For years now I’ve gotten all kinds of written messages asking for advice about interpreting. If you’re just starting out as an interpreter–especially if you live in an area where you’re not connected to a professional network–it can be tough to know what steps to take, and writing to an established interpreter for advice can be a huge help. It can also be hard to know how to do it so you get a good result. Here are my top tips for writing to an interpreter (or any professional, really) to ask for advice. Continue reading “Writing to an Interpreter”
As an undergrad, I took a Spanish phonetics class, which is the study of the sounds of language. On one occasion, the professor brought to class with her a hand-written traffic ticket she received while driving in the Dominican Republic. The officer who’d written the ticket misspelled just about every word. It was a fascinating specimen, the professor explained, of this regional accent, since the words had been spelled out phonetically. She actually told us that this traffic ticket was one of her linguistic treasures.
This professor was known for her rigorous classes. So it fascinated me that someone so demanding, who set the bar so high for us as students, could be so enamored of what some people would write off as “bad Spanish”. This made a lasting impression on me and my approach to language–We can cherish the way individuals express themselves, rather than holding them in contempt. An academic approach to language is important (and interesting!), and we can apply academic tools outside of the classroom not to judge, but to learn. Continue reading “Stop the Language Shaming”
This Spanish interpreter got to attend a 5-hour workshop for interpreters–ASL interpreters! I felt like I was sneaking over to the other side, and I was really trying my best to fly under the radar. I got there early to introduce myself to the trainer, Josh Garrett. I quietly asked if there might be a seat in the back for me, someplace out of the way where I could discreetly observe. NOPE! There was a seat for me front and center. After all, that’s where the interpreter was, who would give me a whispered simultaneous interpretation of the workshop content that was in ASL. Continue reading “A Fish Out of Water”
Over 20 years ago, with a couple years of college Spanish under my belt, I left to study for the summer in Spain. I remember actually saying these words: I can’t wait to just be fluent by the end of summer. As if it were a chore, something I had to gut through. As if it were possible! After that, I spent an academic year at the University of Costa Rica, graduated with a B.A. in Spanish, and worked a lot on improving my second language before I finally had the fluency to work as an interpreter. Even then, there was a steep learning curve for the first couple of years. That was in 2002. Continue reading “What Does Language Fluency Mean for an Interpreter?”
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”
Just kidding. There is no tenth standard of practice, and there is no standard that explicitly states, “Don’t be alone with the patient.” But the way interpreters and interpreter trainers talk, you’d think there was. I am guilty of participating in the creating and reinforcing of this belief.
“Just DON’T do it,” I remember telling interpreter trainees back in 2009, when I was cutting my teeth as an interpreter trainer. “Don’t EVER be alone with the patient.” Continue reading “The Tenth Standard of Practice: Don’t Be Alone With the Patient”
Curious about what interpreters do? Wondering how to best work with interpreters? Here are some common misconceptions surrounding interpreters, and some helpful points to know about working with them!
Translators write and interpreters talk. Although there are some professionals who do both interpreting and translating, the terms are not interchangeable. If you’re speaking, you’re working with an interpreter. Now you know. Continue reading “Five Things To Know About Working With Interpreters”
Hurrah! You’ve finished your healthcare interpreter training and you’re ready to go out and work! Here are some tips to get you started as an on-site interpreter, based on my second time around as a freelance interpreter. (You can read my first New Girl post with more tips here.)
How do I get the work? I’d recommend working with an agency. They do all the leg work, and then pass on the assignments to sub contractors. I think there’s another post to be written about how to tell a good agency from a bad one, but I wouldn’t work with anyone that doesn’t have a good reputation or who tried to get me to lower my rates, or who didn’t pay me on time. Make sure when you apply to the agency, you’re accurately representing your qualifications. If you took a training course for medical interpreters and received a certificate of completion, you’re a trained interpreter, not a certified interpreter. If you’re confused about trained interpreter versus certified interpreter, you can check out this post that also has info about the certifying bodies. Continue reading “The New Girl, Again”
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”