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A Modern Language Analyst by Everette E. Jordan May 18, 2010

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Fun stuff, Translation.

As most of you regular readers know, I am moving in a few weeks and am purging my belongings. I have almost finished going through 8 years of ATA Chronicles and just found this little gem. For those of you who didn’t get the pleasure to hear him live, Everette E. Jordan was the keynote speaker at the ATA’s 44th Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona on November 6, 2003. He was the Director of the National Virtual Translation Center at the time. The NVTC is a federal center that helps translate a backlog of documents for the CIA, FBI, and other government agencies. I have since become disillusioned with the NVTC (and he is no longer the director there), but in my eyes Mr. Jordan was, is and always will be a rock star. He speaks a ton of different languages and is a very poised speaker (not to mention good-looking and a really nice guy who is devoted to his family). I have a framed photo of us from that conference in my office. At the time ATA and the federal government were really working hard to establish a relationship, and the NVTC was trying to recruit linguists for their herculean effort of translating the backlogs of documents.

Anyway, back to Mr. Jordan. He was an outstanding keynote speaker. In fact, I think this is the only keynote speech that has ever been reprinted in the ATA Chronicle. To end his speech, he recited a poem he and a colleague had written styled after the famous Gilbert and Sullivan song, I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General, to describe the job that a government language analyst performs on a daily basis. It brought the crowd to its feet.

I am the very model of a modern language analyst
I scan and translate info that the average person might have missed.
I’m quite adept at understanding language spoken quite absurd
If modesty permits me, I’m a master of the garbled word

I’m very well acquainted, too, with leaders quite political
And deal with situations from the mundane to the critical
I’ve heard the best and all the rest and dabbled in analysis
While trying to avoid the dreaded translator paralysis.

I’d like to think my studies have equipped me to work miracles
To tackle concepts ranging from the humorous to lyrical
I’ve met and mastered every grammar point designed to trip me, all
The adjectival short-form passive future participials.

It’s safe to say I know my subjects by their name without a doubt
I keep them on a list to say what’s hot, what’s not, what’s in, what’s out
My scientific knowledge must be stunningly meticulous
My slang and techno-jargon, all stupendously ridiculous.

For all and any question you encounter in this lurking trade
Consider me a living, breathing, walking, talking, language aid.
So when you need someone to translate what mere mortals might have missed,
Just call on me, the model of a modern language analyst.

If you want to read the entire Keynote Address, you can read it on pages 9-11 of the January 2004 issue of the ATA Chronicle, which can be found on the ATA website. However, you must be an ATA member to access old issues of the Chronicle online.



1. Alex Eames - May 24, 2010


It works too. I just sang it to myself. Question is, do i dare put it on my next podcast? 😉

2. jillsommer - May 24, 2010

I’m sure if you asked him for permission you could…

3. Alex Eames - May 24, 2010

I was thinking more along the lines of whether I dare publish me singing. But yes, you’re right, permission should be sought first. 🙂

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