ITPs: “giving interpreter trainees a fish or teaching them HOW to fish?”

Claudia Angelelli asked this during the workshop “Program quality in interpreter education.” I like it. 🙂
According to the list of participants, there are people here from more than thirty countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, England/UK, Finland, France, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and the US. Who knows how many languages!
Sydney reminds me of two places, in different ways: first, Hawai’i &emdash; the feel of the air, perhaps a faint olfactory recognition, and the presence of palm trees; second, Istanbul &emdash; riding the train and looking out on blue sky and the curve of coast along the bay. Walking along a broad pedestrian way toward the conference hotel this morning, I recalled Brussels, even Madrid. Of course there are distinctions, but my American sensibilities take in the similarity of pace and priorities in contrast with the hurry-burry hustle-bustle never-slow-down-and-take-a-break rush of typical days in the States.
I went to the wrong room for the pre-conference (!) but it was fortuitous in one regard: a discursive theme around shifting from linguistic (information-based) transmission-type interpreting to more something else appears to be underway. For instance, Angelelli discussed how interpreting training programs tend to do well in three areas: information-processing, linguistics, and professional conduct; while not yet doing well in the areas of interpersonal communication, setting-specific features, and socio-cultural factors in the intercultural communication process. This was also a theme of the pre-conference (I caught the last half): “Beyond the linguistic conduit” by Izabel Arocha, one of whose final recommendations is that interpreter training programs need to implement “a practice framework instead of a linguist framework.”
After lunch (where Helena instigated a last-minute move from the Rockabilly to the Quake, she’s also responsible for hooking me up with “the young man” in Marsden), I caught the last ten minutes of Christopher Stone‘s presentation on “Collective notions of quality of Interpreting: Insights from the British deaf community.” As usual he was crisp in delivery and sharp with time management, not to mention being a strong ally. Chris fielded some complicated questions very well, discussing how much more of a “global identity” deaf persons have with deaf people from other parts of the world, and how the UK is fortunate to have so many well-traveled deaf people who can generally establish some level of communication with deaf refugees with unfamiliar signing.
The main point of Christopher’s talk was on consumer choice in selecting interpreters (and how this has been diminished by processes of institutionalization – governmental legislation). Jemina Napier (who presented in the first workshop with Angelelli and others), noted the frequency of this emphasis on consumer perception of interpreting services through the conference program. 🙂
Hanneke Bot in her presentation, “Quality in interpreting as a shared responsibility,” presented a fascinating comparison of three interpreters with different styles in a mental health setting. Her point is to illustrate how necessary it is for the users of interpreting services to participate in repair and be knowledgeable of and responsive to the characteristics of an interpreted situation. She listed four things all USERS need to be aware of and act upon:
1. management of turn-taking
2. the equivalency problem (she quotes Pollard, 2005:265 – a great quote I’ve seen before about consumers responding to the choices (judgment) of the interpreter, not to any “original” utterance)
3. encourage the interpreter to ask questions (!!!)
4. ask questions and use repair
The main source of communication breakdown was lack of repair – an element that is common to all language-based interaction: even without an interpreter we misspeak, repeat ourselves, add, clarify, and alter things we’ve said. This should be an integral part of the interpreting process that everyone present, users and interpreters, need to exercise. (Good stuff, Maynard!)
Meanwhile, I’ve seen some LSF (French Sign Language) which seemed almost comprehensible (!) and met a few deaf women and interpreters from Canada (some using ASL as well). I’ve watched some BSL and Auslan from a distance &emdash; that two-handed alphabet really throws me off. 🙂

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