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 spoken language 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. For updated information on speakers and topics, please check our flyer. If you have any questions, please contact Cristiano Mazzei.

Interpreting Languages and Cultures in Conflict Zones (March 15, 2024)

The essential work carried out by interpreters in conflict zones has been placed at the forefront of academic attention by current global armed conflicts, including those in areas underrepresented in the media. Interpreters serve as critical nodes of communication, tasked with conveying crucial information across linguistic and cultural barriers in these challenging scenarios. In this presentation, Lucía Ruiz Rosendo reviews the interpreter’s role in contemporary conflicts. Drawing on the results of three qualitative studies, she explains the institutional contexts and types of missions or operations in which interpreters work to then focus on the description of their complex positionality. She also describes the challenges that these interpreters encounter as well as the ethical and psychological implications of their work.

The Need for Language Access in Prisons and the Crucial Role of Non-Professional Interpreters (February 16, 2024)

Over half a million individuals around the world are incarcerated in countries other than their country of origin. Research has shown that foreign nationals face an array of challenges in prison – of which the language barrier has been described as the most pervasive form of exclusion. In many prison systems, this language barrier is bridged by incarcerated individuals and prison staff, who frequently act as interpreters. Aída Martínez-Gómez discusses language access policy and practice in prisons around the world and examines the attitudes of different stakeholders towards non-professional interpreting in this setting and the actual performance of a group of prisoner-interpreters. 

Interpreting in Emergencies: Implications for Crisis Response in a Globalized World

November 30, 2023

As disasters, public health crises, conflicts, and climate change become increasingly prevalent worldwide, the importance of effective communication during emergencies has come to the fore. This growing area of research points to the increasingly crucial and complex role of interpreting in a globalised world where crises unfold across borders and language barriers. In this presentation, Marija Todorova reviews key findings and advances in interpreting for emergency management and relief efforts. Through a case study of Hong Kong's disaster response, she examines difficulties in utilizing interpreting to promote inclusion of affected populations across all phases of crisis mitigation.

The Crimmigration Subgenre and Latinx Child Interpreters

November 9, 2023

Crimmigration is the intersection of criminal law with immigration law that has led to increased rates of detention, deportation, and family separation. Ethnic American writers have allegorized aspects of crimmigration into their writing, most notably through the inclusion of ad hoc interpreter characters and narrators. Valeria Luiselli and Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, two Latinx writers, use child interpreters to showcase how crimmigration affects vulnerable members of society while also proposing that child interpreters are latent activists. In this talk, Alexandra Maria Lossada argues that the interpretative acts of both authors additionally raise questions about the responsibilities of those who interpret others, especially if they cannot challenge their own representation.

Exploring Remote Interpreting Through a Sociological Lens: Perspectives, Challenges, and Adaptations

October 19, 2023

The rise of remote interpreting during the COVID era has instigated an irreversible transformation within the interpreting industry. Özüm Arzik Erzurumlu, in this talk, explores remote interpreting building on Bourdieu’s concepts of field, habitus, capital, illusio to take into account the full complexity of remote interpreting and the roles assumed by different players. Drawing on interview data, she examines freelance conference interpreters’ embodiment of habitus, their feel for the game, and the impact of cultural and social capital on their action/non-action. Her research illuminates the impact of interpreters' dispositions on their roles in the context of remote interpreting's growing demand.

Interpreting for Access

April 27, 2023

In this talk, Franz Pöchhacker discusses changes in the way scholars and professionals conceive of interpreting, using the notion of access as a keyword in reflecting on past and present developments. Since the late 1990s, it has become customary to view interpreting also as a service to enable access to public services for persons from different linguistic backgrounds. More recently, new social needs in the area of media accessibility have led to the emergence of services such as live captioning, which straddle the fields of translation, interpreting and accessibility. The conceptual, professional and educational implications of these new forms of practice are discussed.

You Can Book an Interpreter the Same Way You Order Your Uber: (Re)interpreting Work and Digital Labor Platforms

April 6, 2023

The gig economy is revolutionizing the interpreting industry. In this talk, Dr. Deborah Giustini explores the increasing moving of the interpreting industry towards gig work, arguing that this trend reflects wider shifts in both labour-capital relations and the role of technology in the economy. The talk delves into the effects of on-demand platform work and finds that it exposes interpreters to vulnerability around monetary factors, algorithmic control, individualization of employment relations, on-demand availability, and subjugation to digital supply-demand intermediation, while platform companies prioritize profit and flexibility, exploiting the potential of gig work as the natural, entrepreneurial extension of interpreters’ self-employment status. Potentials, limitations, and exploitations of ‘gig’ interpreting are discussed as well as problematized within workplace developments in digital capitalism.

Interpreter Resilience and Self-care at the Time of the Pandemic

February 16, 2023

Interpreters should always be aware of the need for self-care, since the very nature of their work requires them to interpret—often traumatic content—in the first person. Working in isolation can make it harder for interpreters to be able to process such traumatic experiences and engage in self-care. In this seminar, Ineke Crezee presents the findings of a study involving New Zealand and Australian community interpreters and their experiences of working during the COVID-19 pandemic while their cities were in lockdown. It presents how they coped and what they did to maintain their resilience.

When an Interpreter Breaks Professional Secrecy

November 17, 2022

Drawing on the chapter covering interpreters as witnesses of crimes in Interpreters and War Crimes (Takeda 2021), Kayoko Takeda briefly introduces the cases of interpreters who testified as witnesses of war crimes at post–WWII British military trials against the Japanese, then expands the discussion to the current professional code of confidentiality for interpreters. It focuses on the implications of interpreters’ testifying and reporting on abuse and unlawful or potentially unlawful acts of which they learn in the course of their work. References are made to a 1997 court decision against the defense motion to subpoena an interpreter as a witness at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a 2015 defense request for an interpreter’s testimony at the US military commissions in Guantanamo Bay, the 2008 Postville case in which a court interpreter divulged what he had witnessed during immigration prosecutions, the failed attempt to compel a Russian interpreter to testify on the content of Trump–Putin meetings, and exceptions included in existing codes of interpreters’ professional secrecy.

Gendered Dynamics in Conference Interpreting: Emotional Labor and Alienation

October, 2022

Relying upon a combination of ethnomethodological and sociological tools provided by Hochschild’s (2003) theory of emotional labor, Irem Ayan focuses on the gendered work of conference interpreters, addressing questions such as how clients’ gendered assumptions affect interpreters’ relationship to their work and sense of identity. Drawing on interview data with twenty-one conference interpreters working in various institutional settings, the analysis of the framework covers contexts in which female interpreters are discriminated, sexualized, and occasionally harassed in business or high-level diplomatic settings, or when an interpreter is perceived to be gay and consequently has to deal with abusive clients. In such contexts colored by gender-stereotyped preconceptions and expectations, interpreters’ bodies and emotions tend to be controlled by those who hire them for work. These gendered practices lead interpreters to develop various modes of individual and collective resistance through either deliberate or unintentional violation of the main tenets of professional codes of ethics.

Automatic Speech Recognition for Interpreters: State-of-the-art and Future Perspectives

September 22, 2022

Artificial intelligence is commonly considered one of the most important drivers of change in professional practices. Interpreting is not immune to this. Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) in particular has the potential to help interpreters with some practical aspects of their workflow. For example, ASR can be used to generate preparatory information about an upcoming event, to support interpreters during live interpretation, and to create new ways to (self)assess the quality of the rendition, to name just a few. In this talk, Claudio Fantinuoli gives an overview of the possible use of ASR in the interpreting profession, drawing from empirical research in interpreting studies, existing applications, and prospective new developments. Potentials and limitations of this technology as well as ethical concerns posed by the use of ASR in real-life scenarios are discussed.

Strategies of Turn-taking in Dialogue Interpreting: Insights from Eye-tracking and Studies of Cognitive Constraints

April 1, 2022

In this talk, Dr. Tiselius discusses the turn-taking of dialogue interpreters. By investigating dialogue interpreting from an experimental perspective, she has observed how interpreters identify turn relevant places (TRP) and use gestures and gaze as subtle indicators for turn taking. She presents how monitoring works in dialogue interpreting, what the dialogue interpreter monitors, and how that can be taught and learned. The aim of this talk is to propose a way to increase the meta-cognitive awareness of professional and trainee interpreters, and discuss how that will improve the interpreting practice and how it can be taught to students.

Professionalizing Humanitarian Interpreters: More than Simply an Uphill Battle?

March 4, 2022

This presentation focuses on the debate surrounding the professionalization of humanitarian interpreters and places particular emphasis on the structural and contextual limitations that the humanitarian field presents in terms of interpreter training. Based on examples from the International Committee of the Red Cross, Dr. Delgado Luchner explores the links between the humanitarian principle of neutrality, interpreter recruitment practices and the career paths of humanitarian interpreters, since understanding these dynamics is essential in order to discuss interpreter training and professionalization.

Challenges and Prospects of Conference Interpreting in West Africa

February 4, 2022

Today, West Africa has made giant strides in seeking integration, especially with its protocol on free movement of goods and persons, as seen through the abolition of visas for citizens of the community. But integration cannot succeed where the people do not speak the same language. And that is where conference interpreting comes in; to bridge the gap between the English-, French-, and Portuguese-speaking countries of the subregion. In this talk, Timothy John discusses the challenges and prospects of conference interpreting in the West African subregion and the role of AIIC in promoting integration through professionalism.

What’s Behind Attorneys’ Questions: Understanding Criminal Procedure and Questioning Techniques

November 19, 2021

Trial attorneys seek to confuse witnesses during cross-examination to catch them off-base. But what if the interpreter is also caught off-base and confused? It is not enough to understand and interpret what the words mean on the surface. Dr. Camayd-Freixas discusses criminal procedure, including types of hearings, pleas, motions, objections, rules of evidence, elements of common crimes, the theory of the case, the stages of a trial, impeachment and rehabilitation of witnesses, jury instructions, sentencing considerations, as well as how to become certified as a court interpreter and how to prepare for an upcoming case.

A Practisearcher’s Perspective on the Debate about Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence in Interpreting

October 15, 2021

While technologists in machine translation perceive and decipher the mechanism of interpreting in their technical approach, it is important for interpreting practitioners, trainers and researchers to engage in the debate by providing the insiders’ perspective on the true nature of the process, mechanism and purpose of interpreting. Binhua Wang gives a brief review of major news about AI-enhanced technology in interpreting and an analysis of the mechanism of machine interpreting and proposes a multi-dimensional epistemological model of interpreting to map the interpreting behavior and activity.

Other Tongues: Psychological Therapies in a Multilingual World

May 3, 2021

Language differences are surprisingly easy for mental health practitioners to ignore and yet they are relatively easy to embed into existing training and supervision models. In this talk Beverley Costa considers training for mental health practitioners in working effectively with interpreters, while discussing how the multilingual therapeutic frame can be applied when working with people’s multilingual identities, the impact of the multilingual identity on emotional expression, the experience of trauma and the use of the multilingual experience as a therapeutic asset towards recovery.

Interpreters from the Perspective of Agencies

April 14, 2021

How are interpreters viewed by agencies? What are they looking for when hiring and why? How to become a vendor of choice? What role do soft skills play in the successful relationship between interpreters, clients and agencies? Ingrid Christensen, founder and CEO of INGO, a global language services provider, based in the state of Minnesota, will share with attendees her story of success and her long experience working and collaborating with freelance interpreters. Learn the secrets from leading interpreter agency that get you hired and keep you hired.

Fighting Anti-Black Language While Interpreting for Brazilian and U.S. Audiences

March 17, 2021

Black Brazilians and African Americans share similar experiences of racism as they live in societies shaped by white supremacy and structural racism. Because anti-Black racism is deeply ingrained in language, professional interpreters wishing to support the fight against it should be mindful of their own language when interpreting. In this webinar, Rane Souza attempts to raise interpreters’ awareness on how anti-Black racism manifests in language, as well as reflect upon terms and expressions in U.S. English and Brazilian Portuguese that professional interpreters should steer clear of and which options to use instead while talking about Black people.

Navigating the Complexities of Being a Professional Interpreter

February 22, 2021

According to Gio Lester, freelance interpreters are entrepreneurs regardless of whether they are independent contractors or corporate entities. It's a mindset. Once you choose to see yourself from that perspective, you will feel more empowered, more in control of your professional life. However, there are a few things you need to do in order to get and stay there for the long run. This talk will focus on important considerations such as choosing and building your clientele, constructing your ideal clients, and negotiating and compromising as key skills toward professional success.