A couple of months into my graduate work, unable to understand what was happening to me, I pulled up Google and searched: Does grad school make you depressed? Shortly after, I melted down and confessed to my now-husband, “I don’t know if I can do this.” Until that moment, I’d been his happy-go-lucky girlfriend. I’d been a confident interpreter and boss of a large language services department. Having overcome some big obstacles, being on top of my game for many years, there hadn’t been anything I couldn’t do. That out-loud confession of feeling not-able-to was a turning point, the beginning of an unraveling. Continue reading “Time to Put on Pants”
Known for his “troublesome” pushing back against the status quo, Dr Jonathan Downie structures Interpreters vs Machines: Can Interpreters Survive in an AI-Dominated World?— his second book — as a game, and invites us to play.
OK, I’m in.
He speaks from his experience as a researcher and conference interpreter, but from the beginning he brings us all into the fold– spoken and signed language interpreters in every setting. No matter where we’re working, we’d all do well to pause and reflect on how we understand and talk about our work. The fundamentals of what we do and how we talk about it to clients also seem relevant to my previous work in running an interpreter services department in the healthcare setting, where even though in theory, the services were required by law and hospital policy, in practice, we still very much had to sell interpreter services (even though the service came at no cost to the users!).Continue reading ““Getting It”: One Interpreter’s Reflections on Jonathan Downie’s Interpreters vs Machines“
As a freelance Spanish interpreter working in legal, court, and conference settings, my days vary. A lot.
A bit of background first: I’ve been in the freelance market for two years now, and it’s been three years since I finished my graduate work in interpreting. Before grad school, I worked as a staff interpreter and an interpreter services supervisor for about ten years. Before that, I worked as a subcontracted interpreter for an agency for a couple years while I was finishing my bachelor’s degree in Spanish, and for a while after I finished undergrad. So while I’m not new in interpreting, I’m still pretty new as a freelancer.Continue reading “A Day in the Life of a Freelance Interpreter”
There’s a funny thing about feedback and interpreters. We all claim that when it comes to feedback: Tell it to us like it is! Don’t mince words! I can take it! Bring it on! As if feedback is this awful thing we must brace ourselves for.
I’ve (very generally) seen feedback divided into two main camps: We should be gentle in our feedback so that we protect the interpreter’s self esteem. Or, we should just tell it to them straight because this is the real world and clients aren’t going to handle them with such care. But there’s another approach that is considerate, yet straightforward: We should base our feedback on goals that are established by the interpreter so that it is useful. Continue reading “The Interpreter and the Sandwich, or: Why Feedback Is Not About Your Feelings”
In my grad school training, one of the techniques we learned was called “the salami”. If you ask an interpreter trainer about it, you might hear some why-do-we-call-it-salami-when-we-already-have-a-perfectly-good-name-for-it-which-is-segmentation grumbling. The salami technique, or the technique formerly known as segmentation, is tough to articulate.
Here I present to you some specific, language-neutral examples that bring the salami technique (including the rhetorical question) to life. Continue reading “The Interpreter and the Salami”
During grad school, when I was living in Toronto and constantly traveling back and forth between the US and Canada, I got used to this question as the customs agent saw the student visa in my passport: What are you studying? It took me a while to come up with a short answer, because when I said, “conference interpreting”, I was just met with more questions about what conference interpreting actually is, as if I’d made it up. Continue reading “Yes, conference interpreting is a thing”
Nearly twenty years ago, I moved back to the US from Costa Rica, and I dropped out of school with a handful of credits left to finish my BA. I went straight to work in a restaurant. I started waiting tables in this Italian place, and I was going to stash away all my tips until I had enough to go back to Costa Rica. Turns out I hate waiting tables, but I wasn’t ready to leave the restaurant. There was something happening in the kitchen that called to me. I ended up working in the kitchen for years, until I decided I needed to go back to school and finish the semester’s worth of credits to earn my BA.
Something similar happened on my road to conference interpreting. There was something going on in the kitchen (or the booth, rather) that I couldn’t ignore. Just as in the kitchen, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I stepped into the booth. It’s true: Everything I learned about interpreting, I learned in the kitchen. Continue reading “Everything I know about interpreting, I learned in the kitchen”
When I first arrived to our interpreting lab in Toronto, I was in awe. Fourteen brand-spankin’-new booths! I could practice again and again, and then some more when I got tired of it! All booths, all the time!
It didn’t take long for me to change my mind about the booth. Continue reading “Back to the Booth”
I had this nice bottle of champagne, this bottle of Veuve Clicquot I’d been meaning to open, but I could never quite find the occasion to do it. It started over a year ago, when I began the process of applying to graduate school for a Masters in Conference Interpreting (MCI).
In January 2014, I sent a letter to the Glendon School of Translation in Toronto expressing my interest in their MCI program. They seemed interested in me too, and scheduled the interpreting aptitude tests for me. A win! I passed the first round of tests, and then the second one. Another win! But no, I wasn’t ready for the Veuve. Just passing the aptitude tests wasn’t enough of an accomplishment for me. I was consumed by anxiety while I waited for the results, and when they finally admitted me to the program, guess what? Yep. Still no Veuve. Instead, I was rushing around, panicking, trying to figure out how I’d go to school full-time and work full-time. Continue reading “Opening the Veuve”