Issue #6                                                                                                         November  2011   



Welcome to the 6th 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, what is the best source of information to help me with continuing education as an interpreter?

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news... or perhaps it's good news? The truth is that there is no single source! To be a competent and well-rounded interpreter, you need to tap into diverse sources of information. After all, interpreters never really know what term will come up next. Even if we understand the domain and are "briefed" on the assignment in advance, our lives are full of constant terminology surprises, and not always the good kind!

Thankfully, there is an array of resources for interpreters today -- and they keep multiplying! Some of the most important resources are right in your own backyard, in the form of trade associations and universities. Without these traditional foundation-layers, interpreters would not have much of anything to call a profession. I am often surprised by younger interpreters who feel that they do not need to be part of these somewhat "old school" groups.

However, I am equally surprised by how many veteran interpreters do not show an interest in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Not only are these great spaces to network with colleagues and learn about the profession, but they have the added advantage of being fun, too!

So, this month, challenge yourself to pick a source of information that you have not yet tried. It may just become a future favorite!

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

Send them along

How many skills do you need to be an interpreter?

Eighteen, according to the Interpreting Skills Map! This clever, interactive tool allows you to click on any interpreting skill you wish to learn more about, and then get access to more information about that particular skill.

Some of the information is basic, but it's still very interesting to see which skills are listed and why they matter for different types of interpreting. It's also a fun way to learn more about interpreting.

To take it for a test-drive, click here.

The Skills Map was created by the National Network for Interpreting, part of the Routes into Languages initiative, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

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

Send your ideas!   


She was once described as "probably the best diplomatic interpreter in the world." She earned such praise due to one of the skills that you'll find in the Interpreter Skills Map mentioned above -- diplomacy.  


Her roster of accomplishments included not only her work as an interpreter, but as a prolific writer, broadcaster for the BBC, lady-in-waiting to a queen, a friend to a king, a member of an official peace delegation, and First Secretary interpreter and nurse (yes, nurse!) to a prime minister.  


This woman was none other than Nadejda Stancioff. Known as Bulgaria's first female diplomatic representative, she came from a family of diplomats to begin with, but her individual accomplishments were quite impressive, especially given her gender and the era in which she lived. She even went so far as to ride a bicycle (gasp!) Quite scandalous for a female at the time. She passed away in 1957.


The story of Nadejda and her family is told with greater detail in a book called Diplomats and Dreamers. Nadejda certainly did her fair share of both, leaving behind a great deal of writing and memories in multiple languages. The book is based largely on her own letters to her family, and offers a fascinating glimpse at history as viewed from the eyes of this family. 


EmailWho inspires you?

Is there an interpreter from your country or field with a remarkable story? Send your suggestions for inspiring interpreters you'd like to see featured here.
7Last month, Interprenaut asked,

"What is the silliest question you've ever been asked about interpreting?"

Prepare to laugh! Here are some of the hilarious answers:
  • "You can listen and speak at the same time? How's that possible?"
  • "I've only got a few minutes. Can you teach me how to interpret?"
  • "Being an interpreter must be wonderful. All you do is walk around, talk and read."
  • "Can you translate this document into Spanglish?"
  • "Can you bring some of those 'radios' that do the interpreting?"    
  • "You were interpreting the presentation? But what do you do for a living?"
  • "So, you speak languages, right? Do you know them all?"
  • "I'm not sure if you can interpret it, but has he had diarrhea recently." (Yes, other languages do have a word for this!)
  • "How many dictionaries do you have to memorize to be an interpreter?"
  • "You're an interpreter? What kind of music do you sing?"
  • "You can interpret for him even though he isn't here, right?"
  • "How many languages are you bilingual in?"
  • "If you don't type his words into the computer, how will you know what to say?" 
  • (to a sign language interpreter) Have you ever encountered a deaf person?"
  • (to a Spanish interpreter) Do you speak Spanish?"
  • (to a court interpreter) So you use that little typewriter thingy?"
  • (to a telephone interpreter) The live interpreter is here now. I don't need you anymore." (Interpreter asks, "What am I, dead?")

Thanks to everyone for providing your feedback and enabling your fellow interpreters to have a good chuckle! 

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

Do you provide written translation? If so, why?

Click here to take this month's three-question survey.

It's confidential, it will take you just a minute or two, and it will make for great reading 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 survey.
6What a joy it was to discover Public Service Interpreting: The First Steps, by Ann Corsellis. There are not many books that discuss interpreting for the public service arena, so this is a welcome addition to the body of information on interpreting within national borders.

Some of my favorite parts of the book include Ann's overview, in which she states, "Linguists, and in particular translators, have a tradition of acting as catalysts for social change." I also particularly enjoyed pages 55 and 56, in which she discusses collaboration between different branches of interpreting. She describes a training at which conference interpreters and police interpreters were in the same session, and police interpreters kept getting called across the road to interpret at a police station. She explains that the conference interpreters "were fascinated by the use of registers and terminology they did not usually come across..." Indeed, public service interpreters are often fascinated by the work of conference interpreters too. We can learn so much from the many diverse branches of the interpreting profession, and Ann makes this clear.

However, most importantly, she delivers a great introduction to this "socially critical" area of interpreting. This book is part of a new series, Palgrave Textbooks in Translation and Interpreting.

You can order a copy of the book here.
Do you have a book you'd like to see reviewed by Interprenaut?
Send your suggestions.
Oh, how we can relate to this video!

Even if you don't speak German, you really only need to know one thing in order to understand this video -- that interpreting has a lot in common with juggling.

Watch this video, and the next time someone asks you why interpreters need a break every so often, consider asking them, "Have you ever seen someone juggle for more than a couple of hours straight? Imagine doing that with your mind. Do it for too long, and you're bound to start dropping a ball or two."
Grundlagen des Dolmetschens
Interpreting and juggling: more in common than you think!
Special thanks to Interprenaut's perennial favorites, the fun-to-follow Interpreter Diaries on Twitter and AIIC's wonderful Facebook page Interpreting the World for sharing this video!

And of course, thanks to the folks at the interpreting program from the Department of Applied Linguistics at ZHAW in Winterthur, Switzerland, including the star of the video, for making it!

EmailWhat are your favorite interpreting-related videos?
Share them and they may be featured in a future issue.
4Is consecutive interpreting dead?

This is the thought-provoking topic of the next online meet-up for the Interpreting Journal Club, also known as #IntJC on Twitter. You can join on December 3rd, no matter where you are in the world! The discussion points and access information are posted here. It's a fun way to connect with fellow colleagues, and to share your opinions too.

Participating in the live sessions is best, but if you can't make the exact time and date, don't miss the transcripts that are posted afterward! It will be interesting to see what the participants have to say about telephone interpreting, which is, using current technologies, still performed almost exclusively in consecutive mode.

Also, those interested in telephone interpreting may want to check out this webinar from eCPD, "Getting Started with Telephone Interpreting," which will take place on December 6th.

EmailHow are you connecting with other interpreters?
Share your favorite forms of staying in touch with your colleagues.
3It wasn't just me. Many viewers in China were fascinated to see this interpreter, who seamlessly rendered ancient Chinese poetry into spoken English. No, I'm not kidding.

Real-time cross-language transfer of poetry into speech? Not a problem for interpreter Zhang Lu.
Poetry interpreting?
I'd like to see what skills would show up for that on an interpreting skills map! Whatever they are, interpreter Zhang Lu appears to possess them. As an article about her states, "At the close of the National People's Congress, the world's attention was fixed on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's remarks, but it was Wen's interpreter who stole the show and captivated Chinese netizens. Beautiful female interpreter Zhang Lu's eloquent renditions of ancient Chinese poems catapulted her to fame with millions of TV viewers and netizens nationwide."

Zhang Lu is a professional who knows her stuff -- she has interpreted for Premier Wen and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
But you have to admit, interpreting phrases like, "亦余心之所善兮,虽九死其犹未悔" cannot be easy when such a phrase comes to you unexpectedly. Her interpretation? "For the ideal that I hold dear to my heart, I'd not regret a thousand times to die." Hats off to Zhang Lu for proving that, if it can be spoken, it can (and often must) be interpreted!

EmailDo you know of an interesting interpreting-related item?
Share it so that interpreters around the world can find out about it!
2Recent interpreting-related news items:

(Afghanistan) Interpreter Denied Entry to Canada Fears for His Life

(Afghanistan) What U.S. Military Interpreters Think

(Australia) Trial Aborted after Juror Criticizes Interpreter

(Bulgaria) British Ex-Pat Builds Interpreting Career Abroad

(Fiji) Man Held Until Interpreter Can Be Obtained

(Iraq) U.S. Withdrawal Leaves Iraqi Interpreters in Limbo

(Iraq) Remembering Iraqi Interpreters on Veterans' Day

(Iraq) Those Who Aided the U.S. Need Visas Now

(Jamaica) Deaf Community Lobbies for Interpreters

(Solomon Islands) Judge Not Pleased by Late Request for Interpreter

(Uganda) Deaf Woman Holds Secretary Job with Support from Interpreter

(United Kingdom) Polish Interpreters Speak Out Against Pay Cuts

(USA) Russian Interpreter Works for Hockey Stars

(USA) Interpreter's Voice Is the Tool of Her Trade

(USA) Deaf Couple Sues after Being Denied Interpreter for 25 Days

(USA) Armenian Interpreter Guides Patients and Staff

(USA) Medical Interpreters Break Barriers in Toledo

(USA) Schools Lack Interpreters for Deaf Students

(USA) Supreme Court Declines to Review Court Interpreter Licensing Requirements

(USA) Boxing Interpreter Jerry Olaya Steals the Show

(USA) Cook County to Add More Interpreters to Existing Staff of 49 Full-Time Positions

(USA) Need for Interpreters in Florida Keeps Growing

(USA) New Healthcare Interpreter Program Launched in North Carolina
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! 
I am elated and humbled to share that with a lifespan of just six short months, this newsletter now reaches more than 2,000 interpreters in 43 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. Postcards are currently en route to new readers in Puerto Rico, Singapore, and Bulgaria from Interprenaut! 


Telephone Interpreting

Subscribe and get a free 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.   


Interested in translating the 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? Do you want the world to know how much you love the newsletter? Email your suggestions, observations, and reactions.    


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"A court interpreter must love language, words, the history of words, and the interplay between language and culture."
-- Alicia Betsy Edwards

"I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!"

-- John F. Kennedy


"Someone once said that good interpreting is like air - no one notices it until it is polluted."

-- Kumiko Turikai 


"Hi-diddly-dee, an interpreter's life for me."

-- Interprenaut, channeling Pinocchio   

(C) 2011 Nataly Kelly                                                                        Issue #6 - November 2011