The Invisible Interpreter: We Haven't Seen Her

Yes, we are here. In a subpar tabletop booth.
Happy summer, dear readers, colleagues, friends from around this world? This summer, can we all make a pledge to stop being invisible as interpreters? Interpreters are not visible -- in fact, we see many interpreters in many different settings, and even if they are interpreting remotely, they are not technically invisible. We have not yet seen any invisible interpreters, have you? Yet our profession has often been referred to as "invisible," even from within our industry. We are not sure how that started, but we can collectively change it, can't we? 

Interpreters (and translators, for that matter, but we will focus on interpreters in this post) are crucial in myriad situations around the world every single day: war zones, courtrooms, medical clinics, diplomatic talks, international organizations, community centers, churches, schools, prisons, welfare offices--the list goes on and on. Many things in our world wouldn't happen without interpreters: defendants wouldn't have access to justice without interpreters, conference attendees around the world would not be able to understand the speakers, parents wouldn't be able to speak to their kids' teachers, patients wouldn't be able to speak to their doctors, and world leaders wouldn't be able to speak to each other. Interpreters are there, making it happen. Let's shine a light on them, honor them, support them, make them visible, and highlight their importance in making our world work. We are happy to see there's increased visibility now because of the historic US-North Korea meetings and family separations at the US-Mexico border (read about it here and here; Judy was cited in one of the articles).

Dear colleagues: will you join us in being more visible, whatever that means to you? Speaking up for better working conditions, perhaps, or insisting on getting information you need to be successful in your job ahead of time (does this sound familiar, conference interpreters?), fighting for better standards, standing up for our profession, supporting each other, etc.? Let's do it. 


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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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