Saturday, May 28, 2011

resources for legal 'terps

A big thanks to Claudia Johnson at the very cool LawHelp Interactive who pointed me to a bunch of great resources.

The Sacramento Courts have one of the best legal glossaries in multiple languages.

She also pointed to the online interviews being created across the country for people who can not afford lawyers that are beind made available in English/Spanish. As she says "There is a huge movement to get the courts in the US to provide language services for all cases." Hallelujah! It's about time! This was one of the things that drove me out of court interpreting it drove me so crazy. She says:

Some of the forms have audio in Spanish: An example can be found here.

Some of the forms have “pop ups” where if the person clicks Espanol the interview proceeds side by side in English and Spanish: NYC Tenant Affidavit to Vacate a Default Judgment Program

And most of their interviews allow people to request printing the instructions in English and Spanish so that they know what do after they assemble the forms, like this

Many legal aid groups are working on making this type of service available, including Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Kansas, etc and it is a very good move forward in the area of access to justice."

I'll say! Thanks Claudia!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

clarify with your colleagues how you want to team interpret together

I was reminded by my fab compa Jeremy of the importance of sending something like this, so I just modified Jeremy's version and sent this to the compas I'm interpreting with this week. I know most of it is obvious, but especially when working outside of a booth and with folks who are newer at this, it's best to have clarity. I've worked even with professionals who have just wandered away from me when they weren't on! so this is what I sent, feel free to modify and use:

Lets switch off every 15-20 minutes. During the speakers this will mean every speaker, during discussion, keep an eye on the clock. The person not interpreting can be responsible for this and point to their wrist when it's time, but the person interpreting then waits for a good time to hand off, don't feel like you have to hand off the mike right that minute.

The person not interpreting is not off. You can go to the bathroom of course, but generally your job is to listen, and if your colleague seems to be struggling to find a term my preference is that you write it down and point to it. Let me know if you want that, or want me to whisper it to you, or just wait until after to tell you. Also please notice if we're using different terms and during break lets agree on one to be consistent. Please also write down any sticky or problematic terms to discuss during break, or other feedback.

If I'm interpreting and get up to walk around so I can see the face of the speaker more clearly follow me. Please stand close enough so that you can hear and so that you could help if I get stuck.

If you miss a phrase or two and start to falter, there is no shame in quickly passing the microphone. Better to give yourself a break and regain concentration than to push through por cabezón.

At the end of a session, or at the end of the day, let’s evaluate how everything went and how we can improve next time

Gracias compas!
looking foward to working together

Monday, May 9, 2011

translating theory in the world

A book-length translation of the work of Mexican feminist activist and social critic Marta Lamas has just come out, translated by John Pluecker, a reader of this blog. To quote John's blog directly

"The book is the first in a series called Theory in the World edited by Gayatri Spivak and Hosam Aboul-Ela, dedicated to translating, publishing and disseminating theory from the Global South. As the info page about the series states:

Despite the flurry of interest in translation studies, markedly less emphasis has been placed on the process of translating theoretical texts, especially those originating outside of Europe and the U.S. This series breaks new ground by translating book-length theoretical works and taking up the issue of the doubly marginalized text. Theory in the World asks a scandalous question: is “theory” different when produced in the postcolonial world? Has globalization changed the picture? Has localization, touching on transnational gender roles, embodiment, non-Western poetics, reading practice, and canon-formation survived? Finally, it asks how the classical questions of translation studies become altered in this previously ignored geopolitical context and looks at the ways literature and the pedagogy of the humanities take account of these alterations."

So cool! Congratulations John!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

why do people insist on using 'translator' when they mean 'interpreter'?

Interpretation is oral, translation is written. I must have said this one sentence out loud over a thousand times by now. My friends and family are sick of hearing it, but still get it wrong. Sign language interpreters never get called translators - why do we? I had great hopes that after the mainstream movie 'The Interpreter' came out (see it if you haven't!) people would be more likely to get this right. Ha.

I think people are reluctant to use the term ‘interpreter’ due to a common conflation of two different denotations of the term interpret (1: oral rendition from one language to another and 2: analysis of the meaning of a text). Again and again people have told me that they believe interpreters change the meaning and translators go word to word. Argh!!

It is true that untrained interpreters are more likely to change the meaning of what is spoken in the source language, simply because they do not have the skills and ethics training to avoid this while trying to keep up with fast speech. Untrained interpreters are also much more likely to mis-name themselves 'translators' - so actually, if someone calls themselves a 'translator' when they're actually talking about interpreting, I take it as a bad sign that they are likely to distort meaning when they interpret.

If just repeating interpretation is oral and translation is written over and over again does not get through to folks, what is a more effective and catchy educational one liner? Any suggestions?