Why Interpreters Should Forget About Quality (and concentrate on value)

by Jonathan Downie

How can we define “quality” in interpreting? What does it mean to be a “good interpreter”? Before I answer that, let me tell you a little story.

I was doing chuchotage interpreting at a wood industry conference. The first plenary talk was given by an economist. This particular economist crammed as many charts as he could on each slide. Added to this was his love of long, complex numbers. Numbers are hard enough when we are in nice booths and have the chance to take notes in advance. When you are doing chuchotage and you have no advance warning, they are practically impossible.

Faced with this task, I decided to concentrate on giving a version that would be useful to the French delegates, even if that meant dropping a few (or more than a few) numbers in the process. I had realised that the purpose of the entire conference was to help people see the economic context they had been in and prepare for the one they were going into. So that’s what I aimed to do in my interpreting.

Now, interpreters have almost universally defined “good interpreting” or “quality” in interpreting as being all about interpreting everything the speaker says, getting terminology perfect, and staying totally neutral. So, following that logic, what I did at that wood conference would count as bad interpreting.

Yet, from the point of view of the people who actually needed my services I did a great job. Actually, the head of the French delegation leaned behind me, while I was working, and said to his colleague “il est bon, cet interprète, n’est-ce pas?” [This interpreter’s good, isn’t he!]

We can now be pretty sure that the reason for such differences in quality judgments is that clients use different criteria from interpreters when judging quality. In fact, even when interpreters and clients seem to be using the same criteria (such as accuracy), it turns out that they are likely to be using completely different definitions.

Now, we could stop at this point, argue that clients are clueless and go on doing what we are already doing. There are two problems with that. The first is that it happens to be clients who are paying our invoices so it is bad manners to call them clueless! The second problem is that, as soon as we assume that we have things right already, we stop learning.

A more useful explanation of the difference between how clients see interpreting and how we see it is that we often talk about “quality” in interpreting in a way that separates it from any context. We describe it in terms of reducing errors, creating standards and maximising productivity. In short, the way we often talk about quality treats interpreting as if it were a product and not a service.

Clients necessarily view interpreting in terms of the contexts in which they receive it and in terms of what they want to achieve in that context. Instead of neutral, depersonalised “quality”, they view interpreting in terms of the value it adds to them. In short, for them, it is a service and not a product.

That knowledge is vital if we are ever going to improve the status of interpreting and stop the relentless drive towards cost-cutting in some circles. For as long as we talk about interpreting as if it were a product that can be described in terms of “quality”, we are actually encouraging clients to look for ways to cut costs and reduce how much they pay for it. If we start talking about interpreting in terms of the value it adds, then we will have a much better platform from which to argue that interpreting is worth investing in. It’s our choice.

Looking for participants for anti-racism and anti-discrimination research project

A few months ago we posted some information on a new research project in LINCS on how racist hate crimes are communicatively constructed. The project is called RADAR – Regulating Anti-Racism and Anti-discrimination. It brings together 9 partners from 6 countries and it is funded by the European Commission Directorate General for Justice.

The overall aim of the project is to  provide law enforcement officials and legal professionals with the necessary tools to facilitate the identification of ‘racial’ hate- motivated and hate-producing communication. This will be achieved through training activities and events, but the project will also provide a handbook, comparative studies and analyses. For more information on the project’s objectives, deliverables and individual work packages, please visit the project website.

The project is still in its initial stages; it started in November 2014 and will end in October 2016.

We are currently looking for victims of racial harassment or racist abuse for the purpose of conducting interviews on their experience(s). If you have been the victim of racist abuse in the UK and you would like to be interviewed for the purposes of this project (your personal details will not be disclosed), please contact Dr. Katerina Strani at  A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

When ‘racially’-motivated hate crimes are not recognised as such, this leads to a violation of fundamental human rights.

RADAR_logo

Exploring Access to Mental Health Care Services for Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Patients

by Isabelle Perez

The rising prevalence of mental illness is a growing concern for societies worldwide and access to mental health care is one of the top public health priorities in Scotland, as in many countries. In addition, as more and more people migrate and settle or take refuge in countries with a dominant language other than their own, the need for interpreting/cultural mediation in mental health care settings is also on the increase.

The research project on Access to Mental Health Care for Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Patients, supported by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute (SUII), is led by the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS), based at Heriot-Watt University, in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde, home to the Centre for Health Policy; the Psychiatric Care Unit, at St John’s Hospital, Livingston; and the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.

The aim of the project is to bring together mental health practitioners, interpreters, health care administrators, policy makers and academics to discuss the most salient care provision issues with the goal of understanding systemic difficulties and enhancing access to services.

A one-day research seminar will take place on Thursday 9 April at the SUII premises in Glasgow. A multidisciplinary group of international experts from Australia, Canada, China, South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands, the UK and the US will discuss and scope, from their respective viewpoints, current issues faced in the provision of mental health care to linguistically and culturally diverse patients.

The same group of international experts will contribute to a linked open seminar with the wider stakeholder community to be held on the morning of Friday 10 April at the Riccarton campus of Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh.  This seminar aims to extend the discussion from research to application by creating an opportunity to share experiences and examples of good practice from around the world.

For practical information and to register for either or both events, please visit the project webpage.

For further details please contact Professor Isabelle Perez, Languages & Intercultural Studies (LINCS).

Call for papers! Special issue on Signed Language Interpreting and Translation

Translation and Interpreting Studies

Special Issue

Signed Language Interpreting and Translation

CALL FOR PAPERS

Guest Editors

Laurie Swabey, St. Catherine University

Brenda Nicodemus, Gallaudet University

Translation and Interpreting Studies (John Benjamins) invites proposals for a special thematic issue on signed language interpretation and translation to be published in April of 2018.  The editors aim to bring together papers that address critical issues in the linguistic analysis of interpretations and translations that occur between a signed language and spoken or written language.

We welcome data driven papers on the spectrum between a microanalysis of one specific lexical item to the examination of a full interpreted or translated discourse. Papers may take a descriptive, applied, or theoretical approach to interpreting and translation of a signed language. We encourage a broad range of methodological approaches and theoretical frameworks, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods.

Suggested Topics (related to interpreting and translation):

  • –       discourse in specialized settings (e.g., legal, healthcare, education, politics, media, video)
  • –       interpreting for emergent signers
  • –       lexical gaps between signed and spoken languages
  • –       discourse structure and signing space
  • –       conversation analysis
  • –       figurative language and metaphor
  • –       message accuracy between source and target
  • –       effects of modality in linguistic production/reception
  • –       metalinguistics, semantics, and pragmatics
  • –       language use in interpreter/translator education
  • –       linguistic issues in trilingual interpreting and translation
  • –       the work of deaf interpreters and translators
  • –       linguistic issues in tactile and close vision interpreting

Timeline for Authors

Abstracts (400-500) words due to guest editors December 1, 2015
Decision on abstracts February 1, 2016
Submission of full manuscripts September 1, 2016
Decisions to authors February 1, 2017
Final versions of papers due August 1, 2017
Publication of special issue Spring 2018

Contact Information

Abstracts should be sent to both guest editors. If you have any questions, please contact Laurie Swabey (laswabey@stkate.edu) and Brenda Nicodemus (brenda.nicodemus@gallaudet.edu).

 

“I can write it, I can understand it, but I’ve never spoken it”

by Nicola Bermingham

Last Wednesday, 11th March, Nicola Bermingham held a seminar at the School of Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. The seminar, entitled “I can write it, I can understand it, but I’ve never spoken it”: challenges faced by immigrant “new speakers” in Galicia, formed part of the Soillse seminar series which focuses on minority language policy and sociolinguistics.

The seminar explored issues around ‘new speakerness’ in the context of migration, taking Galicia as the primary research site. Traditionally, Galicia has experienced lower levels of immigration than the rest of Spain. However, the first decade of the 21st century saw an increase in the arrival of immigrants. This was due in part to increased work opportunities in the primary sector as well as the ‘saturation’ of other autonomous communities such as Catalonia. Hence, Galicia, which was once a region synonymous with emigration, has now become host to a diverse migrant population.

The seminar focused specifically on Nicola’s ongoing PhD research, which examines the role of language in the integration of a community of Cape Verdean immigrants living in a small fishing town in northern Galicia. Interestingly, the hierarchical relationship between Portuguese and Creole in Cape Verde shares many similarities with that of Spanish and Galician in Galicia.

Drawing on excerpts from life history interviews carried out with various members of the community, the seminar provided a platform to tease out discourse on language ownership and language as a means of integration into a host community. Following the presentation, thought-provoking discussions took place surrounding the challenges and opportunities faced by Cape Verdean migrants in becoming a “new speaker” of Galician and Spanish.

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Nicola Bermingham is a PhD student in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University. Her research interests include sociolinguistics, migration studies, and minority languages. Looking specifically at the Galician context, her work examines the role language has to play in the integration of immigrants.

2nd Year General Linguistics Poster Session: Bridging the gap between UG and PG research

by Nicola Bermingham and Sara Brennan

A 2nd Year General Linguistics Poster Session took place on 18th and 19th February in LINCS. This was the first poster session for 2nd year General Linguistics students and the results were impressive, to say the least. This was part of the students’ assessment and the topics were chosen based on their General Linguistics lectures, but the event also worked towards bridging the gap between undergraduate and postgraduate research.

The posters addressed topics from a wide variety of geographical terrains, from Scots, Gaelic, and British Sign Language here in Scotland to language policy in Germany, France, Belgium, and Portugal. The students employed a range of methodological approaches, including qualitative interviews, surveys, questionnaires, and conversation analysis of audio-visually recorded data. They were also encouraged to produce original research while showing an understanding of existing literature and key theoretical concepts.

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The event was widely publicised and both members of staff and postgraduate research students from LINCS attended. This meant that students experienced the process of a poster session at a real academic conference, since they also presented their posters to the assessors and other staff in LINCS and then fielded questions about their research.

The result? Not just nice food and networking. Many of the students expressed a keen interest in further developing their topics and pursuing more advanced sociolinguistic research.

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A selection of posters is now on display outside the interpreting labs in Henry Prais building.

Special thanks to PhD students Nicola Bermingham and Sara Brennan from LINCS for organising a most successful poster session!

Intensive Interpreting Practice – Easter Course 2015 !

In April this year Heriot-Watt University will be running an Intensive Interpreting Practice CPD course.

The course is designed for:

  • Interpreting students who are in the middle of their training and wish to improve both their English skills and their Interpreting skills.
  • Professional interpreters who would like to improve their English, either with the intention of making it a B language or simply to complete an intensive professional practice course.

This is a non-language specific course so all language combinations are welcome! We mainly work with audio-visual material (but not only!) and everyone will have the opportunity to practise intensively and to network with professionals in the industry.

Here are some of the comments from former students:

“The booths are amazing! “

“Great organisation!”

“I learned new skills”

“Very motivated and motivating teachers”

“The entire course was interesting”

You can visit our website for further information

Like us on Facebook!

We look forward to receiving your applications.

Mathilde Postel

3rd Edinburgh Interpreting Research Summer School!

The 3rd Edinburgh Interpreting Research Summer School (EIRSS) will take place from 22 – 26 June 2015 !

EIRSS 2015 offers intensive research training for existing and future scholars in any field of Interpreting and will include lectures from our Guest Speaker Claudia Monacelli as well as leading Heriot-Watt Speakers, including Professor Ian Mason. It will be relevant to researchers interested in Conference Interpreting as well as Public Service Interpreting, for both spoken and signed languages.

EIRSS 2015 is open to those who are about to embark on a PhD, those in the first stages of doctoral study and those considering a change of direction in their professional career or academic trajectory.

Attendees will have the opportunity to network with world-renowned researchers in the field of Interpreting and will also have the chance to showcase their individual projects and receive feedback.

Please visit the EIRSS 2015 web page for more information about the course and the presenters, as well as details of how to apply.

We look forward to receiving your applications!

Raquel de Pedro Ricoy & Katerina Strani
Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies
School of Management and Languages
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK

E-mail: eirss@hw.ac.uk

2015 call for PhD Scholarships in LINCS!

LINCS is now offering two School of Management and Languages (SML) Scholarships and one Professorial Scholarship for the next academic year, commencing September 2015!

SML scholarships available: 2

The term of the Scholarships is three years. Successful candidates will be expected to make a contribution to activities in the Department in return for a fee-waiver, a maintenance allowance of £13,863 per annum and a research support allowance of £2,250 over the registered period of study.

We welcome applications from suitably qualified candidates to develop projects relevant to key research areas across our two Research Centres:

  1. Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland – postgraduate research areas
  2. Intercultural Research Centre – postgraduate research areas

Additionally, appropriate candidates may apply to join the International Doctoral Programme on Transformations in European Societies. Current themes of the program are: migration/ interculturality, urban society/culture, and worlds of work.

The closing date for applications is Friday 27th March 2015.

Professorial Scholarship

Public Service Interpreting: Standardizing Quality and Professionalization

Lead Supervisor: Professor Claudia Angelelli, Chair of Interpreting

Number available: 1

The term of the Scholarship is three years. The successful candidate will be expected to make a contribution to activities in the Department in return for a fee-waiver, a maintenance allowance of £13,863 per annum and a research support allowance of £2,250 over the registered period of study.

Project Outline
In multilingual societies, cross-linguistic/cultural communication is increasingly frequent, especially when it relates to accessing services. As a result of mobility, immigration, and displacement, users of services (e.g. health care, justice, education) often do not speak the same language as providers (who generally speak the societal language). When providers and users do not share a language, translators and interpreters mediate communication. Translators and interpreters vary in their abilities and qualifications, and for some language combinations or communicative settings there simply are no professional interpreters or translators. This project explores constructs of linguistic rights and linguicism by studying quality and professionalism across languages and settings.

The closing date for applications is Friday 27th March 2015.

How to apply

For both the SML Scholarships and the Professorial Scholarship please submit your application via the Heriot-Watt Online Application Portal.

Under Application Type please select ‘Research PG’ from the options. In the section Planned Programme of Study please select ‘Languages, PhD’ from the options.

Please state clearly on your application which PhD scholarship you are applying for.

Once you have completed your application, ensure that you click ‘Application is Complete’ on the checklist.

In order that your application can be processed, please ensure that all the supporting documents listed below are submitted with your application:

  1. RESEARCH PROPOSAL (approximately 5 – 8 pages)
    The research proposal should contain as much as possible of the following: an introduction or outline of the proposed topic; a statement of objectives and/or specific research questions; a summary of some of the relevant literature which supports the research objective(s); an indication of the intended research methodology; an indication of the theoretical structure and/or conceptual outline; a provisional timetable of the major phases of the research process; results expected from the research e.g. practical value of the research or possible contributions to knowledge or policy or methodology. At this stage we are not looking for a definitive document but merely an indication that you have thought through most of the above issues.
    Please note that work submitted may be subject to screening via plagiarism software.
  2. ACADEMIC TRANSCRIPTS & DEGREE CERTIFICATES
    Copies of full academic transcripts from all previous academic degree courses and copies of degree certificates for degrees already awarded. If you are currently pursuing a degree course please provide all available marks to date.
  3. ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS
    If you have not already studied a degree programme that was taught and examined in the medium of English we require evidence of language proficiency. For IELTS: the minimum overall IELTS score is 6.5 with no score lower than 6.0 in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/tier-4-general-visa/knowledge-of-english
  4. REFERENCES
    If you have references available these should be submitted with your application. If they are not currently available please ensure that you provide the names and contact details, including email addresses, of two academic referees on the application form.

Candidates may also submit a Curriculum Vitae.

Closing date

The closing date for both the SML Scholarships and the Professorial Scholarship is Friday 27th March 2015.

Further Information

For further information, and if you have any queries, please contact Caroline Murray c.a.murray@hw.ac.uk

http://www.sml.hw.ac.uk/about/programmes/phd/lincs-phd-scholarships-2015.htm

Upcoming EdSign Lectures

Tuesday, 3rd March 2015, 6.30pm – 8.00pm

[Title to be confirmed]
Frankie McLean
Paterson’s Land LG34, Moray House, School of Education, University of Edinburgh

Tuesday, 14th April 2015, 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Toward Normative Ethics in Community Interpreting: Moral Reasoning and Moral Discourse
Robyn Dean
Paterson’s Land LG34, Moray House, School of Education, University of Edinburgh

Tuesday, 12th May 2015, 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Seeing Through New Eyes – Deafhood Pedagogies and the Unrecognised Curriculum
Paddy Ladd
Paterson’s Land LG34, Moray House, School of Education, University of Edinburgh

~ Summer Signing Social Event ~
Tuesday, 2nd June 2015, 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Details to be confirmed!

All events are free. BSL / English interpretation available at all events (unless specified differently).

Please check for updates:
Website: www. edsignlectures.com / Facebook: www.facebook.com/edsignlectures / Twitter: www.twitter.com/EdSignLectures / Email: edsignlectures@gmail.com