InterpretAmerica: Early Bird Deadline Extended

The 3rd North American Summit on Interpreting, organized by industry veterans Katharine Allen and Barry Olsen, will take place in Monterey, California, on June 15 and 16. Unfortunately, we will not be able to attend, but the event sounds fantastic! InterpretAmerica just announced that they've extended the early bird deadline, which means you can still get into the conference for a lower price (until May 7, that is). They've also announced some fantastic new speakers. We just received the following information from InterpretAmerica:

Groundbreaking Session:
Conflict in Interpreting Zones

 InterpretAmerica is the guest author for the NAJIT Blog this week with an in-depth post on Interpreting in Conflict Zones. Please view the blog here.  

Then check out the first-of-its-kind panel on Interpreting in Conflict Zones at the upcoming 3rd North American Summit on Interpreting. Panel members include one of the principal authors of a translation and interpreting curriculum for military linguists, an O9L combat linguist from the 51 Translation and Interpretation Company at Fort Irwin, California, a military officer who has served multiple missions working with interpreters, a contract interpreter with vast experience working in conflict zones and subsequently training military linguists, and Dr. Barbara Moser-Mercer, who spearheaded the creation of InZone for the University of Geneva.  

New Speakers, New Events Added to the Summit!

From Weekend Workshops to PhDs: Is A Generalist Educational Framework for Interpreting Possible in the United States?
Dr. Renée Journdenais, Dean, Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation, and Language Education, Monterey Institute of International Studies
Dr. Andrew Clifford, Chair, Glendon School of Translation, York University 
will present this important session.

Festival of Cultures
When making your travel plans, don't miss Thursday evening's opening reception, Festival of Cultures, generously hosted by Language Line Services, which is celebrating it's 30th Anniversary connecting people and cultures through interpreting. 6:00-7:30pm.

Introduction to California Court Interpreting
Workshop provided by the Court Interpreters Program, Administrative Office of the Courts, California. Thursday, June 14, 4:30-6:00pm. OPEN TO ALL. 

New Moderators for Workgroup Sessions!

Toward a Working Technology Partnership:
Becca Bryant of Williams Sound and Dan Gatti of Stratus Video will provide a framework template for participants to envision a working collaborative between interpreters and technology developers and vendors.
One Profession, One Voice
Award-winning communications consultant Spencer Critchley from Boots Road Group, will moderate the PR Workgroup Session: One Profession, One Voice - Selling the Interpreting Profession to the Public. Attendees will receive a crash course on PR and then work to create a unified messaging for the profession. Your contributions will be captured and published as a beginning publicity template for our industry.

For complete information about the Summit, visit the InterpretAmerica website.

See you in Monterey June 15-16!  

Court Interpreters in the News: PRI's The World

We are both fans of National Public Radio (yes, we are members), and we particularly enjoy The World  on PRI (Public Radio International). The program is a co-production of the BBC World Service, Public Radio International and WGBH. One of the reporters, Jason Margolis, contacted Judy a few months ago, and as of today, there's a story that revolves around court interpreting in Nevada -- and around the country. Have a listen and you will agree that Judy does not have a future in radio. Here's a link to the article. Here's the podcast: Nevada Court Interpreters Protest Wage Cuts by The World

Open Thread: Would You Work For...?

A few months ago, there was some discussion on other blogs about companies that our fellow translators and interpreters would not work for due to ethical reasons. Among the companies that were mentioned by our colleagues were weapons manufacturers, extremists groups, companies that are known to explore workers in developing countries, businesses that don't share the translator's religious views, and many others. We think this is a fascinating subject, and we've put some thought into it throughout the years. Our guidelines aren't set in stone, but in general, we have declined work from weapons manufacturers, companies that make sexually explicit materials, extremist groups on all political sides, companies that exploit women, etc.  Some companies we've had concerns about, but weren't quite sure. Sometimes it's a bit of a challenge to research exactly how companies conduct their business affairs. When in doubt, we go with our gut (which isn't a foolproof method, of course). Of course, this conversation opens a can of worms. How do we know that a specific clothing manufacturer doesn't violate labor laws? And what about the semiconductor company? Are they discriminating against some folks in their hiring practices? If yes, should that be a deal-breaker? No business, including ours, is perfect. There's lots of food for thought here, and we're not proposing that all translators stick to a specific ethical standard. Rather, we are just interested to hear how our colleagues have handled this and what their views are on the subject.

What about you, dear colleagues? Do you accept work from all customers? Do you have specific guidelines? If yes, what are they? We'd love to hear your thoughts. One of our colleagues is also thinking about writing an article on this topic for the American Translators Association's Chronicle magazine, so we figured we'd get the conversation started right here.

Please chime in by leaving a comment below.

Spanish-English Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination

The FCICE (Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination) registration page for the written exam, which will be held in August of this year, just became available on April 16. For the first time, the FCICE will be administered at Prometric testing centers across the nation, eliminating the need to travel to specific locations to take this challenging exam. The exam dates are August 6 through August 13. Applicants who pass the written exam will qualify to sit for the oral exam, which will be held at some point next year (dates to be announced).

If you've ever thought about taking the federal court interpreter exam, this is a great opportunity to do so. With several thousand testing centers across the nation, we bet there's a Prometric location close to your home office. Judy just signed up for the exam.  To do the same, start here. Applicants must register for the exam (cost: $175) before they are able to schedule the exam with the testing provider.

Update: the National Center for Interpretation at the University of Arizona is offering prep courses for the written exam. They seem a bit pricey at $495 ($396 for NAJIT members), but they are conveniently offered around the country. You can register for classes here.

Jobs: NFLC (National Foreign Language Center) Consultant Opportunities

The job announcement comes from an e-mail that we received through one of our listservs (the highly recommended IRL, Interagency Language Roundtable; anyone can join here). 

Please read on for more details:

NFLC Language Consultant Opportunities

The National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) at the University of Maryland is a research institute dedicated to promoting communication within the United States in languages other than English.

If you are interested in working with us, or if you know a qualified candidate who would be interested in working with us, please contact the NFLC via email at Submit your current resume or CV with your language in the subject line.

We are currently working on a project that provides adult language learners with interactive online tools to reinforce their foreign language skills. We focus on less commonly taught languages. We are currently looking for several individuals to help us launch projects in the following languages:
·         Dari
·         Hausa
·         Hindi
·         Tamil
·         Yoruba orWest Punjabi

Minimum Requirements:
  • Native, or near-native, proficiency in the target language
  • English proficiency
  • Ability to conduct Internet research and submit Word documents and/or audio files

Desired Qualifications:
  • Knowledge of ILR scale of language proficiency

Specifically, we need educated native speakers of these languages (or individuals with equivalent proficiency levels) to review online activities and cultural notes for online foreign language learning modules for their native language using software we provide.  In addition, we are looking for speakers to find authentic reading and audio passages, to record audio files, and to perform various editing tasks in these languages.

The work is part-time, contractual, and most of the work can be done from your home computer. All candidates must have permission to work in the United States, or reside and work outside of the United States.

Donation Update: Thank You

On December 28, 2011, we started a donation campaign for our colleague Álvaro Degives-Más and his wife, Trish, who were in dire financial straits. For some reason, we were initially worried that no one would donate. We were the first donors, followed by many family members, and then the donations from colleagues around the world came pouring in. To say that this demonstration of support and love was an incredibly enriching and wonderful experience is an understatement. We were moved to tears every time a donation came in. We were traveling, and were getting the donation notifications via e-mail. One day, on December 30, 2011, the *only* items we had in our inbox were PayPal donation notifications -- wow!
We still haven't even been able to fully comprehend how incredible of an effort this has been -- we've raised a bit more than $10,250 for Álvaro and Trish. Most of the funds were raised within the first four weeks of our campaign. The vast majority of donors donated online via PayPal, while others gave us checks and even cash, which we happily stuffed into envelopes and sent to Reno. Yet other colleagues requested the couple's address to send checks to them. Donations came in from 25 countries (at last count) and ranged from $2 to $1,000 (really).

We've written a thank-you note to each and every donor (more than 400) and we are forever grateful to everyone who donated. We are so lucky to have such amazing colleagues and friends! We'd previously posted an update on the campaign (and another update), and now it's time for a message from Trish, Álvaro's wife. Things are still challenging for them, but they are getting better, and it's thanks to you, dear donors. Trish prefaced the message below by saying: "Words just seem so inadequate when trying to express the depth of my appreciation, as the donations truly did save our lives.  I'll never be able to thank you - and everyone else - enough. " Read on. 

Dear Judy, Dagmar and the compassionate and generous individuals who came to our aid when tragedy struck:

Please accept our boundless gratitude, as well as our sincere apologies for the delay in expressing our appreciation. The past three to four years have brought one catastrophe after another, which had entirely depleted our financial cushion when Álvaro suffered the heart attack. Your generosity saved our lives. The stent installed in his artery requires that he not miss a single dose of two very expensive medications, which your donations have made possible. I was finally able to see a physician and obtain medication for extreme hypertension, which put my life at great risk each day it remained untreated. You also made it possible to cover basic living expenses during the period we were entirely without income. I hate to contemplate where we would have been without the generosity of both friends and strangers.

Álvaro's glasses, upon which he's completely dependent, disappeared the day of his heart attack. Despite multiple surgeries, I've lost all vision in one eye and the other was in need of corrective lenses. After multiple trips to the ophthalmologist and optician and weeks of waiting, we both had glasses and were finally able to see, which you made possible. About five weeks after Álvaro's myocardial infarction, I was in an ambulance after suffering a fall that immobilized me for over a month. Just as I was recovering, pneumonia struck. We're now trying to address so many things that fell through the cracks over the past three months. Please forgive our failure to express our gratitude in a more timely manner. Despite our silence, your profound kindness has not for a moment been forgotten - and never will.

The husband of another interpreter invested considerable time and effort locating a mechanically sound used car we were able to purchase with donations, which is essential to Álvaro earning a living due to the travel involved. Without a vehicle, we'd have little to no income. Your generosity has made it possible for us to survive financially.

It's not possible to adequately express the depth of our appreciation. You literally saved our lives and our family from destruction. Slowly but surely, we're recovering physically and financially, due to your generosity. Please know how much each and every one of you mean to us.

With love & gratitude,


The 30% Court Interpreter Paycut

Cartoon courtesy of Alejandro Moreno-Ramos. 
Most of our colleagues have probably all been following the debacle about court interpreters in the UK -- and so have we. The best summary we've found so far comes courtesy of Rainy London (Valeria Aliperta's blog). The summary: the UK government tries to save money on court interpreting by giving the nationwide contract to a private company, the infamous ALS, which obviously has an incentive to cut costs -- after all, they want to make a profit. The'd promised the Ministry of Justice that they'd provide low-cost interpreting services, so in order to make any sort of profit on this deal, they have to pay their interpreters peanuts (they are not very picky about whom they choose, read on about Jajo the interpreter bunny). While this is still playing out, the end result has been, thus far, that thousands of interpreters have refused to work, leaving the courts in dire straits. Alejandro Moreno-Ramos' cartoon sums up the situation in just a few sentences (visit his hilarious Mox blog or buy the book).

On the other side of the Atlantic, many thousands of miles away, something similar is happening (minus the interpreter unity and the media attention). Here in Nevada (Clark County), the effects of the global economic crisis are hard to miss. Nevada leads the nation in many things, including unemployment rates and foreclosures. It's a sad thing to witness, and as is to be expected, the local and state governments are trying to make ends meet with decreasing tax revenue from gaming operations and tourism dollars (hotels are still full, but they are much cheaper). Furloughs have been introduced for many state workers, and universities are closing entire programs and departments.

The latest victims of the downturn guessed it: court interpreters. Effective February 15, 2012, Clark County gave a new contract to all certified contract court interpreters, reducing their rate by an astonishing 30%. Unfortunately, many fellow court interpreters have come to rely on the court system to feed them work so much that they've had no choice but to accept the new conditions. Judy, however, has chosen to send a message and has not signed the new contract, thus ending her working relationships with the courts. She still interprets in court, but for private parties (law firms, etc.). Ironically, the rate has only been decreased for certified Spanish interpreters. All other languages are still paid at the old rate.

What do you think, fellow interpreters? We understand that governments need to save funds, but reducing the rates of contractors who are such an important part of the legal puzzle is concerning. Court interpreters receive no benefits, insurance, vacation time or even mileage and travel time, and a 30% decrease in rate means that more and more top-notch interpreters will look for work elsewhere. The people who suffer are invariably those who need it most: defendants in criminal cases. We don't know what the answer is, but for now, Judy is not willing to work for 30% less. Court interpreters go through a very challenging and long certification process in Nevada (with a  3% pass rate on the first try), and the pay rate doesn't do all that work and expertise that one needs to become a court interpreter any justice.

We'd love to hear your thoughts.
Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

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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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