The Professional Interpreter: One Profession. One Real Profession.

June 9, 2012 § 6 Comments

Dear Colleagues,

It seems to me that a week never goes by without a colleague telling me that he or she was misunderstood, humiliated, obstructed, or underpaid while doing his or her job.  Some of them react with anger, others with frustration, a few seem resigned, but a growing number of our fellow interpreters have been reacting to these real-life situations by taking action, doing something about it. Finally, interpreters finding a solution to this “never-ending” comedy of errors where the interpreter is often an unwilling character.

As those of you who know me personally (and many others have figured out by reading this blog) know, I have always considered myself a professional at the same level as all those who we provide our services to:  Scientists, politicians, attorneys, diplomats, physicians, military officers, school principals; and I try to act that way when  I provide my interpretation services.  I feel that we should all consider ourselves a real profession, perhaps even a profession above many others as we are also a little bit of an art. For this reason, when I first heard of InterpretAmerica a couple of years ago, I immediately fell in love with the idea and threw my support (mostly moral I admit) behind the incredibly hard work that Katharine Allen and Barry Olsen are doing.

I attended InterpretAmerica last year. It was like a dream, something you can only find in Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone.  The medical interpreters were there sitting next to the court interpreters, the military interpreters were having a conversation with the agencies; the equipment companies were there having a chat with the educational institutions, and the conference interpreters were sharing experiences, and learning, from the community interpreters.  This was unreal:  I saw everybody I know and work with in my different interpretation fields, all under one roof!  The colleagues from the east coast were there, so were those from the west coast, the European Parliament, the professional organizations, I saw board members and influential colleagues from ATA, AIIC, NAJIT, IMIA, and many more.

Next week, InterpretAmerica will hold its Third North American Summit on June 15 and 16 in beautiful Monterey, California.  Looking at the schedule and list of speakers, it looks like this will be the best summit so far. The speaker list includes colleagues like Sign Language interpreter Jack Jason (Marlee Matlin’s interpreter) Andrew Clifford from Glendon College, Renee Jourdenais from MIIS, my good friend Jonathan Levy from Cyracom with a military interpreting perspective that will probably be new to may in attendance, Barbara Moser-Mercer from the University of Geneva, and others of the same level.

Unfortunately, this year I will not be able to attend the summit due to professional obligations, but I will be checking in regularly with many of my friends who will be there.  As you know, I have devoted this blog to everything important and useful to our profession. This is one of the most important efforts in the history of interpretation in the United States. I encourage you to attend the summit, to exchange ideas, to take those ideas back home where you should share them with your colleagues.  And to those of you who cannot attend this year’s summit, I invite you to set aside the dates of next year’s gathering and go. In the meantime, stay in touch with those attending, and vote for InterpretAmerica in the Chase Bank campaign to qualify for a $250,000.00 grant.  I invite all my colleagues who are attending the summit, or have attended one in the past, to share their experiences with this movement  started by Katharine and Barry.

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§ 6 Responses to The Professional Interpreter: One Profession. One Real Profession.

  • Reblogged this on TerpTrans and commented:
    Who knew that while we we western region RID interpreters are having a conference to ourselves in Honolulu, professional interpreters of all settings and languages are having a conference in Monterey? It amazes me how little I know of the wider world of interpreting, and I can only imagine that my fellow ASL-English interpreters are in the same boat.

    • Daniel,

      We found out about the RID Western Region conference only after the 3rd Summit on Interpreting had been scheduled. We work hard to avoid overlap with other interpreting conferences. I am happy to say that we will have RID reps in attendance again at this year’s Summit and are keen on fostering closer ties among signed and spoken language interpreters. You can follow the #IASummit Twitter feed from Honolulu!

  • I so really admire all you sign language interpreters. In our area, you all have special rules, ways of dressing to avoid distracting the hearing impaired, etc. Also, sometimes there are people from other countries who need this type of interpreter, and there are interpreters, for example, who know Mexican sign language.

  • Tony, thank you for your support and enthusiasm for the Summits on Interpreting and InterpretAmerica’s mission of raising the profile of interpreting. We will miss you this year at the Summit.

  • Tony, it was a pleasure meeting you last year. I won’t be making the track to Monterey this year either. And I couldn’t agree more with your account of the status of our profession and what we can do about it. Thank you for being a warrior.

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