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Dear Readers, we are in the process of changing our platform and that has had an unexpected impact on our comments feature. We love to hear from you, therefore you are invited to make yourself heard via email to tno_editor@najit.org or NAJIT's Facebook group.
After I wrote that, I realized that “how not to ask for repetitions” could be taken two ways, so I’d like to address both of them.

Part I: How Not to Need Repetitions.

1. Practice your active listening skills. 2. Train yourself to understand different accents (in both your working languages). 3. Buy sound-enhancing equipment for yourself, so you can hear better. 4. Understand the law, case law, and court processes so you can make a good educated guess at something you aren’t sure if you heard or not. (For example, memorizing possible sentences associated with certain crimes.) 5. Learn to talk faster. I suggest tongue twisters and shadowing the news. 6. Work on the Stare of Death you can give the chatterbox who’s standing behind you (not a party to the case). 7. Practice gestures and body language that will help you control the flow of witness testimony so you don’t forget long segments … 8. … but also strengthen your short-term memory and note-taking skills so you can remember longer segments.
I’ve been working as a staff interpreter for a long time in various jurisdictions, so I’ve hired freelance interpreters (of languages from Achi to Zuni) hundreds of times—probably thousands. And let’s face it: every court has its favorites. For any language for which a court has multiple options, certain freelancers (or agencies, but that’s another subject) will be the go-to when there’s a big assignment, or a last-minute one, or a vacation to be covered. Well-meaning administrative offices try to encourage or enforce a fair rotation, but there will always be someone who has an extra edge. A question asked by prospective and working freelance interpreters alike is often: how can I get more work? Or the flip side: is there really enough work for me? So here’s the answer: There may not be enough work for everyone, but there will always be enough work for those who go the extra mile to make working with them a pleasure. So how do you become one of those people? Let’s see:
I’m a perfectionist and an introvert. I’d be willing to bet a lot of interpreters are (that’s a different post), but not as many as translators. I loved translating from the time I heard of it, and like every other idealistic liberal arts undergrad, I had romantic ideas of how I could translate [ha] my love into a professional calling: I was going to be a literary translator! My name would be as famous as Gregory Rabassa’s!

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Harry S Truman (attributed)

I have no earthly idea whether Mr. Truman actually said that, but it’s a good sentiment, isn’t it? Stop right now and think of three things you wish you knew. Me, I wish I knew how to play an instrument, how my car runs, and what my toddler means when he grins at me and exclaims, "Deeesssssssh!" (Seriously, folks, he's been doing it for a month. Anyone?)  Done! Three things in ten seconds. Unfortunately, when I talk to people about interpreter conferences—both ones they’ve attended and ones they decide not to—I frequently hear the same complaints. “There’s nothing for me there.” “I don’t need to know any of that.” “I’ve heard that all before.” And in fact, they may be right: maybe if you’ve been going to interpreter conferences for decades, there’s nothing being presented at most of them that you haven’t already heard. This year, NAJIT wants to change that. Our wonderful Conference Committee is putting together a special program for the 2015 conference in Atlanta. During each session, one presentation will be earmarked as relevant for interpreters who work primarily in education, and at least one will be earmarked as an “advanced” session.  “But Bethany,” you say, “Who is going to teach these advanced sessions?”
How about something a little lighter this week? A quick video review of universal translation/interpreting devices in science fiction. After all, if you're going to encounter aliens, you have to be able to talk to them! First, the TV episode that inspired the title: Doctor Who, Episode 6.07, "A Good Man Goes to War." http://youtu.be/7qciqlhvQZI According to Wikipedia, the first "universal translator" in science fiction appeared in the 1945 novel First Contact

Warning: trick question ahead! What is the best mode for interpreting witness testimony? If you said “Consecutive, of course,” then I disagree. And if you said “Um, simultaneous, maybe?” then I disagree even more strongly. (See, I told you it was a trick question.) What interpreters...

On Thursday, November 1, I received this email from a fellow interpreter: Dear friends and colleagues, I deeply regret to inform everyone that our dear, beloved friend, mentor, and colleague, Nancy Festinger has just passed away. There is no doubt that her loss will be felt by...

First off, I apologize to Robert Pollard for getting his name wrong last time! In any case, this will be the last entry in my “Time for a Paradigm Shift” series. But in the immortal words of Winston Churchill, “this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” I’ve spent the last six months laying out a framework for a new perspective on our field (and by “our field,” I mean interpreting as a whole and unique field); but unless we implement that perspective, it’s nothing more than a thought exercise. (And I, for one, would be disappointed if there weren’t practical implications as well, after all that.)

A quick review of teleological decision-making

In this series, I’ve introduced the concept of teleological [outcome-oriented] decision-making and the Demand-Control Schema. To review, this process requires that we:
  1. Be aware of our values as interpreters: accuracy, completeness, neutrality, professionalism, and so on.
  2. Recognize the demands being placed upon us in any given situation. What environmental, interpersonal, paralinguistic, intrapersonal, linguistic, and divergent factors are influencing the way in which we do our work?
  3. Identify the controls at our disposal. What are all of the things that we could do, regardless of whether or not we should do them?
  4. Be aware of the values of the context in which we are working. What is valued in a legal setting? A medical setting? A religious setting? A conference setting?
  5. Handle the demand(s) by applying the control(s) that best fits with our values as interpreters and those of the context in which we are working.