Issue #12                                                                                                               May 2012  



Welcome to the 12th issue of The Interpreter's Launch Pad. This newsletter is designed to bring resources, tips, and a bit of fun to the lives of professional interpreters.


Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for countdown!

10Q: Interprenaut, how can I help promote awareness of the profession?

A: Be part of a global video about interpreters and translators! Grab a friend and a video camera, go to your favorite nearby scenic spot, and make a short video of yourself saying, "I'm an interpreter" in another language! (Or, if you prefer, you can hold up a sign that says "I'm a translator" in another language.) These short video clips will be compiled and used to inspire others about the importance of translation and interpreting in society at large, featuring interpreters and translators from around the world. In the process, it will help people understand the difference between these two profession. You'll also get to show the world where you live. And perhaps most importantly... it's fun! Ready to participate? Click here for all the details.

EmailDo you have questions or issues of importance to the field of interpreting that you'd like to see Interprenaut address?  

Send them along

Continuing Education Program on Interpreting in Palliative Care

This month's featured resource comes from the medical interpreting guru Cynthia Roat (author of Healthcare Interpreting in Small Bites) and co-developers Anne Kinderman and Alicia Fernandez. The field of medical interpreting is vast. Just think of all the medical specialties that exist, and you get a sense of the range of vocabulary that medical interpreters are required to employ. Medical interpreters must convey everything from speech therapy to genetic counseling, pain management to mental health -- and so many areas in between.
Medical Interpreter Scene in a Video from Interpreting in Palliative Care

It is always helpful when medical interpreters can get access to information about specific settings, which is why I was delighted to learn about this new program on Interpreting in Palliative Care settings from the California Health Care Foundation. This seven-hour, free online workshop for interpreters consists of lessons, videos, and other materials. Check them out!

EmailDo you have a resource you'd like to share with other interpreters?   

Send your ideas!   


The Interpreter from Whom Many South Africans Descended 


"It sometimes seemed as if she only had to hear a word or expression once to have it imprinted on her mind, so that soon she knew more Dutch words than any other Khoi-khoi man or woman..."


In my ongoing search for interpreters of historical significance, I looked for native interpreters in Africa and stumbled upon a book (quoted above) which tells the story of Krotoa (also known as Eva), a woman born in the 1600s who interpreted for Dutch colonists. She started out as a household servant but learned Dutch and soon found herself working as an interpreter in high-stakes settings.    


Krotoa was instrumental in helping negotiate the terms for ending the first war between the Dutch and the Khoi-khoi people. As was the case with many interpreters, she has also often been viewed as a traitor and a controversial figure. However, her role was so important that she became the first woman from the Cape to ever be documented in European records.
She bridged more than just language gaps. Her marriage was the first recorded legal union between a black African native and a white settler. She had many children which led to numerous prominent South African descendents as part of her bloodline later on. Some have even called her a mother of the nation


Who inspires you?

Is there an interpreter from your country or field with a remarkable story to tell? EmailSend your suggestions for inspiring interpreters you'd like to see featured here.
7Interpreting for victims of torture and trauma

Last month, interpreters were asked to share their thoughts on how to recover from interpreting extremely difficult situations -- especially for victims of torture and trauma. When asked what advice they would give to other interpreters, here are some of the highlights of what interpreters shared:

  • "It's typical to be deeply affected. That is what my co-workers reassured me of when I was worried that being affected made me look unprofessional."
  • "It is natural to feel absolutely nothing and to take a long time to process what happened. Give it time."
  • "Do not be ashamed of letting your feelings and emotions show."
  • "Know that it's normal to get involved emotionally. We're humans, after all. But aspire to stay detached enough to maintain a high-level of performance."
  • "Remind yourself that if you had not been there, the victim and family might not have had any voice at all."
  • "Think logically about the fact that bad experiences happen every day, and you're not responsible for bringing that message as an interpreter."
  • "Remember that this is your job. It isn't your responsibility to solve all of the world's problems."
  • "It sounds cold, but we need to keep reminding ourselves that this is work and that we are not the victims."
  • "As long as you're there for the assignment you have to cope. But afterwards, seek help - talk to colleagues, friends or professionals. Don't keep it to yourself."
  • "While you are interpreting, you have to go into auto-pilot and almost not let the words reach you. Once you go home, the words reach you and have their full effect, but you just have to keep in mind that as an interpreter you are making an essential contribution to bringing these terrible things to light. And hopefully, justice will be done."

The mission of this newsletter is to lift up interpreters everywhere, but especially those who interpret in such exceptionally difficult circumstances. Thanks to the many readers who shared their experiences and words of wisdom. 

And now, for this month's chance to share your feedback!

What's so special about interpreting where you live?

Do you routinely interpret at the Pyramids in Egypt? How about at the top of a snow-covered mountain? Or, perhaps you've interpreted underground in a tunnel -- or at extremely high altitudes. Or perhaps you interpret across from a police station, so in addition to normal background noise, you find yourself shouting over sirens each day.

Click here to take a quick, two-question poll to tell the world what you think is unique about interpreting where you happen to live and work.


The results will be shared in next month's newsletter.  


EmailDo you have a question you'd like to get input on from colleagues around the world?
Send me your suggested topics for next month's feedback section.  

6A Linguistic Road Trip

The books featured each month in this newsletter must be able to answer a single question with the word "yes." The question is, "Is this book likely to help or bring joy to interpreters, no matter where they live or what their working languages are?" A new book, Trip of the Tongue, by Elizabeth Little, nails it. The book is full of interesting stories about a road trip in which the author visits several different parts of the United States, encountering interesting languages wherever she goes. While the book does not focus on interpreting, it is a truly entertaining and enlightening work of non-fiction that anyone interested in languages (yes, that's you!) should enjoy. Listen to a discussion of the book on National Public Radio.
Do you have a book you'd like to see reviewed by Interprenaut?
Send your suggestions.
The Greatest Job in the World

Interpreting in a Globalised World (English)What's it like to be an interpreter? Hossam Fahr, the Chief Interpreter at the United Nations headquarters in New York says in this month's featured video, "To my mind, it's the best job in the world." Fahr is convincing advocate for conference interpreting and has many fascinating stories to tell (he tells a hilarious -- and embarrassing -- interpreting story in the forthcoming book, Found in Translation). Watch what he has to say in this video.

 EmailWhat are your favorite interpreting-related videos?
Share them and they may be featured in a future issue.
4Tennis, anyone?

It is always a pleasure to read blogs by interpreters, especially ones that profile other interpreters and bring the stories of these everyday heroines and heroes to life, showing others the diverse settings in which interpreters work. This blog post by Junying Kirk features her colleague and fellow Mandarin interpreter Bing Ling, who shares thoughts on her life as an interpreter, including interpreting for tennis stars such as Roger Federer.

EmailHow are you connecting with other interpreters?
Share your favorite forms of staying in touch with your colleagues.

Interpreting for King Richard the Lionheart 


Enjoy this little gem (extracted from this longer piece from the United Nations) on the role of interpreting in the year 1191: 


Although the need to communicate is as old as mankind and the mission of interpreting has always existed, the profession of interpreter is relatively new. This new role was defined in 1191 by Saladin, in a response to King Richard the Lionheart: "Kings meet only after the conclusion of an accord. In any event, I do not understand your language, and you are ignorant of mine, and we therefore need a translator (turjuman)  in whom we both have confidence. Let this man, then, act as a messenger between us. When we arrive at an understanding, we will meet, and friendship will prevail between us".


EmailDo you have an interesting story, example, or bit of news about interpreting that you would like to share with others?
Email it so that interpreters around the world can find out about it!
2Recent interpreting-related news items:

(Afghanistan) Military interpreters still waiting for visas
(Australia) New course addresses sign language interpreter shortage
(Australia) Not enough interpreters in courts
(Australia) Significant Auslan interpreter shortage in Victoria
(Canada) Remote video interpreting system used in hospitals
(Canada) Police begin using video interpreting services
(Cuba) Baseball interpreter bridges language gaps
(Ghana) Trial with notorious critical adjourned due to lack of interpreter
(India) Interpreters for Parliament employed but rarely working
(Ireland) Deaf patients deserve to have interpreters
(Japan) Telephone interpreting service will be offered through city line
(Namibia) Interpreter released on bail
(Sudan) Woman denied interpreter and sentenced to death
(Tanzania) Ethiopians have court date delayed due to lack of interpreter
(USA) Interpreters may help shorten hospital stays
(USA) Supreme Court rules that interpreting and translation are different
(USA) Interpreting the blues in Sign Language
(USA) Demand for interpreting skyrockets
(USA) Debate over who should pay for court interpreters in California
(USA) Deaf patients unhappy with video interpreting solution

EmailDo you have interpreting news to report from your part of the word?  

Send it along, so that your fellow interpreters can hear all about it. 

1Ready for launch? Before you head into orbit, please observe the following pre-launch announcements from Mission Control...

Just look how far Interprenaut has traveled! 
Each month, Interprenaut visits nearly 3,000 interpreters in 68 countries! If you live in a country that is not listed here, send in your mailing address via email to receive a postcard via regular mail.    


A new book that's all about you!

Make sure to get your copy of Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World, forthcoming from Perigee/Penguin USA in October 2012. This book explores the many ways in which your work shapes society, everything from sports to entertainment, politics to religion, even love and war! Co-authored with Jost Zetzsche, this book will help your neighbors, friends, and clients see why translators and interpreters are essential.

Telephone Interpreting


Subscribe and get a free telephone interpreting book!   

If this email was forwarded to you by a friend or colleague, why not sign up? Just click here to subscribe, or SMS (text) message the word INTERPRENAUT to 22828. All new subscribers will receive a free digital copy of the book, Telephone Interpreting: A Comprehensive Guide to the Profession. To purchase a hard copy of the book, click here.   


Interested in translating the telephone interpreting book?

Trainers, educators, and interpreters! If you would like to translate the telephone interpreting book into another language in order to use it to deliver your own training sessions or to use it as an educational material, feel free to get in touch. Translations for several languages are now underway!      


EmailYour comments are welcome!  

Do you have a resource you'd like to share with your colleagues? A book you would like to see reviewed? An inspiring interpreter you believe should be featured? Email your suggestions, observations, and reactions. To see what readers are saying about Interprenaut, click here.     


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"I had a dream since I was in the fifth grade that I wanted to be an interpreter, traveling the world and helping people."
-- Elena Lawler

"I got the idea of being an interpreter during a trip to the supermarket with my mother when I picked up a magazine for teenagers with some pages on careers. I didn't know the profession of interpreting existed
until I read the article." -- Odin Barrán

"I want to learn English so I can work as an interpreter and present our country the right way."

-- North Korean Prison Guard, according to journalist Euna Lee 


"Interpreting is the stuff that dreams are made of."

-- Interprenaut (channeling Humphrey Bogart, who was channeling Shakespeare)

(C) 2012 Nataly Kelly                                                                               Issue #12 - May 2012