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 http://www.kent.edu/appling 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 http://www.elpais.com 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

http://iate.europa.eu/SearchByQueryLoad.do?method=load InterActive Terminology for Europe

http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/spanish-english/reyerta 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 http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/JCS/interpreterSvcs/default.asp

Community and Court Interpreters of Ohio http://www.ccio.org

National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators http://www.najit.org


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 http://www.tapit.org, write to info@tapit.org or call (844) 44-TAPIT.

http://www.tapit.org Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators
http://www.tamit.org 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 http://www.nacersano.marchofdimes.org and confirmed my guess. Then a wander through MedlinePlus with defectos del feto produced anomalía de nacimiento (congenital) and uncertainty http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/. 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!”

Smartphones and a scared kid

24 May


Not everyone understands through words, especially frightened children who associate a visit to the doctor with pain. Imagine a tyke who stumbles through the labyrinth of looming hallways, climbs aboard elevators that whoosh, and strangers appear at every turn. All the while she looks up at the world of towering adults who attempt to comfort. Plop her down in a chair and start with the litany of questions. She wonders, “Who are these people and when will they hurt me?” No child likes needles. The medical interpreter appears to help assuage fears and facilitate communication as a member of the  healthcare team.


Back at Akron University I learned people process and absorb language through four channels: VAKT visual, audio, kinesthetic and tactile. Recently my handy-dandy iPhone 5c and Google images helped Eduardito to visualize “shake your leg like Jello” and then relax to prepare for a regular injection. He politely nodded yes when asked if he knew what Jello was but I detected otherwise and asked the nurse practitioner “May I bring up an image on my phone through Google images?” Result? A meek nod of the head once he saw the picture and the message conveyed nicely. As a practice I request permission from the practitioner before employing this intervention strategy. Have you had experiences where you used your phone to communicate beyond mere words? Let me know.

Learning Styles through VAKT http://learningabledkids.com/learning-styles/vakt-visual-auditory-kinesthetic-tactile


27 Apr

Three simple words from a straightforward request: “What’s your address?” Ask mine and you’ll hear “611 West Maple Street, North Canton Ohio 44720.” A typical LEP amplifies a simple question into “Oh, I am living with my brothers not too far from here and I get up real early and my shift doesn’t end sometimes till four or five.” Where does this chap live? Next our friend slowly reaches for his wallet, pulls out a tattered scrap of paper with an address written in pencil, hands it to the interpreter and waits. I think to myself “Why doesn’t he know his address?” Where did I develop the notion that EVERYONE knows her address, social security and phone number? I memorized my social back in the 70’s on Miami University’s campus where — — —- was a pre-requisite along with Applied Linguistics 401.

photo address

A kind-hearted magistrate posed the same question after he recorded a not guilty plea for a non-responsive traffic offender. “Mr. Rivera, what is your address?” Mr. Rivera rambles on with “Pues apenas estamos en el departamento con mi esposa con las niñas y pronto llega mi hermano con su mujer y dos niños y …” No address, no zip code and certainly no state. Ethics require court interpreters to render everything in open court. “Well we just got the apartment with my wife and the girls and my brother will arrive soon with his two kids and…” Your Honor peers with suspicion at a long answer to a short question.

photo guatemalabags

Interpreters anticipate in order to facilitate communication, or, at least I do. The first time I expected a quick response from a Spanish speaker and encountered the scrap of paper response was at the women’s clinic registration window. “What’s your address?” inquired the lady behind the counter. A Guatemalan woman, bursting with pregnant child, fumbled through her bag, shifted her bulk in a cramped chair and emerged with an electric bill, unopened envelopes and a tattered scrap of notebook paper. No address yet but a smile for the interpreter. Ms. Receptionist-at-the-window-of-Doctor-forty-plus-patients a day casts me a disapproving look. Am I the only uncomfortable one in the room? Seconds tick by and no address yet.

I find these moments touching. Mrs. Ixcoy knew where her address was and gladly handed the information over. Mr. Rivera probably breathed easy with the notion that he would go free, continue to work and support his family here and abroad once he answered all the judge’s questions. I snap back to reality and remember my role is to interpret. Period. Honestly, though, does anyone out there ever tire of lengthy answers to simple questions? Please let me know.


5 Apr

An Ohio State Certified Court interpreter performs in three modes: simultaneous, consecutive and sight translation. According to Holly Mikkelson, “In fact, sight translation is just as difficult at simultaneous interpretation, and involves some of the same mental processes.”1 Hopefully she (the interpreter) devotes time to read court documents to become familiar with boilerplate language. Sight translation delivery sounds as if the interpreter were reading the text written in the target language. Reading clunky legal documents aloud in the privacy of your home office loosens the tongue.

Testing requirements in Ohio include a passing grade on an oral exam. According to the Rules of Superintendence, Rule 80 states that sight translation “means interpretation in which a foreign language interpreter or sign language interpreter renders in a target language a written document composed in a source language.”2 How to prepare for such a test?

Luckily I purchased Holly’s “The Interpreter’s Edge” back in the 90’s with cassettes. My confidence increased slowly with twenty minutes of practice every other day. Bureaucratic language came to the tongue without delay (Y para que así conste) and I grew calmer and calmer in order to provide a smooth delivery, just shy of stentorian. When the attached document appeared in family court a few weeks ago, I knew to ask for a minute to seek troublesome terms: “Your Honor, in order to provide an accurate sight translation, may the interpreter have a moment to review the document?” I admit that se celebró la vista correspondiente initially gave me pause. I took a deep breath and the terminology hard drive kicked in.

Review the attached document, research unfamiliar terms and begin the discipline to assure the court that you are the language professional. Can you Spanish speakers locate the spelling error? Good luck to all.

1. Mikkelson, Holly. The Interpreter’s Edge: Practical Exercises in Court Interpreting. 3rd ed. Spreckels, CA: ACEBO, 1995.
2. The Supreme Court of Ohio Interpreter Certification Program http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/JCS/interpreterSvcs/certification/default.asp
sight translation