Tuesday, December 30

Cost In Translation

Cost in translation
Money is no object when it comes to the ‘right to a fair trial’

They say that one of the greatest of all human rights is the right to have a fair trial, and ‘equality before the law’ is seen as one of the key defining characteristics of any democratic country.

But with many countries becoming increasingly multicultural, language barriers can make the communication process that little bit trickier, thereby hindering an individual’s chances of receiving fair and equal treatment.

In 2007, British pop star Amy Winehouse was arrested in Norway on drug-possession charges and, despite the presence of police offers who could speak fluent English, her attorney argued that the lack of a qualified interpreter during the interrogation process meant that she was unable to receive fair counselling.

And in England, Lincolnshire Police recently revealed that they are currently spending more than £300,000 a year on translation services, covering almost fifty different languages.

Of course, this is a vital service that ensures alleged offenders receive fair treatment within the legal system and is now a standard service across most countries’ police forces.

In the UK alone, national police translation costs have increased from £13.5 million to £22 million in the past four years, with some constabularies using an international translation service called ‘Language Line’, which enables police officers to hold three-way conversations with interpreters by telephone; this is particularly useful when specialised real-time interpreting is required at very short notice.

But ultimately, this expenditure not only demonstrates the increasing requirement for translation services within the UK legal system, but also a real commitment from the powers that be to offer equal access to a fair hearing, irrespective of language or culture; it is, after all, a fundamental human right.

Article Contributed By: © Lingo24

Monday, December 1

Translators and World AIDS Day

As translators, World AIDS Day is an opportunity to be inspired to respect and protect the health and well being of ourselves and those around us through knowledge, action and consideration.

AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, and an estimated 33 million people worldwide live with HIV as of 2007, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 2 million lives in 2007, of which about 270,000 were children. The concept of a World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, it has been taken up by governments, international organizations and charities around the world.

Besides observing this day as concerned global citizens, as interpreters and translators we should make it a point to familiarize ourselves with the specialized terminology of AIDS and HIV research. Whether you specialize in medical, legal, business, or scientific translation, AIDS affects all facets of our society and all people, regardless of culture and language. This is a global epidemic which requires the attention of all people and as linguistic liaisons we have the responsibility to ensure the dissemination of AIDS research in all languages.
In order to expand our knowledge of HIV/AIDS related terminology, the following are links to relevant multilingual resources:

Treat HIV Globally Multilingual Glossaries
European Multilingual Thesaurus on AIDS and HIV infection
UNAIDS: 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic

Monday, November 24

The Audacity of Change

With so much talk about change and hope, it got me thinking about the shifts happening within our profession. For some time now, translation and interpretation pedagogy in the United States has been undergoing a much needed change. It is slowly moving away from well-meaning 40 hour trainings and independent non-accredited trade schools to university-based training programs which have been approved by an accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. This is significant because the goal of accreditation is to ensure that the education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality.

Historically, university-based translation and interpretation programs have been the norm in Western Europe. Starting with the first college of translators from Arabic to Latin in the city of Toledo during the 12th century and leading to contemporary programs offered in universities such as the University of Geneva Ecole de Traduction et d'Interprétation, University of Leipzig, and la Universidad de Alicante. In the United States, we are starting to see an increase in university extended education certificate programs in translation and interpretation. Some of which include: New York University, California State University (Los Angeles and Fullerton), UCLA, etc. These programs are producing the next generation of interpreters and translators. They not only receive instruction on the ethical guidelines and standards of an interpreter/translator, but practical training in state-of-the-art language laboratories. We also find American universities offering bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in translation and interpretation studies. In addition to practical instruction, these students receive a strong theoretical foundation. In fact, 2008 saw the nation’s first doctorate in translation studies successfully completed at the Binghamton University Translation Research and Instruction Program (TRIP).

What does this pedagogical change mean for our profession? Should we look forward to a more consistent curriculum, professionalization, and increased employment opportunities? All signs point towards success. For medical interpreters we can look forward to national certification and in the state of California translators and interpreters can expect an increase in employment opportunities thanks to the implementation of Senate Bill 853. Even during times of uncertainty, I have the audacity to hope that our profession will continue to grow. After all, hope won.

Tuesday, September 30

Celebrate International Translator's Day

Happy International Translator's Day. On September 30th, translators and interpreters all over the world celebrate their profession. This date was chosen to pay tribute to St. Jerome, the Catholic patron saint of translators and interpreters. St. Jerome is revered because he translated the Old and New Testaments into Latin. Later to be recognized by the Council of Trent as the official version of the Bible: the Vulgate.

Use this day to celebrate languages and the field of translation and interpretation!

To see the full Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs press release on 2008 International Interpreters & Translators Day please go to: http://www.fit-ift.org/download/en/itd-2008.pdf

Thursday, September 11

CAL & ACTFL: Spotlight on Spanish

Discover Languages is a national campaign, introduced by the American Council on the Teaching Foreign Languages "to raise public awareness about the importance of learning languages and understanding cultures in the lives of all Americans" (ACTFL, 2006).

In support of the Discover Languages campaign, the Center of Applied Linguistics presents a regular Web series spotlighting a specific language and encouraging readers to explore languages more deeply.

The spotlight is currently on "SPANISH." The following is a brief excerpt of the article:

"The Spanish language is thought to have evolved from Vulgar Latin (the informal, spoken variety of Latin that is thought to have been the precursor to all modern-day Romance languages) and is closely related to other Romance languages such as French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. Gordon (2005b) lists the lexical similarities between Spanish and other Romance languages as ranging from approximately 75% to 85%, a level of similarity that makes it possible to understand parts of one language with knowledge of another. Although estimates are imprecise, Spanish is probably one of the top three most spoken languages in the world, with an estimated 322 million speakers (Gordon, 2005a)1. It has official or national language status in at least 20 countries (Gordon, 2005b), the European Union (Europa, 2008), and the United Nations (United Nations, 2008).

Although the language is most often referred to as Spanish (español) by native and second language speakers alike, it is also sometimes referred to as Castilian (castellano), particularly in contrasting it with Spain’s official regional languages, three of which have large numbers of speakers and enjoy prominent public use: Basque (vascuense, euskera); Catalan (bacavès), which is also known as Catalan-Valencian-Balear; and Galician (gallego). Regional languages with smaller numbers of speakers include Aragonese; Aranese, which is also known as Gascon; and Asturian, also known as Asturian-Leonese."

To read more, please visit: http://www.cal.org/resources/discoverlanguages/spanish/index.html

Tuesday, June 17

Babylon 7 Software Review

As a librarian, I am always in search of quality resources. However, when I'm wearing my translator/interpreter cap I'm in search of linguistic resources that will facilitate my daily workload. I recently decided to try out Babylon, a dictionary and translation computer tool. At first I wasn't sure what to expect from this software, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover how user-friendly and useful this tool is. It not only provides translations in up to 75 languages, but also provides immediate access to lexicographical and encyclopedic content. All you have to do is simply click CTRL+Right Click Mouse over the word in question and a box will open indicating its translation into the target language, as well as additional relevant content from Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, and the Oxford English Dictionary (for an additional fee). They also offer spell check and automatic text translation in 17 languages, however I would not rely on machine translation software as they do not adequately translate grammar and syntax.

Babylon is a great supplementary resource to the various references that translators/interpreters use. However, I wouldn't run to my office and start throwing away my print dictionaries. Babylon dictionaries and glossaries should be used as an additional tool to the varied reference materials that we already use.

Overall, a great tool!

Monday, February 11

Preparation for the California Court Interpreter Examination: An Interview

Throughout my training in the field of interpretation, I've observed a strong desire from new students to understand what it really takes to pass the California Court Interpreter Examination. In order to gain a better understanding of both the examination and preparation process, I interviewed Edgar Hidalgo Garcia, a state certified court interpreter. In this interview, Edgar offers personal anecdotes and advice for preparing to pass this examination.

PART I: Introduction and Training

PART II: Preparation and Examination

Edgar Hidalgo Garcia earned a bachelor of arts degree in Translation and Interpretation from California State University, Long Beach and has presented for the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators.

Wednesday, January 23

CHIA 8th Annual Conference: From Grassroots to Redwoods

The California Healthcare Interpreting Association annual conference will be held Friday and Saturday, April 11-12, 2008 at the Holiday Inn Costa Mesa in Orange County. This year's conference theme will be the rise of healthcare interpreting as a profession.

Please mark your calendars! And watch this space for more information.