Interpreters have many clients. I don’t mean who pays. I mean who is the beneficiary of your interpreting services. Yes, we do see whoever hires us as the “client,” but as a professional service, that is not the most precise way of defining a “client.”...

The practice of interpretation allows interpreters to take a break from themselves and from their own lives.  I was smitten by this profession since the day I got to interpret for stars at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). A combination of circumstances led me...

During my years of interpreting in many different areas, mostly in court and other legal settings, I have observed situations that seem, at the very least, inappropriate, unfair, and perhaps even illegal. One of the first and simplest examples I can give is an assignment I...

The Couch is a place to exchange ideas and brainstorm, not only for its contributors but also for our readers who engage in the ensuing discussions. Although interpreter ethics exist in part to prevent interpreters from getting into sensitive situations as much as possible, sometimes...

The Couch is a learning place, not only for its contributors but also for our readers who engage in the ensuing discussions. The subject of this month’s Couch is the transition to “normal.” As in-person services gradually resume (or at least are on the horizon), what do...

“One moment, the interpreter needs a repetition,” I said in English, followed by “Excuse me, could you repeat that for the interpreter?” in rapid-fire Spanish. It was about fifteen minutes into the interpretation, and the fourth time I had interrupted. I was feeling a bit...

The NAJIT Board of Directors wants to express our deepest appreciation to Giovanna (Gio) Lester for her years of service to the NAJIT Blog, which was re-branded as the NAJIT Observer under her leadership. Her tireless efforts have been a tremendous benefit and resource to...

Leslie Tabarez is a State Court Certified Interpreter in Pennsylvania. In this guest post from 2016, she reminded us that the truth can be hard to swalow. - By Leslie Tabarez © 2016 The phone rang. I picked it up. They needed me down at the courthouse...

This article by Janis Palma was first published two years ago, almost to the date. It is a good reminder of the importance of proper terminology and the traps we face in our work - both translators and interpreters!
©Janis Palma- 2014
Beware of false friends! I don’t mean the people, I mean the words. 
One of the first impulses a young interpreter must overcome is the use of words that may, at first glance, seem to be equivalent terms and concepts in two languages... but are not. Taking that direct path from similarly-sounding words in our source and target languages is not always wrong, but part of being a good interpreter is knowing exactly when to take this path and when not to. In the rapid pace of judiciary interpreting, our brains may lean heavily towards cognates in source and target languages. Cognates are words with a common origin or etymology. True cognates, like “library” and “librería” in Spanish or “livraria” in Portuguese, with a common Latin root -- liber -- may come to have new and different meanings with usage and the passage of time. In this example “library” is a place where books are kept for people to read or borrow, whereas “librería” or “livraria” is a place where books are sold. So although they may be true cognates, these words have become false friends, or faux amis.