Tag Archives: interpreter

Fog lines and my dad

25 Nov



It was the day before Thanksgiving in Ohio and a short day in court awaited. The phone rings and a bailiff, desperate to help a fellow get out of jail, calls. “Can you help with an arraignment? This man’s been in jail since the sixteenth. I know I called you before but we can’t find a certified interpreter.” Luckily I could squeeze in another assignment before the holiday weekend.


There is no easy way to drive from North Canton to East Liverpool, Ohio … not even a four-lane roadway. Plugged in the GPS and ventured down country roads with expansive fields peppered with a cluster of slow-moving cows. My Hyundai tilted deep into a towering tree-strewn valley and emerged in downtown East Liverpool. The joy of this errant interpreter is to meet new folks again and again. I chatted up the court clerk who bemoaned the Ohio winters. She hails from Texas and reported that “you don’t have to shovel sunshine there.” We laughed and complained once again about the cold.


I wandered into the courtroom to find several people in faded jail jumpsuits and spotted the Spanish LEP. Fortunately, a uniformed police officer stood by who listened as I provided the pre-session “Good morning, I am an interpreter and not an attorney blah-blah-blah …” When Lady Judge took the bench, she rattled off charges that included a DUI/Driving Under the Influence and “crossing the fog line*.” What??? Confidence shattered. Brain shut down. My neurons rushed to come up with a sensible rendering. I thought “Ohio? Fog lines? There were no heaths on the trek to town today.” Something luckily rolled off the tongue that made sense in the moment.


During the break, I approached the officer and inquired what “fog line” meant in this part of the state. “Oh, that’s the white fog line on the right and yellow’s on the left.” Seems Mr. Defendant, soaked with God-knows-what brew, veered all over State Route 11 and drifted over the “fog line.” Now that makes sense – he committed a marked lanes violation/no manejar dentro de los carriles marcadas. I thanked Mr. Officer and immediately felt my deceased father’s presence. Dad always said if you couldn’t see on a dark and foggy road, just follow the white lines on the right. Thanks, Dad.


A public defender appeared and negotiated a plea for the fellow. He’d spend Thanksgiving with his family and the court released him later that afternoon. I thanked the nice ladies behind the counter, then climbed back into my Elantra to wend the way down Route 39 to New Philadelphia. More arraignments before Thanksgiving vacation begins. I took note of the “fog lines” on serpentine hills that almost turned back on themselves. In Ohio fog lines means marked lanes.

*Fog lines: (also in Ohio called “marked lanes” where a driver doesn’t keep within the lines.)




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 http://www.ccio.org. 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


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!”


31 Aug



The CCHI newsletter recently featured my friend and colleague Damber Subba who serves as a CoreCHI Nepali interpreter at Akron Children’s Hospital http://www.akronchildrens.org. Damber’s journey began from the far reaches of Bhutan and continued after an extended stay at the Beldangi II refugee camp in Nepal. Through study and determination he settled in Akron, Ohio with a career in medical interpreting. According to Damber “it’s impossible to go far in the interpreting profession without certification.”  Read Damber’s story and learn more about the Core Healthcare Interpreter examination for interpreters of all languages at the link below.



13 Mar



Recently my colleague Natasha Curtis hired me to work on the Spanish Team at Akron Children’s Hospital. During yesterday’s one-month well baby visit a concerned mother asked about tests performed on her newborn. She explained how the nurse pricked her little one’s heel and drew blood right after she was born. “No sé cómo se dice en este país sino en México es prueba de tamiz.” I froze. What in heaven’s name is a “prueba de tamiz”? Instead of focusing on the context, I drilled in on the word, grabbed Miss I-Pad and searched Pwww.proz com, and an online dictionary. Tamiz is a sieve. Sieve test in the birthing suite? Luckily after interpreting what mother said Lady Pediatrician assured mother all tests for baby Angelina turned out normal. I felt foolish for not knowing the exact word.


After the appointment I sent a text to my fellow interpreter. Liz informed me that “newborn screening” works where all babies go through tests at birth to screen for thyroid, developmental or genetic problems. She uses “prueba de detección” which makes sense as the doctor needs to detect if something is wrong. In my quest to seamlessly interpret the proper word, I erred by not thinking the word through. A sieve filters so wouldn’t a “prueba de tamiz” serve the same purpose? Ever the perfectionist (I don’t suggest this path for anyone) I found the following link from the CDC that confirmed Liz’s suggestion.


Once again this seasoned interpreter learns to just think over the words and focus on the context. I change my egotistical thinking that “Oh, I know all the words” to “OK, what does what Mrs. Suarez said mean?”


24 Oct
world flags 



Take a moment to read news on events sponsored by CCIO http://www.ccio.org. Join us at an event in your region soon.

Dear friends and colleagues,

Greetings from Community and Court Interpreters of Ohio (CCIO).   Thank you for your help making our recent conference “Building Bridges” a success.  It was great to be in the midst of so many other interpreters who want to advance the profession.  We appreciate your participation and feedback, and look forward to providing many more learning opportunities. 


Please visit CCIO.org, join our open Facebook group ‘The New CCIO, and keep in touch with members in your region to find out about events and opportunities throughout the state.  Here are some of our upcoming regional events:


Central Region

Thursday, Oct. 24th:         Get-together want volunteers for subcommittee that will share resources to pass the Court Certification 1st the written portion – 6 pm at Shish Kebab Restaurant 1450 Bethel Rd. Columbus
Saturday, Nov. 16th:        Roundtable on Mental Health -Is S/He Competent to Stand in Trial? Dr. John Tilley & Chris Boyd – 10 am-1 pm


North Region


Thursday, Nov. 14th:         Simultaneous Workshop:  Panera Bread19705 Center Ridge Rd. Rocky River, OH 44116


Saturday, Jan. 25th:          Presenter: Olga Shostachuk, M.A., Russian Translation, TESL PhD Candidate in Translation Studies, Kent State University Forms of relief in immigration law and the role of translation in the immigration process.


Southwest Region


Saturday, Nov. 2nd:       Southwest Region Meeting  – Jade Buffet, 11499 Princeton Pike, Cincinnati, OH 45246, 11am. (lunch buffet is $7.25 + tax)

Sunday, Nov. 10th:          2pm – 5pm – Southwest Region Volunteering Opportunity:  CCIO Spanish interpreters needed to interpret during a EXPO LATINO 2013 –  Contact Kevin M. (mkcinti@gmail.com513.623.3861) for more details.


As we continue to strengthen the profession of interpreting in and around Ohio we will count on your continued input and support. 


The CCIO Board of Officers


23 Oct


Rarely do I have the chance to watch other interpreters in court. Ours can be a profession of solitude. How do I know when I’m doing something wrong or right? The following situation invites comment on how to approach a colleague when perhaps another approach would work better.


Last month a court called me to give testimony and a LEP defendant appeared. The judge took great pains to voir dire the interpreter and asked for her credentials in open court. The interpreter clearly qualified and rattled off her experience. She did not turn to the defendant and interpret what she said. Madame Your Honor gently asked if she would interpret the same for the non-English speaker beside her. I don’t remember how the interpreter responded, but she did not interpret her last rendering before the judge to the defendant. From the bench another remark: “Would you please interpret that for Mrs. XXX?”. The interpreter complied and continued to interpret everything.


Here’s my question. Was the interpreter obligated to interpret when the judge queried her experience and qualifications? Instinctively I interpret the moment the record begins that includes “This is case no. XXX … and present in the courtroom is Interpretress Olga Nazdrova … and now I’ll take the interpreter’s oath.” Overkill or simply fulfill my role? I’d like to know how to approach the interpreter diplomatically. Thanks for your insight.

Aside 18 Oct



Grab a coffee and a little dinner or treat and join us for an evening of networking, camaraderie, and discussion over interpreting issues in our community.  It will be great to meet each other and share valuable input about our profession. During this session we will focus on simultaneous interpreting with a workshop style meeting.

Date:  Monday, October 21st

Time:  5:30-8:30 p.m

Location: Panera Bread

5090 Tiedman Rd.

Cleveland, Ohio

5:30-5:45 Check-in.  Meet and greet other interprets.  Updates on events

5:45-6:45 Simultaneous Workshop

Group Activities

(Games and activities could be language neutral.  This will depend on attendance. Groups will be divided according to languages. Please bring a recording device and a notepad and pens of different colors if possible)

6:45-8:00 You will find different stations with great review activities for Simultaneous exercises.

8:15  Adjourn

OUR MISSION is to bring together community, court and medical interpreters in the state of Ohio; to advocate and promote the interpreting profession and the ethical and professional standards of interpreting; to provide a forum for discussion of interpreting issues among interpreters, agencies, organizations and individuals who contract for interpreting services; to publish information for its membership and interested parties; to organize and conduct courses and workshops for training and continuing education of interpreters; to hold regularly scheduled meetings; to serve in an advisory capacity to interpreters, courts, attorneys, law enforcement, healthcare providers, agencies and organizations who contract for interpreting services, and other businesses and groups regarding issues related to interpreters and interpreting. http://www.ccio.org

QUESTIONS? Contact John 330.327.2189 or jshaklee@att.net.


9 Sep



Interim CCIO Board Member Catherine Piña recently hosted a roundtable featuring Alvaro De Cola on the near west side. Mr. De Cola attained federal and state court interpreter certification and currently practices law in northeast Ohio. Over twenty participants from Tobago to Jordan posed questions, shared experiences and peppered the room with questions that ranged from immigration proceedings to ethics. Rincón Criollo on Detroit kept the dialogue humming through plates heaped with mafongo, tostones and guineos a la Boricua. CCIO workshops aim to keep interpreters in touch, provide support and celebrate other cultures.


Catherine initiated the discussion by asking participants to share how and what drew them to interpret. Boris started telephone interpreting and little by little three companies hired him. Over-the-phone interpreting doesn’t require a vehicle and offers a comfortable work environment from home. He logs in and out at will and visualizes sites where interpretations occur as in a physician’s office or social services agencies. Through consecutive interpreting he improved note-taking skills and now requires fewer scribbles than initially. Boris claims, “I get paid to study and work.” Over-the-phone interpreting helps to decide if you want to focus on medical or court interpreting. Listening skills naturally improve which can increase chances to pass the consecutive portion of a certification exam.


Marcia Loebick conquered her fear of consecutive interpreting through phone interpretation. An added convenience is this gig provides a steady income stream if no onsite assignment surfaces. She moved from the medical arena to legal and became court certified. Marcia remarked that the Buckeye State has started to further recognize our profession, especially since the Supreme Court of Ohio adopted Rule 88. This provision requires courts to hire certified foreign language or sign language interpreters to ensure linguistic presence and to aid in the defense of Limited English Proficient (LEP) defendants.


Bernadita Rojas, assistant to Attorney Ed Wade in criminal defense cases, provided the following advice: do your job, be at your best and accept challenges on your interpretation with calm and diplomacy. “Stand by your word when have the conviction that you are right” she insists. It’s the judge and not the lawyer who decides. No need to take it personally when an attorney who speaks the same language as the defendant questions a rendering. Remember, we are the language experts.


Ana Gallardo interpreted in immigration courts with LEPs who sought political asylum, among other issues. In order to get ready, Ana reads about Latin American countries and their political affairs to become better familiar with her client’s stories.


Alvaro opened with questions and emphasized that we can’t interpret what we don’t understand. It behooves interpreters to learn to understand the legal process from beginning to end. If charged with a certain crime, a defendant can go directly to a detention center. Immigration authorities check if someone is a resident, has been deported before and proceeds accordingly. Certain crimes trigger deportation, depending on the gravity of the offense. Fact: if you are charged with a crime, that does not mean you are guilty.

Álvaro encouraged the group to learn and understand the entire legal process at the local, state and federal level. When an LEP is arrested for DUI by local police, she must answer to charges at the state level first. If the authorities call immigration, the federal system starts to get involved. For example, someone is arrested in Stark County and then INS may transport him to Seneca County for proceedings. The state case is completed then he has to answer to the federal charges, if any. Immigration allows you to do prison time for the state first. Then, an LEP can admit or deny the allegation (that he entered the country illegally) in immigration court. He is no longer a defendant, but a respondent. It’s not a crime is someone is illegal under the administrative law system


One participant wondered what to do when  the LEP doesn’t understand. “How does an interpreter switch from interpreter to lawyer?” Alvaro replied “we don’t give legal advice but must conceptualize the meaning and focus on the interpreter’s role.” According to Ohio Code of Ethics, Canon 9 Scope of Practice: “… (at no time) may an interpreter give legal advice, communicate their conclusions with respect to any answer, express personal opinions to individuals for whom they are interpreting or translating, or engage in any other activity that may be construed to constitute a service other than interpreting or translating…” Summarily don’t give advice. You may want the LEP to understand but that responsibility lies outside the interpreter’s purview. Interpret and allow the lawyer, probation officer or judge to serve as educators.

“Are you allowed to interpret a term so that someone can understand?” DeCola reminds us to maintain the speaker’s level of language (register). When a LEP says “I don’t understand what you’re saying”, ignore the urge to make him understand a concept. Non-English speakers with a lower level of education also wrestle to comprehend law. Consider this: if a person spoke English, she might not understand. Anglos don’t employ legal terms usually during breaks at the factory. Who says “We are going to quash or suppress that evidence and my lawyer will petition before the Court for me soon”? Limit comprehension to your own grey matter and not the LEP’s.


Visit www.ccio.org for more information or write Catherine Piña at the address below. Mark your calendar for our “Building Bridges” conference with guest lecturer Holly Mikkelson October 5, 2013 http://www.ccio.org/conference.php. Use this space to share your experiences in and out of the court setting.


Ohio Supreme Court Court Interpreter Certification Program http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/JCS/interpreterSvcs/certification/default.asp

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

Catherine Piña pinac@clevelandmunicipalcourt.org.

Superintendence Rules and Code of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters and Translators Reference Guide http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/JCS/interpreterSvcs/Rules.asp





6 Sep



join the Michigan Translators/Interpreters Network’s regional conference  and hear Bruno G. Romero, Manager of Interpreter Services at the Supreme Court of Ohio. Also presenting is Kirti Vashee, VP of Enterprise Translation sales for Asia Online. Click on the link below for more information.