Introduction to Communication Theory for Simultaneous Interpreters

iCORE innovative & creative opportunities for research and education
Conference of Interpreter Trainers Annual Conference, Pre-Conference Workshop
17 October 2012

Simultaneous interpretation is co-constructed activity with consequences for human society in the dimensions of culture (time) and equality (control). This workshop explores the possibilities and limits of paradigm shift from information-based to relationship-centered professional practices of interpreting, using a combination of critical lecture and experiential conversation.

For more information, see the iCore pre-conference schedule description.

Introduction to Inter-Role Dialogue

Many interpreters are familiar with the idea of intercultural or intergroup communication, which takes the identity of participants as important to meaning. . This workshop extends the idea of “identity” to the different roles individuals have in any communication situation. We’ll explore the case of emergency management interpreting, where First Responders have very clear priorities that may not coincide with what Deaf and hard-of-hearing people believe they need. Likewise, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people have express communication needs that may not coincide with what First Responders believe they can accommodate.

I’ll be presenting this workshop at the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Region II Conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Workshop Description:

Many interpreters are familiar with the idea of intercultural or intergroup communication, which takes the identity of participants as important to meaning. This workshop extends the idea of “identity” to the different roles individuals have in any communication situation. While keeping factors of gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion and other cultural dimensions in mind, the frame of reference that interlocutors bring to interpreted communication based on their role in the interaction is a crucial consideration. As an example and in order to practice skills, we’ll explore the case of emergency management interpreting, where First Responders have very clear priorities that may not coincide with what Deaf and hard-of-hearing people believe they need. Likewise, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people have express communication needs that may not coincide with what First Responders believe they can accommodate. This workshop plays with the idea of an interpreter’s role zone (Lee, 2010) as a pivot point within the larger mission of response and recovery. Developing interpreter competence in shifting alignments (on the basis of the relation between interlocutor’s specific roles and the overall context) is a skill that transfers to all interpreted interactions.

Educational Objectives:

Steph at work: presenting on "Dialogue under Occupation" at Lebanese American University, Beirut (Photo by Razvan Sibii)
Steph at work: presenting on "Dialogue under Occupation" at Lebanese American University, Beirut (Photo by Razvan Sibii)

At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will be able to

  1. name at least three ways of understanding role,
  2. identify the context of an interpreted interaction and describe how the context shapes interlocutor role choices,
  3. talk about the interplay of functional roles in a group with intercultural dynamics arising from defining role on the basis of identity,
  4. describe Goffman’s concept of footing and how it is relevant to interpreted interaction, and
  5. explain the grounded task of an emergency management interpreter.

Greenfield Coffee, Greenfield MA

A Deaf CERT to Serve DC

In two weeks, a training for Deaf individuals to create or join a Community Emergency Response Team will occur at Gallaudet University in the District of Colombia. There are still some slots available for deaf and hard-of-hearing people associated with Gallaudet or in the larger DC Deaf community. Sign-up now through the Preparedness for All webblog: Gallaudet Hosts CERT training.

Next week, a training for Deaf individuals to create or join a Community Emergency Response Team will occur at Gallaudet University in the District of Colombia.  The special training is hosted by the Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism, Serve DC, and is described in more detail at the Preparedness for All weblog: Gallaudet Hosts CERT training.

Planning for this pilot training began in earnest several months ago with an observation of a drill using moulage to simulate extensive injuries to victims. That drill brought some already trained CERTs into interaction with some of the District of Columbia’s Fire Department personnel. There are rules and procedures for how volunteers are included in emergency response, especially for large scale disasters.  First responders work with CERTs so that people who want to be able to volunteer in case of a disaster will have already gone through special training that establishes a basic level of skills and understanding about how they fit into the entire system of emergency response and recovery.

The average person does not usually worry about a crisis until it happens (which is why they are called emergencies – they emerge, popping up suddenly, often without warning).  Volunteers are vital to emergency response efforts, but untrained volunteers create a burden that the system has to accommodate on the spot. While just-in-time training is sometimes available, even that requires set-up and delivery.  If just-in-time training is not ready, volunteers wanting to know what to do and how to help divert time and energy from activities that allow First Responders to quickly re-establish control and reduce the chances for loss of life and damage to property.

Gallaudet’s Deaf community is taking a big step in preparing volunteers to be ready and able to help constructively if an emergency happens on campus. Participants in the training earn certification and receive a backpack with some emergency gear. The CERT certification is a national-level qualification to participate in any CERT, which can involve creating a new one or joining an established CERTs in your neighborhood, at your children’s school, in faith-based communities, even at the Deaf club.

There are still some slots available for deaf and hard-of-hearing people associated with Gallaudet or in the larger DC Deaf community. Sign-up now: http://conta.cc/gallaudetcert

The Real Value of Interpreting

Here is the script for the lightning talk I gave on June 15, 2013 at Interpret America’s 4th Annual Summit. It was first published by the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) on their weblog and then in the Conference of Interpreter Trainers (CIT) newsletter. The slides continue to receive views too: at Slideshare (static slides),  and Authorstream (animated slides). The video of the talk is contracted to be published by Interpret America.

holding_cloudswaterboathands_SacapuntasI am excited to talk with you today about the real value of interpreting, which is communicating pluralingual relationships into the future. Now, that’s quite a word, pluralingualism, but all it means is two or more languages used at the same time by people interacting with each other.

I’ve been thinking about interpreting in terms of history since the late 1980s, which is when I met Deaf people and began learning American Sign Language. At that time, the American Deaf Community was in the midst of an empowering movement for social change. The Bilingual-Bicultural movement included criticism of signed language interpreters. The criticism focused on what Deaf people called “the machine model” of interpreting. When the profession was established in 1964, it had quickly become dominated by interpreters with weak or no ties to Deaf culture.

Continue reading “The Real Value of Interpreting”

Dialogue in DUO: Future Change Through Language and Interaction

Dialogue Under Occupation VI
Beirut, Lebanon
May 2012

Blogentries (Dynamic Diagnosis):

  1. stumbling into spirit
  2. Presupposing Salmon: Ready DUO Players?
  3. Fantasia
  4. A Temporal Turn?

Proposal (Prelude):

Dialogue at the Dialogue Under Occupation conferences is contested territory. Participants in this workshop will analyze the language use and social interaction among a roundtable of participants from a previous DUO conference discussing the academic boycott of Israeli universities. Specifically, two “problematic moments” will be presented for collective analysis. Dr James Cumming theorizes, “Problematic moments are unlike other moments because they mark a brief point in time when the conditions of possibility for the group to have new, more productive and deeper conversations can be realized.”

For the purposes of this workshop, to dialogue is theorized as collectively changing the meanings of the past in order to collaboratively invoke new meanings for the future. The goal of re-visiting problematic moments is to proactively engage the question of re-calibration in the Bakhtinian sense of orienting to a chronotope. Can we learn how to generate alternative timespaces with revised identifications and altered relationships? Workshop participants will explore and evaluate the language use and interaction among roundtable participants from DUO IV, with an eye upon ourselves as human subjects contributing to the persistence or alteration of existing social realities.

Social Justice in Education Initiative: Let’s dream of an approach to social justice that enables students and teachers to bring their multiple selves to learning

with Evangelina Holvino and James Cumming of Chaos Management, LTD

Expanding Conversations about Social Justice in Education: Exploring Possibilities and Tensions
2nd Forum of the Social Justice in Education Initiative
University of Massachusetts Amherst
April 20, 2012

Our poster presents a summary of our thinking applying the concept of simultaneity to help students and teachers bring their multiple selves to enhance the learning task. Holvino’s theory of simultaneity (2010) views identities as multiple, interacting and continuously shaped by the simultaneous organizational and societal processes of race, gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity and nation, among other social differences.

Having multiple selves means learning how to accept the resulting ambiguities and contradictions in learning together. It means that interactions are frequently marked by something we call “problematic moments.” These are rich sites for understanding how people are impeded or enabled to enact simultaneity. They are also moments when an intervention has the most potential for engaging justly with differences, changing the conversation and its outcomes. We will explore how to enhance such outcomes.

CIBER Business Language Conference

CIBER Business Language Conference: Building Bridges from Business Languages to Business Communities

UNC Center for International Business Education & Research and UNC-Chapel Hill
March 21-23, 2012

“ESL and Innovation” (Business Language Research and Teaching 2011 Award Presentation)

Feedback from the conference evaluations:

Dear Ms. Kent,

As you may know, the post-conference evaluation survey for the Business Language Conference includes a section where we ask people to tell us if there were any specific sessions they particularly liked. I hope you’ll be pleased to know that your presentation was one of the most often mentioned.

(via email, April 2, 2012)

Description: Executives and employees negotiate misunderstandings arising from thinking in different languages as well as having different levels of English fluency. Moments of repair and explanation after so-called ‘communication breakdowns’ or ‘odd’ or ‘funny-sounding’ instances of English usage can serve many functional uses within workgroups, providing the basis for valuing intercultural differences as an intra-organizational social norm and cultivating innovative thinking.

The European Public Sphere: From critical thinking to responsible action

The European Public Sphere: From critical thinking to responsible action

Committee of the Regions
Brussels. February 2012.

Beyond Homolingualism: A Participatory Model of Simultaneous Interpretation.

The strategy to communicate Europe is guided by an emphasis on information and technology that neglects social interaction. Discourse among the EU institutions in official documents about Plan-D, the White Paper, and multilingualism perpetuate an interaction taboo in which “the tricky question” of an exclusionary language policy is avoided, minimized, or preemptively defended. This is particularly evident in regard to simultaneous interpretation. In the European Parliament, the regime of “controlled multilingualism” has resulted in a communication system that is perceived as most successful when it provides Members with an illusion of communicating in the same language. As in the policy discourse, the measures of evaluation are based in a separation of meaning (in language) from use (by people). The desire to control meaning plays out in contested relationships as Members manipulate the human bias for homolingualism as a tool for individual voice, dis-preferring the cooperative mediation of power implied by participating in simultaneous interpretation. An alternative construction of simultaneous interpretation in community interpreting for the Deaf illustrates another regime in which generating equal voice is the task of the interpreter and language difference (heteroglossia) is preserved and embraced as the goal of the social interaction. Ritualizing community-based simultaneous interpretation as an intracultural social activity is proposed as a means to communicate a new European imagined community.

2011 Summer Workshop on Integrated Weather Studies

2011 Summer Workshop on Integrated Weather Studies

Societal Impacts Program, National Center on Atmospheric Research
Boulder CO, August 4-12, 2011

The Societal Impacts Program (SIP) of the National Center for Atmospheric Research hosts this professional practice workshop on “changing from what WAS to what IS the future of integrated weather studies.”

WAS*IS aims to better integrate weather and social science to empower practitioners, researchers, and stakeholders, in all sectors of the weather enterprise, to forge new relationships and to use new tools for more effective socio-economic applications and evaluations of weather products.

I am looking forward to joining the group of 250+ participants chosen to contribute to this growing movement!