The U.S. Armed Forces and Memorial Day.u

May 28, 2018 § 4 Comments

Dear Colleagues:

On the last Monday of May we observe Memorial Day all over the United States. Many friends and colleagues have asked me who do we honor and why. Others confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a federal holiday for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.  It also marks the start of the unofficial summer vacation season throughout the nation. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

On Memorial Day, the flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon.  It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

Now that we clarified what Memorial Day is, let’s talk about the armed forces of the United States. There are five branches of American armed forces: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief.

The United States Army is the largest branch of the armed forces and performs land-based military operations. With the other four branches of the armed forces, plus the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States.

The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the armed forces responsible for providing power projection using the mobility of the Navy, to deliver rapidly, combined-arms task forces on land, at sea, and in the air.

The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the American armed forces. It is the largest Navy in the world, with the world’s largest aircraft carrier fleet.

The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the armed forces, and it is the largest and most technologically-advanced air force in the world.

The United States Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission (with jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters) and a federal regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. It operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Navy by the president of the United States at any time, or by the U.S. Congress during times of war.

To complete this brief description of the United States armed forces, I would like to explain the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff is a body of senior uniformed leaders in the United States Department of Defense who advise the president, the secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council, and the National Security Council on military matters. The composition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is defined by statute and comprises the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Vice Chairman, the Military Service Chiefs from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force; and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, all appointed by the President following Senate confirmation. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is, by U.S. law, the highest-ranking and senior-most military officer in the United States armed forces and is the principal military advisor to the president, National Security Council, Homeland Security Council, and secretary of Defense.  Even though the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff outranks all other commissioned officers, he is prohibited by law from having operational command authority over the armed forces; however, the Chairman assists the President and the Secretary of Defense in exercising their command functions.

I hope you find this information useful and I hope that it may come in handy when interpreting national defense or military issues involving the United States. I now invite you to add any additional information you may consider useful and relevant to our practice as professional interpreters.

Tony Rosado’s CMIC interview. Mi entrevista con el CMIC

March 5, 2018 § Leave a comment

Dear Colleagues:

I would like to share with you my interview with the Colegio Mexicano de Intérpretes de Conferencias about our new court interpreting book that was presented during the International Book Fair in Guadalajara Mexico. I apologize to those colleagues who may not be able to read the text because the interview is in Spanish.

En esta ocasión quiero compartir con ustedes la entrevista que me hizo el Colegio Mexicano de Intérpretes de Conferencias con motivo de la publicación de nuestro libro de interpretación judicial en México, mismo que fue presentado en el Congreso de la Organización Mexicana de Traductores (OMT) durante la Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL) en Guadalajara, Jalisco. Gracias a Edna Cerf por la entrevista y al Colegio por permitirme reproducir en este blog la entrevista publicada en el número de febrero del Le Petit Journal du CMIC. La entrevista queda muy bien en este momento en que me dispongo a impartir un taller en la CDMX este fin de semana.

“Tony, muy buenos días. En nombre del Colegio Mexicano de Intérpretes de Conferencias, te agradecemos mucho esta entrevista. Presentaste un libro hace un par de meses en la FIL de Guadalajara. Para los intérpretes y el público en general que todavía no lo conoce, preséntanos tu libro y quiénes intervinieron para que saliera a la luz.

Este libro: “Manual del Intérprete Judicial en México”, es la primera publicación en español sobre interpretación judicial conforme al sistema jurídico adoptado por el gobierno mexicano hace unos años donde se cambia del sistema de juicios escritos, donde la necesidad de interpretación era mínima, a un sistema de juicios orales semejante al de los Estados Unidos y otros países anglosajones, donde la función del intérprete es esencial. En el libro, mis coautores y yo, intentamos llevar de la mano al intérprete judicial por todos los recovecos relevantes para un trabajo de interpretación judicial profesional. Abordamos temas jurídicos fundamentales como los derechos humanos, garantías individuales y demás derechos y valores jurídicos protegidos por la constitución, hasta las normas jurídicas procesales relevantes para la prestación de servicios de interpretación judicial, todo enfocado a la perspectiva del intérprete, no del abogado, logrando de esta forma que intérpretes profesionales, no abogados, comprendan el cómo y porqué de lo que están haciendo en los juzgados. Después, el libro presenta desde la perspectiva del intérprete, el proceso judicial y la participación del intérprete en cada etapa del mismo, adentrándonos en detalles como el tipo de interpretación necesaria para cada audiencia o comparecencia judicial (consecutiva corta, simultánea, o traducción a la vista). Esta sección del manual también va enfocada al abogado y a los jueces, para que los intérpretes puedan emplearlo como una herramienta de información y educación sobre lo que necesitan para hacer su trabajo. Finalmente, el manual trata del código deontológico que debe seguir todo intérprete, y en particular el judicial por ser auxiliar de la impartición de justicia. Esta publicación va dirigida a todos los intérpretes y cubre específicamente la interpretación judicial por intérpretes de lenguas de señas, lenguas indígenas y lenguas orales extranjeras.  Me parece que un gran logro fue la participación de peritos en todas las disciplinas cubiertas ya que mis coautores aportaron aquello de lo que yo carecía: María del Carmen Carreón es Magistrada del Tribunal Federal Electoral y como tal, aporta la visión del juzgador, parte fundamental para la prestación de este servicio. Daniel Maya es una institución ampliamente reconocida a nivel nacional e internacional en interpretación señada, concretamente la Lengua de Señas Mexicana (LSM) y yo aporto mi granito de arena como abogado e intérprete judicial con más de 2 décadas de experiencia en juzgados de varios países y en todos los niveles, además de mi trayectoria como instructor de interpretación judicial y autor de libros.

 

¿Cómo y con quiénes nació esta aventura? ¿Cuál es su propósito?

El manual nace en un momento de esos en que se alinea el universo y Carmen, Daniel y yo nos encontramos en un “green room” esperando pasar a un auditorio para dar una presentación cuando al platicar, nos damos cuenta que tenemos muchas cosas en común y una misma inquietud: Contribuir a la impartición de justicia en México de una manera incluyente donde nadie sea víctima del sistema por no entender el idioma del juzgado, en este caso el español. Daniel y yo teníamos anos de conocernos. Carmen y Daniel habían colaborado juntos por mucho tiempo, pero Carmen y yo estábamos conociéndonos. Carmen, en ese entonces Magistrada del Tribunal Electoral del Distrito Federal, es una persona incansable y alguien que me ha abierto los ojos a un nuevo tipo de juzgador en México, personas capaces y honestas dignas de confianza, y listas a luchar por la justicia. Ella fue instrumental en este proyecto al abrirnos mil puertas en el sistema y al aportar su energía, conocimientos y compromiso social. Daniel Maya es el presidente de la asociación profesional de intérpretes de lengua de señas mexicana más grande del país, con miembros en todo México. Además, Daniel ha estado muy activo a nivel internacional y es bien conocido en todo México ya que su imagen aparece constantemente en recuadro en los televisores mexicanos. Los conocimientos y el entusiasmo de Daniel fueron clave para poder soñar con un proyecto así de ambicioso. Yo siempre había anhelado el poder desarrollar algo que alcanzara e incluyera a los colegas de lenguas de señas y esta oportunidad, aunada con mi previa relación y confianza absoluta en la capacidad de Daniel, hicieron que este proyecto no solo arrancara, sino que llegara a su destino. De este proyecto ha surgido una relación profesional de los tres coautores que ha resultado en muchos proyectos que estamos evaluando en este momento, pero a nivel personal, lo mejor de esta experiencia es la gran amistad que ha surgido entre los tres y muchas otras personas que tras bambalinas han sido indispensables para que este proyecto viera la luz. Una empresa como esta requiere de mucha gente valiosa y trabajadora, no solo de los autores que firman el libro.

 

El “Manual del Intérprete Judicial en México” está presentado por el Dr. José Ramón Cossío Díaz, Ministro de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación y Miembro de “El Colegio Nacional”. ¿Por qué involucrar a la sede judicial?

El Ministro Cossío llegó al proyecto en circunstancias muy especiales. Por un lado estaba su relación con Carmen que era quien mejor lo conocía, por otro lado, en mi caso, estaba un antecedente de hace algunos años, cuando se inició este proyecto de la interpretación judicial en México para satisfacer las necesidades de los nuevos juicios orales, una colega muy querida, amiga mutua, y miembro del CMIC, Georganne Weller, tuvo un encuentro con el Ministro en la Suprema Corte donde ella le platicó de nuestra profesión y en cierta forma despertó su interés en esto. Daniel también fue parte instrumental ya que el Ministro Cossío había manifestado su interés en la interpretación para los ciudadanos sordos en el sistema de justicia mexicano, incluso acompañándonos en una ocasión en un foro que tuvimos en la sede de la Corte y donde él se dirigió a los colegas intérpretes de Lengua de Señas Mexicana de toda la república, a invitación de Carmen y de Daniel. Tuve la oportunidad de participar y me pareció un interés genuino que se cristalizó en esta intervención en el prólogo del libro, lo cual nos brinda una legitimidad mucho mayor y nos abre las puertas de muchos juzgados y despachos de abogados no solo en México, sino en todo el mundo. Hasta donde yo sé, ningún otro Ministro de una corte suprema ha brindado este tipo de deferencia en un libro de interpretación judicial.

 

¿Está dirigido únicamente para intérpretes de señas o para intérpretes de lenguas indígenas que desean ser intérpretes en el sistema penal acusatorio?

El manual ha sido presentado en varios foros y ante diferentes públicos, pero su destinatario es todo intérprete que sea o que quiera dedicarse completamente o parcialmente a la interpretación judicial. Es un error creer que va dirigido a los intérpretes de Lengua de Señas o a los intérpretes de lenguas indígenas. Va dirigido a todos los intérpretes. Esta confusión es prueba de que los intérpretes de lenguas orales extranjeras están tan acostumbrados a que todas las publicaciones vayan dirigidas a ellos, que cuando aparece un manual incluyente de todos los intérpretes, lo vean como algo no destinado a su ejercicio profesional. Les invito a que lo lean y vean como todos los temas del proceso y práctica profesional son abordados con comentarios y conceptos generales aplicables a todos los intérpretes, seguidos de comentarios, conceptos y recomendaciones dirigidas específicamente para los intérpretes de lenguas orales o de señas, y cuando es necesario, mencionando las diferencias y circunstancias especiales para los intérpretes de lenguas indígenas. El libro trata de la interpretación de relevo (relay interpreting) entre intérpretes orales e intérpretes de lenguas de señas, cosa nunca antes vista.

 

¿Un intérprete de lenguas judicial debe de saber derecho? ¿Es un perito en derecho?

Un intérprete judicial debe saber derecho procesal y tener las bases de las ramas del derecho sustantivo en el que vaya a especializarse (civil, penal, internacional, etc.) a un nivel semejante al de un paralegal o asistente jurídico. Obviamente, no estorba saber más y ayuda tener una licenciatura en derecho o criminología. El intérprete judicial certificado es un perito en interpretación judicial, mas no en derecho. No es abogado. En realidad, es como todo trabajo de interpretación. No se puede interpretar lo que no se comprende y para comprender lo que se ventila en una audiencia, hay que entender lo que se está litigando (derecho sustantivo) y el contexto en que se está ventilando la controversia, o sea el momento dentro del procedimiento en que se están presentando alegatos o desahogando las pruebas. No pasa lo mismo en una audiencia intermedia que en una audiencia de juicio oral, por ejemplo (derecho adjetivo). La belleza de la interpretación (y la traducción) es que el idioma siempre cambia, así que hay que seguir estudiando. La belleza de la interpretación judicial es que el derecho no es estático, así que también hay que actualizarse constantemente. Si te gusta estudiar y eres intérprete judicial, tienes pretexto para hacerlo por partida doble.  

 

¿Los intérpretes actuales en los diversos procesos judiciales que se llevan a cabo en nuestro país saben cómo comportarse y están certificados?

Aún no existe en México un programa de certificación para la patente de perito intérprete en juicios orales, pero se están barajando varias posibilidades. México cuenta, con una herencia del ahora caduco sistema indagatorio en la figura del perito traductor, o perito intérprete traductor. Sin embargo, dicha patente no respalda ningún tipo de conocimientos o experiencia con juicios orales. Ahora, actualmente existen intérpretes en los juzgados mexicanos que saben comportarse en ese entorno judicial,  ya sea porque poseen una certificación de interpretación judicial extranjera (generalmente del gobierno federal o de algún estado de la Unión Americana) porque se han preocupado por aprender de manera autodidacta, o simplemente porque tienen muchas tablas y por puro instinto hacen un trabajo bastante bueno. La meta es la certificación para la patente de perito intérprete en juicios orales, ya sea a nivel federal, o estatal si algunos estados se adelantan al gobierno federal y ofrecen algún programa a nivel de su entidad.  

 

¿Cómo conseguir la certificación en México? ¿Cuáles son las recomendaciones de Tony Rosado para profesionalizar a los intérpretes?

Creo que ya he contestado la primera parte de esta pregunta en mi respuesta anterior. Mis recomendaciones para profesionalizar a los intérpretes son específicas para México donde hay que aprovechar el momento histórico que se presenta: El advenimiento del sistema acusatorio y por ende los juicios orales, es un fenómeno que se presenta a todas las disciplinas jurídicas al mismo tiempo. Se trata de algo nuevo para los intérpretes mexicanos, pero también para los jueces y abogados. Existe la oportunidad de que todos aprendan al mismo tiempo, y cuando algo se hace en un terreno nivelado, la cooperación, deseo de aprender, y la humildad ante lo desconocido es la misma. En otros países un intérprete recién formado o aún en proceso de formación tiene que enfrentar un sistema de jueces con años de experiencia, abogados que dominan el sistema y han trabajado con intérpretes judiciales por décadas, personal administrativo en los juzgados que a veces no es paciente con los intérpretes nuevos. Aprovechemos esta circunstancia para sobresalir profesionalmente.

Pienso que el sistema de certificación, ya sea estatal o federal, deberá incluir tres requisitos fundamentales: (1) Demostrar en un examen que el candidato posee los conocimientos de interpretación judicial (consecutiva corta, simultánea susurrada y en cabina, traducción a la vista bidireccional, interpretación completa, incluyendo interjecciones y comentarios aparentemente irrelevantes, registros y variaciones de lenguaje y terminología desde lo más culto hasta lo más soez, etc.) y de terminología y procedimiento jurídicos al nivel ya mencionado en otra pregunta. (2) Demostrar en un examen que el candidato entiende y domina los principios deontológicos de interpretación en general; aquellos aplicables a su especialidad de interpretación (existen preceptos de ética solo aplicables a los intérpretes de lenguas de señas o a los de lenguas indígenas, por ejemplo) y los cánones de ética específicos a la interpretación judicial como el secreto profesional, las reglas de evidencia, las declaraciones testimoniales, visitas carcelarias, imparcialidad, o parcialidad según sea el caso, etc.); y (3) La educación continua necesaria para actualizarse y conservar la patente, garantizando que el perito está al día en cuestiones de interpretación, derecho y ética. A mí me gustaría que la calificación de las credenciales y la decisión de quienes pueden ser peritos intérpretes debería estar a cargo de sus pares, o sea: otros intérpretes, quizá el CMIC o algún otro colegio o asociación profesional de nueva creación, como sucede en otras profesiones en los países más avanzados (en esos países la Barra de Abogados admite a los nuevos abogados, el Consejo de Medicina admite a los nuevos médicos, etc.) o como sucede con la certificación de intérprete sanitario en los Estados Unidos. Para mí siempre es mejor que otros colegas, y no el gobierno, decidan si el candidato es apto para el ejercicio de la profesión.

 

¿En Estados Unidos los intérpretes de lenguas sí están certificados? ¿Cómo logra un intérprete certificarse en E.U.?

Los Estados Unidos han contado con intérpretes comunitarios por mucho tiempo debido a la fábrica social del país. Un gran [porcentaje de población estadounidense no habla inglés. Históricamente, primero de manera orgánica, para satisfacer una necesidad y posteriormente de manera sistemática y profesional, los intérpretes que interactúan con la población en general se encuentran sujetos a rigurosos programas de certificación ya sea judicial o sanitaria.

Existen dos sistemas paralelos para la certificación judicial: Un sistema federal para los juzgados federales y 56 sistemas locales para cada uno de los 50 estados y 6 territorios del país. Además, existe un programa de certificación para los intérpretes de Lengua de Señas Estadounidense (ASL). El sistema federal es más riguroso y su certificación más difícil de alcanzar, pero en general, todos los programas, estatales y federales buscan que el candidato demuestre su dominio de ambas lenguas (origen y destino) de conocimientos jurídicos básicos, ética y profesionalismo, y que tenga una habilidad mínima en la interpretación simultánea, consecutiva corta y traducción a la vista, así como en los cambios de registro, incluyendo terminología jurídica en ambos idiomas, lenguaje soez y expresiones idiomáticas. Finalmente, los estados requieren un mínimo de educación continua anualmente o bianualmente (según cada estado) en interpretación, derecho y ética. No es necesario vivir en los Estados Unidos para certificarse, así que yo invito a que nuestros colegas en México intenten una certificación en Estados Unidos al menos para practicar para la certificación mexicana.  

 

Si en la sede judicial se requieren intérpretes calificados, ¿por qué considera Tony que esta certificación todavía no existe en nuestro país? ¿Qué se necesita? ¿Cuáles serían los criterios?

La certificación aún no existe debido a lo reciente del cambio de sistema procesal en el país. No me cabe duda que en un futuro próximo existirá al menos un programa federal de certificación como perito intérprete judicial. Contestando la segunda parte de  tu pregunta te diré que se necesitan dos cosas: Una mayor conciencia de parte del pueblo de México para que exijan servicios de interpretación en los juzgados y también una mayor participación de los intérpretes de México. A mí me ha sorprendido la apatía por parte de nuestros colegas que siento no han evaluado las posibilidades ni considerado los beneficios de ejercer la interpretación judicial, al menos de medio tiempo. Con tantas reformas necesarias para implementar completamente el sistema acusatorio, no cabe duda que serán prioridad aquellas cuyo gremio sea más vocal. Los intérpretes están compitiendo con los médicos forenses, criminólogos, criminalistas, fiscales, policías, defensores públicos, secretarios de juzgado y otros por un lugar en esa lista de prioridades. A todos les va a llegar su turno, pero la pregunta es ¿Quién quiere ser de los primeros y aprovechar ese momento histórico de aprendizaje colectivo que te mencionaba en una respuesta anterior?  Me imagino que los criterios para Lengua de señas Mexicana (LSM) y lenguas orales extranjeras serán los aceptados universalmente y mencionados en otra respuesta. El caso de las lenguas indígenas será más complejo y diferente debido a las diferencias culturales, usos y costumbres, falta de conocimiento sobre los valores indígenas y la desconfianza de dicho sector de la población, justificada por siglos de maltratos y negligencia.

¿Crees que con este libro los intérpretes en un proceso judicial serán tomados más en cuenta? ¿Por qué?

Definitivamente. El hecho que una Magistrada del máximo tribunal electoral del país sea coautora; que el libro trate temas que incluyen la protección de grupos de mexicanos como los sordos e indígenas, que se ofrezca la herramienta necesaria para dirimir controversias comerciales, civiles, familiares y penales entre mexicanos y extranjeros ya sean personas físicas o morales que no hablen la misma lengua, y que el prólogo haya sido escrito por un Ministro de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN) son evidencia del gran peso de este manual. La tremenda aceptación, tanto en su venta en México y el extranjero (por toda Sudamérica, Centroamérica, Estados Unidos y España entre otros) como por la asistencia y participación de muchísimos jueces, intérpretes y abogados durante la presentación del libro en todos los lugares de la república donde lo hemos presentado son evidencia de que el libro está teniendo un efecto positivo en todo el sistema.

 

De acuerdo con el Dr. Cossío en este libro hay una ausencia de la descripción de los procesos ordinarios federales con la totalidad de la función jurisdiccional encaminada a los estados. ¿Se considera un tomo 2?

Se consideran varios tomos. Es importante lo que comenta el Ministro Cossío, sin embargo, tuvo que quedarse en el tintero porque nuestro objetivo era el de producir un manual práctico para el intérprete, no para el abogado; queríamos publicar algo lo suficientemente, portátil, claro y conciso para que acompañase al intérprete a la sala del juzgado, el despacho del abogado y los separos del reclusorio.  La observación del Ministro es acogida y será incorporada más adelante, por ahora, sin adelantar mucho, parece que el próximo tema a tratar será el comportamiento ético y profesional del intérprete judicial tanto dentro como fuera del juzgado. ¡Estén pendientes!

 

El Colegio Mexicano de Intérpretes de Conferencias, A.C. (CMIC), tiene 35 años de existencia. Ninguna asociación de intérpretes es tan longeva en América Latina y el CMIC es un referente importante en México y en otros países de habla hispana. En Colombia la más antigua tiene alrededor de 15 años. ¿Qué les dirías a los agremiados al CMIC?

Primero les enviaría un saludo muy afectuoso y una enorme felicitación por el aniversario. Tú sabes que lo hago de corazón ya que cuento con muchísimos amigo en el Colegio (algunas de mis mejores amigas son miembro del CMIC) y a continuación les invitaría, como referente de la profesión el América Latina y conociendo la capacidad individual de sus miembros, a que tomaran en serio y con gran entusiasmo la interpretación judicial en México. En épocas de globalización y de interpretación simultánea remota (RSI) cada día habrá más colegas (muchos de ellos sumamente capaces) compitiendo por los mismos trabajos desde todo el planeta. La interpretación jurídica mexicana les da una oportunidad de aprovechar esta globalización que además de tecnología genera disputas jurídicas con litigantes de todo el mundo, para ser los intérpretes en controversias judiciales internacionales ventiladas en el sistema judicial mexicano en temas como propiedad intelectual, fusiones y adquisiciones, incumplimiento de contratos de importación o explotación de materias primas, testamentos de extranjeros, divorcios, pensiones alimenticias y guarda y custodia de menores cuando las partes en el divorcio no tengan el mismo primer idioma, declaraciones bajo protesta de decir verdad (depositions) y muchas otras.

Hay que recordar que no todo el trabajo de interpretación judicial tiene que ver con la comisión de delitos. Si, habrá trabajo en el campo penal, sobre todo para los intérpretes de Lengua de Señas Mexicana (LSM) que también son miembros de este ilustre Colegio, y para los intérpretes de Lenguas Indígenas, pero una buena parte del trabajo, y sin duda la mejor remunerada, será para los intérpretes de lenguas extranjeras.  Esta es la oportunidad para que nuestros colegas mexicanos se pongan las pilas y asuman los servicios de interpretación judicial en las declaraciones bajo protesta de decir verdad (depositions) que se dan por miles en el territorio mexicano cada año y que casi en su totalidad son interpretadas por colegas que vienen acompañado a los abogados desde el extranjero y que, ante una oferta profesional y seria de parte de los miembros del CMIC, pondrían en evidencia dos desventajas de traer a los intérpretes desde el extranjero: (1) El costo, y no me refiero a los honorarios que deberían ser los mismos,  sino al costo de transporte, hotel, viáticos, etc.; y (2) La cultura local, los modismos, las expresiones idiomáticas, la historia del lugar, etc. Yo siempre creo que un buen intérprete mexicano es mejor para un trabajo en México con mexicanos, o que un buen intérprete colombiano es mejor para un trabajo en Colombia con colombianos. Aprovechen esta oportunidad, diversifiquen su ejercicio profesional, y asuman la dirección y margen el destino de la interpretación judicial en México.

 

¿En qué radica para Tony la importancia de pertenecer a alguna asociación?

Es un síntoma de profesionalismo. No podemos imaginar a los abogados de México sin el Ilustre y Nacional Colegio de abogados o la Barra Mexicana de Abogados. No podemos concebir a los médicos de Estados Unidos sin la American Medical Association (AMA) a los intérpretes de conferencias sin la Asociación Internacional de Intérpretes de Conferencias (AIIC) o a los traductores estadounidenses sin la American Translators Association (ATA).  México necesita del CMIC tanto, o más, que los intérpretes de conferencias mexicanos necesitan al Colegio. Educación continua, condiciones de trabajo, defensa de la profesión, son temas que competen a las asociaciones de profesionistas y en mi opinión no puede ser de otra manera. Ejercemos una profesión bella pero muy difícil y poco comprendida, necesitamos del apoyo de nuestros colegas y nuestras asociaciones profesionales para mejorar la calidad de nuestro trabajo, mantener los estándares de la profesión y para poder vivir la vida que nos merecemos.

 

En el Manual de Intérprete Judicial en México se especifican todos los artículos del Código de Ética del Colegio Mexicano de Intérpretes de Conferencias. ¿Por qué consideras importante que se siga un código de ética como el del CMIC o del INALI?

Te faltó mencionar el código deontológico de los intérpretes de Lengua de Señas Mexicana (LSM). La interpretación es una profesión como la ingeniería o la arquitectura, pero además es una profesión fiduciaria. A diferencia de otras profesiones donde más de una persona puede darse cuenta del desempeño del profesionista, al menos hasta cierto punto, en la interpretación en general, y en la judicial en particular, una vez elegidos los intérpretes para un trabajo o un caso, todas las partes ponen su confianza ciega en la honestidad, profesionalismo y ética del intérprete. Imagina un proceso para decidir si te quitan  a tus hijos, o si pierdes tu empresa, o si te mandan a la cárcel, donde no entiendes la mitad de lo que se dice y no sabes si quien está hablando por ti lo está haciendo bien. ¡Tremenda responsabilidad! Por ello, un código de ética es indispensable tanto para el buen funcionamiento del servicio profesional, como para la paz y tranquilidad de quien contrata los servicios del intérprete.

 

Las redes sociales han revolucionado la comunicación en el mundo. ¿Crees que Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat u otras pueden suplir a las asociaciones bien organizadas? ¿Qué opinas sobre la recomendación de intérpretes por medio de una red social?

La asociación profesional es un grupo colegiado de individuos con una actividad profesional en común para tomar decisiones y acciones que protejan o avancen los intereses comunes y de la profesión. Yo soy un gran defensor de las redes sociales, pero Twitter, Facebook y las otras tienen cometidos diferentes. No se puede comparar. Yo las empleo cotidianamente para difundir información, externar opiniones, promover mis servicios, fortalecer mis redes profesionales de colegas, pero jamás con la idea de reemplazar a una asociación civil del tipo que sea, mucho menos una profesional. Nunca he recomendado intérpretes por redes sociales ya que lo considero un tema un tanto delicado y no solo por lo que hay que decir sobre un colega; también por la percepción de mis otros colegas a quienes no recomendé. Sin embargo, Yo no veo ningún problema cuando se trata de ciertas situaciones como por ejemplo los recientes sismos en la Ciudad de México donde las redes sociales sirvieron enormemente para poner en comunicación a intérpretes y personas necesitadas de sus servicios. Lo que si detesto es la oferta de trabajo por Facebook o LinkedIn donde un colega o una agencia simplemente dice: “intérprete el martes a las 10 am en Pachuca”. ¿Qué tipo de trabajo? ¿Qué tipo de intérprete? ¿Por cuánto tiempo? Para mí eso es una falta de respeto a la profesión y al colectivo. No hace mucho opiné al respecto en mi canal de YouTube “The Professional Interpreter’s Opinion”.

 

¿Desde cuándo eres intérprete? ¿Con quién te gustaría o te hubiera gustado compartir cabina?

Empecé profesionalmente a mediados de la década de los 80s (ya llovió) Siempre quise ser intérprete, pero sucumbí a la presión de estudiar primero una carrera “de verdad”, así que estudié derecho, de lo que no me arrepiento ya que me dotó de un cúmulo de conocimientos y la metodología para investigar, leer y sintetizar, que me ha servido en mi carrera.  Me hubiera gustado compartir cabina con todos los intérpretes legendarios de la historia, formados profesionalmente y empíricos, conocidos y anónimos: Patricia Vander Elst, Ruth Hall, Christopher Thiery, Italia Morayta, Rosa María Durán, Harry Obst, Squanto, Malintzin, el intérprete de Marco Polo, y todos los intérpretes con quienes he trabajado y sigo trabajando muy a gusto (ellos saben de quienes hablo) además de los valores jóvenes con muchas ganas de aprender y de enseñar algunos trucos nuevos a un veterano de la profesión.  

 

¿Cuál es tu mayor defecto y tu mayor virtud?

Defectos tengo muchísimos, virtudes muy pocas y sería muy injusto que yo sea quien me juzgue a mí mismo, por aquello de nunca ser juez y parte, sin embargo puedo decirte que la gente se queja de que como compañero de viaje o trabajo soy demasiado hiperactivo, duermo poco y hablo demasiado (claro que esto describe a muchos colegas) y también he escuchado que pongo mucha energía en la defensa de los colegas y la profesión en general, que soy buen amigo y me dicen “tonypedia” porque sé de varias cosas. Mejor ahí lo dejamos. 

 

¿A quién admiras?

A todas las personas que triunfan a pesar de los obstáculos, a quienes no se rinden o conforman, a quienes jamás se resignan. No soporto a los mediocres o conformistas. Me cuesta trabajo conversar con intérpretes que se quejan de que no hay trabajo pero ni lo buscan, ni están dispuestos a sacrificar nada por alcanzar el éxito. Admiro a todos los intérpretes que son buenos, a los traductores que son buenos, a los científicos, humanistas y políticos que son buenos, a todos los colegas que dedican su tiempo desinteresadamente a las asociaciones profesionales. Admiro y respeto a los miembros de las fuerzas armadas y las policías porque cada mañana salen de su casa sin saber si regresarán por la noche. Como personaje histórico admiro enormemente a Thomas Jefferson

 

Por favor dinos en dónde podemos adquirir tu libro.

Mi primer libro: “The Professional Court Interpreter” en inglés y sobre el intérprete en el sistema judicial de los Estados Unidos puede adquirirse por internet de Amazon, Barnes and Noble y muchas otras librerías en todo el mundo. El nuevo libro “Manual del Intérprete Judicial en México” se puede adquirir por internet directamente de la editorial Tirant Lo Blanch en México, visitando su página web: www.tirent.com/mex y para quienes nos lean desde el extranjero, pueden pedirlo por email escribiendo a: osanchez@tirant.com También pueden adquirirlo en las librerías Porrúa, Gandhi y demás lugares de prestigio.

 

¿Algo más que quieras agregar?

Solo reiterar la importancia de al menos probar la interpretación judicial en México. Hay futuro. Mientras se definen los requisitos para certificarse como perito intérprete de juicios orales, les recomendaría que estudiaran el tema. La educación continua es muy importante para ello. Creo que pronto tendremos algo al respecto con el Colegio; además existen los cursos con Georganne Weller y me parece que otras promociones en el interior de la república. Creo que voy a andar por Chetumal y Mérida en un futuro próximo, tenemos ya un taller para intérpretes y traductores jurídicos con Georganne en marzo, y desde luego, como todos los años algo en la CDMX para los intérpretes de Lengua de Señas Mexicana (LSM) este otoño y el San Jerónimo en Guadalajara en noviembre

 

En nombre del CMIC, muchas felicidades por el Manual del Intérprete Judicial en México. Enhorabuena.

Mil gracias, Edna, y felicidades por tu trabajo al frente del Colegio.”

Ahora les invito a que incluyan sus comentarios a esta entrevista o a lo que está sucediendo con la interpretación judicial en México.

The Christmas traditions we observe in the United States.

December 24, 2017 § 2 Comments

Dear Colleagues:

The end of the calendar year marks a time when most cultures in the world slow down their work routines, gather with friends and relatives, and reflect on what was accomplished during the year while setting goals to achieve what was not.  Some give the season a religious connotation, others choose not to do so. Regardless of the personal meaning and importance that each one of us give to this time of the year, there is a common denominator, certain actions, traditions, and celebrations observed and held dear by many. They vary from country to country, and are part of the national pride and identity of a nation.

The United States is a unique case because of the convergence of cultures and populations from around the world who have brought with them their language, beliefs and traditions.  With globalization many other regions in the world now live the same situation where not everybody celebrates everything, not everybody celebrates the same, and even the ones who celebrate a particular festivity or observe certain event will do it differently depending on their cultural background. I also want to point out that, due to the immense commercial and cultural influence of the United States just about everywhere in the world, some traditions below will be recognized as something that you do in your country.

Although Christmas is not the only festivity where we see this American reality, I decided to share with you our national traditions on this day because it is widely observed and understood throughout the world, and because it is a nice thing to share with all of you when many of us are slowing down and waiting for the new year.  Finally, before I share these American traditions with you, I want to clarify that although this entry deals with Christmas traditions, it does it from a cultural perspective with no religious intent to endorse or offend anyone. I know that many of my dearest friends and colleagues come from different religions, cultural backgrounds, and geographic areas; and the farthest thing from my mind is to make you feel left out, ignored or offended. This post is written with the sole intention to share cultural traditions, and invite an exchange of information about other customs observed at the end of the year by other groups and countries.  Thank you for your understanding, and please enjoy:

In the United States the Christmas season, now called the holiday season to make it more inclusive, starts on the day after Thanksgiving known as “Black Friday”. Many schools and businesses close between Christmas (December 25) and New Year’s Day (January 1). Most Americans take this time out from their professional and academic schedules to spend time with their friends and families. Because of the high mobility we experience in the United States, it is very common that families live far from each other, often in different states; so that children go home to the parents’ is more significant as it may be the only time they see each other face to face during the year.

Many Americans decorate the exterior of their homes with holiday motifs such as snowmen, Santa Claus, and even reindeer figures.  As a tradition derived from holding Christmas in winter in the northern hemisphere when daylight is scarce, Americans install temporary multi-colored lights framing their house or business.  Because of its beauty and uniqueness, this tradition has spread to southern parts of the United States where winters are mild and daylight lasts longer. The American southwest distinguishes itself from the rest of the country because of the lights they use to decorate their buildings: the luminarias, a tradition (from the Spanish days of the region) of filling brown paper bags with sand and placing a candle inside.

The interior of the house is decorated during the weeks leading to Christmas and on Christmas Eve. Christmas tree farms in Canada and the United States provide enough trees for people’s homes, although many prefer an artificial tree.  These trees are placed at a special place in the house and are decorated with lights and ornaments, and at the very top an angel or star is placed on Christmas Eve.  Unlike many other countries, in particular those where most people are Roman Catholic, Americans hold no big celebration on Christmas Eve, known as “the night before Christmas”, the time when Santa Claus visits their homes while children are sleeping and leaves presents for the kids to open on Christmas morning.  As a sign of appreciation, or perhaps as a last act of lobbying, children leave out by the tree a glass of milk and cookies for Santa to snack during his visit.

Special Christmas stockings are hung on the fireplace mantelpiece for Santa to fill with gifts called “stocking stuffers” that will be found by the kids on Christmas Day while the yule log will provide heat and holiday smells. Even those homes that have replaced the traditional fireplace with an electric one have kept the yule log tradition; and when everything else fails, cable TV and satellite TV companies offer a TV channel that broadcasts only a yule log all day.

Adults exchange presents previously wrapped in festive seasonal wrapping paper, and even the pets get Christmas presents every year.  With the presents exchanged,  people move on to their Christmas dinner that will usually feature ham, roast beef, and even turkey with stuffing, although many families skip the bird because they just had it for Thanksgiving dinner a few weeks before.  Potatoes, squash, roasted vegetables, cranberries and salads are part of the traditional meal, but in some regions of the United States, demographic cultural fusion has added other dishes to the traditional family dinner: It is common to find tamales in a Hispanic Christmas dinner, poi and pork in Hawaii, BBQ turkey or chicken in the south, and sushi and rice in an Asian household. Unlike Thanksgiving when pumpkin pie is the universal choice, many desserts are part of the meal: pies, cakes, fruit, and the famous fruitcake.  They are all washed down with the traditional and very sweet eggnog or its “adult” version with some rum, whisky, or other spirits.

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls have made it a tradition to have home NBA basketball games on Christmas Day that are broadcasted on national TV.  Other traditions include Christmas carols, window shopping the season-decorated department stores, special functions such as the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, the National Christmas tree in Washington, D.C., the Very-Merry Christmas Parade held simultaneously at Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim, the Nutcracker ballet in theaters and school auditoriums all over the United States, and endless Christmas movies and TV shows, including the original “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” with Boris Karloff as the voice of the Grinch.

I hope this walk through American Christmas traditions was fun, helped some of you to understand a little better the culture of the United States, and maybe part of what you just read will be handy in the booth one day. Whether you live in the U.S. or somewhere else, I now ask you to please share some of your country or family’s Christmas or other holiday-related traditions with the rest of us.  I sincerely hope you continue to honor us by visiting this blog every week in 2018. Thank you for your continuous preference, and happy holidays to all!

Is it true that interpreters must abstain from public commentary?

December 10, 2017 § 3 Comments

Dear Colleagues:

I have recently read many comments about the court interpreter in California who decided to talk to the media after she provided her services to the defendant in a high profile criminal case. To my surprise, must comments promptly endorsed the position that a court interpreter cannot make any public comment. Such extreme “black and white opinion” is quite concerning.

Before expressing such a sweeping opinion, interpreters should reflect on the purpose of their professional service, the reasons for the rule or legislation, and what the consequences of failing to observe it really are. Let’s see:

The main topic concerning this analysis is confidentiality. The nature of the duty of confidentiality is based on two things: the subject matter or area of interpretation, and a scale of values.

Different subject matters or fields of interpreting will be governed by different legislation, interests, and goals. If the interpreter’s professional practice involves intellectual property, diplomacy, or national security, there will be many limitations and restrictions as to the things the interpreter can share with others. Most of these duties will come from legislation, not canons of ethics of regulations. Many others will derive from contractual obligations regarding commercial brands, patents and copyrights.

The scale of values is also important: The more important the value, the stricter the responsibility.

Revealing the content of diplomatic negotiations could have implications of war and peace, and the interpreter could even go to prison, or at least lose his job and reputation.

Revealing medical information can disrupt a patient’s health or treatment, impact insurance coverage, kill a patient’s future employment opportunities, and generate legal problems for hospitals, physicians and interpreters.

When we provide diplomatic or military interpreting services at certain level, we are required to undergo a security clearance process and we take a legally binding oath to secrecy. Breaching this legal obligation will bring catastrophic consequences to the interpreter.

The California case gives us the opportunity to revisit a court interpreter’s duty of confidentiality, so we can see how sweeping statements like those made by some of our colleagues last week, most of them in good faith, are not so categorically right.

First, we need to understand what is protected by the duty of confidentiality, and who imposes the restrictions on the court interpreter.

Interpreters exist because there must be equal access to the administration of justice, regardless of the language the court or the parties to a controversy speak. Here we must make a distinction:

(1) The court interpreter as a communication tool to the litigant.
When a plaintiff, defendant or victim cannot actively participate in their legal case because of a language barrier, the court interpreter acts as the ears and voice of the foreign language speaker in communications with the court, his attorneys, and the opposite party. Interpreters render a complete, accurate interpretation of everything that is said during the hearing, and interpret to the court and parties everything the foreign language speaker says. These interpreters handle three types of information: public record, confidential information, and privileged communications.

These are the interpreters hired by the court, paid from the courthouse budget, and selected from a roster kept by the clerk’s office.

When a plaintiff or defendant want to be represented by a private attorney, but they cannot communicate with their attorneys because of a language barrier, those privately retained attorneys can also hire professionals court interpreters in private practice to help them communicate with their foreign speaking client, their client’s relatives, and with those witnesses who do not speak the language of the attorneys. In this case it is the attorney who selects the interpreters from prior experiences or referrals from others; and it is the attorney, not the court, who pays the interpreters’ fees (very likely from the plaintiff or defendant’s assets). This interpreters handle three types of information: public record, confidential information, and privileged communications.

As we can see, in both cases, interpreters work with information that is public record. This means that everybody has access to what was said or done. For example: As a rule, court hearings are open to the public. Anybody can go to the courthouse and sit in the courtroom during a trial. At the State-level, many jurisdictions broadcast their proceedings in public and even commercial TV. All legal arguments, court rulings, and witness statements are heard by all interested individuals.

Both, court appointed and privately retained interpreters are privy to confidential information not because of who the interpreters are as individuals, buy because of what they do for living. This information is sensitive in nature and if disclosed, it could adversely impact third party innocent individuals. For these reasons, interpreters are usually barred from sharing this information. Details surrounding a case that come to the knowledge of the parties, but are irrelevant to the outcome of the controversy are kept from the public. Names of business partners, financial information, paternity, personal health information, sealed court cases, juvenile court records, are just some of the examples that fall under this category.

While working with an attorney, all interpreters learn what is called privileged information. This is crucial, intimate information about the subject matter of the controversy that lawyers need to know to represent their clients and defend their interests. This information is treated differently because it is only when a person knows that statements made to their attorney in confidence cannot be disclosed to anyone, not even the judge or jury in the case, that clients can truly open up to their attorneys and share all details of a case. Those acting as agents of the attorney, such as paralegals, investigators, and interpreters, are covered by the client-attorney privilege, and nobody, not even a judge can compel them to disclose said privileged information.

(2) The court interpreter as auxiliary agent to the administration of justice.
The court system has a vested interest on the perception that the administration of justice within its jurisdiction is equally fair to all citizens, even those who do not speak the language of the court. For this reason, courts have set policy to clarify this principle, and reassure all potential litigants of the impartiality of the court, even in those cases when a foreigner is party to a controversy, especially in criminal cases where life or liberty are at stake.

This principle has motivated some courts (not all of them), in particular in the United States, to go beyond what many would consider reasonable, and impose the strictest restrictions to some of the things court interpreters can and cannot do. Based on this one-sided extremely restrictive rules, the federal courts of the United States abide by the United States District Court Code of Ethics for court interpreters, who have been sworn as officers of the court for the duration of the assignment, and interpret under contract with such court, “…to follow the Standards for Performance and Professional Responsibility for Contract Court Interpreters in the Federal Courts…” (USDC Code of Ethics. Preamble)

The Federal Code of Ethics contains some important principles needed to practice the court interpreter profession that are free of controversy, such as Rule 5: “Confidentiality. Interpreters shall protect the confidentiality of all privileged and other confidential information…”

It also covers other situations where restrictions seem unreasonable and arbitrary, like Rule 3 where it states that: “…During the course of the proceedings, interpreters shall not converse with parties, witnesses, …attorneys, or with friends and relatives of the party, except in the discharge of their official functions…”, or Rule 6: “Restriction of Public Comment. Interpreters shall not publicly discuss, report, or offer an opinion concerning a matter in which they are or have been engaged, even when that information is not privileged or required by law to be confidential…”

Dear friends and colleagues, we must remember that the above restrictions by the United States District Court Code of Ethics only apply to court interpreters who are providing their professional services when they “…are sworn in (and) they become, for the duration of the assignment, officers of the court with the specific duty and responsibility of interpreting between English and the language specified. …In their capacity as officers of the court, contract court interpreters are expected to follow the standards for performance and professional responsibility for contract court interpreters in the federal courts…”

In other words, said restrictions, as they are not the law, but a mere contractual obligation, only apply to those who are providing their services in federal court pursuant to a contract with the court. These blanket restrictions do not apply to any of us when working as interpreters in federal court if we have been retained by one of the parties.

Once we understand this limitation, and the different role interpreters play when they act as a communication tool to the litigant with his attorneys, and in those cases when they also act as an auxiliary arm to the administration of justice and are paid by their judiciary. It is obvious that legal restrictions and limitations such as client-attorney privilege and confidentiality will apply to all interpreters as they are part of the essence of the legal representation, but other limitations that go beyond that scope will not apply to privately retained interpreters as they exist to assure impartiality and transparency to the extreme. This is not necessary with private attorneys and their interpreters as they are publicly known as part of a team: plaintiff’s or defendant’s.

To the latter group of interpreters, sharing what is already public record should be no problem; and in my personal opinion, I do not believe that even court appointed interpreters should be sanctioned for sharing public information with the media. I believe that telling a reporter that a hearing was moved from 1 pm to 2 pm and saving her the trouble to go up 20 stories to read the same information on the court’s bulletin board will hardly raise suspicion of prejudice, particularity when we know that interpreting is a fiduciary profession. To me, it looks very weird when the interpreter refuses to answer such silly questions and reacts by moving away without an explanation.

As far as confidential information, please be aware that the prohibition is not absolute either. A court order can compel you to testify. Please remember that the client holds the right to said confidentiality, and as such, he or she can always give consent. When this happens, confidentiality goes away. Will these ever happen in your professional career? We do not know, but we should always be aware that it is a possibility.

Even client-attorney privilege is not absolute. There are certain exceptions in the law that allow you to pierce the veil of this sacrosanct privilege. Among other possibilities, the client, who holds the privilege, can also lift it by giving consent; you can also pierce it when defending yourself from the actions of the client who holds said privilege. Let’s say that the client sues you arguing that the interpreter did nothing in the case. Under those circumstances you can pierce the privilege to prove that the client is not telling the truth and show the work you did, as long as the privileged information you divulged is limited and tailored to the point you are trying to prove in court. Statements and information provided during a client-attorney communication that include future illegal activity is not covered by the privilege either, and you as interpreter must disclose it to the authorities.

We must remember at all times that different jurisdictions will have different policy, rules and legislation, so we must adhere to all applicable rules, as long as they apply to us, depending on the type of professional service we are going to provide.

In the case of California, please keep all of the above in mind, and understand that Rule 2.890(c)(4) states that: “…An interpreter must not make statements to any person about the merits of the case until the litigation has concluded…”

Notice how the rule does not go beyond the conclusion of the case, because the rule (erroneously in my opinion) does not make a distinction between interpreters privately retained by the parties who act as a communication tool to the litigant, and those retained by the courts who also must play the role of auxiliary agents to the administration of justice and therefore be impartial at all times. Once there are no more appeals, there is no reason for the restriction on the first type of interpreter.

Finally, a couple of thoughts: I was saddened to see how must of my colleagues immediately assume the role of a criminal court interpreter retained by the court. I am always hoping that more interpreters view themselves as independent professionals working with private attorneys. There is an abysmal difference in professional fees, and the work is about the same. I ask you to please think like a private practitioner, instead of accepting the rules without any reservation. Question the rules and try to understand why they compel you to do or abstain from doing something.

It also concerned me how so many of our court interpreter colleagues rush to “obey” anything the courts say without even checking the source of the “command”. Many people criticized and condemned the interpreter who spoke to the media because of what the “Professional Standards and Ethics for California Court Interpreters” say. Please understand that this is just a manual, not legislation, regulations, or a court decision. It is just a didactic tool for those who are trying to understand the profession. Use it as such. Observe the California Rules of Court.

I hope we all understand that professional rules include universal standard values, but they also incorporate local culture so necessary for an administration of justice that reflects the values of the community it is meant to serve. For this reason, I. Sincerely hope we all come to understand that asking for universal rules or codes is not the best legal option. A system like the one we have is an appropriate one. We just need to understand the rules better, and fight to change those we believe constitute a hurdle to our profession. I now ask you to please share your founded legal arguments on this issue that could adversely impact our profession.

The interpreter who played a crucial role at the first Thanksgiving.

November 21, 2017 § 3 Comments

Dear colleagues:

On Thursday the people of the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving: the most American of all holidays.  Christmas is also a very big day in America, but unlike Christmas only observed by Christians, Thanksgiving is a holiday for all Americans regardless of religion, ethnicity, or ideology. There are no presents, and every year during this fourth Thursday in November, people travel extensively to be with their loved ones and eat the same meal: a turkey dinner.

Distinguish between the religious act of thanking God for the good fortune and the American holiday called Thanksgiving Day.  The former was held by many Europeans all over the new world as they gave thanks for setting foot again on dry land. Explorers and conquistadors observed these religious ceremonies in places like Virginia, Florida, Texas, and New Mexico. Documented ceremonies were held on (at the time) Spanish territory as early as the 16th. Century by Vázquez de Coronado, and we have records of the festivities in Jamestown, Virginia during 1610.

The first Thanksgiving holiday can be traced to a celebration that took place at the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. The settlers had a bad winter followed by a successful harvest in 1621.  During that crude winter survival was possible thanks to the help of the local residents: The Wampanoag tribe.  Massasoit, who was the tribe leader, donated food to the English when the food they brought from England proved insufficient.  Cooperation between Native-Americans and Europeans included agriculture, hunting, and fishing lessons.  The settlers were taught how to catch eel and grow corn, and were briefed on the geography and weather conditions of the region.  This partnership took place because of the good disposition of all those who participated; however, trust had to be established and communication had to be developed.  The Europeans and Native-Americans spoke different languages and had little in common.  The English settlers were very fortunate as they had among them a Patuxent Native-American who had lived in Europe, first in England and Spain as a slave, and later in England as a free man.  During his years in Europe, this man learned English and could communicate in both languages: English and the one spoken by the Wampanoag tribe.  His name was Squanto (also known as Tisquantum), and he played an essential role in this unprecedented cooperation between both cultures.  He was very important during the adaptation and learning process. His services were valuable to settle disputes and misunderstandings between natives and settlers.  There are accounts of Squanto’s ability and skill. He was embraced by the settlers until his dead.  His work as an interpreter and cultural broker made it possible for two very different peoples to sit down and share a meal and a celebration when on that first Thanksgiving, the settlers held a harvest feast that lasted three days. Ninety Native-Americans, including King Massasoit attended the event.  They ate fish, fowl, and corn that the English settlers furnished for the celebration, and they had five deer that the Wampanoag took to the feast. Although it is not documented, maybe they also had wild turkeys as they existed in the region.  Undoubtedly Squanto must have worked hard during those three days facilitating the communication between hosts and guests.

We now celebrate this all-American holiday every year. It has been observed since President Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday; and it has been observed on the fourth Thursday of November since President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that it should be observed on that Thursday instead of the last one of the month as sometimes November has five Thursdays.  Thanksgiving is also the most American of all holidays because we celebrate family, football and the start of the best retail season of the year: Christmas.  We now have Black Friday and Cyber-Monday.  We travel by plane, car, and train to go home for this turkey dinner, and we all gather around the TV set to watch football and parades.  This Thanksgiving as you are carving the turkey, pause for a moment and remember the interpreter who helped make this all possible: Squanto the Patuxent Native-American.  Happy turkey day!

Remote interpreting. The way it should be.

November 9, 2017 § 5 Comments

Dear Colleagues:

We live in an environment where everybody is finally acknowledging the technological and economic changes that have disrupted the world of professional interpreting. About half of our colleagues are singing the praises of the innovations while the other half are opposing them. The truth is: Nobody is right and no one is wrong. Many of those who jumped on the bandwagon of video and audio remote interpreting did it with ulterior motives with nothing to do with the quality of the interpreters and therefore with their remuneration as professionals. Their concern was to get there first, and to do it quickly to make a lot of money with little consideration of the side effects of their actions. These call themselves the “industry”: Multinational agencies who sell interpreting services as a used car salesman sells you a lemon, and individuals who rushed to position themselves as intermediaries between these agencies, stingy uneducated end-users, and that group of paraprofessionals who are glad to work as “interpreters” for a handful of crumbs.

You have many capable, seasoned interpreters who refuse to work remotely because of their lack of knowledge about the technology and fearing performing below their well-known widely recognized professional level, not because they cannot interpret, but because they may have a hard time learning how to use the equipment, and even to do the simple things now required in the booth, like typing and searching the web.

There are many others who refuse to work remotely for a good reason: Because the quality of the equipment proposed for the event is subpar, because they are asked to provide a professional service for an insulting amount of money, or due to the deplorable working conditions offered by those who try to equate us with laborers instead of professionals.

For years, I have made my position known to those who care to hear it: I am all for technology if it is of excellent quality and the interpreters who use it are true professionals, making a professional fee and under working conditions that do not differ from those available in live in-person or on-site interpreting. Some of you have heard me praise the tremendous opportunities we have now as interpreters, and how we can now get more interesting assignments and make more money by eliminating travel days (usually paid as half of the full-day fee) and replacing them with more interpreting days where we can make our full-day fee.

Today I will share with you my experience with remote simultaneous interpretation and how this is working out fine for me.

I will be talking about conference interpreting, and what I say will probably be inapplicable to other types of interpreting because of the way multinational agencies and unscrupulous intermediaries have already polluted the environment.  At any rate, what you read here may help your efforts to demand better conditions in court and healthcare interpreting, and to refuse all work offered under such denigrating conditions.

The conference interpreting system I am working with is a cloud-based platform named Interprefy, by a company from Zurich, Switzerland. They are not an agency and they do not retain the interpreters. My business relationship is with their U.S. office: Interprefy USA in Chicago.

When I interpret with them, I physically go to their office in downtown Chicago by the Sears Tower where they have some booths/studios (more about this later) where I work with a live expert technician with me in Chicago. My booth-mate is usually sitting next to me in Chicago, but sometimes she is interpreting from another city or continent from the booth/studio of the company. A second (or third, fourth, etc.) expert technician, who also works for the company, is at the venue to coordinate and if needed fix any glitches at that end. If the interpreter is technologically very savvy, or daring, she can even work from her own home, after the equipment has been set up and tested. For this she must have at least 2 computers and a high speed internet connection.

The set up in my booth is similar to the one we have for our in situ assignments. There is a table with a computer, a very good headset, and a state-of-the-art microphone. If you prefer, you can use your own headset, just like an in-person conference. Your partner sits next to you and he also has a computer, headset and broadcast-style microphone.  Both interpreters have the same equipment. The computer on your desk lets you watch the speaker at the venue, and you can switch to another camera to see the screen on the stage of the people asking questions. There is a giant screen in front of both interpreters where we can watch the power point presentations and videos that the audience sees at the event. This is synchronized so that every time the speaker changes the slide, our screen will display the new one. If we want to see something else, or we want the volume at the podium higher, we can ask our technician at the venue and he will take care. There is a desk full of computers and other equipment behind the interpreters; this is where the main technician sits. We can talk to the main technician by turning around and speaking directly with him, or we can address him, and all other technicians by typing our questions, comments, and requests in the chatroom we all have through the platform. This is how we as interpreters can communicate with our virtual booth-mate when she is somewhere else, or to the other booths if we need something from another language, or for a relay.

The audience at the venue can listen to the interpretation by using traditional receivers and headphones, or by using their laptop, tablet, or phone, if they do so. Finally, if there is a problem with the internet connection, the service can immediately change from the cable or satellite provider, to an over-the-phone connection. This makes for a smooth service where the audience and speaker soon forget that the interpreters are thousands of miles and many time zones away from them.

Now, this is a sophisticated and at the same time, simple way to work a conference remotely; we are not talking about an Ipad on wheels, and from beginning to end, we are working under the watchful eye of expert technicians, not a jailer, court clerk, or nurse “operating” the technology.

We as interpreters can get used to this service because the quality of the product we deliver to the audience is top-notch, and because we work under the same conditions and pay as we do when physically at the conference. We get full dates and half dates, not that per-hour and even per-minute nonsense that the “industry” has imposed on court and healthcare interpreters. The company that runs the platform proudly announces that they only work with top quality conference interpreters in all languages needed. Their business model suggests that the savings are on the booths and travel expenses, not the interpreters.

This service has proven itself in big conferences with several booths from different locations, where there is no room to physically install a booth at the venue, and for less common languages in conferences where widely used languages are interpreted from a booth physically at the conference. Because of the company’s local partners, we as interpreters can easily drive downtown in most major cities and work from their location.

This is how remote interpreting must be, dear friends and colleagues. We cannot compromise quality, working conditions or remuneration just because some of the usual predators have taken over a market. I suggest you demand professional fees and conditions regardless of what type of remote interpreting you do.  Always remember: The end-user is already saving money in booth and travel expenses, do not let them fool you by convincing you that the service will not be profitable unless they pay you by the minute, and nurse Ratched is in charge with the dolly and the tablet.

Remote Simultaneous Interpreters (RSIs) cannot get a fee lower than in-person conference interpreters. Our work as RSIs is more complicated because we must know broadcast interpreting to deal with the voice latency (lag) that could be as much as 5 to 10 milliseconds, and to have extreme concentration and deep knowledge of the subject if gaps or blackouts keep us from hearing a syllable or even a word. Not all conference interpreters can sound seamless under these conditions. This is one reason why the RSI booth looks a little like a broadcast studio. I am convinced that Remote Simultaneous Interpreting is a new and different type of interpreting: A hybrid between broadcast and conference interpreting that requires training and preparation only a professional can embrace.

I now invite you to share your thoughts on this very trendy subject in our profession, and please remember that I have no experience with those other less-sophisticated devices hospitals, detention centers and courthouses are using to save a quick buck.

The 15 scariest books ever written.

October 30, 2017 § 2 Comments

Dear Colleagues:

This time of the year brings all aspects of our reverence, fear, and fascination for the culture of death to the spotlight. Whether you call it Halloween, Day of the Dead, All Saints Day, Obon, Ghost Festival, Baekjung, Sat Thai, Mataka Danes, or any other name; even if you do not observe or commemorate the day, festival or event during the month of October, and regardless of your religious, spiritual, or commercial motivation to do so, at this time of the year, most people think of their mortality and manifest it. This blog deals with the subject every year.

Because the topic is very appealing for a blog about language and culture, in past years I have written about horror movies, cultural observances and traditions around the world, and even ghostly legends. This time I decided to share with you my all-time top fifteen scariest books or novels. A big fan of macabre literature, it was no easy task to narrow it down to fifteen. I assure you many horror stories stayed out of the list even though they could be part without any argument. Some of the ones that did not make my top fifteen are probably among your preferred scary tales.

These are my top fifteen:

Dracula.

Bram Stoker’s master piece cannot be left out. The grandmother of all horror stories keeps you involved in the lives of Jonathan Harker, and Van Helsing as they fight against the formidable vampire from Transylvania in a magnificent Victorian Britain. The description of Dracula’s lifestyle in his castle never fails to scare me. Crawling up and down the walls, turning into a wolf, and his power over Lucy will give you some sleepless nights.

The Exorcist.

The 1971 novel by William Peter Blatty, that became the movie of a generation, narrates the demonic possession of 12-year-old Regan MacNeil and her exorcism by Father Merrin and Father Karras. Based on a story that Blatty heard about as a student at Georgetown University, the story describes the conduct of the possessed girl and the struggle to save her soul from the demon Pazuzu that culminates with Karras’ surrender of his own life in exchange from Regan’s. A very popular novel with past generations that should be suggested to all new fans of the horror genre.

El Panteón del Gótico Español (Pantheon of Spanish Gothic).

An anthology of gothic stories by famed Spanish authors such as Benito Pérez Galdós with his tale “Una Industria que vive de la muerte” (An industry that makes its living from the death); “Tristán, el sepulturero” (Tristan the gravedigger) by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez; Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer’s “El Miserere” (Misericord); Emilia Pardo Bazán’s “Eximente” (Exculpatory circumstances); “El Castillo del espectro” (The specter’s castle) by Eugenio de Ochoa; “Los tesoros de la Alhambra” (The treasures of Alhambra) and many more. Fifteen stories that live between the gothic and fantasy worlds, bringing us ghosts and other supernatural beings that accompany us from the moment we begin to read this compilation magnificently written by these 19th and 20th century superstars of the Spanish language.

Salem’s Lot.

Stephen King’s second published novel about Ben Mears, a writer who returns to the little town of Jerusalem’s Lot (Salem’s Lot) in the American State of Maine, only to discover that the residents are becoming vampires, and it can all be tracked down to the Marsten House, and old mansion he feared since childhood, now inhabited by the mysterious Kurt Barlow, who is never seen in public. The story begins with the disappearance of a young boy: Ralphie Glick, and the death of his brother Danny, who becomes the first vampire. The novel is full of suspense as everybody in town turns into a vampire. King himself has asserted on different interviews that Salem’s Lot is his favorite novel. In a world swamped with vampire novels, this one is a most read because of its implicit logic as people become vampires after a vampire attacks and kills them. It is uncommon to read a story where all victims end up as offenders.

1Q84

An interesting dystopian novel by Japanese great Haruki Murakami that takes place in Tokyo during a fictionalized year 1984. After Aomame, posing as a hotel maid, kills one guest, she has bizarre experiences that lead her to believe that she has entered an alternative reality inhabited by characters like the dyslexic writer Fuka-Eri and school teacher Tengo. Eventually Aomame’s and Tengo’s alternative worlds intersect as they are both investigated for the murder. Murakami keeps you involved with the fantastic characters throughout the story from its unique beginning until the reader understands the reason for this strange world to exist. Great reading for both, horror and science-fiction lovers.

The Silence of the Lambs.

This 1988 novel by Thomas Harris, a sequel to his 1981 novel “Red Dragon”, feature scary cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter and his interaction with FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling ordered to present a questionnaire to Lecter, a brilliant forensic Psychiatrist, and is serving nine consecutive life sentences in a Maryland mental institution for serial killers. The novel is full of suspense and intellectual content as Starling and Lecter get into a macabre intellectual dance of questions, requests, and answers, while the young FBI agent is trying to solve the murders of serial killer “Buffalo Bill”.  Full of interesting characters, and surprises, this novel is guaranteed to keep you reading until the end.

The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe.

A delightful collection of the works of one greatest and earliest pioneer of the short story. Poe was the poet who perfected the tale of psychological horror, and we as his admirers, can savor his main works of satires, fables, fantasies, drama, and poetry in this anthology, including: “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, “Annabel Lee’, “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket”, and his masterpiece: “The Raven”, where he tells us of a talking raven’s mysterious visit to a distraught lover, showing us how the man slowly falls into madness because of losing his love: Leonore, as he listens to the raven who constantly repeats, to the lover’s distress, the word: “nevermore”.  All those who call themselves literature lovers must read the works of Poe.

Interview with the Vampire.

This gothic vampire horror story by Anne Rice cannot be left out of this list.  The reader “listens” to Louis as he conveys his 200-year-long life story to a reporter, starting with his days as a plantation owner near New Orleans, in the American State of Louisiana, and his search for death motivated death of his dear brother, that takes him to a vampire named Lestat de Lioncourt who turns him into a vampire and gives him immortality.  Even though Louis comes to terms with he killing to survive, he becomes increasingly repulsed by Lestat’s lack of compassion for the humans he preys upon. The interview covers the fantastic adventures of Louis in Europe, including his romances, and moves on to one last encounter he had with Lestat I n New Orleans in the 1920s. At the end of the story, the listener begs Louis to turn him into a vampire so he can also live forever; but Louis, frustrated and disgusted by this young man’s doing not learn anything from his story, attacks him and vanishes without a trace, and the interviewer decides to track down Lestat hoping to get immortality. This is a perfect story for a city like New Orleans, and it shows the values and “humanity” of a vampire in a way that neither Bram Stoker nor Stephen King ever do.

Dracula’s Guest.

This tale is apparently the deleted first chapter from the original “Dracula” manuscript, which the publisher eliminated from the final work as he considered it superfluous. After Bram Stoker’s death, his widow Florence published the chapter as a short story in the book: “Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories” by Bram Stoker.  The story, as published, can stand alone. It follows a nameless Englishman (because we read Dracula we know it is Jonathan Harker) on a visit to Munich before leaving for Transylvania on Walpurgis Night. The Englishman, against all warnings by the hotelier and the carriage driver, makes it to a desolated “unholy” place where he takes shelter from a snowstorm in a cave. He soon realizes that he is in a cemetery and that his shelter is a tomb where he is met by a beautiful vampire woman who attacks him until he realizes that it is a gigantic red-eyed wolf licking at his throat. The English man is later found by the locals who rescue him and take him back to his hotel where he learns that a note had arrived during his absence. It was from his host, Dracula, warning him from the dangers of the snow and wolves at night. This gets your imagination going once you learned that Harker’s first encounter with a vampire was in Germany, not Transylvania.

Aura.

This short novel by Mexican author Carlos Fuentes deals with dreamlike themes of double identity, as unemployed young historian Felipe Montero reads an add on the paper for a job to perform secretarial duties as a live-in for Consuelo Llorente, to help her organize and finish the memories of her late husband General Llorente. Montero goes for a job interview to Consuelo’s dark old mansion in downtown Mexico City where he finds her lying in bed with all lights off. She addresses him as she was already expecting him and hires him. Montero soon meets Aura, Consuelo’s beautiful young niece who lives in the house, speaks little, and mimics all movements and gestures of Consuelo. As his work progresses, Montero learns of Consuelo’s love story with her late husband, and about her infertility. He becomes more attracted to mysterious Aura until he falls madly in love with her. One day, Montero enters Aura’s room and finds her in bed. He holds her, and suddenly Aura transforms into the old widow, Consuelo, as he himself transforms into the old General Llorente. The story depicts the progression of the transformation of Felipe Montero into the General, and Aura’s transformation into Consuelo. This is a very original plot and it is wonderfully written by Fuentes.

Dark Water.

This is a collection of short stories by Japanese writer Koji Suzuki, originally published in Japan as “Honogurai mizu no soko kara” (From the depths of the black water). It includes seven stories: “Floating Water” about a mother and her young daughter who move into a run-down apartment after her messy divorce, and discover that another girl vanished from the building a year earlier, and that the disappearance was surrounded by terrifying events in the building; “Solitary Isle”, about a man who investigates the unusual circumstances of his friend’s death and an artificial island in the middle of Tokyo Bay; “The Hold”, about a fisherman who abuses his wife, and how their son tries to uncover the reason for the woman’s disappearance; “Dream Cruise”, “Adrift”, “Watercolors”, and “Forest Under the Sea”, complete the anthology. As horror and science-fiction novel aficionados read these stories, they will find out that some have been made into movies under other names.

Carrie.

This was Stephen King’s first published novel, and it deals with Carrie White, a misfit high school who uses her telekinetic powers to avenge from those who bullied her., causing one worst local disaster in American history, destroying most of the town on prom night. After learning she was conceived because of marital rape, and that she was the subject of a huge prom prank, a mortally wounded, but still alive, Carrie destroys the house where she was conceived, kills her bullies, and after forgiving her innocent girlfriend, she dies crying out for her mother. This is a classic novel taken to the big screen twice, but I believe that even for those who have seen the movies, the novel is a good read because of King’s terrific style, and to see how he was writing at the very beginning.

Ghost Story.

Peter Straub’s fascinating story of the “Chowder Society” of the fictional town of Milburn, New York. The characters are five lifelong friends who meet periodically to share ghost stories until one of them dies suddenly and the surviving four find themselves haunted by dreams of their own death. The story takes us back to a time when the protagonists were young and they all were involved in the death of a young woman whom they believe has come back to take revenge upon them. This is a novel we must read. Even Stephen King has included it among the finest horror novels of the 20th century.

Rebecca.

This novel by English writer Dame Daphne du Maurier tells the story of how a young woman, while working as companion to a rich American woman on vacation in Monte Carlo, meets Maximilian, de Winter, a British middle-aged widower who she marries after a short courtship. She moves into his beautiful estate Manderley where she meets Mrs. Danvers, the enigmatic housekeeper who had been a devote companion to the first Mrs. De Winter, Rebecca, who died in a boating accident about a year before she met her now husband Maximilian. The sinister housekeeper drives the new wife to madness by constantly talking about the first wife’s beauty and intelligence, until the young wife is convinced that her husband regrets his decision to marry her as he must be deeply in love with the deceased Mrs. De Winter. Through Mrs. Danvers’ manipulation, the young wife attends the annual costume ball dressed like a woman in a portrait that hangs from one wall of the estate. This turns out to be the same dress Rebecca was famous for, and when her entrance to the ballroom is announced as “Caroline de Winter”, the name of the woman in the portrait, Maximilian gets very angry and orders her to change. Mrs. Danvers continues her campaign against the young wife and tries to get her to commit suicide, but at the last moment there is a shipwreck and a diver investigating the scene of the accident also discovers the remains of Rebecca’s boat with her body still on board. After some turmoil, Maximilian tells her he loves her; that Rebecca was a mean and selfish human who told him, on the night she died, that she was cheating on him and was pregnant with a child that was not his. In a moment of rage, Maximilian shot her and she died.  Later on he learned that Rebecca was told on the same day she would die of an incurable disease and she could have no children. Maximilian assumed that Rebecca, knowing she would die soon, manipulated him into killing her quickly. After coming to terms with these facts, Maximilian drives back to Manderley, but as he gets closer to the mansion, it becomes clear that the house was ablaze.  This is truly a suspense novel that will give you many reasons not to go near a boat or a masquerade.

Dear friends and colleagues, this is my list. I am sure that many of you will agree with some of my picks and disagree with others. I could have continued up to 50 or 100 novels, but I had to end the post at some point. For that reason, and hoping that you help me enhance the list, I now ask you to share some of your favorite horror novels, and please make sure that you talk about novels, short stories, or plays; I am not interested in horror movies this time around.

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