Letter from the Editor
Nobody likes to wait and nobody really enjoys a waiting room. I'm sitting in one next to a man pointedly punching the keys of a sleek handheld wireless device. I'm curious and tempted; my cell phone only handles calls and text messages on its tiny black and white screen. It's starting to look like a hand-me-down.
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Obviously my image is in need of a makeover. These wireless gadgets are cool and contemporary. They ooze being in touch, on top of the world. I discreetly glance over at my neighbor. Will he be linking to London? Reading the Wall Street Journal or Le Monde? No - he's checking the local weather! It's rainy season here in Thailand: you could take yesterday's weather summary and use it for tomorrow's forecast. Or you could look out the window.
Through his screen I'm transported back to that day in another century when I first saw a fake mobile phone. Not a knockoff of a cherished brand - just a fake phone, a lifeless piece of pink plastic. Call it a fashion statement for those who could not afford the real thing but longed for an up-to-date image. Perhaps that's not a bad idea: the image of seriousness without all the concomitant busyness. Perhaps I could find a fake BlackBerry shell for my outdated cell.
My memory kicks back another decade to my first interpreting years. I'm walking through a conference center somewhere in southern Spain with a veteran consultant interpreter and the person who hired her to recruit our team. A young colleague walks past juggling an unwieldy stack of weighty dictionaries. The client is immediately impressed. "He must be an excellent interpreter!" she gushes. The opinion was based not on experience, only on the visuals: he was working in the German booth and she spoke only English.
I can start to see my new image taking shape, past merging seamlessly and gender-neutrally with the future. In the 1930s, Woody Guthrie roamed the roads and rails of North America with a guitar that had "This machine kills fascists" written on it. I could get a new multitasking carrier for my laptop and phone, and paste on it a holographic image of fiber optic cable with the words: "This machine breeds technical expertise." It would be the perfect accessory to my new self-polishing footwear and wrinkle-free navy suit. And if I leave the laptop at home, there will be room enough for a novel to read and a pad to write on in some waiting room somewhere.
We've recently run a number of articles on interpreters working in conflict zones/war, including one by Eduardo Kahane last summer. Since then Eduardo has continued to examine the matter, and the result is now available in Intérpretes en zonas de conflicto: ¿Cuál es el debate de fondo?
Communicate! has in the past featured various articles on legal and court interpreting, the highlight being a dedicated issue in September 2000. Three of the authors you'll find there led an excellent session at the recent FIT conference in Shanghai, where Liese Katschinka was also awarded the Pierre-François Caillé Medal, reserved for "individuals who have demonstrated exceptional merit in promoting the status and reputation of the translation profession at the international level." Liese has sent us a summary of the round-table session in Shanghai.
We follow that up with Claire Seleskovitch's comprehensive examination of L'interprétation judiciaire internationale. Une nouvelle pratique professionnelle.
Research is an essential part of any profession and it behooves us to promote it. A new study is just around the corner. Ingrid Kurz, Franz Pöchhacker and Cornelia Zwischenberger pose the question "What is quality in conference interpreting?" And they respond by saying: "Ask a professional!" Read more in Quality and Role: The Professionals' View.
The word role can take on many meanings, as indeed can the word interpret. The possibilities set the stage for Cristina del Castillo's personal account Ser actriz y ser intérprete/traductora.
Recently many a novel has had an interpreter in a leading role. But was he/she "merely used as the pretext for a good story?" Find out what Danielle Grée thinks in her examination of Vargas Llosa's La niña mala: Interprète : profession anodine ?
My google alerts have been bombarding me with links to pages on language diversity and policy, multilingualism, court interpreting and more. See which sites have made our short list in Language in the News. This time around we're also introducing two websites maintained by interpreters but not about interpreting. If you know of more, let us know.
Please note: the articles published in Communicate! reflect the views of the author(s) and should not be taken to represent the official position of AIIC.
Articles published in this section reflect the views of the author(s) and should not be taken to represent the official position of AIIC.