Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Going for It: Language Interpreting for a Better World

July 7th, 2011

North American Summit on Interpreting
Arlington, VA

I discovered many kindred spirits at the 2nd North American Summit on Interpreting.  I recognized colleagues as language service professionals as well as activists who

Luis, Carmen and me: Happy to be there!

Luis, Carmen and me: Happy to be there!

  • hold optimistic views of what simultaneous interpretation is, does, and can do,
  • believe in the need for unity of professional simultaneous interpreters across sectors and languages, and
  • are eager to train interpreters and users of interpreting services about best practices for effective intercultural communication.

“We’re still in push”

I presented a poster summarizing a good chunk of my dissertation, including its main point, that the way simultaneous interpretation has been institutionalized results in the perpetuation of social inequality more than it contributes to leveling the playing field.

On the one hand, this is a grim conclusion. On the other hand, it provides a base from which concerned interpreters, providers and users of interpreting services can identify and strategize together about leverage points for introducing sociocultural innovations and legislative changes.

We are not compelled to continue all of the ritualized elements of simultaneous interpretation that we have inherited or even helped to build. We can learn from the trajectory of the last 70 years and make precise modifications in training, education, credentialing, and professional practice. These changes can be calibrated in order to reshape this special form of intercultural communication so that it serves the common good. By using simultaneous interpretation as an institutional mechanism for deliberately redressing systematic inequality, more safe and humane life chances can be generated for people of all classes and ways of life.

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7 Responses to “Going for It: Language Interpreting for a Better World”

  1. Steph says:

    Barry Tweeted this weblog entry, The Wavering Fate of Language Programs and Languages in General, also about the recent Summit.

    Might be worth sharing with the RID “Community Forum” on Facebook, where there were questions about what point I was aiming to make with this blogpost of mine.

  2. Steph says:

    I’m delighted to discover that Nataly Kelly’s keynote is available at the InterpretAmerica blog. She presents current and surprising research on “Technology Trends and the Interpreting Marketplace.”

  3. Steph says:

    Ha! Check out this talk Nataly Kelly had with Ray Kurzweil on Translation Technology.

    Meanwhile, I am going to test the Google Translate app on this blogentry in Spanish! It closes with the video linked above.

    Here’s the Spanish text copied in:

    Acaba de concluir en Washington (EE. UU.) la II Cumbre Norteamericana sobre Interpretación con el lema «Quality Interpreting in a Push-Button World: How Professional Identity & Technology are Driving the Future of Our Field», es decir, el papel y lugar de las tecnologías en el mundo de la interpretación: un tema apasionante. Los que no asistimos a las conferencias en persona, pudimos seguir muchas de las charlas y debates a través de twitter y facebook rastreando todo lo que decían nuestros colegas desde tierras norteamericanas con la etiqueta #InterpAmSummit.

    Me llamó la atención, entre otras cosas, el estudio que presentó Common Sense Advisory sobre la opinión y actitud que tienen los intérpretes sobre las tecnologías. Según este estudio que se realizó a 179 intérpretes para averiguar qué esperaban de las tecnologías, los intérpretes esencialmente quieren poder escuchar y ver con claridad, recibir con nitidez la voz del ponente, comprender sin interferencias, herramientas para analizar la voz, contexto, información pertinente, acceso a terminología, apoyo y ayuda, más productividad, coexistir con la tecnologías y, en suma, un planteamiento realista. El estudio concluía con la opinión de los intérpretes de que los tecnólogos debieran trabajar con ellos en lugar de intentar sustituirlos. Y de eso precisamente trataba la entrevista que hizo Nataly Kelly a Raymond Kurzweil con motivo de la II Cumbre Norteamericana sobre Interpretación. Kurzweil es un inventor estadounidense, además de músico, empresario, escritor y científico especializado en Ciencias de la Computación e Inteligencia Artificial. Este experto tecnólogo de sistemas y de Inteligencia Artificial y eminente futurista explica cómo ve el futuro de las tecnologías en el ámbito de la traducción e interpretación:

  4. Steph says:

    I’ll have more to say about the “armchair debate” on the future of independent contractors and interpreter referral agencies.

  5. Steph says:

    This Fast Company story, “Language Isn’t A Firehose: James Joyce And The Future of Computerized Translation,” features Nataly Kelly’s work, including her interview with Ray Kurzweil. The business journalist writing this article, Tim Carmody, does not shy away from critique:

    “Note how quickly Kurzweil skirts over the minor-language problem…”

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