interpreter life, language fun, self discovery for interpreters

A Little Spanish

I used to teach first-year Spanish for undergrads and their first project was to fill out a student profile. I asked them why they’d signed up for Spanish, and without fail, every one writes some version of how it seems “useful to know a little Spanish”. Some even may say they plan to add a Spanish minor and “be fluent”. I admire their ambition. I don’t have to tell them that after all this time (20+ years), I still question my fluency at times and it’s not that simple, because it doesn’t take them long to figure it out themselves. Continue reading “A Little Spanish”

change, conference interpreter training, grad school, Interpreter Training, language fun, Personal

Everything I know about interpreting, I learned in the kitchen

Nearly twenty years ago, Untitled design(9)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”

language fun

Hoping, Waiting, Expecting…Wishing

My childhood friends will remember that every day, when my dad dropped me off for school, he would give me a word of the day.  He’d give me the word, the definition, and then some context.  Somehow, the same childhood friends who endured my relentless playing around with the word of the day (every day) are still my friends.  And Dad and I still kick around thoughts about words and language.  Recently, he emailed to ask: Continue reading “Hoping, Waiting, Expecting…Wishing”

language fun

Back to School!

IUPUI2_photo See that big smiling happy face? Yeah, that’s me, speaking to a medical interpreting class at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, where I graduated with my Spanish degree over ten years ago!  Back in my day, Spanish majors studied literature and history (I suppose they still do) but there weren’t any interpreting classes at my school.  So you can imagine my excitement when I got the chance to speak to students who’re interested in interpreting, and how ethical principles apply to health care interpreting.  The students had lots of great questions, like what happens when a patient or family member refuses interpreter services, even in a hospital whose policy says we have to use a hospital-approved interpreter?  What happens when someone says something really rude?  Are there any exceptions to the interpret everything that is said rule?  That whole add nothing, omit nothing, change nothing business gets pretty sticky pretty quickly in health care.  With that to chew on, I hope everyone’s off to a great start with the holiday season!  Come back and visit soon-I’m working on  post on must-know words and phrases for health care interpreters just starting out.

language fun

Donkies and Burritos

20131013-212721.jpgEnglish speakers know that a burrito is a delicious lunch (or dinner, or half-eaten and cold the    morning after, a delicious breakfast).  But do they know that burrito is the diminutive form of the Spanish word for donkey?  I suppose the Spanish-speaking English speakers (like yours truly) know this, and so when I saw “super donkey” painted on the window of a Mexican place down the street from me in my beloved Fountain Square neighborhood, I felt pretty sure (and hopeful) that the super donkey was a burrito.  The funny thing to me is that super donkey is kind of a weird translation of super burrito.  In English, we don’t associate donkeys with any kind of tasty Mexican food.  So I have to wonder what the non-Spanish speakers in the community think of this sign.  I had a native Spanish-speaking friend call the restaurant and confirm that the super donkey is indeed a burrito and in the end, my curiosity got the best of me the other night when I found myself hungry in my food-less house.  I called up the restaurant and ordered a super donkey to go.  Weird translation or not, it’s a super delicious burrito.  And it’s also fun to say, “I’d like a super donkey for carry out.”