Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

always in motion

by • March 23rd, 2011

When I first came upon Beyonce, [in that There-and-Then context], I was figuring myself out as a woman. She was girl/woman/sexy/curvy. Then I came across Alicia Keys, who is seductive and very strong.

Her songs are about love and loss…Alicia gives nothing of herself away.

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Making It Real

by • March 14th, 2011


All grown up and ready to lead, shake it up!
Make it real – compared to what?
Getting shot at, it’s all left up to us.
The hip hop generation, our generation
We’ve got the longevity, educated enough to know
No time for sorrow, gotta share all the love
Love the way it should be.
Not let our minds get trapped in […]

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EU promotions for interpretation

by • April 7th, 2009

online public relations
youtube videos

Someone tipped me off that the European Parliament has hired someone to make a film on the process of simultaneous interpretation (SI) from an elected Member’s point-of-view. I imagine they were carefully vetted in order to give the perspective that the Parliament wishes people to have regarding the purposes, uses, and effectiveness of interpretation. I agree that more people need to understand the value of SI, although I’m skeptical of the vision promoted by the official public relations and policy organs of the European Union. I think their view is unfortunately limited by an inherited and ingrained one-dimensional conception of what SI can do, as well as what it actually does do.
Nonetheless, all of their previous efforts do a nice job of creating desire to become a professional interpreter working at this highest of the high, most elite level of SI.

Interpreting for Europe – Into English.

Interpreting is “all about listening to ideas…”
“English native speaker interpreters . . . needed for an exciting career at the very heart of European decision-making.”
(17 Feb 2009)

Promoting multilingualism: a shared commitment
“…conclusions of the ministerial meeting by Commissioner Leonard Orban.”

(18 Feb 2008)

Interpreting for Europe (EN)
“A 10-minute history of interpretation at the

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Communication dynamics in a political group at the European Parliament

by • February 5th, 2009


“We are European! We have patience.”

My sense of urgency about coming to grips with transformations within the field of possibilities for professional interpretation is promoted by various factors, some of which I hope are transient while others are reaffirmed on nearly a daily basis.
One of these days a chapter will be published concerning a dominant theme of interpreter discourse four years ago at the European Parliament, “A Discourse of Danger and Loss: Interpreters on Interpreting for the European Parliament.” This year, Members of the European Parliament also refer to “bad English,” but few of the Members seem actually upset by it. The neutral label is “Brussels English.” The growth of a new argot arising from the interaction of various “Englishes” is inevitable; arguing against it is an outlet for frustration that does little to stop the erosive effect on conference interpreting in this exceptional house.
An announcement about interpretation was included in the “buro telegram” distributed within political group meetings last night:

In order not to prolong the chaos surrounding the 23 different official languages (largely underused) at ACP/EU meetings, a compromise has been reached between the General Secretariat and members of the assembly: translation will be carried out in

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“Dare to Know” (Kant)

by • October 25th, 2008

This post distills a series of thoughts from reading three different texts: The Heroic Model of Science (Chapter 1, Telling the Truth about History by Appleby, Hunt & Jacob, 1991); The Talmud and the Internet by Jonathan Rosen (2000), and an Interview with Ilan Stavans by Richard Birnbaum (@ 2003).
Three threads are primary: language, interaction, and science. “Language” is engaged theoretically and in practice, particularly the practices of interpretation. Although the references in the three selected texts refer mainly to written translations, I extrapolate ‘down’ to in-the-moment generation of understanding in everyday talking with each other, based on cooperation or agreement between people about meaning. I also extrapolate ‘up’ – or at least ‘over’ – to the interlinguistic skills that are most obviously evident in simultaneous interpretation. As to interaction, there are numerous levels from the microsocial to the macrosocial and the temporal to the ephemeral. The history of science is significant because of its influence on how people in western countries learn.
Why these three texts, beyond the coincidence of reading them more-or-less at the same time? Appleby, Hunt & Jacob (hereafter AH&J) investigate “what sorts of political circumstances foster critical inquiry” (p. 9). They

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by • July 28th, 2008

There are concerns being raised about translating the research invitation to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). My friends and colleagues composing the Translation Team (!) are encountering the challenges of linguistic rotation. I am borrowing the technical term, rotation, from matrix algebra. (Disclaimer: four decades later I begin to learn math!)
Which should I write first: the metaphor (a three–by-three matrix) or the data (the questions and concerns)? Let’s go with the data.
Immediately the question was raised, “Why translate at all?” Alongside the deep philosophical implications (which I need another few decades to work out) are practical concerns. Isn’t the effort to generate a “single” invitation in twenty-three languages rather absurd?

the production of more work?
just a nice gesture?

Possibly. Depending upon one’s logic, certainly so; given an alternative reference frame, however, perhaps the benefit, in the end, will be worth the trouble. Crafting the translations has, actually, been a bit of trouble – not just time and effort, but a source of some consternation. Three versions have been completed to date: Bulgarian, Romanian, and Polish. A few potential translators have dropped out because of the terminology: as much as I

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by • June 10th, 2008

free will?.jpg

Most of what happened cannot be blogged.

There was The Biggest Salad Ever and a Bison Burger. Margaritas and Honey Pilsner.
Laughter looping across periodic boundary conditions. My blushing. (!) A handshake for the chinese zodiac. (Do you know what they say about Virgos?)

The Italian mafia. A Columbian cartel. Romanian espionage and disruption services. A South African escapee. Bhutanese royalty. Some Americans and a Turk.
Seriously, one language or many? Interpreted (essential heterogeneity) or lingua franca (reduced homogeneity)? 🙂 Our debate draws forth a distinction: what do we value most and when – the depth and strength of relational connection or the collaborative effort to generate joint action toward a desired goal? I propose that

we are always interpreting – the interactive presence of a simultaneous interpreter only makes the fact more evident, and
more attention to this fact (of always and inevitable interpretation) could enable deepened collaborations to redress the critical needs of our time.

I am cautioned, again (and with great humor!), to be gentle with those who agree to talk with me: sensitivities about language skill can open vulnerabilities that could undermine the research endeavor. Refinements to the research problem have been percolating

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Push of Chang, Pull of Cronen

by • March 29th, 2008

A vigorous debate between two faculty members dominated conversation about Marc Crépon‘s “What We Demand of Languages,” an extended footnote to Derrida’s Monolingualism of the Other.

I had been worried about arriving late to the Center for Communication Studies event, however Briankle Chang and Vernon Cronen were deep in discourse, ranging from the mistake of theology (not a feature of all religions), the influence of the Platonic opening, Aquinas’ linkage of physics with the New Testament, to structuralism as the antidote to transcendentalism, and whether “topos” is a place that contains all topoi and all vocabularies or a place that can be talked about in infinitely many ways.
I always learn more from faculty interactions with each other than from monologistic pedagogy!
A colleague translated Crépon’s article from French. Srinivas Lankala explains:

“Crépon summarizes Derrida’s argument, provides references to the argument that Derrida did not provide, and extends the argument to new areas:

the question between what language is and what language means in terms of politics of nationalism or politics of identity
the definition of identity
the definition of the self

“One important thing called into question is the notion of a singular cultural identity: identity is formed in advance by language &emdash; the whole question of

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mathematical thinking

by • March 15th, 2008

I’m closer to Brian Butterworth than Stanislas Dehaene, as this comparative review describes:

“Butterworth is a neuropsychologist who came to studying mathematical ability via his work on natural languages….Dehaene, on the other hand, started off as a mathematician, but became fascinated by the abstractness of his subject. He began to wonder where mathematical ability came from, and why some people are so bad at it, and others so good.”

The Mathematical Brain appeals to me from the start, with the author’s writing style being compared with Oliver Sacks (Seeing Voices: A Journey into the Land of the Deaf). The Number Sense reminds me of Barry Mazur’s, Imagining Numbers (which I started and now want to finish).
The reviewer argues, “cognitive science tells us that it is possible to teach mathematics in a way that fits with our psyche, a way that minimises maths-induced fear and boredom.” Lots of “sideways” exposure is doing it for me….all that three-dimensional American Sign Language interpreting has (seriously!) re-wired my conceptual circuits for math.
Just last week, the New Yorker’s “Numbers Guy” wrote about whether our brains are actually wired for math, featuring Stanislas Dehaene.
One tidbit: in addition to a certain kind of math perception, the language

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parallel science and other illusions

by • March 7th, 2008

I’m excused from interpreting this talk, Nanometers, Femtoseconds, and Yoctomoles: Molecular-Dynamics Simulations of Diffusion in Garnet, which means I can take notes and play!
The professor is highly billed: Dr. Bill Carlson from UT at Austin. You think I’m kidding about “play”? No way, Jose!
Scale: plates, rocks in the field, mineral grains, atoms….
Geologic Time:
Sizes from macro to nano…..
Diffusion gives direct qualitative information on rates and duration of metamorphic processes. Garnet is present in a wide range of bulk compositions, is stable, and has a wide array of diffusive behaviors that can be monitored to help us understand rates of diffusion and the mechanisms behind them. You know my parallel? Groups (of people) and knowledge/understanding (disseminated via language).
Main topic: Molecular dynamics simulations…. (microdynamic intergroup relations?)
Problem: existing theories for diffusion at atomic scale don’t explain the phenomena we observe…(sounds like social science to me!)
Novel systematics emerge from recent synthesis…
Elastic Strain Theory (EST) – diffusion by vacancy mechanism: work is required to move atoms apart and squeeze this atom in-between them….larger atom = more strain which slows down diffusion. Like all theory (!) “sometimes it works…sometimes it doesn’t.”
There’s a “misfit parameter” (!) = “how badly an atom

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