What we learned as Interpreters in 2014.

December 26, 2014 § 5 Comments

Dear Colleagues,

Now that 2014 is coming to an end and we are working towards a fruitful and meaningful 2015, we can look back and assess what we learned during the past 12 months. As interpreters our career is a constant learning experience, and from talking with many of my colleagues, 2014 was no exception. I personally grew up as an interpreter and got to appreciate our profession even more. The year that ends gave me once again the opportunity to work with magnificent interpreters and many of my dearest colleagues.

Our profession had some positive developments this year: IAPTI and ATA held very successful conferences in Athens and Chicago respectively, many colleagues passed the written portion of the United States Federal Court Interpreter exam, the state of Illinois chose quality and rolled out its state court interpreter certification program, there were many opportunities for professional development, some of them very good, including several webinars in different languages and on different topics; we had some important technological advancements that made our life easier, and contrary to the pessimists’ forecast, there was plenty of work and opportunities. Of course not everything was good. Our colleagues in the U.K. continue to fight a war against mediocrity and misdirected greed, colleagues in other European countries, like Spain, are under siege by governments that want to lower the quality of translation and interpreting services in the legal arena to unimaginable levels of incompetence; interpreters around the world faced attempts from special interest groups to erode our profession by lowering professional standards and creating questionable certification programs, and of course, we had the para-interpreters trying to “take over” the market by charging laughable fees under shameful working conditions in exchange for miserable services.

During 2014 I worked with interpreters from many countries and diverse fields of expertise. I was able to learn from, and to share my knowledge and experience with many colleagues dear to me and with some new interpreters and translators. This past year gave me the opportunity to learn many things at the professional conferences I attended, from the interpreting and translation books that I read, and of course working in the booth, the TV stations, the recording studios, and many other venues.

On the personal level, 2014 was a very important year in my life: I met new friends, developed new relationships, realized and learned to appreciate how good some of my old friends are, noticed and understood how I had been taken advantage of and stopped it, and after careful analysis, I reaffirmed my determination to remain a citizen of Chicago by purchasing a beautiful condo in a skyscraper located in the heart of the Magnificent Mile. This year I had the honor and the fortune to present before conference audiences in different continents. During the year that ends I traveled to many professional conferences and workshops, all good and beneficial. Because of their content, and for the impact they had on me, I have to mention the Mexican Translators Organization / International Book Fair (OMT/FIL) conference in Guadalajara, Mexico: a top-quality event, the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators’ (NAJIT) Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters’ (IAPTI) Annual Conference in Athens, Greece, and the California Federation of Interpreters (CFI) Annual Conference in Los Angeles, California. My only regret was that for professional obligations I was not able to attend the American Translators Association’s (ATA) Annual Conference in my own town of Chicago. This year that is about to end was filled with professional experiences acquired all over the world as I constantly traveled throughout the year, meeting new colleagues, including one who instantly became one of my dearest friends, and catching up with good friends and colleagues. Now, as I sit before my computer reminiscing and re-living all of these life-enriching experiences, I ask you to share some of your most significant professional moments during this past year.

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§ 5 Responses to What we learned as Interpreters in 2014.

  • George Bernard Sperber, Ph. D. says:

    Dear colleague!

    I read your text with interested eyes and I could observe that the life of an interpreter in Brazil is quite similar to the life of an interpreter in the US.

    The most interesting job I had in 2014 was to be the Brazilian voice of Mr. Lothar Mattäus, former captain of the German team, during the Football World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, in ten programs of a cable TV station named SporTV, that were round table discussions after the ten last games of the Cup. For Brazil it was a very sad experience, but for me it was marvellous to know that I had up to 400,000 listeners!

    Happy New Year!

    George Bernard Sperber

  • I was grateful for your hints about how to get around in Chicago as I had not been out and about ion Chicago since Mayor Washington was alive and I had the honor of hearing Henry Cisneros speak at a national labor convention. I took advantage of arriving a day early, traveling on the blue line to downtown Chi town, meeting with some former colleagues at an agency I used to work for, staying at a close-by hostel, (hay que AHORRAR!) and then taking the bus to the Sheraton. It worked so well I used the same means to return to the airport.

  • Alina Salvat says:

    Good evening Tony and everyone reading/potentially reading this. First of all, happy holidays. Regarding this info: WOW! The more things change the more they stay the same. I always say to anyone who has the time, energy/good sense (??!!) to listen to me that there are certain professions that do not/ are not/CANNOT EVER use the Walmart business model. Interpretations and translations fall into this category. That said, many people think I’m just being a greedy “b—h”. To this I always respond “you get what you pay for”and walk away. Mind you, I’m very professional when I do this but I’m convinced these folks need to learn the “hard way”. For example, I had the opportunity to review a translation done by a social service provider agency in DE. It was instantly obvious to me that it was a translation done by some online free translation software program. I was beyond shocked. Worse than that, there is a wonderful anglo attorney I have worked with in FC court that started to use that document with one of this clients/families and, after 2 sentences was so appalled that he threw the document away and utilized the English version. This attorney has taken many Spanish language classes, and travelled to Spanish speaking countries. He does speak Spanish very well though he would be the first to tell you he doesn’t consider himself bilingual. Yet he had the “smarts” to recognize/know a bad translation of a document when he saw one. Hence my statement that these are NOT professions that can follow the Walmart business model — EVER! So the question is, how can we share this info and educate potential clients? I look forward to any and all comments. Kind regards, A.

    • André Csihás, FCCI says:

      Right on, Alina!

      Unfortunately, there are those who have no earthly idea as to what is required to do a translation or an interpretation. This is a common malaise that permeates a certain stubborn strata of individuals whose ultimate goal is to get the job done at the cheapest possible price, which in turn creates these absolute linguistic aberrations that some dare pass off as translations and which you, in your comment, have also witnessed.

      Some illustrious and learned counselors, whose erroneous belief has led them to think that they speak the language, have attempted to utilize me as a dictionary, hoping I’ll stand still in one corner while they attempt to fight their way into what they daringly call their “Spanish” and expect me to act as a crutch to save them while invoking the mantra “…in case I don’t know a word!”.

      Sorry, counselor, either use me or lose me, as I may be needed elsewhere!

      This problem is especially prevalent in the South and Southwestern United States, where the majority of the population is of Hispanic descent, speak Spanish at home and by virtue of that they feel that they know the language. Regrettably that’s not true. Most of these people speak the kitchen-variety of Spanish which is not the same as having been formally schooled in Spanish. Grant it, they understand basic conversation but that does not an interpreter or translator make them.

      By the same token, I have ten fingers but I still can’t play the piano.

      I sincerely hope that with every additional bad translation or interpretation, there will be a gradual awareness of the problem and that not only the institutions of higher learning, but also the interpreters and translators themselves, will attempt to minimize with a keen sense of resolve.

      Hope springs eternal.

      André Csihás, FCCI

  • isahudgins says:

    Tony it´s been a real honor to have attended several of your workshops this past year, both here in Mexico as well as in the U.S., including the OMT conference you mentioned at the FIL book fair in Guadalajara, which this year surpassed my expectations. I hope to see you again in 2015, as I continue my ongoing education and professional development. Blessings for you and your family this new year!

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