Tuesday, July 31, 2007

From Our Hands to Your Eyes

Since starting this project just two weeks ago, I have already received numerous messages from colleagues in the sign language interpreting field, and I couldn't be more thrilled about the prospect of including stories from these important (and often pioneering) members of our profession.

Now seems to be an appropriate time to give some kudos to sign language interpreters, being that this is the week that the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) will be holding its annual conference in San Francisco, with approximately 2,000 attendees.

While sign language interpreting is not an area of specialization for me, I've admired sign language interpreters ever since I attended the Critical Link Conference in Montréal, at which interpreters for both signed and spoken languages gathered. I had seen sign language interpreters at work previously, but at that event, there were interpreters on stage for so many different sign languages, each one different from the next, and it was a fascinating sight to behold, something along the lines of a visual chorus.

Many monolinguals, and even many spoken language interpreters, are surprised by the large number of sign languages that exist. It is common for people to assume that sign language is "universal" across the globe. Not so!

There are at least 25 sign languages used in Africa, about 30 sign languages used in Asia, approximately 33 sign languages in Europe, roughly 6 sign languages used in the Middle East, and 22 sign languages used in the Americas.

As for English-speaking countries, readers may be interested in knowing that British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL) are very different from each other. For example, fingerspelling in ASL uses just one hand, while in BSL, two hands are required. Irish Sign Language (ISL) is different still, and is rooted in French Sign Language (LSF). I was told by a colleague that this was due to the fact that French nuns taught many of the deaf children in Ireland. Northern Ireland Sign Language (NISL) uses both ISL and BSL.

Across the pond, at one point in history, there was even a Martha's Vineyard Sign Language that thrived at one time due to the unusually high number of deaf inhabitants of the island. In one region of a town called Chilmark, as much as a quarter of the population was deaf. On the island as a whole, about 1 in every 155 people was deaf. This is documented in a book called Everyone here spoke sign language: Hereditary deafness on Martha's Vineyard by Nora Ellen Groce, available here. As schools for deaf children opened on the mainland, many families migrated away from the island, and this sign language soon became extinct.

Another interesting tidbit about sign language interpreting in the U.S. is the fact that many Native Americans of the Great Plains once used a sign language to communicate across languages. This was referred to as Plains Indian Sign Language, and was used by Sioux, Arapahoe, Cheyenne and others. In the late 1800's, there were apparently more than 100,000 individuals who knew this sign language. Today, very few remain.

Often, when I am conducting research on interpreting, I come across articles with helpful information for sign language interpreters, although much of the information usually applies to spoken language interpreters as well. Even when it doesn't apply, it's always interesting.

One virtual treasure trove of information is David Bar-Tzur's site, The Interpreter's Friend. There are some fascinating articles on interpreting for spiritual/religious topics, many of which I believe would be of great interest to all interpreters. There is also a tremendous list of resources.

May the knowledge-sharing continue. All colleagues from the sign language interpreting community are welcome to participate in this project.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Alice Kaplan - The Interpreter

The Interpreter. Most (if not all) of us are familiar with the movie starring Nicole Kidman. However, are you familiar with the book by the same name, also known by it's French title, L'Interprete, by Duke University history professor, Alice Kaplan?

If not, it may be of special interest. Kaplan is the author of French Lessons and The Collaborator and the translator of OK, Joe, all published by the University of Chicago Press. Her books have been twice nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Awards, once for the National Book Award, and she is a winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Here is what the publisher had to say:

"One of the least-known stories of the American liberation of France, from 1944 to 1946, is also one of the ugliest and least understood chapters in the history of Jim Crow. The first man to grapple with this failure of justice was an eyewitness: the interpreter Louis Guilloux. Now, in The Interpreter, prize-winning author Alice Kaplan combines extraordinary research and brilliant writing to recover the story both as Guilloux first saw it, and as it still haunts us today.

When the Americans helped to free Brittany in the summer of 1944, they were determined to treat the French differently than had the Nazi occupiers of the previous four years. Crimes committed against the locals were not to be tolerated. General Patton issued an order that any accused criminals would be tried by court-martial and that severe sentences, including the death penalty, would be imposed for the crime of rape. Mostly represented among service troops, African Americans made up a small fraction of the Army. Yet they were tried for the majority of capital cases, and they were found guilty with devastating frequency: 55 of 70 men executed by the Army in Europe were African American -- or 79 percent, in an Army that was only 8.5 percent black.

Alice Kaplan's towering achievement in The Interpreter is to recall this outrage through a single, very human story. Louis Guilloux was one of France's most prominent novelists even before he was asked to act as an interpreter at a few courts-martial. Through his eyes, Kaplan narrates two mirror-image trials and introduces us to the men and women in the courtrooms. James Hendricks fired a shot through a door, after many drinks, and killed a man. George Whittington shot and killed a man in an open courtyard, after an argument and many drinks. Hendricks was black. Whittington was white. Both were court-martialed by the Army VIII Corps and tried in the same room, with some of the same officers participating. Yet the outcomes could not have been more different.

Guilloux instinctively liked the Americans with whom he worked, but he could not get over seeing African Americans condemned to hang, Hendricks among them, while whites went free. He wrote about what he had observed in his diary, and years later in a novel. Other witnesses have survived to talk to Kaplan in person."

You can read an excerpt from the book here. You can also listen to an interview about the book with the author, from NPR, here. Here are some other quotes from reviewers:

“A cross section of a tragedy.…This is an extraordinary book.”
John Lukacs, Boston Globe

“A nuanced historical account that resonates with today’s controversies over race and capital punishment.”
Publishers Weekly

“American racism could become deadly for black soldiers on the front. The Interpreter reminds us of this sad component of a heroic chapter in American military history.”
Los Angeles Times

“A brilliant account.… Inventive, moving, and beautifully written, this is a major contribution to investigative history. Highly recommended.”
Library Journal

“With elegance and lucidity, Kaplan revisits these two trials and reveals an appallingly separate and unequal wartime U.S. military justice system.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Kaplan has produced a compelling look at the racial disparities as they were played out.… She explores both cases in considerable and vivid detail.”
Sacramento Bee

In the case of this interpreter, through whose eyes Kaplan allows readers to see a unique perspective in history, the issues surrounding racial disparities were impossible to ignore. While this is an extreme example, as interpreters, we assist members of minority groups constantly as part of our daily work, and many of us are representatives of minority groups ourselves. I am sure that many interpreters will find relevance and parallels in the viewpoints offered in Kaplan's book.

So often, interpreters are portrayed using the dry and inaccurate "parrot analogy", without acknowledgment of the fact that interpreters are human beings, participants, in many ways, of the events and communication acts taking place, not just in our presence, but with our presence. Given the significance of what Guilloux experienced as an interpreter, I venture to say he would probably agree.

I came across a discussion guide for this book online, and it posed a very interesting question:

For French writer Louis Guilloux, being an interpreter was much more than just a wartime profession. What did serving as an interpreter mean to him, and how did he embrace this role both during the courts-martial and throughout his life?

This question is an interesting one to reflect upon, especially in the context of our project. What parallels are there between Guilloux's view about his work, what it meant to him, and the views we, present-day interpreters, hold of our own? I hope that some answers to this question will be revealed through the From Our Lips to Your Ears project. Certainly, Alice Kaplan has given us a banquet of food for thought.

Finally, I'm pleased to share that I've exchanged emails with Ms. Kaplan, and she has kindly offered to support the project by putting us in touch with some of the interpreters she's been in contact with in relation to the writing of The Interpreter.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Word is Getting Out!

Over the past couple of days, I've been hearing from our colleagues from Down Under as a result of the project being mentioned in the eNewsletter for AUSIT, a professional association for interpreters in Australia with more than 750 members. Thank you, AUSIT!

The national symbol for interpreting services in Australia is pictured at left.

I am also happy to report that many university professors around the world have also been willing to help spread the word among fellow faculty and students.

Our project continues to receive mentions in the blogosphere! It has been mentioned on Transblawg, a blog for German translators, the N-Zone blog, written by Norayda de Leon-Jones, a Spanish<>English court interpreter, and the Translation Blog, written by Céline Graciet.

This week, I also heard from a colleague to let me know that she had already heard about the publication in a variety of ways. The fact that people are hearing about the project from multiple sources is encouraging. Still, my hope is that all interpreters will have the opportunity to participate in the project, if they are so inclined. So, there is still work to be done and still more interpreters to reach. If you are interested in helping get the word out, feel free to visit the project website for some ideas.

The media release continues to be picked up by so many sites, we've lost track! A few new ones we received through Google Alerts include the SmartMoney site, ABC7 news (Los Angeles) and WLS-TV / ABC (Chicago).

In response to the recent story in the Washington Post, I am also supporting other journalists who are writing about interpreting issues. More items are currently in the works. If this project is mentioned in any of them, I will be sure to post an update here.

You can now subscribe to the From Our Lips to Your Ears blog in a reader. To do that, simply click on the small orange icon in the right-hand column. This enables you to view this blog using the news reader of your choice (Yahoo, Google, Explorer, AOL, etc.).

Within just a couple of days of adding the subscription feature this week, the FeedBurner stats indicated that quite a few people are already subscribing to this blog in a news reader. That was a surprise to me, but I chalk it up to the fact that we all enjoy reading positive things about our profession. Also, I may have underestimated the number of contributors who like to stay updated about the project.

I've also been getting requests from individuals for me to receive my "newsletter" and be added to my "mailing list". I had not yet planned for either of those, but given the interest, it looks like I will need to do so in the near future. For now, I've added another new feature, so that now, you can receive blog entries via email. If you're interested, it's easy to do - just enter your email address into the little box in the right-hand column.

Each day, more and more submissions, questions and ideas keep pouring in! So much so, in fact, that it's very hard to keep up with it all. Still, it's inspiring and encouraging to see so much support, both within the U.S. and internationally, for the project.

At this point, several of the interpreters and colleagues who have contacted me have said that this project is a wonderful public relations effort for the entire interpreting community. I consider it an honor to help people understand the value of interpreters in society. So, I can see why the project is being viewed this way. Still, my goal is much simpler: to collect and record anecdotes that demonstrate how interpreters are changing the world, and make them available through a publication. I believe that one of the project's benefits will be greater outreach to the public at large, in a positive way.

Thanks again for the amazing support, now evidenced through hundreds of emails, thousands of unique hits on the project website, as well as your continued phone calls and comments on this blog. As a special treat, click here to learn how to say Thank You in 465 languages.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Janet Perez Eckles

Many years ago, I met a true heroine in our profession. From the moment I first heard her interpreting abilities, I knew she was outstanding in many ways. She was able to render information back and forth in her language pair (English<>Spanish) with utmost grace, retaining accuracy and making the speech sound absolutely natural, even conveying nonverbal information, such as hesitations, tone of voice and inflection. Not only that, but she always had an amazing presence about her, treating speakers of both languages gently, with respect and professional courtesy.

I worked with her for a long time, and always admired her as a professional. She quickly rose to achieve many things in her career as an interpreter, receiving awards for her abilities and obtaining her court certification in the state of Florida. Throughout her career, she has trained and coached hundreds of other interpreters in the United States, Panama, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

What I didn't know about Janet Perez-Eckles when I first began working with her, and what may surprise many readers here, was that she was blind. When someone told me this, I became even more awestruck by Janet. We worked together for many years, interacting mostly via telephone. It became easy for me to forget that she was sightless, even when we were together in person. This became even more incredible to me when I learned that Janet had actually lost her sight as an adult. You can read more about Janet's incredible abilities as an interpreter in a feature article from Hispanic Times magazine, located here.

But Janet's achievements as an interpreter are not her only admirable qualities by any stretch of the imagination. In addition to losing her sight as a mother of three young children, Janet has overcome a great many obstacles in her life that many of us can never even imagine.

Janet is already a published author, and imparts wisdom to others about the many hardships she has successfully battled in her book, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life, available for purchase online here.

Janet's writing - and her amazing life- have received wonderful acclaim in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Orlando Sentinel, and many others. Her work has appeared in countless books and publications, and one of her personal anecdotes will be featured in Chicken Soup for the Tea Lover's Soul, forthcoming in November 2007. Her blog is available here.

So, given this extremely impressive background, and even though I already knew her as a friend, I was extremely honored when I received a call from Janet yesterday. With Janet's trademark "smile in her voice", she shared her support of our project and offered to participate. Janet also informed me that, in her book, she has an entire chapter that discusses how she became an interpreter.

Those of you who have worked as telephone interpreters know the importance of note-taking. Now, imagine for a second that you could not take notes and had to rely exclusively on your short-term memory, even for the longest segments. Imagine interpreting a 16-digit credit card number without writing it down. Janet can do this effortlessly now, but in her book, she describes how she came to acquire and hone this unique ability.

Janet has kindly offered to allow our project to use excerpts from her book, especially from this chapter, which is very relevant. She and I are both thrilled about the chance of working together again, this time with another common interest - that of communicating with a wider audience, in writing, and sharing information about the interpreting profession with others.

Readers may also be interested to know that Janet is working on a series of novels at the moment, and one of her main characters happens to be an interpreter! As more updates become available about Janet's work, I will be sure to share them here.

Until then, I just want to say that I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other published authors whose writing and work focus on interpreting, but are accessible to a broad audience. One thing I am finding in common with all of these authors is that we are unanimous in our belief that it is extremely important to give interpreters from all fields a chance to share their perspectives. There is so much great work being done, and there are so many great stories to share.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

TAHIT Annual Symposium

Our friends at the Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters and Translators (TAHIT) will host their First Annual Symposium on Language Access August 24-25 at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. You can register here.

We're happy to report that our project will have a presence at this event, as participants will be able to pick up copies of our literature there. We look forward to hearing stories from our colleagues from the health care interpreting field in the Lone Star State.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On the Radio

Regarding yesterday's broadcast on Washington Post Radio, a genius friend who wrote some dynamo code to set up automatic/remote recording of radio programs did us the favor of recording the program. Thank you, Frank!

Now you can download the audio file from our project website here.

I was proud to serve in the interview as a steward for our profession, and to give some much-deserved recognition to the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) as well.

As indicated in the original Washington Post article, several NAJIT members helped out with this story by providing feedback and locating Vai interpreters. Also worth reading in relation to this story is the NAJIT position paper on preparing interpreters in languages of limited diffusion, especially helpful for court clerks and administrators who are facing an increased demand for interpreters for less common languages.

Around the World and Back

The news about the project continues to spread across the globe, and the collaboration and support being received are truly inspiring. We continue to receive hundreds of new hits on the project website each day.

In addition to our earlier posts today with updates from Ireland and Australia, special thanks go out to Ravi Kumar, President of the Indian Translators Association in New Delhi, India, for spreading the word about the project to ITA members.

More and more places have also picked up the news release, including ABC-11 (Raleigh-Durham), another Law firm (specializing in worker's comp), the Oregon Herald, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and AOL Hispanic Business.

Also, I am excited to share that the project has also made its way to Turkey in the July issue of a newsletter that reaches 6,000 Turkish linguists. Special thanks to A. Erol for making this possible, and for taking the time to actually embed images from our project's site. To use the only Turkish I know (aside from the names of dishes and songs): Teşekkür ederim.

Thanks to everyone
for helping to spread the word about our project!

Valerie Taylor-Bouladon Barnes

I am excited to report that I've been in touch with another author, Valerie Taylor-Bouladon Barnes, former Geneva-based UN interpreter, and the author of A Foreign Affair (published by Random House), who currently resides in Australia. Here are what reviewers had to say about her book:

"Barnes' writing technique, which is heavily dependent on anecdotes and vignettes, is entertaining." - Sydney Morning Herald

"Oh, to have led Valerie Barnes's life. [...] British-born Barnes was 20 when World War II ended and she was looking for adventure. Brilliant at languages - she could speak both French and Spanish fluently [...], a chance meeting and a bit of good luck landed her a short contract at the UN in Geneva as a translator. From there she never looked back." - Vogue

Valerie is also the author of another book, Conference Interpreting, Principles and Practice. She has offered to give our project permission to use as many anecdotes and stories from her books as we would like (giving due recognition to the source, obviously.) You can visit her site by clicking here.

About the author: Valerie Taylor-Bouladon Barnes was born in England but lived most of her life in Switzerland, working for the United Nations in Geneva. She started work there in October 1948 as a trilingual reporter, became a translator (English, French, Spanish and Russian) and then a simultaneous interpreter (English, French and Spanish). She interpreted at UN conferences in India, most of the countries of Africa and Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, China, Korea, Japan, Iran, Kuwait and now Australia, Kuala Lumpur, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Rarotonga, New Caledonia and others.

While this post focuses on conference interpreting, since that is the field that Taylor-Bouladon Barnes worked in, I want to again emphasize that the From Our Lips to Your Ears project will include stories from all types of interpreting. All of these stories are important, meaningful and interesting

Activity in Ireland

A wealth of connections, recommendations and resources were kindly shared by Professor John Kearns from Ireland. Dr. Kearns is the editor of the award-winning journal Translation Ireland, published by the Irish Translators and Interpreters Association.

Dr. Kearns also works as reviews editor for the Interpreter and Translator Trainer, a journal that may be of interest to many readers of this blog, published by St. Jerome.

Another publication of potential interest to readers is the ITIA bulletin. There is a lot of great work being done in Ireland at the moment in the T&I fields.

Of special note in Ireland is the work of Mary Phelan, who is very interested in the professional status of community interpreters in Ireland, as well as the new challenges which mass immigration to the country is bringing. She is the author of the Interpreter's Resource, published by Multilingual Matters (UK).

Monday, July 23, 2007

Manic Monday - Part 3

To round out the Monday Madness...

I just finished a live segment as a guest on "From the Headlines" on Washington Post Radio with anchors Hillary Howard, an Emmy-winning reporter, and Bob Kur, who has been a substitute anchor on Today, NBC News at Sunrise, as well as a moderator and panelist on Meet The Press. My participation in the segment was with relation to the recent article that ran in Sunday's paper.

Hillary and Bob were kind enough to mention the full title of the book, "From Our Lips to Your Ears: How Interpreters Are Changing the World", several times during the brief (6-minute-long) segment.

As is commonplace with live segments, there was not nearly enough time to share everything that one would like to share, but I did manage to convey a couple of key points, including the fact that being an interpreter requires a lot more than just being able to speak two languages. Also, I was able to point to the 2000 U.S. Census data, which shows that Montgomery County has a large number of individuals who speak languages other than English at home (about 31% of the total population), and that there are more than 5,000 speakers of West African languages in the county.

You can download the audio file here.

Manic Monday - Part 2

The news about our project continues to travel fast!

I heard from a colleague who belongs to the Japanese Association for Interpretation Studies (JAIT) and informed me that the association sent out information about our project via email to their members. The JAIT has about 220 members, many based in other countries as well. Thanks to Professor Kumiko Torikai for sharing information about our project! We hope to receive some stories from our colleagues in Japan, and elsewhere in the world!

I also learned that the project has reached Translatum, a forum for Greek interpreters. Special thanks to Anastasia Giagopoulou and Elena Petelos for helping us share the news about the project with our Greek interpreter colleagues, throughout Greece and around the world!

We are also grateful that the word is being spread in France as well. Sara Freitas-Maltaverne, author of the In Other Words blog, posted information about the project on her site.

Also, thanks to kind volunteers, our project will be hitting the conference circuit in full force! Flyers will be available at the following additional events throughout the U.S. in the months to come:
  • "Interpreting at the End of Life", an all-day workshop at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, on August 4th.
  • The annual conference of the Washington State Coalition for Language Access (WASCLA) in Ellensburg, Washington on September 7th.
  • The annual conference of the Tennessee Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators (TAPIT) in Nashville on September 14th.
  • The Fall Forum of the Medical Interpreters Network of Georgia (MING) in Atlanta on September 15th.

The calendar for our project has also been updated to reflect these events. Special thanks to Cynthia Roat for her kind support.

Manic Monday

The word continues to spread, far and wide!

Over the weekend, the counter on our website showed that we have already received more than 1,000 visitors to our site since the release went out. Not bad for only a few days!

I've exchanged emails with colleagues from across the globe at this stage, and am excited to report that many of our friends in various countries are planning to share the project with their association members and colleagues too. If you are planning to spread the word, feel free to tell me about it - I'll be glad to reciprocate with a mention on this site.

It's truly a blessing to be meeting so many great people from around the world, and from so many disciplines either within, or related to, the profession of interpreting!

Now, for some media updates:
Moving back to more familiar ground, I also posted the call for submissions in the interpreting forum at TranslatorsCafe. Our friends over at TranslationPeople were also kind enough to post the release on their various sites. Also, a notice about the project was posted to the Multilingual Computing site.

We are also happy to report that, as our call for submissions makes its way around the world, several friends are starting to post it to forums for interpreters in various language pairs. A colleague from Turkey was kind enough to post it to a forum for Turkish translators and interpreters, and it will be mentioned in the July issue of a newsletter for Turkish translators that reaches 6,000 linguists and agencies.

In addition, the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies group kindly shared our call for submissions with their network, and posted our call for submissions to their site. We really appreciate that they have been so willing to support us in this way.

We've also made some new friends in the blogosphere. One blog in particular by Céline Graciet is worth checking out, and she was kind enough to mention our project.

An interpreter based in Japan named Lionel Derset wrote about our project on his main blog and another blog located here. I really loved what he had to say about the project:

"There are a very few single life testimony of conference interpreters I have read about in the past, and several life records and essays in Japan by veteran interpreters. [...] It also means that Nataly Kelly may usher in a little bit of multiplicity in the perception of interpreting where A class conference interpreters are seen at the top of a pyramid under which everything is undistinguishable. Any move to expand the view and perception of the scope encompassed by interpreting is a welcome move."

This is precisely one of the things I hope to accomplish with the book: to gain greater recognition and appreciation for interpreters. All interpreters.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Washington Post

The print media coverage continues!

Today, the project got some well-placed publicity in the Sunday edition of one of the leading newspapers in the country, the Washington Post.

The project was mentioned not by title, but as, "a book on interpreting", in connection with a quote given to a reporter in an article regarding court interpreting.

The article appeared on the front page of the Metro section, and was published in the online version yesterday.

The Sunday print edition of the Post has a circulation of approximately 1 million. Here's hoping the article will direct a few more people to discover the From Our Lips to Your Ears project, so that the world can learn about the important work of interpreters.

Note: if you haven't heard about this story yet, you may want to read the full article. It is a very important story about a case that was dismissed when the court was unable to locate an interpreter for a rare language (Vai). Since the story broke in the post, the AP has done follow-up stories, and it has also been covered on CNN, NBC, FOX and many other large news sources.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Print Media Coverage

Today the news about the project hit newsstands throughout New Hampshire, with an article featuring the book in the local newspaper, rated "New England's 2006 Newspaper of the Year".

A follow-up article will also be printed in a local business biweekly.

What a perfect way to end our exciting first week (three days, actually) of this project!

Half a Century's Worth of Stories

Although it's only been a few days since this project was launched, I have already been very fortunate to receive many phone calls from interpreters interested in sharing their stories. It makes sense to me that, as interpreters, we love to talk about our experiences. After all, in our line of work, it isn't very often that we get to speak our own thoughts.

Today, I received a call from a wonderful man with more than 50 years of experience as a professional interpreter.

I was honored just listening to this gentleman and hoping to soak up some of the radiant wisdom being beamed across the phone line. We discussed our shared appreciation of the fact that, as educators, teachers and/or trainers of interpreters, we are extremely privileged to have learned from those we have taught. I encouraged him to submit his incredibly unique and important perspective in writing. I hope to include stories from new and seasoned interpreters alike, but I am also very interested in honoring some of those veteran interpreters who have seen our field evolve over the years by giving readers a taste of this viewpoint.

After all, it isn't every day that we get to hear from someone who has interpreted for half a century - and has meaningful lessons to share with us as a result of it.

Interpreta 2007

I am thrilled to report that our project will be mentioned during the Interpreta 2007 Conference! This is the first independent (non-association) conference in the Americas designed by interpreters for interpreters. Co-presidents Lucille Barnes and José Luis Villanueva-Senchuk decided to create Interpreta in order to offer a platform where interpreters could share and learn from each other in a relaxed setting.

The conference is being held next weekend, July 28-29, 2007. There will be participants attending from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Panama, US, UK, Spain, Slovakia, South Africa, Mexico, Taiwan and Colombia.

You can read more about it at here, and be sure to take a look at the impressive list of speakers.

And a huge THANK YOU to José Luis and Lucille for expressing an interest in this project and helping us get the word out!

[Images posted here with permission]

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More Flurries...

Media Updates:

As Google crawls the web, I'm beginning to see that a larger number of other sites published the release than what I first realized. It was picked up by KRNV-4 (Reno-Tahoe) SciWeb, Netscape, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Las Vegas Business Press, the Sacramento Bee, DrKoop.com, and several others.

People keep sending me new links to places where they've run into either the release or the call for submissions - please feel free to keep doing that. I love to know how individuals are hearing about the project, and I am very pleased to know that even just the press announcement is helping the general public to hear some positive news about interpreters.

Many interpreters are also helping to spread the word via listservs, forums and blogs. Special thanks to Aurora Humarán for spreading the word in Argentina through La Cabina.

Project Updates:

We've already started receiving stories from various places around the world! I am very encouraged by both the quality of the writing, and the care everyone is taking to maintain confidentiality. One story in particular made me laugh out loud, and it did a great job of demonstrating why interpreters are so necessary. I feel very privileged to be on the receiving end of these, and very much look forward to sharing them with everyone through this treasury.

Many people have also been bouncing story ideas off of me via email to see if these would be of interest. I am always happy to give feedback, so please feel free to keep contacting me with questions.

The project website also continues to receive hundreds of unique hits each day. Instead of slowing down after the release went out as I had expected, each day I am pleasantly surprised as there are more and more visitors welcomed to our site.

I really appreciate each and every effort to share information about the project, and will reciprocate by making every effort to ensure the project continues to be deserving of such attention.

Flurry of Activity

Wow! The last 12 hours have been quite a whirlwind!

Media Activity:
  • I did an interview with a local reporter who's writing up a story about the project.
  • An online travel publication (with 50,000 readers) is interested in publishing an excerpt once we have completed the book, helping travelers to understand the value of interpreters.
  • The call for submissions has been shared on a site for freelance writers called novelspot.
  • Hispanic Business and several other sources picked up the release.
  • Bloggers are starting to cover the project, including one blogger based in Brazil whose blog covers false cognates and idiomatic expressions in Portuguese and English.
  • Another blog dedicated to health information issues also posted our call for submissions.
  • The media coverage has been generating lots of traffic to the website - hundreds of unique hits in the first few hours of "opening shop".

General Project Updates:
  • Dozens of emails have been coming in through the project website, all of them very positive, supportive and enthusiastic! I feel blessed to have so many people helping to get the word out and encouraging interpreters to participate.
  • The FAQ section of the website has been updated to include some of the questions that have been asked, and the FAQ document on the Downloads section has also been updated (more on this below).
  • A colleague in Israel with a wonderful interpreting project gave me a great idea for gathering stories in language pairs that do not include English (ex. Hebrew<>Amharic). I look forward to working with her and hearing the important stories of the interpreters in her group.
  • The kind folks at the Nebraska Association of Translators and Interpreters have agreed to share project materials at the information table during the upcoming conference to encourage participation.
Project Updates:
  • One question I received from various individuals was, "Do you only want happy stories?" The short answer is, "No." We want stories that demonstrate the value of an interpreter, which is the purpose of the project. These may include a range of emotions and outcomes, including ones that are sad or negative - these can be powerful and thought-provoking. The FAQ has now been updated to include this question.
  • Another common question asked was, "What about confidential information?" The short answer is, "Don't share it." In summary, all confidential and identifying information should be removed by the contributor prior to submission. Our forms require the author to indicate that this has been done before submitting the story. If this is not done and the story is selected for publication, the story will be edited accordingly. As a reminder, prior to publication, all authors will complete and sign a comprehensive release form. This happens closer to the publication stage. The updated FAQ also reflects this.
  • An unexpected question I've heard multiple times is, "Can I share a story if I'm not an interpreter?" The answer is "Yes." We're looking for stories that show the value of interpreters. We may consider having a special section or supplement with these types of stories. Some of my medical education colleagues have suggested that these would be fantastic to show the "lessons learned" from the stories. We'll definitely keep that in mind as a possible follow-up material to provide.
Thanks again to everyone for all of your kind words and support for this project.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

News Release

Our press release went out at 7:56 am, and by 9:30, I had already received phone calls from reporters in my local area.

By 11:30 am, I received a WireWatch report that indicated that the release had been picked up by numerous sources, including:
Little by little, the world will learn about the important work interpreters do. My hope is that this project will give interpreters some much-deserved recognition.

Official Launch

Today is the day in which our official media release goes out announcing the book, to coincide with the launch of the publication website.

While all of my other writing projects have been meaningful in different ways, this one is especially important, seeing as how it is a way of giving back to the interpreters I've had the pleasure of interacting with over the years. I look forward to compiling and sharing their stories.

In addition, it truly aims to tell the world about the important work that interpreters do. In their own words.

Yesterday, I let a few close colleagues have a verbal or quick email "sneak preview" regarding the project. The positive response so far has been wonderful - a few colleagues even asked if they could go ahead and submit stories. Already today, several association leaders and individuals from various countries have responded with kind emails and an interest in helping to spread the word.

Another individual offered to share fliers at two important conferences coming up in September, and I will be taking her up on the offer.

And, I received a suggestion regarding a wonderful speaker who recently gave a moving tribute to interpreters at another conference. She has tentatively agreed to write a forward for the book. I could also hear her "light up" when we spoke. I'm very excited that she's interested in participating.

I also was fortunate to receive a quote today from a friend that will be just perfect for the introduction of the book. I won't reveal it just yet, but it talks about the importance of stories in our lives. Perfect for this project.

The news release won't go out for another hour or so, and there are plenty of emails to send out to friends and colleagues to share the basic information on the project. Thanks to everyone so far for all of your support for this project! I look forward to sharing more updates here periodically.