AIIC Conversations

AIIC presents CONVERSATIONS – a series of talks among conference interpreters about their profession and craft. Created by Lourdes de Rioja and Luigi Luccarelli with AIIC coordination and support by Gisèle Abazon, CONVERSATIONS will be rolled out in September 2016 with four videos exploring the lives of diverse groups:

Interpreters working on staff at international organizations …
Consultant interpreters serving a broad clientele …
Young interpreters addressing how they entered the field …
Trainers commenting on trends in professional development.

Watch for more information on AIIC’s website and social media channels. And come back in September to join us in the conversation!

And subscribe to AIIC YouTube channel!

AIIC Frequently Asked Questions

Over seventy years ago interpreting found itself at a crossroad. Technological progress allowed for a substantial change in the way interpreters carried out their work and simultaneous interpreting was born. And with it, new job opportunities were created as well.

In these seven decades, simultaneous interpreting has gone from something unusual and extraordinary to a job tens of thousands perform in their daily lives. And technology hasn’t stopped evolving either, offering even more opportunities to interpreters… Are we facing a new crossroad? What will our future look like?

Will new generations of interpreters be allowed to play a role in whatever is going to happen?

Diego García Cruz es intérprete freelance, antiguo presidente de EspAIIC y miembro del Consejo de AIIC por España. Miembro en la actualidad de la Comisión Disciplinaria de AIIC. @garciacruzdiego

Erik HERTOG, Interpreters in conflict zone

Conflict Zone Field Guide for Civilian Translators/Interpreters 

and Users of Their Services

Translators/Interpreters (T/Is) contracted to work in conflict zones are often non-professional linguists yet play a key role in communications. Operating in high-risk environments, they are extremely vulnerable and require special protection both during and after the conflict. Users of T/I services must be aware of their responsibilities to T/Is and of the need to continuously protect them. At the same time, T/Is themselves must know their rights as well as uphold the standards and ethics of the language profession to enhance their safety and standing. This document is a guide to the basic rights, responsibilities, and practices that the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), the International Federation of Translators (FIT), and Red T recommend to T/Is and users of their services. It applies to T/Is serving as field linguists for the armed forces, journalists, NGOs, and other organizations in conflict zones.

For Translators/Interpreters

Rights

Protection
You have a right to protection both during and after the assignment. If necessary, this should include your family as well. You should be provided with protective clothing and equipment, but not arms. As a civilian, you are not required to wear a uniform unless you consent to do so.
Medical and psychological assistance must be made available to you. Prior to deployment, you should be given security and emergency training.
Support
You have a right to support throughout your assignment, e.g., to appropriate comforts and facilities in the field or at the base.
Limits
The limits to your role must be clearly defined. You have the right to refuse a task that compromises your professional or personal standards and ethics and/or unduly endangers your safety.
Briefing
You should be briefed about the general and specific context of your assignment.
Conditions
You have a right to pay and other contractual provisions that reflect the hazardous conditions. Working hours should be reasonable and periodic breaks given.

Responsibilities

Impartiality
Regardless of who engages you, serve all parties equally without expressing your opinions or sympathies. You cannot be an advocate for any cause and must declare any conflict of interest.
Confidentiality
Preserve the confidential nature of any information you obtain from any party in the course of your work. Do not divulge it to anyone or use it for personal gain.
Accuracy
Convey as faithfully as possible the messages of all parties. To do so…
– Learn the basic skills of interpreting, i.e., listen carefully to what is being said, render it clearly into the other language, and be sensitive to cultural nuances as well as non-verbal cues.
– Prepare for assignments by learning special vocabulary, acronyms, jargon, etc., and familiarize yourself with accents, gestures, customs, etc.
– Take notes if it helps your memory.
– Do not censor or modify the information conveyed by the speakers.
– If necessary, ask for clarification, request that a speaker slow down, or signal to the speaker if he/she is not being understood.

For Users of Translator/Interpreter Services

Rights

You have the right to an accurate translation/ interpretation of your message. By meeting the responsibilities listed below, you will assist the T/I in achieving that objective.
Responsibilities:
Respect
T/Is are the link between you and the people of the country in which you are working. Respect the T/Is and they will respect you. Rank may be established but not abused.
Protection
T/Is may be at risk by working for you. Whether or not you are contractually responsible, protect them and, if necessary, their families both during the assignment and afterward.
– Do not arm them.
– Provide them with protective clothing and equipment, but do not require them to wear uniforms unless they consent to do so.
– Do not release names, addresses, or pictures of T/Is without their permission.
Support
Support your T/Is by providing them with appropriate comforts and facilities in the field and at the base. Be aware of their needs and worries.

Role definition
Clearly define the role of the T/I. Explain operational requirements and chain of responsibility. Generally, do not assign tasks not related to translating/interpreting, and be aware that T/Is have the right to refuse if the task compromises their professional or personal standards and
ethics and/or safety.
Planning
Interpreting requires concentration, which is difficult to maintain in a conflict situation. Agree on working hours, breaks, etc. When using T/I services, factor in additional time and other logistical requirements.
Briefing
Brief T/Is generally and specifically before each assignment concerning context and purpose. Explain special vocabulary, acronyms, jargon, etc.
Assessment
If required to assess a T/I’s performance, be fair and use an appropriate assessment system. Monitor whether messages are being conveyed accurately, but understand that interpreting is not word for word and that your original message must be clear. Criticism should be made in private. Rewards, recommendations, etc. should be given where due.

How to work with Translators/Interpreters

Positioning
Position yourself, the T/I, and the other party in a roughly triangular formation. Make sure that you, the T/I, and the other party can all see and hear each other. Introduce yourself and the T/I, explaining the T/I’s role. Speak to and look at the other party, not the T/I.
Speaking
The T/I waits for you to speak and interprets when you pause. The amount of information a T/I can absorb and accurately render depends on his/her skill level.
– Use relatively simple words and short, logical sentences.
– Speak clearly and not too quickly.
– Try to avoid slang, acronyms, jargon, or references not understandable in another culture.
– Note that humor, while helpful in reducing tension, is difficult to translate.
– Be aware of your own accent, dialect, and speech pattern, and how they may affect the T/I’s work.
– Be aware of what you say and how you say it.

Checking
You are responsible for ensuring that messages are understood by all parties. If you have not understood what the other party said, ask them to repeat and/or clarify. If you think the other party has not understood what you said, confirm that the T/I has understood you. However, avoid holding private conversations with the T/I unless the other party knows generally what you are discussing.
Control
Do not delegate responsibility to the T/I. They should not make a statement or ask a question on your behalf; they only translate what you say. Remain in charge of the proceedings, but seek the T/I’s advice where necessary and appropriate.

Conflict Zone Field Guide for Civilian Translators/Interpreters and Users of Their Services, Version 3/2012

Published by:
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Linda FITCHETT, President of AIIC

AIIC is the only global association of conference interpreters. Since the very early days of modern conference interpreting, AIIC has promoted high standards of quality and ethics in the profession and represented the interests of its practitioners.

Who are we?

AIIC is an open and representative professional organisation of staff and freelance conference interpreters, with over 3,000 members in 100 different countries.

What do we do?

AIIC is active in all areas affecting conference interpreting and works for the benefit of all conference interpreters and for the profession as a whole.

AIIC sets professional and ethical standards for the profession and promotes the working conditions that high quality interpreting requires. The Association also contributes its expertise to ensure that future generations of interpreters will be trained to today’s high standards.