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We Translate: A Look Into the Daily Collegian Translations Department

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"We translate" in various languages graphic for the MA Daily Collegian at the University of Massachusetts

Graphic by Maxwell Zaleski/Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The Translations Department at the Massachusetts Daily Collegian was started two years ago, and it is the first one at a college daily. The department has since expanded into nine languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The beauty of the translations department is that as long as a there is an editor and at least one translator, any language can be included.

What I do in the Translations Department

I’m the Spanish and German editor. My duties as an editor include reading the translated articles for any grammar mistakes, making sure that the articles flow naturally in the translated languages, and publishing the articles to the Collegian website.

Why I Translate

One of the things I’m passionate about is language. I always say that it’s how we keep the world connected. In today’s world, speaking or not speaking a language can sadly lead to unequal power dynamics — through translation my goal is to level the playing field for as many people as I can. 

Part of the Collegian’s mission is to make news accessible to everyone, and the translation department makes sure that that “everyone” includes not only English speakers, but also those who aren’t as comfortable with the language, or who prefer to read news in a language other than English.

How the Translation Process Works

The translation process works like a regular publishing process. The night before, or early on the day designated to their language, translators will receive a list of English articles published at the Collegian. Once the articles are received, translators have until 9 a.m. of the next day to work on an article. They then send the article to their editor, who then have until 5 p.m. of that same day to publish the articles.

What I Like About Translating

The best part of the translations department is that I learn something new about the University of Massachusetts community every day. Last year, for example, the Collegian covered the first-ever Amherst Town Council elections. By translating and editing the articles about the candidates, I got to learn a lot about pressing issues in Amherst, as well as how American local politics work.

Another benefit is that making news accessible to everyone doesn’t have to be confined to translations. Last week, I covered a talk with Ecuadorian indigenous leader Gloria Ushigua, who touched on topics of great importance to everyone in the community, such as: indigenous land loss, female leadership, and climate change. Because the event was going to be conducted in Spanish, I got asked to accompany a Collegian reporter to the event to fill any gaps necessary. The translations department head and the news editor and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to do an original article in Spanish. And so, the first-ever non-English original content was published at the Daily Collegian!

Who Can Be a Part of the Translations Department?

Any student who knows a language other than English is welcome to apply! While editors are typically native or fluent speakers, translators don’t have to have a perfect command of the language.

PS: We’re currently recruiting! If you’re interested you can contact the Traslations Department.

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