Letter from the Editor: Summer 2016

Portrait of Athena Matilsky

By Athena Matilsky

I laughed out loud when I read this issue’s question in Ask an Interpreter: “Why do interpreters wear such unfashionable shoes?” As a court interpreter who spends her day strolling between the criminal and family courthouses and walking up and down stairs when our elevators fail, I have voted for practical over fashionable. I watch as other court employees hobble by, sporting stilt-like heels in the latest styles, while I walk briskly past in my plain Mary Janes. Thank you to Dan DeCoursey for validating my choice in footwear! My “winged sandals” may not be attractive, but they let me fly into the courtroom twice as fast, and blister-free to boot!

It behooves court interpreter communities to formulate and implement a judicious approach, practice, and policy on the subject of text messaging. Instructing courts and attorneys as to the difficulties of “making sense” of text messages, and reaching consensus as to what constitutes reasonable expectations and adequate working conditions when we are assigned the challenging task will help us do our job to the best of our ability, knowledge and expertise.

Speaking of flying, we had a wonderful turnout of attendees traveling to our yearly conference in San Antonio this past May. Even if you weren’t able to make it, never fear! In this issue of Proteus, read Rosemary Dann’s Conference Roundup and the reflections from our scholars and award recipients, as well as thoughts on NAJIT’s future from guest contributors Janis Palma and Agustin de la Mora. Also, James Nolan also offers a timely commentary on Brexit.

We have two wonderfully insightful and informative articles as our feature pieces this issue. In her article “Maximizing Existing Processing Capacity in Legal Interpreting,” Denise Green introduces a concept she calls “scan and drop.” In order to maximize output ability, we need to train our brains to concentrate only on the necessary input, putting all else aside, and she provides us with practical instruction on doing just that. Then in Pilar Meyer’s article, “Decoding and Constructing Meaning from Text Messages: Pragmatic Considerations for Court Interpreters,” we deconstruct that all-important piece of evidence that can be the bane of interpreters’ existence: the text message. Put the two articles together and we can learn how to decode text messages and then scan and drop our frustration while we interpret at maximum processing potential!

Of course, we have our old standbys in this issue too: “Backlash” is the new word of the month in Cracking the Code, and Douglass Hal Sillers gives us a poetic description of interpreting modes in For Better or Verse. In Interpreters Everywhere, Maria Teresa Perez provides a poignant description of an interpreter’s journey, both professional and geographical, as she recounts her experience as an interpreter on both sides of the continental United States. To finish the issue off as always we have Links of Interest and Notable Quotables.

And with that, dear readers, I must finish off myself by bidding you my final adieu. I was recently accepted as a Master’s degree candidate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. I have regretfully handed in my resignation with the New Jersey Judiciary. I intend to work on my French in Montreal for the better part of the coming year. It is therefore with mixed emotions that I inform you that this issue marks my last one as Editor-in-Chief of Proteus. It has been an honor to serve in this position and I could not have done it without my faithful team. I wish you the best as my “winged” Mary Janes take me on my next chapter.

Athena Matilsky, Proteus Editor-in-chief

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