Issue: 2020 Spring Volume XXXIII Issue No 1
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Editor's Corner

Meet the Editors 2020

Editor-in-Chief of Proteus

Salua Kamerow is a Colombian lawyer, Master of Laws from Penn State University, and Master of Science in Translation from New York University. She grew up with Spanish, Arabic (Lebanese) and English, and currently she is working on her Modern Standard Arabic at Penn State. She is a freelance writer and translator and she lives in State College where she volunteers her knowledge and expertise for her community. She is an avid traveler rambling fearlessly around the world. She has two columns about travel, one in Spanish in KienyKe, and one in English in the Centre Daily Times. Follow her journey on Instagram @culozunga as she makes mistakes, so you don’t have to

Editors of Proteus

Arianna M. Aguilar has a degree in communication and graphic arts. She honed her interpreting skills through hands-on experience and training in the legal, mental health, education, and childcare fields. She is a Master Certified Spanish Court Interpreter in North Carolina, and a Certified Medical Interpreter. Besides those certifications, she is an interpreter trainer and a published author. Her book “Mental Health Interpreting: Unique Challenges and Practical Solutions” is now available on Amazon.

Andre Moskowitz, FCCI, CT (Berkeley, California, USA, 1962) is a Spanish-language federally certified court interpreter (as of 2000) and a California State Court certified interpreter (as of 2001), who since 1997 has been a staff interpreter at the San Francisco Immigration Court. He is also a translator, hispanist, lexicographer and dialectologist who has published extensively in the areas of Spanish lexical dialectology and Spanish lexicography. Currently, Moskowitz is compiling an online dictionary of Mexican Spanish. Considered an expert on Spanish dialects and Spanish-language variation, he has given over 20 presentations at American Translators Association (ATA) annual conferences on Spanish-language variation and how these relate to translation and interpretation. Moskowitz taught English in Colombia and Ecuador for four years, and has a BA in Humanities from Johns Hopkins University (1984), an MA in Translation Studies from the City University of New York Graduate Center (1988), and a second MA in Spanish (with a minor in Portuguese) from the University of Florida (1995). He is an ATA-certified Portuguese>English and Spanish<>English translator, and since 2006 has been a grader of the Spanish>English examination in the ATA Certification Program. He is also an editor/proofreader for Proteus, the magazine of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT), and for Intercambios, the newsletter of ATA’s Spanish Language Division.

Kathleen Shelly, a Delaware and Maryland translator and interpreter certified by the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts, has worked as a professional interpreter and translator for the past 20 years. She has a master’s degree plus doctoral work in Latin American literature from the Ohio State University and was a college professor for 12 years. A member of NAJIT since 2005, she has served as Secretary of the Board of Directors and a co-editor of Proteus, and always welcomes the opportunity to work to promote the interpreting profession. She is also a member of ATA, the Delaware Valley Translators Association and the Modern Language Association. She works currently as the contract staff interpreter for the courts of Sussex County, Delaware.

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Letter from the Editor Spring 2020

Letter from the Editor: Proteus 2020 Summer Volume XXXIII Issue No 1

By Salua Kamerow

Let me introduce myself: I am the new Editor-in-Chief of Proteus, and along with a proficient editorial team, we are here to integrate our passion for writing and reading into every issue of our quarterly newsletter.

Before presenting to you the content of this season, I want to apologize for the delay in publishing the spring issue. Our goal is to submit a timely publication according to our schedule. However, our world has been hectic while navigating the difficulties of the current pandemic.

Our authors of the Spring Issue have been researching and writing to expose our readers to well-thought practices. Research, dedication, and devotion to our professions is what keeps us going during this uncertain time. Henceforth, the spring issue has been produced and retouched to deliver to our readers entertaining articles to digest during the lockdown and/or quarantine.

This issue maintains the consistency of the subject matter we focus on, being translation, interpretation, and languages. However, we have added a note of humor submitted by an artist, actress, and comedian who happens to be bilingual and overfocused on the practice of both languages in her profession.

We feature an article on current State and Federal compensation policies for interpreters by a renowned terminologist and researcher. In addition, a professional of languages of lesser diffusion has submitted a fun comparison between a simultaneous interpreter and a race car driver.

So as to not ruin the rest of your experience, I invite you to explore our other articles in your own time.

Our next issues will follow the schedule below. And, if you happen to be interested in submitting an article for publication for our next issue, please contact us.

Summer Edition: June 15th

Fall Edition: September 15th

Winter Edition: January 15th

Salua Kamerow

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Feature Articles

Compensation Policies Show State Court Interpreters are Underpaid

By Sandro Tomasi

Interpreters have long been underappreciated and undervalued in the United States, a situation due mainly to the lack of proper identification of the level of knowledge, skill and ability needed to perform as a competent interpreter. Many people, especially monolinguals, still believe that all interpreting consists of is repeating something word-for-word in another language, which is contrary to accepted practice in the field of interpreting. In addition, there exists a callous sentiment that some people have towards immigrants in this country. Whereas women and African Americans have movements to help their cause (MeToo, Black Lives Matter), immigrants do not have such a clear path for equality. Nonetheless, recent advancements have been made in California and New York, as can be seen by comparing the court compensation policies between interpreters and other job titles. This data shines a light on how state courts have been undervaluing and underpaying for the job of court interpreting.

Compensation Policies: Federal v. State

In 2017, the California Federation of Interpreters (CFI) made a crucial compensation comparison of similar job titles between state and federal courts. The comparison revealed that many job titles in the California state courts had salary parity with their counterparts in the federal courts, but that the court interpreter job title had a salary that was about half that of its federal counterpart.


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Getting More Mileage Out of Your Short-term Memory

By Janis Palma

Simultaneous interpreting makes people say, “I don’t know how you can do that!” But a good consecutive makes people think, “I could never do that!” Consecutive interpreting is a public performance and shows the world that bilingual competence does not equate efficient interpretation. The key to a good consecutive is short-term memory, and we know short-term memory is limited, so good retention is a skill we all need to improve.

Technology has provided a few tools for interpreters to work around the need to develop retention skills by replacing consecutive with simultaneous interpreting of recordings. It certainly gets the job done. However, professionals may consider it cheating. In any event, interpreters are losing their consecutive interpretation skills due to this reliance on tech toys. Without them, they may end up interpreting every five words and sounding like an amateur.

Professional interpreters should be able to master all three basic skills: sight translation, simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. To get more mileage out of your short-term memory, maybe these tips will help you rely on your own skills rather than some external device. (more…)


Simultaneous Interpreter vs. Race Car Driver

By Hailu Gtsadek

simultaneous equipment

If you were a professional race car driver, your chances of winning would be determined by multiple factors.

You would have the luxury of an auto-manufacturer backing you up and providing you with a team to help achieve the fastest speed possible. Your team would ensure that the vehicle is optimized to perform at the highest speed it could go, making sure the engine and tires are in great condition. Not only would you need to have the best performing vehicle, but also familiarity with the track. You would spend days examining the track and preparing yourself for the curves and bumps that you may encounter. Weather conditions, mental capacity, and physical health all go into your ability to perform as well.

But at the end of the day, speed is what makes or breaks a champion. (more…)


How will we remember the Spring of 2020?

By Aimee Benavides

COVID-19 has brought a lot of things to the surface that seemed marginal before, and the future of interpreting and our ability to adapt has been tested. Right now, we are facing an unprecedented situation of forced inactivity which has very little to do with our skills, our marketing ability, or our experience as interpreters. I dare say it seems as though we’ve had to make 10 years of progress in 3 weeks. Remote platforms that didn’t seem relevant just a few short weeks ago have become the center of recent conversations among colleagues and in social media.

How are we spending our time? Some staff interpreters are still being required to go to court for emergency hearings while others are teleworking, using remote platforms, or rotating their duties by taking turns going to courtrooms to interpret for detained defendants. For as much as the shelter-in-place orders and disaster declarations have affected courtrooms and courthouses throughout the nation, many things continue unchanged; attorneys still need to meet with clients, and other litigation continues its course. Freelancers are suddenly faced with requests from courts, agencies, and clients alike to provide their services remotely. What may have seemed like a pipedream of a court administrator wanting to save money has now hit us in the face as a new reality. Some of us may feel that our choices are to adapt to remote platforms or wait out the virus hoping to stretch our bank account until business as usual opens up to a reasonable degree. What once seemed like a platform that only benefited the courts as a cost saving method is now seen by some as a lifeline to work in a safe and healthy environment as we face a global pandemic.

What once seemed like a platform that only benefited the courts as a cost saving method is now seen by some as a lifeline to work in a safe and healthy environment as we face a global pandemic.


12 Ways Real Court Is Different from TV

By Arianna M. Aguilar

Many new court interpreters have trepidation to work in court; they feel intimidated by the setting and the protocol. Unfortunately, some of the fears new interpreters have are caused by the media and its depiction of court.

Shows like CSI or Law and Order are sometimes the only interactions a lay person has with the court system. As a result, people have many misconceptions about the court setting and the legal system.

I would like to point out some of these misconceptions.

Shows like CSI or Law and Order are sometimes the only interactions a lay person has with the court system. As a result, people have many misconceptions about the court setting and the legal system.

1. Police officers and detectives are routinely shot at, kidnapped or injured on the job.

The truth is, sustaining some of the injuries that TV characters suffer would be the end of their police career. One such injury that I remember is Detective Elliot Stabler from Law and Order SVU is when he was shot at and blinded, but of course he bounced back very quickly and regained his sight. If this happened in real life, most likely he would not regain his sight and would go on Workman’s Compensation.

Another incident was the kidnapping and near rape of Detective Olivia Benson from Law and Order SVU. According to the storyline, she is kidnapped by a serial killer and rapist that had been stalking her. Again, something that traumatic would likely spell the end of any police career.

2. Police officers and other court officials speak a multitude of languages and serve as interpreters.

To mention Olivia Benson again, during the show she is shown to be proficient in Spanish, Italian, Russian and French. This is completely unrealistic, and the show doesn’t even address how she learned those languages. During the show other staff members serve as interpreters as needed. One episode featured a court psychologist interpreting for a victim in court. In real life, court interpreters are required to be neutral and impartial. It would be a conflict of interest for a court psychologist to also be an interpreter, and he or she would not be a neutral party. The reality is that court systems across the country require the use of certified interpreters; this is a regular occurrence in metropolitan areas. The crime shows, except for the above cases, hardly ever showcase the use of the interpreter in court. Considering that these shows are based in highly populated cities, it would be reasonable to assume that they would periodically need the services of an interpreter. But somehow, all of the victims and defendants on the witness stand speak English, some with a heavy accent, but with perfect grammar. Totally unrealistic.


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A Travel Column Featuring an Endangered Language

By Salua Kamerow

In my free time—which is almost 80% of my time—I travel. I record all my journeys in a tiny notebook designed to remind me what to look for when I am out and about in a new place. Afterwards, I sell my stories. It may sound crazy but when visiting a new place, I become so thrilled that I forget about the points I want to write about, and when I return home, I am regretful if I missed specifics. In any case, I have a name for that little notebook—Beetlejuice—because it tends to show up when I call its name three times.

I plan my destinations with the same precision with which I plan the content of my articles. Last month, for example, I visited Ireland, a true emerald island. Since I identify myself as a culture learner and language lover, I chose this country because of its almost-forgotten language, Gaelic. By the way, if you are wondering whether I am well-versed in this Celtic language, I am not. I was curious to learn about why it is becoming extinct and if it was indeed not publicly spoken.

Most of Northern Ireland does not recognize Irish (which is what they call Gaelic) as their main language, which is partly due to the overwhelming influence of England’s invasion. Additionally, England imposed the use of the English language on the Irish, and the pound as currency. Nowadays, however, a third of the elder population of Ireland is fluent in Gaelic, and only the euro circulates in their economy.


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Call for Submissions: Proteus

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of NAJIT.

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Items of Interest

False Friends

By Malena Ramírez-Colón

[Malena Ramírez-Colón is an actor and illustrator from Puerto Rico. She is a faculty member at the School of Theatre at Pennsylvania State University. Instagram: @malena.cuchilla]

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of NAJIT.

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