NCTA, Perspective

NCTA Member Spotlight: Jacki Noh

by William Giller

The goal of the NCTA Member Spotlight is to showcase our association’s diverse and multitalented members. Our next member I would like to celebrate is none other than Jacki Noh!

1. When did you first join the NCTA?

In the spring of 1986, while I was in college.

2. What motivated you to stay an NCTA member?

In a word, camaraderie. I felt at home when I entered my first NCTA quarterly General Meeting. Everyone was warm and supportive, especially the NCTA’s founding members and volunteers. I wanted to be a part of this beautiful organization and joined NCTA at my first meeting on a sunny Saturday in the spring of 1986. (Yes, I remember that day vividly!) Over the years, I learned much about the translation and interpretation industry from these friends and colleagues, numerous workshops organized by NCTA, and our own Translorial. I will never be able to repay NCTA for all it has offered me over the past 37 years. NCTA has always been with me through my triumphs and difficulties.

3. Are you more of a translator? Interpreter? Both?

I used to translate quite a bit, but now I am 95% interpreter and 5% translator. Occasionally, I am involved in an English into Korean translation project or translation review project directly connected to my interpreting assignments, but I no longer accept many pure translation assignments.

4. What is your language pair?

Korean – Native (A); English – Near-native (B)

5. Care to share a memorable professional anecdote?

There are so many wonderful and memorable anecdotes I could share! One such example I experienced back at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics during an archery press conference. Without getting into all the minutia of archery scorekeeping, a German athlete nearly earned herself a gold medal but ended up with a silver. A reporter later asked her how she felt about losing out on gold, and she responded: “Let’s not say I lost the gold… I won the silver!” I thought that was wonderful compared to the Korean women’s field hockey team at that Olympics. They also earned a silver medal but were all crying about returning to Korea without a gold medal.

6. What is something notable you have learned from an NCTA meeting or colleague?

From the get-go, I really liked everyone’s willingness to share. When I started, I didn’t have any experience. I didn’t go to school for translation or interpretation as no graduate school of translation and interpretation (GSTI) in the US offered my language combination. I had to wait several years but eventually found my way to MIIS. At the beginning of my career, I had to rely on NCTA members and was amazed by their willingness to share. Whenever I was in town, I would attend all the meetings and social gatherings. I didn’t know any Korean conference interpreters, so I would speak with Spanish conference interpreters to better understand the field. They would talk to me about everything I needed to know. I later tried to pay it forward when people starting out would ask me questions. That’s precisely how I learned! Plus, we have had so many high-quality workshops with talented experts. Now that I think about it, my first overseas assignment came from an NCTA referral – Acapulco, Mexico!

7. What do you think the biggest challenge our industry faces today?

I don’t do much translation, but I can speak from the point of view of an interpreter. Due to the pandemic, remote interpreting became an option for many clients, and since it has taken off, the overall quality seems to have gone down. I think there is no longer stratification between the quality of interpreters. You can be a remote interpreter if you have a headset, a Wi-Fi connection, and speak two languages. That’s been my biggest concern. That’s why I inform my clients I need to know who my virtual booth mate will be before accepting the assignment so that there are no unforeseen quality issues when interpreting remotely. Now, it seems to be a matter of professional fees. Professionalism is crucial, and we have to continue to strive for that. More client education is definitely needed.

8. Outside of work, what can you be found doing?

• Discovering new and exciting food wherever my assignments and vacations take me, as well as the culinary creations made by my loving husband. I am proud to be a genuine foodie.
• Reading fiction and occasionally non-fiction, most recently regarding our brain and memory.
• Watching movies, I am a movie buff.
• Taking a walk and talking, I never get tired of talking. My friend once told me, “No wonder you love your job, as you get to talk all the time!”


Do you think one of our members deserves some recognition? Nominate them to be our next NCTA Member Spotlight by submitting their name at publications@ncta.org!