Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Spoken and Sign Language Interpreters Unite around Similarities

June 18th, 2011

North American Summit on Interpreting
Arlington, VA

“Intelligence is tactile”

Luis was describing the difference between teaching and learning. “Teaching,” he said, “is finite. Learning is infinite.”

One hundred and eighty language service providers have gathered at the 2nd North American Summit on Interpreting for the purpose of learning how to gather our collective intelligence and generate an intercultural revolution. Barry Olson calls us to engage:


Why not!


What if!

Most of the participants are interpreters; some are owners or representatives of businesses that provide language services, and a few are technical gurus who design the communication technologies that increasingly re-shape the limits of what interpreters can and cannot deliver. Nataly Kelly (of Common Sense Advisory), used excerpts from science fiction films to expose the confusion most people have between “translation” and “interpretation.” I reflect on these processes with an engineering analogy in a blog entry about paradigm consciousness. If you read that entry, you’ll get a taste of how I think about these things and understand that

I’m still processing yesterday’s amazing series of Summit events.


I can offer teasers, though! Over the next week or two, watch for entries on:

  • Contextualizing this moment in interpreting history, building on Nataly Kelly’s challenge: “The idea is not to resist the tools, but use them to do more.”
  • The What? Factor (independent contractor or employee model?)
  • Cheerleading for the new social movement (inspiring riffs from Barry Olson)
  • How the Deaf community might be leading the way….

Meanwhile, the interview Nataly had with Ray Kurzweil captured my imagination. I’m not sure if I got his statement verbatim, but I’m pretty sure he said:

“The most high level work one can imagine,
the epitome of human being,
is our ability to command language.”

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2 Responses to “Spoken and Sign Language Interpreters Unite around Similarities”

  1. Gio Leser says:

    Great points, Steph. Thank you for your participation – note-taking and input – in the Technology Workgroup.

  2. Steph,

    Great observations. I look forward to reading more once you have had a chance for things to sink in. You are right, it was a lot of information to absorb on the first day. And, yes, signed language interpreters and the deaf community are leading the way in several areas. We need to strengthen ties between spoken and signed language interpreters. To wit, a friend and colleague of mine just posted this yesterday on her FB page:

    “I just interpreted for Marlee Matlin, I relayed off Jack, her ASL interpreter. It was super cool and she is incredible. I learned how to sign three words: courage, dreams and success. She says courage+dreams=success. I’m inspired.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Keep up the great work and good luck with the dissertation.

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