The Debate Over Understanding

Lately there has been a lot of debate over translating Shakespeare’s work from his style of English to contemporary English. The contention is that Shakespeare doesn’t need interpreting. Isn’t the first canon of any interpreter to accurately render the message from one language to another without adding omitting or changing any of the content of the message? Which begs the question: What exactly is interpreting? What remains true for all interpreters is that when speaking for another person, we speak in first person. We essentially experience what the person for whom we are interpreting is describing. In a way, it makes the two worlds, acting and interpreting, very similar. An actor interprets, in first person, the words of a character, created by a playwright, but the actor adds his or her own bit of personal story to it. And don’t we do that as interpreters? Of course we remain professional and we maintain ethical boundaries, but a part of us feels the story we are telling.
So what is the debate really about? And how does it relate to what we do? It comes down to a matter of universal versus personal circumstances. In each industry, actors and interpreters are called upon to properly portray the meaning, purpose and intent of the person or character. Acting will never mean the difference between life and death, but all the same, one word changes the context of an entire paragraph. One word changes the context of an entire line of thought and can mean the difference between sick/healthy, or imprisoned/free!
So looking forward, will you be interpreting for an expert witness? What if you’re in the emergency room interpreting? Political negotiations? End of life discussions? Have you considered all complications you may encounter? How can we, as interpreters, ensure that we are telling the proper story? It starts with education, and continuing that education as the times change. What can you do this weekend to ensure you are accurately bringing understanding, skills and training to everything you do? Let us know what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and how others can do it too! Post your comments on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

What Does Accreditation Mean to You?

What does accreditation mean to an interpreter education program? Interpreters must spend a lot of time, energy, and money in order to become certified. Certification allows for more job opportunities and life experience. If certification can be such a game changer for interpreters, shouldn’t educational systems strive for the same goal? In our opinion, being accredited by Certification organizations means something great. It means we can ensure that our services are indeed helping interpreters gain and retain their certification. Being able to provide Interpreters with accredited training allows the educational organization to offer more than just training. It means we can offer a few small things that every working person needs: peace of mind, confidence, and the feeling of accomplishment.
Did you know that out of all the training organizations for interpreters, only four are accredited by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters? Interpreter Education Online is thrilled to be one of those organizations.
In this era, people of all cultures and languages reside in the same places. At some point or another, everyone needs medical attention. Ensuring that we do our part to help bridge the gap between language barriers in healthcare settings is one of the main reasons we became accredited and strive to always be. This article is not about boasting, it is an encouragement to every training organization to do the tough work that gets the accreditation. Because, like the professionals who utilize our services, we also enjoy: peace of mind, confidence, and the feeling of accomplishment. Don’t you?

This weekend and coming week, try to find some unique ways to improve your business or skills. And let us know what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and how others can do it too! Post your comments on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Instant Celebrity

In the past week, the Pope’s visit to the U.S. and other areas has of course made headlines. As popular as he may be, however, the apparent star of the show is the Pope’s charismatic interpreter, Monsignor Mark Miles. Twitter and other social media is a buzz with comments about Monsignor Miles, and for good reason. In an age where LOL and IDK are common forms of speaking, the attention to the beauty of language is a welcome addition to the headlines.

As the interpreter for the Pope’s star continues to go strong, other recent or fairly recent interpreters who have gained a social media following are being rejuvenated. Take former Mayor of New York’s passionate Lydia Callis, for instance. Hers is still a household name for her on point interpreting during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Lately, her articles and updates have resurfaced. She is using her abilities and contacts to the advantage of the hearing impaired community, and bringing awareness to the interpreting community.

And what about Jonathan Lamberton, the certified interpreter who garnered all the attention during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press conference about a possible Ebola outbreak? His interpreting sent the twitter feeds flying, when people had a difficult time grasping why the ASL interpreter was signing with someone in the audience. Jonathan has been using his celebrity to bring awareness to the field as well.

So what does this mean? Our technology age brings about the need for celebrity in all forms. Fifteen seconds of fame lasts a lot longer than its name suggests. Will this fad continue? And will the outcome be more international focus on the interpreting community? We want to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts on the rise of celebrity in the interpreting community and what that means for the future of language and interpreters! Post your comments on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

Interpreters Take the Stage

As long as there has been language, there has been theatre. Ancient rituals were the first to introduce the idea of theatre as interpretation, when they acted scenarios out in order to communicate stories of folklore. The practice followed through Ancient Greece and early Christianity. Works from these eras still exist today, and there has been a longstanding need for interpreters to keep these classic works in current languages.

The need and demand for ASL interpreters in theatre is constantly changing as art and culture advance. Works from the past will always need new translations, but what about the work of today? Simultaneous interpretation can be found at most live theatre events, but no longer just to the side of the stage. Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles has been redefining interpretation in theatre for years. Well known for their Tony nominated revival of Big River, the company also revived Spring Awakening last year. Director Michael Arden said of the production, “I’d like people to have a bit more knowledge about deaf culture and ASL as a language. Specifically, how art and theatre can break barriers. Working with both deaf and hearing people makes the show in a sense, bilingual. It forces us to come together.”

Deaf West’s productions feature interpreters and actors working side by side together onstage, singing, dancing, acting and signing. As we continue to move forward as a culture, language remains a currently changing industry. Just think, the first deaf school in the US was established in 1817 and now ASL is the 4th most spoken language in the country! With all the industry-to-industry crossover, the options for interpreters and potential interpreters are truly endless.

Like what you read? Have something to contribute? Post your comments on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages!

The Impact of Interpreters & Translators on the World

At Interpreter Education Online, students are taught that when facilitating communication between speakers of different languages, the primary task of the interpreter is to remain a neutral party and repeat only what is said, without omitting or adding information. Likewise, a translator’s duty is to impartially convey meaning from one language into another. While it might seem that interpreters and translators lack influence, history has shown otherwise. Here are a few examples that illustrate how interpreters and translators have made an impact on a global and historic scale.

The Renaissance – Spanning from the 14th to the 17th century, this cultural and intellectual movement transformed the Western world. Starting in Italy, and then spreading to the rest of Europe, an influx of new artistic, social, philosophical, and scientific thought helped bring Western Civilization out of the Dark Ages. However, this flourishing of ideas would not have been possible without the translation of Greek and Latin texts and interpreting them for speakers of other languages.


The European Discovery of the New World – In 1492, Christopher Columbus’s landing in the Bahamas changed the world forever. It helped establish trade routes between North America and Europe and ushered in a new age of voyage and discovery. Columbus brought Luis De Torres, an interpreter, with him during his first voyage. Unfortunately, De Torres’s proficiency in Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, Portuguese, and Spanish was of little use in communicating with the natives. As a result, at the end of his first voyage, Columbus brought back native Indians with him to Spain, where they were taught Spanish so they could be used as interpreters in subsequent trips. Thus, if it were not for these interpreters, Columbus’s voyage to the New World would have been fruitless.

New World

The Nuremberg Trials – From 1945 to 1946, an International Military Tribunal was conducted in the German city of Nuremberg to try leading Nazi war criminals. The trials were crucial because they established the precedent that individual leaders and administrators, not only countries, could be held accountable by the international community for actions that violated universal standards of conduct. Furthermore, the trials helped lay the foundation of the legal principals and procedures that serve as the basis for the modern international law. This event also marked the first time that simultaneous interpreting was used on the world stage. Thanks to the work of interpreters who overcame tremendous linguistic hurdles and technical obstacles, the international community was able to bring justice to the millions of victims of World War II.

Nurembeg Interpreter 2

The Growth of the Internet – With information being available at the speed of light from virtually anywhere on the planet, the Internet has brought the world together like no other technological advancement before it. Nevertheless, this unification of humanity never would have occurred had the language barrier not been crossed. Until roughly the late 1990’s, the vast majority of content on the Web was in English. Now, web pages are available in hundreds of languages and Chinese will soon replace English as the most used language on the Internet. The spread and popularity of the internet is due to the diversity and number of languages that it is now available in. Through crowdsourcing, web localization, and the development of translation software, translators have helped the Internet become what it is today.


Do you know of any other examples of interpreters and translators impacting the world? Share your comments with us on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages!

Myths About Interpreting

As interpreters, you’re probably familiar with the following myths, however, some may catch you by surprise. If you have a myth about interpreting you’d like to add to this list, share it on our Facebook page!


1.) “Any bilingual speaker can be an interpreter.”

This is the most common misconception that non-interpreters have. Sure, you might know how to ask, “Where is the bathroom?”, but are you familiar with complex legal and medical terminology in that language as well? Does simply speaking another language make you aware of different interpreter codes of ethics and how to react in certain scenarios?


2.) “Being an interpreter is easy.”

Guess again. Can you simultaneously interpret a U.N. Speech at 150 words per minute without any errors? Would you be able to keep your emotions in check when interpreting for a family whose young child has just died? Do you think you’d be able to pass a court or medical interpreter certification exam with ease?


3.) “Interpreters don’t require much training.”

Not true. Every profession requires training, and interpreting is no different. Nobody is born equipped with a list of court interpreter or medical interpreter ethics. Likewise, most people don’t have the mental juggling ability or note-taking skills that interpreters need. These are techniques that must be learned and perfected throughout an interpreter’s career.


4.) “Interpreters are not affected by what they interpret.”

Known as vicarious trauma, interpreters can actually change over time as a result of witnessing the suffering and pain of others. If interpreters aren’t careful, they can experience an emotional breakdown.


5.) “Interpreting can’t be made into a real career.”

False. According to the Department of Labor, interpreting is one of the fastest growing fields and will remain so for many years to come. Training and certification, along with standardization of the profession, will help interpreters working in many languages to find stable, full-time opportunities as freelancers or employees in healthcare, law, business and other fields.

Court Interpreter Certification

Although not every state requires its courts to use certified interpreters, getting certified is becoming an increasingly prudent step in a court interpreter’s career. Certification not only makes interpreters more sought-after and credible, but recent amendments to state courts’ legislation have also been making certified interpreters the preferred choice of courts.

The amendments made to the Florida Rules for Certification and Regulation of Court Interpreters in March of last year serve as a good example. It was then that the “certified interpreter designation” was established as the “preferred designation when selecting court-appointed interpreters, arranging for contractual interpreter services, and making staff hiring decisions.” The same rule was implemented by the Michigan courts in 2013. It says that, “whenever practicable,” the court shall appoint a certified foreign language interpreter.

Certified court interpreters also benefit by being listed in their states’ online interpreter registries, which make the interpreters more visible and accessible to potential clients.

But before one can enjoy the benefits of being certified, they must first pass a court certification exam.

Not all states require court interpreters to undergo training before taking the certification exam. However, statistics from the California courts indicate that 92% of those who passed the oral certification exam had completed interpreter training prior to taking the test.

IEO’s Preparatory Course for the Court Certification Exam is ideal for any interpreter who plans on taking their state’s court certification exam. The course prepares for both the written and oral portions of the exam and is language specific.

Begin your training today and take the first step in becoming a certified court interpreter!

When Interpreters Cross The Line

Whether you’re a court or medical interpreter, the consequences of unethical behavior can be very serious, not to mention costly. For example, an interpreter who doesn’t follow the protocols and standards of their profession can risk ruining their career and force a hospital or court to spend additional resources finding another interpreter. This, in turn, can hinder an LEP individual from receiving meaningful access to quality healthcare or the justice system.

Nonetheless, and unfortunately, ethical violations still occur. These instances raise concerns about the rigidity of the qualifications for becoming an interpreter and perhaps point to certification as a requirement in the future.

Here are some recent examples of unethical interpreters:

– In May of this year, a Louisiana interpreter was indicted on five counts of wire fraud. The interpreter was accused of contacting clients of the Public Defender’s Office and getting them to make illegal payments to her by saying they would be deported if they did not.

– An Australian interpreter admitted to influencing a voter to vote for a particular candidate. However, the criminal charge against the interpreter was later dismissed because they were not an election official and, thus, not subject to the penalties.

– In Washington, an interpreter was charged with felony theft for defrauding the state. According to court papers, the interpreter overbilled the state for mileage and appointments that never happened.

There are many resources available to help interpreters become acquainted with or maintain the ethical codes of conduct. Ethics courses are available for both court interpreters and medical interpreters that contain the standards and protocols of each profession. These courses contain hypothetical scenarios that challenge an interpreter’s knowledge of the various ethical canons and present solutions to dilemmas that interpreters commonly encounter in the field.

Likewise, training guides for court and medical interpreters are also available so that the code of ethics can easily be referred to when interpreters are on assignments.

Interpreters who follow the code of ethics not only uphold high standards of professionalism, but they also help improve the quality and consistency of the interpreting profession.

Types of People You’ll Meet At Interpreters & Translators Conferences

One of the fun things about attending a conference is meeting lots of interesting people. They come from all over the globe, speak many different languages, and have unique personalities. Their reasons for being at the conference vary as well.

Check out the list below of the different types of attendees you’ll encounter at a conference. Can you relate to any of them? Let us know on our Facebook page!


The Professional

The Professional

Nobody knows conferences better than the professional interpreter and translator. After all, they’ve been going to conferences for years. They may even be a part of a committee or two. A conference not only allows them to satisfy their continuing education requirements, but they’ll also be able to catch up with colleagues and friends and get updated on the industry.


The Learner

The Learner

Conferences are an information sponge’s dream, and rightfully so! With so many presentations on a wide range of topics, there is plenty to learn. You’ll be able to spot the learner quite easily. Running from session to session so as not to be late for one, the learner can be seen holding a to-go coffee in one hand and a smartphone, notebook, and pen in the other. The learner is a note-taking pro and is never afraid to ask questions.


The Businessperson

The Businessperson
When going to a conference, the goal of the businessperson is simple: to make money. This can be achieved a few ways. They can interact with people whom they can pitch and sell their product to. As a freelancer, they can pass along their resume or business card. The businessperson can also use conferences as an opportunity to establish partnerships and relationships with other businesspeople.


The Intelligence Operative

The Intelligence Operative

Conferences bring all types of language companies together under one roof. Whether they’re selling services, training programs, or software, it’s inevitable that representatives from these companies will be checking out their competition. These intelligence operatives will gather information, even posing as potential customers, by asking questions and collecting a rival’s marketing materials.


The Social Butterfly

The Social Butterfly

What better way to put your charisma on display than at a conference full of people? The social butterfly knows this better than anyone. They’re a networking machine with a gregarious personality that helps them make contacts, acquire leads, and close deals. Warm and friendly, the social butterfly makes great impressions and is hard to forget. They are the ultimate schmoozer.