Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Embrace Change, Honor Tradition (RID 2009)

by • August 9th, 2009

Moose attending.jpg

Philadelphia, PA
Biennial Conference
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

It was a well-chosen theme for the 24th national conference of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, although one requires knowledge of the organization’s history in order to be able to fully appreciate the dual challenge of embracing change and honoring tradition. Depending upon point-of-view and experiences, any given change can be viewed negatively or positively, and tradition can be variously described. President Cheryl Moose (pictured, watching (“listening”) during the DEAF FRIENDLY workshop) interpreted the motto for us in her speech at the Opening Ceremony, using an ASL sign for “embrace” that indicates taking a thing from outside of yourself and tucking it into the front pocket of your heart. The ASL sign that she preferred for “honor” is the sign usually glossed as CHERISH. The thing is, if you are relatively new to the field or have only attended a few conferences or less, then you have no way to assess what is traditional or what constitutes change.
The history lessons came at the end of the conference, during a workshop by MJ Bienvenu (The Heart of RID), the Closing Ceremony (RID – The Musical), and a strategy session on making

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The eyes have it! (RID 2009)

by • August 6th, 2009

eye gaze notes.jpg

Philadelphia, PA
Biennial Conference
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

“Where does he get this?” I heard another workshop participant exclaim after David N. Evans’ flash animation eye blink slide illustrating the natural coordination of the reading mind with the biological moistening mechanisms that lubricate the eyeball.

“Stern and Dunham (1990) … noted task demands affect when one blinks (referred to as blink location). For example, readers tend to place their blinks at ‘semantically appropriate places in the text,’ such as the end of a sentence, paragraph, or page” (italics in original, bold added)

~ Conference Handouts Booklet (aka, the hymnal*)

Coordination between when (timing) and where (location, the “places”) is the focal point of most of my research. The two examples of eye blinking during reading (English text) and as grammar and prosody during signed utterances (ASL specific) inspire a hypothesis about Mikhael Bakhtin’s original, conceptual use of the term “utterance” in his analyses of discourse in novels and the uptake of the term by researchers of spontaneous spoken language in real (nonfictional) face-to-face interaction. Could Bakhtin have, intuitively or subconsciously, noted a physiological coordination of eye blinks with the spoken production? Or felt his own blinking while he read?

Note: Researchers of language and

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Beyond Political Correctness (RID 2009)

by • August 5th, 2009

Ken local stagehand.jpg

Philadelphia, PA
Biennial Conference
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Business Meeting, Redux
The process of the RID Business Meeting has a similar feel to many of the sessions held by Members of the European Parliament – this is TRUE BUSINESS, serious slogwork the ramifications of which are potentially huge. We have had no problem reaching and maintaining quorum, although retaining those members who do come to experience it for the first time is a challenge. Ken, one of the stagehands hired from a local company to run the cameras, was entertained by the hour we took to amend the standing rules on the presence of breastfeeding mothers during the Business Meeting. I know – it may seem ludicrous, yet this attention to detail reveals something essential about how we approach our work as interpreters. Inclusivity and acceptance of difference are core values. Diversity, agency, and empowerment permeate the heart of this organization – even when we fail, we recognize the failure on the basis of ideals we are striving to achieve.
Increasing the participation of RID members who do not seem to pay attention to the organization’s business is a major challenge. Ken, as an outsider to our organization, was simply

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decision-making by one and all (RID 2009)

by • August 4th, 2009

voting w RobertsRules.jpg

Philadelphia, PA
Biennial Conference
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

ASL Zone

“PAH!
Now I understand DC-S!”

~ Vera Masters, after Eileen Forestal’s workshop (more below)

As we came down the hall from the elevators to the lobby on the first day of the conference, Cat reminded me: “We’re entering an ASL Zone.” There is always tension at these conferences whether to sign ASL or speak English. The easy (lazy?) choice is English (and I am guilty more often than I care to admit). I was impressed by the announcement that all Board Members will only use ASL, even if addressed in spoken English. Creating a conference environment that is accessible and welcoming to Deaf participants is not only respectful, but I think it is also crucial to distinguishing our field’s unique practice of intercultural communication. We are dealing not only with different languages, but also with different sensory modalities (vision & gesture) than spoken language. Being comfortable in environments where the substance of information is predominately visual, rather than auditory, is absolutely necessary to competence. The sensory experience of watching Bill Moody’s keynote presentation in ASL without voice interpretation is a pleasure hard to describe, as if the ears relax and sound fades to

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Logical Teaming (RID 2009)

by • August 2nd, 2009

Carla Mathers.jpg

Philadelphia, PA
Biennial Conference
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

There are several concurrent workshops so keep in mind that whatever you read here is a particularized view based on the choices that most interest me.

Carla Mathers makes logical reasoning entertaining, presenting (and contrasting) the typical modes of thinking that are drilled (by professional training) into ‘the interpreter’s brain’ and ‘the lawyer’s brain.’ Conference planners knew she would draw a large crowd so they put her in the Grand Ballroom for this five-hour extended workshop on legal interpreting. I am always impressed with the variety and number of volunteers who agree to practice the application of new skills and techniques on stage for the rest of us to observe. Because we so often work in teams, and probably also because we simply must be seen, and no matter how shy we might be about skill level or making mistakes in public – it is the best way to improve skills and contribute to the general learning of the profession as a whole. Erin, a workshop participant, described her best/most important learning from this workshop:

“If you know your stuff, then
there is nothing that you cannot ask for and get from a judge.”

Carla created a

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Moving Forward for a Noble Cause (RID 2009)

by • August 1st, 2009

dream ally.jpg

Philadelphia, PA
Biennial Conference
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

“Are you with that RID group?” I was chatting with the hotel staffer who was so proud to have delivered our waitlisted refrigerator. When I answered, “Yeah,” he exclaimed, “You people are all right! You can stay as long as you like!”

Cat (“It’s 5:00 somewhere!”) and I arrived the night before the conference began, which allowed a bit of reconnoiter before the press of nearly 3000 conference attendees reached full peak. This is the largest conference in the organization’s history – which means it is the largest gathering of sign language interpreters ever, anywhere in the world. The conference program includes workshops on linguistics, ethical decision-making, and interpreting in medical, legal, educational, and social service settings, among others. There are interpreters here from across the United States, Canada, and Colombia (Welcome!), as well as representatives from the National Association of Black Interpreters, the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters, the World Federation of the Deaf, and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). I have already said hello to interpreters and Deaf colleagues from my training days in Indiana, professional work in Vermont and Massachusetts, the Allies conferences . .

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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

Antwerpen
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

Antwerpen
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

de-briefing
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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