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26 Feb


After twenty plus years in the field, all legal terms rest at the tip of my tongue. Not so. I grabbed “Comprehensive Bilingual Dictionary of Spanish False Cognates*” to stumble upon SENTENCE just today. How many times does that word come up in your day?

sentence n.

GRAMMAR. oración, frase – He writes very long SENTENCES. Escribe frases larguísimas.

LAW. to pass SENTENCE on somebody. Imponer una pena a alguien. The judge gave him a six month SENTENCE El juez lo condenó a seis meses de cárcel. To serve one’s SENTENCE. Cumplir su condena.

What did I learn? Dictar una pena wasn’t the sole way to render pass sentence (see above). Where the judge gave a defendant a six month sentence reminds me to remember it’s seis meses DE cárcel instead of the my clumsy seis meses de encarcelamiento.

Five minutes in a book reminded this interpreter to continue to learn and polish his speech. That’s all I got for today.

*cognate: Ling. descended or borrowed from the same earlier form

Hamel, Bernard H. Comprehensive Bilingual Dictionary of Spanish False Cognates. Los Angeles: Bilingual Book Press, 1998.



9 Sep



Hocking College offers a course for students interested in court interpretation with a high level of proficiency in a second language other than English. Coursework includes legal terminology, best practices, ethics and court protocol. Classes will be held at Clark Hall in Gahanna. For more information contact or Click on the link below for the flyer.

Court Interpretation Flyer


26 Aug

2015 CCIO


CCIO will host “Uniting to Strengthen the Profession: Fostering Connections, Empowering Interpreters, Celebrating the Profession”, a day of training and networking for language professionals on Saturday, September 19 in Uniontown, Ohio. Join us for legal and medical seminars with instructors in Arabic, ASL, Serbian/Croation/Bosnian and others. The preliminary agenda appears soon at We invite interpreters, translators, language agencies and all who support our profession. Click on the link below for more information. See you there.

CCIO Conference 2015 Flyer


16 Aug

text analysis


After twenty plus years in the business I become lazy in learning. I know what words will come up in teaching a mother to feed her premature child. What respectable court interpreter doesn’t have arraignment at the tip of her tongue? Back in graduate school a professor suggested we read thirty minutes each day in each languages. As my first ATA mentor Rudy Heller says, por si las moscas/just in case, so today’s reading exercise turned into a blogpost. I share this method through the assistance of El Pais and a word list.


I fired up my spanking new MacBook Air (a sixtieth birthday present from my Jeff) and tooled on over to El Pais. A quick scan produced an article that appealed to my legal and medical curiosities. After two or three readings, new terms appeared with others I thought I already knew. My list follows. I also write out sentences to increase memory instead of memorizing only the words.

Please read through and find words that catch your attention. Then, you’ll have terms available to pass an oral exam or dazzle your client when you don’t stumble with cadaver. How so? Last week on assignment cadaver slipped my mind and I said cuerpos muertos instead. My colleague Silvia claimed that was a good catch.

Enjoy your hour today.

Reyerta: Un muerto en una – en una discoteca ??? quarrel
Hora: a primera – In the early morning hours OK
Multitudinaria: en una pelea – ??? tumultuous
Producirse: El aviso al teléfono 112 se produjo a las seis de la mañana Came through Take place (change, effect), occur (accident, explosion earthquake), break out (war, fire, revolution)
Personal sanitario: a donde fue enviado – – Paramedics Medical personnel
Realizar reanimación cardiopulmonar: Pese a las maniobras de – – que le fueron realizadas al herido Perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) Cardiac resuscitation: reanimación cardiaca
Trasladar: por lo que su cadaver* fue trasladado al servicio de urgencias Transport Transfer
Estar ser investigar: en la pelea, iniciada por causas que están siendo investigadas (going) under investigation OK InterActive Terminology for Europe Collins Spanish-English Dictionary


22 Jun

Protocol selfie

On June 20th in Akron novice and seasoned court interpreters met to learn skills requisite in the legal arena. I presented tips on the pre-session, the criminal justice system and language on how to address the court to assure we stay within the bounds of our code. We also performed dual task exercises and shadowing with an eye to pass the upcoming OH State Court Certified Interpreter exam. Mr. Bruno Romero, Language Services Coordinator at the Ohio Supreme Court, encouraged participants to practice regularly to increase the chance of passing grade and reminded us to educate judges, bailiffs and all court personnel what the interpreter can and cannot do. The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators provides position papers and a code of ethics that I still hand out to this day to explain our role. Visit the Ohio Supreme Court website (see below) to print copies of the latest bench card. We are the language professionals and owe it to ourselves to present as such.

Part of the workshop included ethical conundrums an interpreter faces in open court. What happens when a defendant whispers an untoward comment under his breath at counsel table? Is the interpreter obligated to interpret what she hears? Or, does she merely sit aside? Whisper the same comment in the target language? I encouraged everyone to develop her own set of ethics that are neither black nor white. Can I hear from colleagues out there of what they might do when someone whispers in court?

Language Services Programs

Community and Court Interpreters of Ohio

National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators


22 Jun

TN flag

Meet our colleagues for the 2015 Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators/Tennessee Association Of Medical Interpreters and Translators in Nashville. “Enhancing the Professional Skills of Interpreters and Translators in the 21st Century” offers pre-conference workshops September 11 and the full conference at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Here’s a chance to hear Holly Mikkelson and Esther Navarro-Hall that you can’t afford to miss.

Early bird registration is $199 for members and $259 for non-members. The conference currently is calling for papers. For more information, visit, write to or call (844) 44-TAPIT. Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators Tennessee Association Of Medical Interpreters and Translators


14 Jun

HOW CAN I BE SURE? (with apologies to the Young Rascals)
Thank God for smart phones. I didn’t prepare ahead of time for a maternal fetal medicine appointment. What with an early arrival and fifteen minutes to spare, Ms. iPhone 5s proved my hunch right that the literal translation for “birth defect” works, but better to consult a trusted source. This interpreter guy remembered defecto de nacimiento from the previous appointment so why not use the same term again?

I tried to recall particulars from before. What was the pregnancy-related complication and why did Mrs. Belaunde need a second ultrasound? My first search with defectos de nacimiento brought up and confirmed my guess. Then a wander through MedlinePlus with defectos del feto produced anomalía de nacimiento (congenital) and uncertainty What’s the difference between a defect and an anomaly? I secretly liked anomalia de nacimiento more purely for the sound.

defect: shortcoming, imperfection or lack: genetic defects
anomaly: something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected: there are a number of anomalies in the present system

light bulb 2
There it was. Baby Belaunde’s head circumference measured less than the average size for a fetus of XXX months with the last exam. Mama Belaunde anxiously awaited the results and The Interpreter Guy knew how to say “birth defect” properly and without missing a beat. Have any of my fellow interpreters researched to use the correct term and then, the word didn’t come up in the interpreting session? Me, too. No mention of “birth defect” from either the neonatal specialist or the nurse practitioner. Darn. How many times a day do you use a term, determined that it’s OK, yet a little voice coos, “I don’t think you know all the words!”