” Veneman began.

She cited the view of Thomas Friedman (“The World is Flat”) that international competition began with nations in the era of Columbus and other explorers, became competition between companies around the year 1800 when Middlebury College was founded, and now was between individuals.

To take part in the global economy, “all it takes is a computer and a connection to the outside world,” she said.

Reflecting on the way messages travel across the Atlantic Ocean 282 times faster than in 1492, she said that if the world physically shrank by it would be “just slightly larger than a golf ball.”

But also, Veneman said, if you can’t see the link with a starving child in Africa, “you simply are not looking hard enough.”

It matters to us, or should, that a billion people live on less than a dollar a day, she said.

You don’t have to look in the face of a dying mother or child to care, she said, “but if you do, I promise you it will alter how you look at humanity.”

Veneman spoke of the 12-year-old girl she met from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where rape had been a weapon of warfare. That girl, asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, said, “I want to be a nun.”

“One person who works to save a child is worth a thousand of those who are on the sidelines complaining about the state of the world,” Veneman said. “One person can help change the world.”

“I see in your generation tremendous compassion and integrity,” Veneman said, “a generation that is growing up in the belief that financial status does not determine its true worth. A generation to whom hard work, honesty and strong personal values are as important as ever.”

“Seek to continuously improve and learn,” she counseled, and “give something of yourself and help your fellow human beings.”

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May 29 2006

Accessible Globalization

Published by under Globalization

Why do firms continue to evaluate outsourcing and globalization? A 2005 study performed by IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center investigated the long-term effects of mature outsourcing organizations — ones that had outsourced a major portion of their IT infrastructure between 1998–2002 — and found that these companies continued to outperform their peers in Sales, General and Administrative (SG&A) efficiency.

Others can reap similar benefits without outsourcing significant portions of their organization, and this article analyzes accessible globalization — the trend to focus on the smaller, non-enterprise (anti-megadeals), and how companies utilize and benefit from outsourcing on a lesser scale. Let’s look at specific examples of lessons learned and provider capabilities in areas such as Application Outsourcing (AO), Research and Development (R&D), market research, office applications and analytics and accounting. Interestingly, it is not only labor arbitrage that is fueling this growth, though it does remain a critical factor.

Several research firms, including Gartner and Forrester, report that megadeals are shrinking in IT and business process outsourcing, yet Gartner predicts that the market will grow 7.3% from 2004–2009. This data indicates that the market is active, but full of smaller deals — many that never hit the public radar screen. Specific trends supporting this projection include that IT is breaking up into best-of-breed solutions, and there is an active market for smaller back-office and administrative processes such as Human Resources (HR) and accounting.

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May 29 2006

Ariz. Tribes Unsure What Hayworth Means

Rep. J.D. Hayworth is considered a friend to Arizona’s tribes. But sometimes they don’t speak the same language. Sometimes, for example, Hayworth speaks in overblown rhetoric and ends up insulting centuries of language and tradition.

Such was the case when Hayworth signed a letter written by Rep. Steve King, complaining about multilingual ballots. The unspoken target was Spanish speakers, a political can’t-miss these days.

But the words ricocheted toward the reservations in Hayworth’s district.
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The letter bemoaned a “linguistic divide” in the country. It also said government actions like printing ballots in different languages “contradict the ‘Melting Pot’ ideal” and are a “serious affront” to previous generations of immigrants who learned English.

Applied to recent immigrants from Mexico, those statements reflect a mind-set on the border debate.

Applied to the Indian reservations in Arizona, those statements sound as if Hayworth is against tribal members speaking Navajo or Hopi or Apache.

Talk of different languages hurting the ideals of the United States just doesn’t translate.

“I’m not sure what that means,” said John Lewis, executive director of the Intertribal Council of Arizona, after I asked him about the term “linguistic divide.”

The fear of languages other than English does not apply on reservations, Lewis said. Tribes fight to keep their languages alive as part of their way of life. That’s why the language Hayworth signed off on is puzzling to many tribal members who saw Hayworth as a friend.

“I’m not sure what his intent was, and there’s different ways to interpret what he said,” Lewis said. “I’m not sure how far he was going.”

Hayworth declined weeks of requests for a phone interview on the subject. In a written statement, released from his congressional office, he talks about making “an exception” for Native Americans. But it’s not clear whether that exception is meant to apply to the “linguistic divide” rhetoric or to the portions of the Voting Rights Act he wants to ditch.

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