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”
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”
When I started this blog in 2012, I was thinking of applying to graduate school, and a friend told me that I should start to develop an online presence to give myself an edge over other applicants. He told me an easy way to do that was through blogging. Easy! Ha.
I’m not sure if it gave me an edge applying to grad school, but I did learn that it’s not actually that easy, and if you do it right, a blog can work for you in ways that you hadn’t thought of. My blog is something I hold very dear. It’s something I created from nothing, that I can share and use to connect with others. It’s followed me through lots of ups and downs. Here, I’m sharing with you the highlights of what I’ve learned in 8 years of blogging.Continue reading “What I’ve Learned in 8 Years of Blogging”
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”
[My riff on the popular children’s books, for my scientist husband, and for anyone who loves an interpreter.]
If you give an interpreter a word, one that sounds interesting, that catches her attention, it will bounce around in her mind for a while, doing cartwheels and backflips. You’ll hear her repeat it to herself aloud (sometimes really aloud), sing-songy, with no context, probably in multiple languages, in languages she may not really speak, probably while she’s fixing dinner or curling her hair or pouring wine or wandering around the house while she should be doing something “productive”.
After a while, it may try your patience. Continue reading “If You Give An Interpreter a Word”
Somewhere near the beginning of this semester, I took up swimming. A few lessons in, my teacher introduced the breast stroke. “Arms, legs, and gliiiide”, she told me. But I couldn’t get my arms and legs right for the glide. She told me the breast stroke is a resting stroke. But it was so effortful, just to move forward a tiny bit. My shoulders hurt. My neck hurt from holding up my head when I felt like I was pulling myself underwater so long I couldn’t come up for a breath. Continue reading “Swimming, Interpreting, and Reflexions On Experiential Learning”
I’m often told, “You don’t look like the interpreter.” People ask me, “Where’s your Spanish from?” There’s no simple answer.
My Spanish is from Spain, where I lived for two summers–Once as a student, and once this very year as faculty for a study abroad program. It was the first place I travelled outside of the U.S., and though I didn’t come home the first time speaking much Spanish, I did spend time thinking about why I wanted to study Spanish, why I wanted to speak it, what interested me about the language and the culture. I had the chance on that first trip to Spain to feel the effort required to learn another language, to function in another culture, and I pursued it anyway. Surely that is worth something. Continue reading “Where My Spanish is From”
Whenever I speak to a group about culture and communication, the first thing we do is brainstorm and name elements of culture. We humans are pretty good at this exercise, but there are some favorite cultural elements, like food and music, that can be difficult to use as concrete examples of how different values and expectations can cause breakdowns in communication.
I’ve noticed over time that a great example of the difficulty of functioning in a multicultural environment is navigating how we’re expected to greet each other, and how we say farewell. Here we go:
Continue reading “The Wave and a Lesson in Cultural Awareness”