The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Faculty and Community Seminar on Interpreting Studies and Practice

Funded by the Five College Consortium, this seminar aims at bringing together Five College faculty, researchers from other institutions, and community members working with and researching interpreting. The idea is to provide more visibility to the important academic and practical work of spoken language interpreters, and include non-academics in the conversation (people working in the industry and the community), thus bridging the gap between theory and practice. The lectures are recorded and made available to everyone. If you have any questions, please contact Cristiano Mazzei.

Re-examining Impartiality and Role Boundaries (April 10, 2019)

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For years healthcare interpreters in professional settings were expected to be invisible and impartial message conveyors. As the profession has evolved, so have the role expectations and the interpretation of the standards of practice.  Elena Langdon Fortier explores two commonly misunderstood standards of practice for healthcare interpreters – impartiality and role boundaries – and strategies to uphold them. Both standards are essential to guarantee a patient’s right to equal access, and yet they can be tricky to carry out when a situation challenges personal values or pulls at heartstrings.

Interpreted Interviews with Traumatized Children (March 27, 2019)

Video placeholderThis talk focuses on interpreted conversations with children about traumatic subjects, especially suspected child abuse. Lisa Aronson Fontes discusses the importance of kindness, sensitivity, exactness and developmental level in this work, and the key role interpreters play in this interaction. Lisa Aronson Fontes has written about and researched the intersection of languages, culture and trauma. Her book, Interviewing Clients Across Cultures, contains a great deal of information about foreign language interpreting. She also participated in a European Union initiative on interpreting for children in crisis.

Medical Interpreting - Gaps and Opportunities for Collaborations (Feb 28, 2019)

Video placeholderMedical interpreting requires great fluency and the ability to interpret in both consecutive and simultaneous modes.  Interpreters in this setting are trained specifically to be medical interpreters, but are not often exposed to theories, extensive pre-professional practice, and interpreting skills development training before they begin to interpret in healthcare. Tim Moriarty, Manager of Translation & Interpreting Services at Bay State Health discusses the realities of medical interpreter work and training at a large hospital system in Western Massachusetts, and encourages input as to how an area of interpreting that needs large numbers of interpreters is able to work more closely with college and university interpreter and translation degree programs.

Political Translation - How Social Movement Democracies Survive (Nov 2, 2018)

Video placeholderThe arrival of more than a million refugees in Europe has made many disciplines interested in the political impact of the work of interpreters and translators. Based on ethnographic case studies in the US, Germany, Italy, France, and the UK, Nicole Doerr, from the University of Copenhagen, develops a conceptual framework and presents the collective practices of political translation, which has helped multilingual and culturally diverse social movements and solidarity groups work together more democratically. Her new book Political Translation examines the ways in which linguistic difference is often seen as a hindrance to democratic dialogue, and argues that political translation helps solve positional misunderstandings regarding race, gender, class, linguistic and other differences.

Translating Migration: Expanding the Borders of Translation (Sept 25, 2018)

Video placeholderTranslators and interpreters must locate themselves within the translation process, doing their best to recognize the stories it is their task to represent. Moira Inghilleri’s lecture discusses the challenges they face putting into words the structures of feeling underlying different types of migration experience. She proposes a commonality between translators and interpreters who struggle to represent and express human complexity in words and visual artists who strive to reflect the human condition in their art. The talk concludes by arguing for an expansion of the horizon of translation practice to wider forms of symbolic expression, to allow language in all its forms to serve as a better tool to capture complex meanings.