New Spanish Certification Test Created

Students of most major foreign languages can demonstrate their skill level via a variety of internationally-recognized tests, including the TOEFL and IELTS for English, the DALF for French and the Goethe-Zertifikat for German.


Spanish Certification


Until just a couple of months ago, however, Spanish had no international exam for certifying proficiency.

This unfortunate situation has now been remedied with the creation of the SIELE (Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española) exam, developed jointly by Spain’s Cervantes Institute and the prestigious National Autonomous University of Mexico and University of Salamanca, the two largest and oldest centers of higher learning in the Spanish-speaking world, respectively.

Presented by Spain’s King Felipe – who said “We were missing a flexible, highly respected certificate of proficiency in Spanish as a foreign language along the lines of those offered for the English language” in his speech delivered in Mexico City this past July 2 – this new exam has a pan-Hispanic approach, specifically including Spanish’s different linguistic varieties and different geographic variations. It is hoped that this will allow it to become a globally recognized language certificate.

The SIELE will be available at the start of the next academic year in three countries: Brazil, with 120 test centers, the U.S. with 100 test centers, and China, with 61. The forecasts are for some 300,000 candidates the first year alone, with that figure predicted to rise to 750,000 within the first five years. The cost for all four parts of the exam is expected to be about $100, though this may vary from country to country.

Thoroughly modern, this exam – which tests the four core communication skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening – will be taken on-line and can be administered practically anywhere in the world. Not a level-based pass/fail exam, the SIELE is an adaptable placement test that picks the exercises test-takers complete based on their previous responses, returning a proficiency score ranging from 0 to 1,000. Candidates may choose to take any or all of the sections.

The reading and listening portions will be evaluated immediately, while the writing and speaking tests (this latter is recorded in case the grade is contested) will be evaluated by qualified experts using grading scales and will be available within three weeks. Disputes will be settled by a second evaluator. Those taking all four sections will receive a certificate, while those taking one to three sections will receive the graded exams. Results will be valid for two years. The scores given will correspond to the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, with the award of an A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 or C2 certificate, depending on the level of mastery achieved, for those taking the entire exam.

The U.S. – Number One in Spanish Speakers by 2050

Español en USA

Today, more than 548 million people – or 6.7% of the world’s population – speak Spanish, and for 470 million of these, Spanish is their native or dominant language, according to the “El Español: Una Lengua Viva” report issued by Instituto Cervantes.

Mexico tops the list with almost 121 million Spanish speakers, followed by Colombia and Spain, with 48 million and 46 million, respectively. In the US, there are 41 million people with Spanish as their native or dominant language, but if you include the 11.6 million second- and third-generation “limited competence” speakers, the total surpasses the number of Spanish speakers in Mexico, Colombia and Spain. The highest concentrations of Spanish speakers can be found in the country’s south and south-west, where 47% of New Mexico residents, 38% of California and Texas residents, and 30% of Arizona residents are Spanish speakers. In the east, 18% of New Yorkers are Spanish speakers. Surprisingly, 6% of Alaska residents also speak Spanish.

For demographic reasons, the growth of Spanish is outstripping that of English and Chinese (the overall percentages of speakers of these languages are decreasing) globally, while some 21 million people are studying Spanish worldwide (7.8 million in the US); Spanish is also the third-most used language used on the Internet. According to this report, by 2030, 7.5% of the world’s population will speak Spanish, and it is predicted that this figure will reach 10% within two or three generations.

In the US, the number of Spanish speakers (native speakers, limited competence speakers and students of Spanish) is expected to reach 138 million, or about 30% of the population by 2050.

Translation events – July 2015

translation events2

The Internationalization Readiness Checklist. Globalization and Localization Association. Webinar


5th IATIS Conference. International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies. Belo Horizonte, Brazil


International Network for Terminology (TermNet). International Terminology Summer School 2015. Cologne, Germany


The Local App: Language and Culture in a Flat World
Middlebury Language Schools. Middlebury, Vermont / MIlls College, California, USA


Alolita Sharma on internationalizatio­n and localization at Twitter
The International Multilingual User Group (IMUG), California, USA


Supreme Courts of Arkansas & Louisiana Admin Office of Courts’ Court Interpreter Programs of Mississippi & Tennessee 2015 Legal Interpreting Seminar. Little Rock, A. USA


13th International Linguistics Olympiad. IOL. Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Starting a career in translation

translator careerIn a world whose globalized market means that the positive or negative evolution of one nation’s economy can have effects – sometimes devastating – across the planet, there is one industry that has continued to grow both in complexity and extension due to a seemingly never-ending demand for information sharing: the translation industry. Recent studies from Common Sense Advisory reveal that the translation industry is estimated to be worth over $33.5 billion globally, with predictions by some that it could reach $39 billion by 2018. In the US, this means some additional 12,400 jobs – a 36% increase – by 2019. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts a whopping 46% percent growth between 2012 and 2022, far greater than the average 11% growth for all careers.

Two factors are driving this exponential growth, and both seem to be long-term trends: businesses expanding to new markets abroad, and increased immigration

With this increasing demand for translators, it’s logical to ask how exactly does one become a translator.

Most translators arrive at their profession via two main paths: education or practical experience.

More and more universities are offering degrees or professional certificates in translation (or translation and interpreting), and there are also, of course, the traditional on-campus programs as well.

Another option, and one that is actually quite common, is to use the experience gained from working as a professional in another field – law, architecture and medicine are common – and apply it to translation work.

Speaking a second language, though, is not enough: Regardless of the path chosen, there are requirements that any translator must meet, and these include native-level language ability in the language you wish to translate into (professional translators generally translate into their native language only); an outstanding knowledge of the foreign language you are translating from, including cultural nuances; excellent writing skills (you must be able not only to understand the source text, but also replicate its style and register); analytical skills (to understand what you read); research skills (for terminology); and IT skills (technology plays an increasingly important role in today’s translation industry, and is key to an efficient business operation).

And there’s another personality trait that can make you a top-level translator: curiosity. Curiosity drives the translator to learn new skills, look up unfamiliar words, research unfamiliar subjects and, in general, to nose around the topic of the translation at hand until he not only understands the words in the translation, but the concept as well.

Most translators work as freelancers; in the US, earnings average about $45,000 a year. However, depending on the language combination (translating from French into Chinese, for example, commands a higher rate than translating from Spanish into English) and the industry (a local community center or a Fortune-500 company), salaries can run into six figures.

One downside to the industry is the fact that there are few official standards that place limits on who can call themselves a translator, and few official bodies that certify translators (the main body in the US is the American Translators Association). As a result, the industry has been flooded with amateurs who attempt to compete with professionals, which makes degrees and certifications invaluable tools when offering translation services.

The exponential growth of the translation industry has opened the door to language lovers who have the skills and knowledge – and are willing to expend the time and effort to develop them to their fullest potential – to create communication bridges worldwide, and translation professionals are always glad to welcome fellow professional translators into the world of multilingual communication.

Translation events – June 2015


ABRATES VI. Brazilian Association of Translators (ABRATES),
Sao Paulo, Brazil


2nd International Postgraduate Conference in Translation and Interpreting Studies at Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland


5th IATIS Conference. Belo Horizonte, Brazil


InterpretAmerica, 5th Anniversary InterpretAmerica Summit
Ride the Way: Finding Opportunity in Uncharted Waters
Monterey, CA, USA.


Northern California Translators Association (NCTA), Workshop: Getting Started as an Interpreter, San Francisco, CA, USA.

13-14 2015 international conference Rotterdam, the Netherlands


Bridge for Out of Eden Walk: 21,000 Miles of Social Media in Translation. The International Multilingual User Group (IMUG).
Menlo Park, California, USA

Overcoming the Challenges of Agile Localization Globalization and Localization Association, webinar


Localization unconference, Munich, Germany


TAO-CAT-2015. Université Catholique de l’Ouest, Société française des traducteurs. Angers, France


Simposio Hispanoamericano de Traducción Especializada y Nuevas Tecnologías, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


IJET-26. Japan Association of Translators. York, UK


Translation Forum Russia. Business Bureau of the Association of Interpreters. Moscow, Russia


NZSTI 2015. New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters. Wellington, New Zealand

29-Jul 1

Game QA & Localization Europe,IQPC, Barcelona, Spain



When an English Rule Deserves to be Broken – Part II

English grammar rules

Continuing on with our last article, on English rules that deserve to be broken, this time we’re going to take a look at a longstanding “rule” that has dismayed translators, writers and students alike:

Double negatives are always wrong.

Taught since childhood, this rule seems to be a logical one: after all, our Math teachers taught us that “two negatives make a positive”, and this grammar “rule” boasts a long and illustrious history, first turning up as far back as 1762 in Bishop Robert Lowth’s A Short Introduction to English Grammar.

First, it’s worth noting that not all languages consider that double negatives resolve to a positive – including Spanish, Russian and Persian. The Spanish “No lo he visto nunca” (I’ve not never seen him”) simply emphasizes the fact that the speaker has never, ever seen the subject being mentioned, and puts into doubt the logical argument used to support the rule in English.

Second, even those languages that do interpret doubles negatives as a positive often have non-standard dialects where the construction is common, often with ambiguous meaning.

Chaucer commonly used double, and even triple, negatives – much in the Spanish style – for emphasis:

“Ther nas no man no where so vertuous” (“There was never no man nowhere so virtuous”)

Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales

If someone tries to sell you a ring made of a material that is “not unlike gold”, does it mean that it is gold?

“This accident is not unlike my dream,

Belief of it oppresses me already.”

Shakespeare, Othello

Finally, double negatives in English can be used as a rhetorical tool in “litotes”, a figure of speech that uses a negative to affirm a positive.

“I will multiply them and they shall not be few”.

Jeremiah 30:19

Obviously, here the meaning is clearly the opposite of “few”.

This device is always used deliberately to emphasize something by stating a negative to further affirm a positive, although context necessarily plays an important part in interpreting it, as in backhanded compliments, as in illustrator Mike Grell’s description of James Bond:

“Bond was not unattractive, but there was a cruelty about his mouth and he was more real than Hollywood has portrayed him.”

In short, some so-called “grammar rules” are neither grammatical nor legitimate rules, and there are circumstances in which others can – and should – be broken.

When an English Rule Deserves to be Broken – Part I

Unlike Spanish, which has the Royal Spanish Academy that – together with the other twenty-one national language academies in Spanish-speaking nations – ensures a common standard for Spanish, English has no such body. Instead, there are a number of rule books or “style guides”, each with its own set of rules and guidelines. The Oxford Manual of Style is one of the most popular for British English, as are style guides from The Economist, The Telegraph and The Guardian. For American English, The Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style are commonly used for most texts, while the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing is the standard for academic publications, especially in the humanities.

English grammar rulesThis lack of standardization has led to conflicting rules – some of which have no historical linguistic basis – and the perpetuation of what can only be called “grammar myths”, with the concomitant confusion about what “correct” English actually is.

Given this reality, what’s a writer to do?

For the first of this two-part blog post, we’ll examine three of the more common “commandments” that have no historical linguistic basis.

1. Never start a sentence with a conjunction such as “and” or “but”.

Inculcated in school children from the time they first pick up a pencil, this rule is useful for youngsters learning to organize their thoughts on a page, but has been repeatedly “broken” by some of the finest writers in the English language, including Shakespeare:

“And your large speeches may your deeds approve
That good effects may spring from words of love.”

King Lear

2. Never end a sentence with a dangling preposition.

Latin does not place prepositions at the end of sentences and, because Latin was considered at one time to be the “perfect” language and thus the model to be emulated, English grammarians applied this rule to English. Though first articulated by 17th-century English poet John Dryden, it became popularized in Robert Lowth’s A Short Introduction to English Grammar published in 1762.

Unfortunately, he seemed to be unable to follow his own rule, writing in the book, “This is an idiom, which our language is strongly inclined to.”

3. Do not split an infinitive.

Once again, Latin grammar rears its ugly head. Since Latin infinitives comprise a single word, they cannot be split, unlike English, whose infinitives comprise two words: “to + verb” (or the bare infinitive, the form used with modal auxiliary verbs) and, once again, prescriptivist grammarians applied the Latin rule to English, despite there being no logical reason for English infinitives to not be split. Henry Alford, the Dean of Canterbury popularized this notion in his 1864 book The Queen’s English. Perhaps one of the most widely known examples of a split infinitive can be found in the opening sequence to the famous Star Trek series:

“…to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

If you’re looking for a more traditional example, Robert Burns wrote in The North Briton, published in 1766:

“Is this the cue given him in his instructions, to boldly assert, that Englishmen are all born to be slaves to a few persons.”

Unfortunately, there are still a few diehards who insist on applying this senseless rule, including United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who unilaterally changed “will faithfully execute” to “will execute faithfully” when swearing in Barack Obama for his second term as president, causing Obama to mix up his words. This inevitably led to charges that his presidency was not legal because he had not uttered the Oath as written, and thus to the two repeating the ceremony – this time, word for word, the following day in the White House.

It is important to remember that many things taught as “rules” are nothing more than stylistic choices, usage conventions or, quite simply, preferences.

Our next post will debunk some more long-standing grammar myths.

Translation Events – April 2015

Translation events. April 2015


Localization QA for Responsive Design, Globalization and Localization Association, webinar


New Spaces of Translation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Université Denis Diderot, Champaign, Illinois, USA


 Conferência regional da em Porto, Portugal


LocWorld Shanghai, Localization World, Ltd., Shanghai, China


Elia Networking Days Lyon, Elia (European Language Industry Association), Lyon, France


The Future of Global Online Marketing: Localization Workflow and Optimization, The International Multilingual User Group (IMUG), Mountain View, California, USA


Seminario regional de en Córdoba, Argentina.
“Recursos informáticos para traductores”


Stories are the Fabric of Our Lives, The Content Wrangler, online


Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI). ITI Conference 2015.
Newcastle-Gateshead, UK


10th EUATC International Conference, European Union of Associations of Translation Companies, Lisbon, Portugal


2015 International Medical Interpreters Conference, International Medical Interpreters Association, Rockville, Maryland USA


International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA). 18th Annual International Congress. United We Are Stronger! Washington, DC, USA


ATA Spanish Language Division (SPD). Delaware Valley Translators Association (DVTA). English<>Spanish Translators & Interpreters Conference. Philadelphia, PA, USA

Sixth Language Creation Conference, CONLANG, Horsham, UK


Assn of Translators & Interpreters in the San Diego Area (ATISDA).
English <> Spanish Criminal Procedure Law Terminology Latin-American Reforms Workshop. San Diego, CA, USA


Thailand Translation & Interpretation Conference, Association of Asian Translation Industry, Bangkok, Thailand

30-May 3

NeMLA 2015, Northeast Modern Language Association, Toronto, Ontario, Canada



Keeping Your Translation Clients Happy

One of the most important keys to a successful career as a translator is keeping your client happy. To do this, it’s crucial to understand the difference between a “happy” client and a “steady” client. A steady client is no doubt happy with your work; this is a logical conclusion, otherwise he would not return with new job offers. A happy client, however, will think of you first when his company wins that large project. A happy client will value your attitude, reliability and accessibility and be happy to negotiate proper compensation for your work, knowing that there are no worries when he’s put the job in your hands. A happy client (if a project manager) may well recommend you to his colleagues, bringing you even more work.

Keeping your translation clients happy involves what is really a series of common-sense principles that will set you apart from (and above!) the rest, help you build a strong relationship with your client, and keep him happy so that he’ll keep coming back with those well-paid and interesting projects that keep translators happy, too.

translation customer and translator

Follow these tips to build the kind of relationship that will keep your client satisfied and your agenda full:

Be open and honest about your skills, experience and production. Clients need to know that you can handle the job. No one is an expert in everything; if it’s a field you don’t work in, just say so. Being honest builds trust, which is essential to keeping your client happy.

Keep the lines of communication open. This can be especially true with new customers with whom you haven’t yet established a relationship. If the delivery date is more than a few days away, consider giving a few updates as the days or weeks pass. This will let your client know that his project is important to you and that you are making good progress.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As mentioned above, no one is an expert in every field, and sometimes the original text itself needs to be clarified. Admitting that you need more information is not a weakness; it is a sign of a true professional and will be welcomed by clients who put quality first.

Be available to your client. One advantage of freelancing is setting your own hours; the downside is that you need to be available to your customers in order to assess and accept potential projects, and this can cause conflict with your work-life balance. There’s no perfect solution, but one way to set some limits is to make your availability (however many hours a day or days a week that may be) clear and then be absolutely consistent about sticking to it. This is also an important consideration if you work with – or are targeting – clients in distant time zones.

Stick to your deadlines. Your client will be very happy to turn the job over to you knowing that it will be delivered on time or before. Again, knowing that you can be counted on to keep your word is key to keeping a long-term relationship.

Pay attention to the details. Little things count! Attention to fonts, spacing, layout…even something as seemingly minor as whether one space or two should follow a period gives that extra bit of polish that will tell the client you care enough to offer not just a brilliant translation, but to deliver it in a package that’s good to go.

Overdeliver. A little “added value” can go a long way. Everyone likes to have his expectations beaten, and surprising your client with an early delivery or letting the client know when you spot a potential error in the source text will show that you value his business and want to contribute to his success.

Request feedback. The best translators know that we never stop learning, and some of the best folks to learn from are our own peers. Ask your client for feedback, if appropriate for the project, and take the time to study it. No one likes to make the same mistake twice (especially with the same client), and letting the client know you’ve studied his feedback and learned something from it is a way to show your appreciation for his time and effort on your part.

Finally, bill on time. It’s certainly counterintuitive, but customers sometimes find that translators delay billing them. Your hard work would generate the desire to demand the compensation due, yet it seems that invoicing is one of those “kick the can down the road” kind of tasks that some translators would rather do “mañana” because they’ve just received another “urgent” project request. Not only can this cause cash flow problems for the translator, but it can for his client as well. Invoicing a June project in October can throw off your client’s bookkeeping, and this will most definitely not make him happy.

As a freelance translator, you can win and keep happy clients who will offer you interesting and well-paid projects by following the tips above.

Let us know what you think.

Translation events – March 2015

Translation events


ATA 56th Annual Conference. American Translators Association (ATA). Miami, FL, USA.


GDC, UBM Tech Game Network, San Francisco, California USA


NITA 2015 Annual General Meeting & Translation Theories Seminar. Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association (NITA). Las Vegas, NV, USA.

Spotlight on Literary Translation in Dallas Irving, TX, USA.


Maximizing ROI for Machine Translation, KantanMT, Milengo, webinar.


tcworld India, tekom, Bangalore, India


28th Annual CATI Conference. Working Globally, Networking Locally. Carolina Association of Translators & Interpreters (CATI). Raleigh, NC, USA.


tcworld China, tekom, Shanghai, China.


GALA 2015, Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), Sevilla, Spain.


think! Interpreting, Globalization and Localization Association, InterpretAmerica, Sevilla, Spain.


Sixth Annual Translation Conference, Translation and Interpreting Institute, Doha, Qatar.


An Evening with Translators without Borders, The International Multilingual User Group (IMUG), San Jose, California USA


Mid-America Chapter of ATA (MICATA). MICATA Symposium 2015.
Continuing Education: The Road to Success for T&I. Overland Park, KS, USA.

The Translation and Localization Conference,, TexteM, Wantwords, Big Talk School, Warsaw, Poland.


4th Monterey Forum Educating Translators, Interpreters and Localizers in an Evolving World. Monterey Institute of International Studies. Monterey, CA, USA.


Webinars Proz.


Cursos presenciales. Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.