Thoughts and Comments from the 5th Annual MiTiN Conference on Interpreting and Translation

Thoughts and Comments from the 5th Annual MiTiN Conference on Interpreting and Translation

On Saturday October 4th, 2014 the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Novi hosted the 5th Annual MiTIN Conference on Interpreting and Translation.

MiTiN Conf PhotoThe conference was attended by over 140 people counting professionals and students. Among them, several from the UMHS Interpreter Services: Sun Joo Chung, Ximena Erickson, Jeanette Kibler, Daniela Morales, David Porta, and Angelica Snyder. It was a full day event that consisted of two plenary sessions and three sessions with parallel talks regarding medical, legal, and business issues related to translation and interpretation. The plenary sessions were the ones where a broader spectrum of interests was concurring:

Judy Jenner was the first invited speaker to take the stage. Judy Jenner is a Spanish and German translator and interpreter based in Las Vegas, NV. Among her multiple activities she writes the monthly Entrepreneurial Linguist column for the American Translators Association’s Chronicle and contributes to the Institute of Translation and Interpreting’s Bulletin. She is also a co- author of the book: ‘The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation’, which is required reading at several translation programs around the world. In her talk she reflected on 10 Habits of Highly Successful Translators and Interpreters; habits that she strongly recommended. Applied to our services we can put the stress on the following ones, which although mostly known are always good to remind:

  • Place patient and provider’s needs before those of the interpreter.
  • There is a need for us to be friendly with both patient and provider. [CUSTOMER SERVICE]
  • There is strong need for patient and provider education [Importance for MORE THAN JUST PRE-SESSIONS]
  • Need for marketing: we have to let know providers and patients alike that we are there for them; we should take every available opportunity to let them know all areas in which Interpreter Services can help.
  • SHOW CONFIDENCE: We are the language experts and have to show it.
  • The interpreter needs to know his/her own limits; LIMITS in all its possible meanings.
  • There is no end on learning and improving our skills. [CONTINUOUS EDUCATION]
  • Need for Interpreter’s self-care.

And last but not least, a recommendation that goes without saying:

  • Need for careful evaluation of anything posted online; Check what we are saying online (especially in blogs, etc.). Do not place any information online that might be accessed by third unrelated parties without our permission. [CONFIDENTIALITY]

The other plenary session of the conference was: Do Well to Do Good or Do Good to Do Well?, and was given by Lori Thicke. Besides founding Lexcelera in Europe and LexWorks in North America, Lori Thicke is also a co-founder of Traducteurs sans Frontières (1993) and the founder of Translators without Borders (2010), organizations that provide pro bono translation services to humanitarian groups.

Lori Thicke’s talk focused on the extreme importance for meaningful communication in the use of the language of the addressee, not just any language the addressee might understand. She cited His Excellency Nelson Mandela: ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands the message goes to his mind; if you speak to a man in the language that he speaks the message goes to his heart’; a saying that conveys a goal in providing language assistance in a way that transcends the mere transfer of words between languages and digs deep into the core of human communication.

Following this statement we might want to add that would this not be possible, we should at least be, as professional interpreters and translators, able to identify the best way to convey the message so the addressees can get it as close as it has been uttered. This means that we should strive to recognize the level of language expertise of the addressee and then, advice the provider, if needed, while aiming for the message to be forwarded whole.

I would also like to briefly mention the workshop prepared by Klaudia Rozner and Maria Chin: Ethical and Protocol Challenges in Healthcare Interpreting: Practical Scenarios. Several scenarios were presented in such a way so attendees could brainstorm on what would be the appropriate conduct in each situation, and even though the presenters were aiming for the audience to reach specific outcomes, some deviations from the suggested path were, to a certain extent, always expected. Each case scenario was open for discussion according to the Interpreters’ Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Here, I am forwarding them to you so you can use them to guide you in your own brainstorming:

  • The family does not want the interpreter to interpret the diagnosis to the patient.
  • The interpreter is asked to stay alone with a very sick patient.
  • Assignment progresses to a point that is beyond the interpreter’s scope of expertise.
  • Patient tells the interpreter in foreign language, in front of the provider, that they have been or are mistreated by the provider.
  • A patient is ready for a liver transplant and makes a confidence to the interpreter that just had a glass of wine with his/her last meal.

It is my hope that by making these thoughts and reminders available further discussion is stimulated.


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