Interpreting for the Vatican


Latin – an immortal language

Latin is known as a dead language, but is that actually true? A group of distinguished scholars, including the renowned German Latinist Wilfried Stroh, argue that Latin is far from dead –rather they claim it is immortal. Continue reading

Tablet interpreting is serious fun!

Joking aside, if you want to improve your tablet interpreting skills, there’s an online course this June that fits the bill. Alexander is one of the trainers, along with Joshua Goldsmith, a freelance interpreter with extensive tablet interpreting experience.
Alexander and Josh have trained many interpreters online and offline. So if you’ve ever seen a colleague whip out their tablet on assignment and wondered how a tablet could be useful while interpreting, do join them.
In the first webinar, you’ll get to know your tablet and learn about the basics of tablet interpreting. The second session covers preparation, which is essential for every assignment. You’ll learn how to make your prep fast and easy – from gathering documents to researching for an assignment, fine-tuning your terminology to getting ready for the big day. The third lesson is about consecutive interpreting, where tablets offer numerous benefits, from consulting documents to full-fledged consecutive using a tablet and stylus. The fourth webinar focuses on simultaneous. Coffee and sweets aside, tablets really are ideal companions in (mobile) booths for a wide range of reasons. The fifth and final webinar covers all the apps and accessories you never knew you needed (beer-drinking apps aside): from language apps to productivity tools to apps that will keep you and your clients’ confidential data safe. (Optionally, you can also book a 30-to-45-minute one-on-one session with Josh or Alex).
Of course, you can also just enjoy the silly stunts Alex pulls in the video!

Alexander DRECHSEL is a staff interpreter at the European Commission.



Words at war: Protecting interpreters

The world cannot function without translators and interpreters: We help the public stay informed by interpreting for journalists; we keep everyone safe by translating terrorism chatter pulled from the airwaves; we assist with delivering humanitarian aid to those in need; we act as language bridges for armed forces; we ensure due process and justice in courts and tribunals; we facilitate truth and reconciliation proceedings; we keep peace negotiations going in various international forums. And we transcend conflict by translating culture to reach people everywhere.

But we are at risk. Linguists working for the military are kidnapped, tortured and beheaded as traitors; prison camp translators are prosecuted as spies; court interpreters receive death threats; fixers are persecuted for doing their job; and literary translators are incarcerated for content. The simple practice of our profession makes thousands of us vulnerable to loss of life, limb and liberty.

Currently, translators and interpreters are not specifically protected by international legislation. As a professional category, we fall through the cracks in the Geneva Conventions and, unlike journalists, we are not covered by a resolution. This must change. A UN Resolution would be a first step toward ensuring our protection under international law, and it would mandate member states to prosecute crimes perpetrated against us.

Please sign this petition and let the UN know that the time to protect translators and interpreters is now!

Technology In Interpreter Training

Breaking Up is Easy to Do… If You Have a Smartphone

Published in Science of Relationships

John Mayer is apparently a trend-setter among celebrities. The singer/guitarist reportedly dumped Katy Perry by email and Jennifer Aniston with a text message (recommendation: if you are dating John Mayer, hide his iPhone). And Taylor Swift is said to have been the recipient of a break up voicemail (although not from Mr. Mayer). Is this form of calling it quits isolated to just our friends in the entertainment industry or is it common among the rest of us?

Have you ever been dumped over email? Would you text a (soon-to-be-former) partner to let them know it was over? heyyy we r over bye. Technology provides many options for communicating a desire to break up while allowing us to avoid the awkwardness of dumping someone face-to-face. But how often do people use technology to break up, and are some people more likely to do it than others (or be the recipient of it)? Continue reading

Teaching Interpreting Online… Means Overcoming Misunderstandings

We made a unique decision when we were setting up the Master of Conference Interpreting on the Glendon Campus of York University, in Toronto, Canada. We decided to offer the first year of the program entirely online.

Doing so gave us tremendous advantages. We can recruit students from all over the world. We can hire instructors who have experience in any market, and with any international organization. We train students to be at the forefront of the use of technology in our field.

Yet training online also has drawbacks. This is because people come to us with a number of misconceptions about remote learning. In this video, we discuss three misunderstandings that we have to work against:

  1. Online learning is easier or less demanding than onsite learning;
  2. It’s hard to build connections between people online; and
  3. The online environment is simulation of the physical environment and should be understood that way.

All of these ideas are wrong. Before we can make progress with our students, we need to convince them that this is the case. Continue reading

Tackling speed when interpreting

Every interpreter knows from experience that, all things being equal, a fast speaker is harder to interpret than one who delivers their speech at a normal pace… So, what is a budding conference interpreter to do when tackling the challenge caused by speed?
The obvious response is to apply speed in turn – and, indeed, when confronted by a fast speaker, interpreters must always make their brain work as fast as possible!
But: does this necessarily mean they must also speak at top speed?
Well… as in pretty much everything in interpreting (or in life for that matter), the answer is: it depends. In an ideal situation, of course, our aim is to say everything we hear. If, however, this is impossible, in the split-second decision on how to respond to the challenge one goal is paramount: to never sacrifice the message, the point, the key idea or ideas that the speaker wants to convey to the audience. The speaker’s main message(s) constitutes the very minimum that interpreters must also make sure they transmit clearly to the audience that is relying on their interpretation.
Imagine someone introducing themselves with the following sentence: “My name is A B C, I am a conference interpreter in the Spanish booth at the European Parliament working from X Y Z, and I would like to thank everyone for coming”.
Say it is so fast that it is impossible to catch every detail. What would the most important part be, in the following situations?:

If everybody in the room is a conference interpreter, some staff some freelance
If everybody in the room works at the European Parliament, in different jobs
If everybody is a Spanish interpreter with different working languages
If everybody is an interpreter working from Y into their own language
If the speaker is chairing it, or if they are a participant
If the meeting was called last minute
etc… Continue reading

The future of conference interpretation


Introducing interpreting studies

A millennial practice which emerged as a profession only in the twentieth century, interpreting has recently come into its own as a subject of academic study. This book introduces students, researchers and practitioners to the fast-developing discipline of Interpreting Studies.

Written by a leading researcher in the field, Introducing Interpreting Studies covers interpreting in all its varied forms, from international conference to community-based settings, in both spoken and signed modalities.

The book first guides the reader through the evolution of the field, reviewing influential concepts, models and methodological approaches. It then presents the main areas of research on interpreting, and identifies present and future trends in Interpreting Studies. Continue reading

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