Words at war: Protecting interpreters

The world cannot function without translators and interpreters: We help the public stay informed by interpreting for journalists; we keep everyone safe by translating terrorism chatter pulled from the airwaves; we assist with delivering humanitarian aid to those in need; we act as language bridges for armed forces; we ensure due process and justice in courts and tribunals; we facilitate truth and reconciliation proceedings; we keep peace negotiations going in various international forums. And we transcend conflict by translating culture to reach people everywhere.

But we are at risk. Linguists working for the military are kidnapped, tortured and beheaded as traitors; prison camp translators are prosecuted as spies; court interpreters receive death threats; fixers are persecuted for doing their job; and literary translators are incarcerated for content. The simple practice of our profession makes thousands of us vulnerable to loss of life, limb and liberty.

Currently, translators and interpreters are not specifically protected by international legislation. As a professional category, we fall through the cracks in the Geneva Conventions and, unlike journalists, we are not covered by a resolution. This must change. A UN Resolution would be a first step toward ensuring our protection under international law, and it would mandate member states to prosecute crimes perpetrated against us.

Please sign this petition and let the UN know that the time to protect translators and interpreters is now!

Technology In Interpreter Training

Breaking Up is Easy to Do… If You Have a Smartphone

Published in Science of Relationships

John Mayer is apparently a trend-setter among celebrities. The singer/guitarist reportedly dumped Katy Perry by email and Jennifer Aniston with a text message (recommendation: if you are dating John Mayer, hide his iPhone). And Taylor Swift is said to have been the recipient of a break up voicemail (although not from Mr. Mayer). Is this form of calling it quits isolated to just our friends in the entertainment industry or is it common among the rest of us?

Have you ever been dumped over email? Would you text a (soon-to-be-former) partner to let them know it was over? heyyy we r over bye. Technology provides many options for communicating a desire to break up while allowing us to avoid the awkwardness of dumping someone face-to-face. But how often do people use technology to break up, and are some people more likely to do it than others (or be the recipient of it)? Continue reading

Teaching Interpreting Online… Means Overcoming Misunderstandings

We made a unique decision when we were setting up the Master of Conference Interpreting on the Glendon Campus of York University, in Toronto, Canada. We decided to offer the first year of the program entirely online.

Doing so gave us tremendous advantages. We can recruit students from all over the world. We can hire instructors who have experience in any market, and with any international organization. We train students to be at the forefront of the use of technology in our field.

Yet training online also has drawbacks. This is because people come to us with a number of misconceptions about remote learning. In this video, we discuss three misunderstandings that we have to work against:

  1. Online learning is easier or less demanding than onsite learning;
  2. It’s hard to build connections between people online; and
  3. The online environment is simulation of the physical environment and should be understood that way.

All of these ideas are wrong. Before we can make progress with our students, we need to convince them that this is the case. Continue reading

Tackling speed when interpreting

Every interpreter knows from experience that, all things being equal, a fast speaker is harder to interpret than one who delivers their speech at a normal pace… So, what is a budding conference interpreter to do when tackling the challenge caused by speed?
The obvious response is to apply speed in turn – and, indeed, when confronted by a fast speaker, interpreters must always make their brain work as fast as possible!
But: does this necessarily mean they must also speak at top speed?
Well… as in pretty much everything in interpreting (or in life for that matter), the answer is: it depends. In an ideal situation, of course, our aim is to say everything we hear. If, however, this is impossible, in the split-second decision on how to respond to the challenge one goal is paramount: to never sacrifice the message, the point, the key idea or ideas that the speaker wants to convey to the audience. The speaker’s main message(s) constitutes the very minimum that interpreters must also make sure they transmit clearly to the audience that is relying on their interpretation.
Imagine someone introducing themselves with the following sentence: “My name is A B C, I am a conference interpreter in the Spanish booth at the European Parliament working from X Y Z, and I would like to thank everyone for coming”.
Say it is so fast that it is impossible to catch every detail. What would the most important part be, in the following situations?:

If everybody in the room is a conference interpreter, some staff some freelance
If everybody in the room works at the European Parliament, in different jobs
If everybody is a Spanish interpreter with different working languages
If everybody is an interpreter working from Y into their own language
If the speaker is chairing it, or if they are a participant
If the meeting was called last minute
etc… Continue reading

The future of conference interpretation

 

Introducing interpreting studies

A millennial practice which emerged as a profession only in the twentieth century, interpreting has recently come into its own as a subject of academic study. This book introduces students, researchers and practitioners to the fast-developing discipline of Interpreting Studies.

Written by a leading researcher in the field, Introducing Interpreting Studies covers interpreting in all its varied forms, from international conference to community-based settings, in both spoken and signed modalities.

The book first guides the reader through the evolution of the field, reviewing influential concepts, models and methodological approaches. It then presents the main areas of research on interpreting, and identifies present and future trends in Interpreting Studies. Continue reading

The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities, POLIS

 

Polis – The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities

The Polis Institute is an academic initiative of an international group of scholars and researchers specialized in linguistics and pedagogy, Classical and Near Eastern languages, history and ancient and medieval studies, who believe that languages act as doorkeepers for cultures. This observation is valid for modern and ancient languages alike. The Institute was founded to develop a groundbreaking methodology for teaching ancient Western languages and Near Eastern languages, both modern and ancient.
The history of the teaching of ancient languages in Europe almost amounts to a history of education in the Western world, which has focused for centuries on the knowledge of Greek and Latin language and literature, as well as on Rhetoric. The current loss of mastery of these languages makes it difficult for researchers to deeply and thoroughly understand the authors that have shaped Western culture for centuries, since most of the works of Antiquity and the Middle Ages have never been translated into any modern language.
The beginning of the 21st century has seen the birth of a movement of retour aux sources. Experiences of living Latin and ancient Greek have blossomed in North America, Europe and Jerusalem. The Polis Institute has developed its own method for teaching these and other ancient languages by full immersion, effectively bringing them and the sources of Western civilization back to life. Continue reading

Manage your breath to manage your stress

Namaste!
My name is Laura, and I’m professional conference interpreter and a yoga teacher. I have worked for 18 years for the European Commission (SCIC) and now I am concentrating on my yoga path. I know how stressful our profession as interpreters can be, especially when you start your career. That’s exactly why I started practicing yoga, and it has helped me immensely.

In these videos, I introduce you to some very simple tools to manage stress and anxiety, calm your mind and improve concentration.The most powerful tool we have is the breath, and by managing the breath, we can manage our emotions and get a clear and calm mind, exactly what we want in our work.

The breathing exercises I show you in the videos can be practiced anywhere, anytime, very discreetly, even in the booth before the start of the meeting, and they are guaranteed to put you in the perfect state of mind to face a day of interpreting. The techniques are safe and easy to use, even for beginners. A few minutes are enough to begin to feel calm.

Never force the breath, if dizziness or hyperventilation occurs, simply return to your normal breathing. By using this breathing techniques we are training, cleansing and quieting the mind. If you practice even a few minutes every day, you will see results in the way you handle the stress of the day. I hope it helps, and I wish you lots of joy in this amazing path of discovering the power of breath!

Laura Méndez Asbach.

http://www.yogawithlauralakshmi.com/