Tuesday, January 17, 2012

INTERPRETING: Full Speed Ahead!

INTERPRETING: Full Speed Ahead
Blazing a Trail Toward National Unity

InterpretAmerica is proud to announce the publication of the white paper Interpreting: Full SpeedAhead, Blazing a Trail Toward National Unity, which provides an overview of results from five workgroups held at the 2nd North American Summit on Interpreting.  The report can be downloaded, free of charge, by going to www.interpretamerica.net/publications.

If there is one thing that interpreters are known for, it’s talking, in multiple languages, simultaneously or consecutively. We are the voice of others on a daily basis. And when interpreters come together, we talk. We talk about the intricacies of language and meaning. We talk about what we love and hate about our profession. We talk of how things should be better. And we talk about how something needs to be done about it.

Well, as the old Latin saying goes, Verba volant, scripta manent (Spoken words fly away. Written words remain). Unless they are written down our good intentions as a profession will simply fade away. Identifying problems is easy. Hammering out workable solutions, well, that's an entirely different story. 

On June 17-18, 2011, having experienced many of the problems and challenges facing the interpreting profession first hand, some 150 interpreters, language service providers, technology providers, association presidents, educators, trainers and researchers, divided into five workgroups at the 2nd North American Summit on Interpreting to find inspiration among colleagues and to look for solutions. By so doing, they took another step toward greater recognition of our profession by the general public and a more organized industry. 

For years, conversations about all that is wrong with interpreting have dominated interpreters’ discussions. This year the tenor of those discussions changed. Excellent ideas, emerging consensus, and visionary thoughts emerged during the workgroups. And we knew that unless they were recorded, disseminated and acted upon, these great ideas and strokes of inspiration would be fleeting, ephemeral. They would be lost to the future, literally wasted because they weren’t written down so they could be referenced, discussed, developed and even disputed. Thanks to the efforts of a superb crew of workgroup moderators, writers and editors, those great ideas and inspiration did not go to waste. The result of all this effort is now available and provides a summary and snapshots of the five Professional Identity Workgroups held at the 2nd North American Summit on Interpreting in Washington, DC. 

So, now they are ready to be studied, debated and improved upon. What will become of these recommendations? That depends entirely upon us, individually as interpreters and collectively as a profession and industry. One thing is certain; interpreting will continue to be a vital service in the 21st century, as cultures and languages come in contact in a way never before seen in human history.

We now turn our attention to preparations for the 3rd North American Summit on Interpreting to take place in Monterey, California on June 15-16.2012. This year's theme is 21st Century Interpreting: Staying Relevant in a TransformingWorld. In addition to top-notch speakers and sessions, the workgroup format will be back. We plan to leverage the momentum gained during the 2nd Summit workgroups into concrete gains for our field. We welcome your feedback on the white paper and invite you to view the full program for the 3rd Summit here.

Barry Slaughter Olsen & Katharine Allen