Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Anti-Deaf Hate Speech #NOTFUNNY

by • February 14th, 2013

What's happening VB? You just realized the beauty of communication using a visual-gestural human language!

Fox News, Boston affiliate channel 25, and Doug VB Goudie should be sued for hate speech. Seriously. Denying Deaf people the right to information in a language they can understand is violence. Ridicule of their language is an act of violence on a continumm that begins with disregard and ends with people dying because they […]

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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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Spoken and Sign Language Interpreters Unite around Similarities

by • June 18th, 2011


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.

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Social Media and Sign Language Interpreters

by • February 1st, 2011

Seeking illumination!

No one knows what recent changes in communication mean for our relationships with each other or where they will lead in the future. How can we know what to talk about now?

The fact that Facebook is a public space and the profession’s traditional confidentiality rules apply as they would under any other circumstances has been overwhelmed by the emergent social interaction made possible with online communication technology.

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managing time while learning to understand

by • August 13th, 2010

There is a special quality to connections based on conscious cooperation that distinguishes them from relationships that stem from the automatic flow of using the same language. This is the zone where the intercultural communication skills of simultaneous interpreters have particular importance and special use. No other communicative practice has as much potential for forging individual, cultural, and systemic capacities for the equitable embrace of diversity and fair treatment of difference.

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Ethics of Interpreting

by • June 1st, 2010

Damage from a spring thunderstorm in New England

professional development workshop
certification maintenance, RID
Lebanon, NH (31 October 2009)

Real World Ethics

One thing I love about the sign language interpreting community is how seriously we take the matter of professional ethics. We have no choice, actually, because the Deaf community holds our feet to the fire on a regular basis. It is an extraordinary dynamic. The effects of participating in simultaneously-interpreted communication may appear to be concentrated in the interaction between the interpreter and the signer, but the significance of using interpreters extends as well to the entire group and among all languages. Patty Azzarello writes of a team-building activity without an interpreter, detailing the embarrassing lessons learned by the team that discounted the member who was not fluent in English.

He was the smartest guy in the room.

He tried to share his good ideas with us – over and over again.

We basically threw him overboard.

I cannot speculate as to how the dynamics in Patty’s team would have been changed if there had been an interpreter included, but I can say that interpreters witness Deaf people being “thrown overboard” on a far too regular basis.  Michael Harvey

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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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