Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

A Case for Action Learning: Living the Question Now

by • September 7th, 2012

The present state of general knowledge about simultaneous interpretation is slim, and specialist knowledges are dense and possibly counterproductive to best practice. I chose action learning as my research methodology… Finally (after many years), I can ask (what I think is the best) question in various forms, fitting the question to the particular perspective of the audience or receiver(s) in the given context. Recently, I am living the question with several different groups. The simultaneity of the conversations give me hope that we are, already, somehow living ourselves into the best answer.

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Introduction to Inter-Role Dialogue

by • May 18th, 2012

Steph at work: presenting on "Dialogue under Occupation" at Lebanese American University, Beirut (Photo by Razvan Sibii)

Many interpreters are familiar with the idea of intercultural or intergroup communication, which takes the identity of participants as important to meaning. . This workshop extends the idea of “identity” to the different roles individuals have in any communication situation. We’ll explore the case of emergency management interpreting, where First Responders have very clear priorities that may not coincide with what Deaf and hard-of-hearing people believe they need. Likewise, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people have express communication needs that may not coincide with what First Responders believe they can accommodate.

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Europe: Amazing and Disturbing

by • February 14th, 2012

The rainbow ghouls in this painting, "Object III" by Jiri Petrbok, depict the irony of celebrating destruction.

One of the miracles of Europe is the amazing way communication is made possible among users of different languages in the European Parliament. While I do critique some of the outcomes of the transmission model of interpreting, particularly how the success of simultaneous interpretation generates the illusion of speaking in one shared language (which means erasing the differences of separate and unique languages and the worldviews they inspire), the fact that the system works is testimony to what humans can achieve with intercultural cooperation.

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reading the demon: simultaneous interpretation and the in-between

by • April 28th, 2010


Voices from the In-Between: Aporias, Reverberations, and Audiences
Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
University of Massachusetts Amherst

“When I saw you with the laptop,” Cecilia said to me, “I thought you must be really far behind on your presentation.”  More or less! I was in my “live” discourse and dynamics mode, self-interestedly collecting connections with other presenters (or at least with their topics). I wanted to show as well as tell about my findings and speculations based on the research I’ve done concerning language, meaning, and simultaneous interpretation.  The conference would have gone by in a blur for me, otherwise. As it was, I had a handful of heartfelt conversations with fascinating human beings, beginning at the banquet, smuggled into the quiet of rehearsal/prep space in presentation rooms, and during breaks over the abundance of food.

Warning! Relationship implied!

Huda did not believe that I really wanted to quote her presentation. “You really are dangerous!” exclaimed Nimmi, before vanishing back to Texas. Jiwei questioned the possibility of as fluid an identity as I propose – that I am ‘called into being’ by the interactions I have with others, especially those that are overtly communicative. (I’m not

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Testing, testing! Consciousness-raising in a cynical age

by • February 17th, 2010

Circuit Breakers

UMass Translation Center

I recently gave my first talk on paradigm consciousness. The ideas have been floating in my mind since the spring of 2003, but only in the last few months has the knowledge come together well enough for me to try teaching them. My own mode of learning is through action research, and there actually is a sub-division called action learning, which is how I labeled my methodology after fending off the attacks of my dissertation committee’s self-appointed “bad cop” faculty member during the defense of my research proposal.

My main objective for the presentation was to test a method for raising “paradigm consciousness,” because this is a pre-requisite for understanding what motivates action research. There is a variety of literature about action research, much of which tends to skirt the really hard stuff: like what to do when someone in an organization really does not want to learn, grow, or otherwise be open to, let alone support, dealing with new knowledge. By being transparent about my method, I am attempting a parallel task with social research as Yonjoo advocated when she said that it is not whether a particular translation is “right or wrong,” but that the

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Make NERDAs the linguistic minority (proposal)

by • August 14th, 2009

the future

Building on the potential for a paradigm shift is matter of recognition, marketing, and design. These processes can proactively influence each other, interacting and changing through the development of a project. All are contained within the conception and application of strategic planning.
Strategy has to involve conceptualizing the outcome in two different yet complementary ways. First, you must imagine what you want in terms of place. In the case of the next national conference of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID, US-based), the physical location will be some hotel in Atlanta, GA, but the more important issue is how the space of the place will be designed and implemented in order to generate the desired kinds of intercultural interaction. The second dimension that must be considered is time. By time, I do not mean the logistics of scheduling or considerations about the length of the event or even its parts. These are obviously important logistical factors that require detailed attention. However, the most important temporal factor to consider is how the conference contributes to long-term patterning of habits and attitudes for engaging in intercultural social interaction.

Not Even Related to a Deaf Adult: Buffered by Monolingualism
That would be me,

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ghosh on closure

by • July 1st, 2009

Sea of Poppies
Amitav Ghosh (2009: 391)

“It was not because of Ah Fatt’s fluency that Neel’s vision of Canton became so vivid as to make it real: in fact, the opposite was true, for the genius of Ah Fatt’s descriptions lay in their elisions, so that to listen to him was a venture of collaboration, in which the things spoken of came gradually to be transformed into artefacts of a shared imagining.”

Index: references to Ghosh in Reflexivity

talking turkey, making tools (US Thanksgiving with Fulbrighters and other Americans in Brussels, 2008, includes a quote from an essay by Ghosh on the perils of comparing the November terrorist attack in Mumbai to 9/11 in the US)
Comps (Question #4: “dissertation area”) (already two summers ago!)
The Hungry Tide (a beautiful and inspiring novel)
Ghosh on Interpreting (quotations from The Hungry Tide)
What Saar would teach (a quote from Ghosh that illustrates, by metaphor, the kind of discourse diagnostics that motivates my being)

Originally posted June 13, 2005

“I would produce my secret treasure, a present sent to me by a former student – a map of the sea-floor, made by geologists. In the reversed relief of this map [the students] would see with their own eyes that

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What are we trying to close?

by • June 3rd, 2009

Aptitude for Interpreting

“That’s a cheap shot!” The ethical and fine Prince of Significant Findings, was not completely flattered that I followed his choice of beer. He continued, “Follow my paradigm!” Oy, I thought to myself, wincing just a bit even though I knew full well that he was teasing, we’re in it now. Not long before I had told Brooke that I’m anti-cognition. She almost blinked. Almost. 😉 I was not scoring points for subtlety! Then there was Claudia (?), who laughed at me so hard she had tears in her eyes. At least I am able to be a source of amusement (although perhaps only to the sleep-deprived?)
I do respect history, but sometimes “my” history (the history I know combined with my own biography) overwhelms the awareness that other people’s history (what they know and have lived) may be premised upon other foundations. This skews the processing in my prefrontal cortex. (That’s the part that makes us really different from animals – its where we can forecast the ways things may play out in the future, i.e., “an experience simulator.”) Yet, it is always so, yes? You see parts of me that I

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Yes, but can you interpret?

by • May 29th, 2009

Conference: Aptitude for Interpreting

Imagine my surprise upon entering the lobby at Lessius University and witnessing a conversation in American Sign Language! My brain has been so otherwise-occupied that it never once crossed my mind that

a) anyone other than European spoken language trainers/researchers would attend or that

b) I might actually know people!

It was absolutely delightful to re-encounter respected colleagues, meet some of the luminaries whose work is required reading, and make new friends (although one always wonders whether they’ll claim me, and/or for how long!) 😉

We started quite seriously, with the keynoter, Mariachiara, setting the context with a superb history of the tension between innate talent and built skill. Are interpreters born or made? Perhaps it is a both/and kind of question, with challenges of re-molding/re-training those with “the aptitude to perform” and fresh cultivation of those with “the aptitude to learn.”

At the end of the day, Miriam reflected that we (interpreter researchers) have learned that we’re asking the right questions, but we don’t seem any closer to clear answers! One needs only hark back to the presentations of Her Majesty of No Results and the Princess of No Significance to find evidence supporting Miriam’s perception. Are we

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What meanings are we making?

by • April 26th, 2009

two talks at Heriot Watt
by Stephanie Jo Kent

In addition to the transmission of information, the larger and deepest purpose of simultaneous interpretation is to generate and maintain common culture among people from different cultures.

As hoped, the opportunity to present on my dissertation fieldwork in-progress forced my brain to synthesize the trends and patterns that I have been noticing during this year of research at the European Parliament, as well as find words to express what I think these trends and patterns suggest about mono- and multilingualism. The effort to explain my perceptions moved me far along the analytical path; since returning to fieldwork many of the findings have crystallized further.
A few weeks ago, after more backbrain simmering, I finally uttered the statement highlighted above, distilling the years of talking with interested colleagues (and anyone else who would listen, thanks Arne!) into a single, comprehensible idea.
Purposes are human creations, not physical facts, so there is plenty of room to disagree. I am anticipating a conversation that will take place in Philadelphia in August (“Interpreting as Culture“), and other conversations that I hope grow from there and link from/with other sources (such as Ryan Commerson’s brilliant master’s thesis applying the work of

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