Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

Homage to a Mentor

by • February 12th, 2008

Evelyn 2.jpg

Others will speak of her love for her sons, her steadfastness as a friend, and her unwavering loyalty to the Deaf community.
I can best describe Evelyn Thompson as a mentor.
College degrees were being offered in American Sign Languages Studies and Interpretation.
Evelyn had been signing since she came out of the womb; she certainly didn’t need anyone to verify her fluency.
Humility ran deep in Evelyn, as deep and serious as her compassion for the Deaf community. She never hid her rage against the injustices piled upon those whose eyes mean more than their ears, whose gestures and bodily expressions convey so much more than the tongue and voice usually do. Being a professional interpreter meant seeking out every bit of linguistic and cultural resource imaginable – even the theory of formal school and practical training from individuals who may or may not have known as much as she.
I was new: a sign language learner, idealistic, naive. I wanted the best, and Evelyn was it. Still relatively young herself, Evelyn had been interpreting for decades when we met. She was already “an institution” in her own right. We met in an introductory level interpreting class and soon enough I’d written her a

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i think contiguously

by • September 18th, 2007

Seriously! Roman Jakobson (Prague School Linguist, functionalist), describes a kind of aphasia that brings the distinctions between metaphoric and metonymic speech. Metaphoric speech operates by substitution – you say something, I say something about another thing that reminds me of that thing you said – it “re-fills” the same space by replacement of an equivalent. Metonymic speech jumps levels, instead of substitution, you say something, and I say something related in terms of meaning but operating at a different position within a realist hierarchy.
While reading The metaphoric and metonymic poles today (subsequent to a few other articles, too) I became convinced that simultaneous interpreters can orient themselves to the performance of interpretation as verbal art, possibly even a kind of poetry. Some already do, but I think these are possibly a minority? Or, perhaps the dominant paradigm prevents full admission of the poetic latitude often exercised. 🙂

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Language and Me

by • October 24th, 2006

Disability comes in all shapes, sizes, modes, and effects. There are legally-recognized versions and emotional varieties. These, or any number of indeterminate cognitive and psychiatric peculiarities, can interfere with intimate relationships and social interactions. For instance, people look at me and see a woman with a mullet who appears physically fit. What do they know? No, I don’t meet the federal criteria of “impairment of a major life function” (Americans with Disabilities Act 1990). I can breathe, walk, grasp, talk, feel, think, and otherwise function within the range of physicality deemed normal. Who decided to limit “normal” and impose such a measure for judging character or the potential worth of one’s contributions to society? Individuals will not claim responsibility, of course. Such boundaries and markers of difference are established ‘out there’ by impersonal forces of culture. The representations are propagated through the media, religion, and a disturbing range of incidental, informal taboos and negative sanctions. Questioning these norms is often considered problematic, disruptive, or unpleasant. When I do wonder about the so-called normal, people situate me clearly: I am deviant.
Fitting few standard stereotypes, I have learned to live through language. Sentiments not spoken affected me first.

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Language as Motion

by • October 10th, 2006

I wrote this piece, Language as Motion, as an example of the “Self-in-Contradiction” essay that is one of the options for the “personal/identity narrative” assigned to students in the introductory level writing course I’m currently teaching. There are a couple of friends who will recognize themselves in this piece (thank you), and I have to give some credit to Just-in-Time, who got us lost in traffic yesterday in Boston. While we were discussing writing as a craft, another part of my brain was mulling this attempt.
I am also conscious of the timing. Language set-in-motion through the last several semesters of blogging and constructing public writing environments for students is coming to some kind of turning point. The theory of language-as-action meets with (a) practical reality of language-in-use.

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Comps (Question #4: “dissertaton area”)

by • July 13th, 2006

“Community interpreting,” said one interpreter educator, “is a condensed form of all the communication problems that can happen between people. It can teach you a lot about what it means to be a human being.”
Amitav Ghosh on interpreting (excerpts from The Hungry Tide).

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same name, different person?

by • October 30th, 2005

Funny – googled myself (as if I have nothing better to do this morning), and found this poem by another “Stephanie Kent”. Reinforces the importance of that middle “Jo”!
there’s also an alias making loads of bucks (listed by Forbes). envy?
Here’s one I hadn’t come across before, about the disableism workshop Shemaya and I did at Mt Holyoke a few years back.

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Rhein Wein

by • June 29th, 2005

I finally found a bottle of Reisling to belatedly celebrate my birthday.
Had a nice chat with the salesclerk in the wine shop in Ghent, who also recommended a fab place for lunch. I’m stuffed to the gills! My mind is also still full to the brim from another confab with Prof Blommaert. We’ve got hypotheses and research questions out the wazoo! 🙂

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impartiality

by • June 25th, 2005

Found the reference I was looking for after emailing for help. I still need help, but at least I can be more specific now!

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nice things and hard ones

by • December 16th, 2004

Yesterday was a mixed day. The highlight was a breakthrough for a mental health patient who’s treatment sessions I’ve been interpreting for over five years. WOW! The department party was enjoyable, but severely tainted by my memories of last year, when I was accompanied by my family. Alas.

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“A Native Place”

by • October 2nd, 2004

I needed to escape the CIT conference for awhile and recharge my soul. I went to the new American Indian Museum, which includes/covers all the Nations of South, Central, and North America. On my way there, I was sitting outside waiting for the subway, and a freight train rumbled by on the other side of the tracks. I guess because I was anticipating where I was going, I was attentive to the sensation of the train. Before I heard it’s arrival, I had been listening to the birds and the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees. Then a disturbance in the air, which grew louder and Louder and LOUDER until the earth started to vibrate. The train wasn’t even in view yet! It came around a curve and the roar was, while not deafening, louder than anything natural except perhaps an avalanche or a tornado. It lingered too…fading slowly, as if its passing had left an indelible mark in the atmosphere. I could imagine, for a moment, what it must have been like for those first trains to careen across the continent, rending the rhythm of the world.

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