Fragmentation of (Interpreter) Knowledge

This is an installment of my recent presentation on “Making Research County” from the 2014 OCRID conference in Columbus, Ohio.

Making Research Count (Recovered)

We cannot avoid the problem of fragmentation when we think about the history of interpreting. I have tried to advocate for a less individualist view of the history of interpreting, i.e. less focus on person A did B or law X was passed, then things got better/worse/stayed the same. Instead, I like to think about the “conditions of possibility” for interpreting becoming  a profession.

One condition is that an educational system had to exist which allowed for specialized, technical training. Most interpreter training programs began (and remain) in two-year technical and community colleges. This institutional situation cannot be easily ignored. Yes, it is common to recognize this as a problem in training duration. As in, “There’s no way we can train someone in a language and also in interpreting skills in two year.” Absolutely true. (Although in my recollection, the teachers who complained about this most often also seemed the least organized, least committed to developing a strong curriculum, and wasted the most time during class.)

But there’s another aspect to specializing in two-year programs. Although I am glad that education has been, to some degree, more democratized, it has also become less about education and more about training. Education provides you with a broad skill set for reasoning that one uses to interpret constantly changing worldly experience, while training teaches you to perform a particular skill set with the boundaries of a professional position. Yes, there is plenty of overlap. But there are also important gaps in what training can provide, especially when it comes to answering important question such as, “why is there poverty, and how does poverty impact the Deaf community?”, “how should interpreters think about sexism?”, and so on.

Most importantly, the move towards economic specialization through technical training should be seen as a product of changes in 20th century capitalism, in particular the movement toward service economies that preceded alongside outsourcing labor to the developing/third world.

Antonio Gramsci made such an observation long before interpreting was a profession. It’s important for us to ponder how this change has impacted us.

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The Task of the Interpreter and Walter Benjamin

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I have always had a nagging feeling that interpreting is one of the most important human activities. Interpreting is valuable not only for the participants immediately involved, but its also a fascinating demonstration of the human capacity to do things with language.

Language is interesting because virtually no part of our human existence can be fully understood or thoroughly appreciated without language. Indeed, over the past 100 years philosophers as different (and in some ways as similar) as Bertrand Russell and Martin Heidegger have spent the better part of their professional lives trying to explain just how language structures the experience of being human. Central to these thinkers – and the many who followed them – was the notion that humans have a unique and extremely flexible capacity to assign meaning to the objects and experiences we encounter in the world. Our individual and collective role in assigning, negotiating, and contesting meaning in the world can be summed up in one word: interpretation.

Loosening the Boundaries of History

Therefore it is likely no accident that interpreting – and sign language interpreting in particular – became a profession in the 20th Century. We tend to focus on the historical events that define our profession (the Ball State meeting in 1964, let’s say) or the individuals who invested their labor into moving us forward (Lou Fant comes to mind). It’s clear why. Their stories are our stories handed down through mentorship or gleaned from the pages of textbooks or from the VHS cassettes we used in my interpreting program.

However, I’d would like to make a very simple suggestion: that we zoom out from our individual profession – if just briefly – to put ourselves and our collective history into a larger context. My is strategic. I am suggesting that we widen the scope of our own history, and in so doing recognize (and advocate for) the larger significance of interpreting in society. My imperfect example is to take a look at an essay written in 1923 by Walter Benjamin.

Walter Benjamin was a German literary critic, philosopher, and translator whose life of influence and tragedy is too dense to tell here. What is important for us is that in 1923, Benjamin wrote an introduction to his translation of a collection of works by the French poet, Charles Baudelaire. The introductory essay was called The Task of the Translator, and in it Benjamin lays out his approach to the nature of translation and some of its main challenges. One caveat: it’s true that the pragmatic considerations of translators appear very different from what we think of as interpreters. But a closer look at Benjamin’s text reveals language issues that transcend practical differences.

Walter Benjamin’s The Task of the Translator

I would like to focus on two main examples that I find especially relevant in Benjamin’s essay.

On the Limits of Fidelity

“…no translation would be possible if in its ultimate essence it strove for likeness to the original.” – Benjamin

The fundamental principle of translation and interpretation is the notion of fidelity. But Benjamin suggests – and working interpreters know – that strict formal fidelity is part of the problem, not part of the solution. We’ve all seen this, haven’t we? Those moments when we interpret something with undue literalness. We say things like, “that was too English” or “you’re talking in ASL” to indicate this simple concept. Awkward literalness isn’t a result of simply choosing the wrong variable in an otherwise balanced equation, like systematically replacing the red blocks in a Lego house with otherwise identical green blocks. There is something about interpreting which escapes formal calculation. And yet when we see amazing interpreters at work, we feel that “click” that something has come together in an entirely original yet accurate way. We recognize that provisionally – in the moment, in the set of circumstances at the time – a great interpretation performs the function it was intended to have. What Benjamin argues clearly (and more elaborately in his essay) is that fidelity, strictly speaking, is not always the best way to evaluate the success of a translation or an interpretation. This may seem obvious to us now. But remember: he was writing over 40 years before RID was came into existence, and still long before any systematic work had been done in interpreting theory.

On the Impossibility of a Final Interpretation

“…all translation is only a somewhat provisional way of coming to terms with the foreignness of languages.” – Benjamin

Even the best interpretations are always partial. In the everyday life of interpreters, there is a common (but under-analyzed) practice of commenting on the ways that we would have interpreted something that another interpreter signed or voiced. Yet have we fully appreciated the fact that this common practice is only possible because interpretations are indeed always partial, always “provisional”? Indeed, we always could have signed or voiced something different, and yet there is no need to imply that the first interpretation was inadequate. There are always openings for other interpretations which add something unique or relevant. This is not simply the result of peer violence, where interpreters belittle one another’s work (although it is sad when it stoops to that level). Instead, this is an indication that interpreting is our slippery attempt to make sense of the linguistic and social situations that we find ourselves in. A word of caution: this does not mean that all interpretations are equally valid. Benjamin is very clear that “bad translations” (his words) exist and perhaps dominate the world of translations. But it does suggest that even our best work will need to be refined over time, and that no interpretation can claim a superior finality.

Relevance Today

The conclusion I draw from this difficult essay is rather simple. Benjamin remains a significant literary and theoretical figure today – probably more so than when he was alive. There is great value for us in realizing the affinities between our work as interpreters and aspects of Benjamin’s work 100 years ago. Not only do we open up new opportunities for us to think about our own work, we can also open up dialogue with other fields of study. I recognize that this may not be attractive to all interpreters, nor does it make us better skilled or better paid interpreters overnight. But for some of us who are trying to meet new educational requirements for certification or trying to expand our professional knowledge base, this might provide new and useful opportunities.

I believe Benjamin’s essay is relevant today because it shows that the history of our profession is not simply our history. Rather, we exist today in part because of a number of social, political, and – yes – philosophical conditions the 20th century. What is at stake in interpreting is not only the important role of language mediation between the often-marginalized sign language community and the non-signing majority. Interpreting is intimately connected to the most profound and fundamental shifts in economic organization and philosophical thought in the past 100 years. With this recognition in mind, we may be able to argue forcefully that while our numbers may be small, we are nonetheless significant and deserve more than passing attention. It is to the benefit of society at large – not only to working interpreters – to recognize our important place in history.

*This is an incomplete short piece I started writing over a year ago and never quite finished. I present it here so I can just move on.

 

Introduction to Politics for Interpreters

Python Witch
“How do you know she’s a witch?” — “She looks like one!”

Today we are going to deal with how interpreters can and perhaps should think about politics – the politics of our own field and political action in practice.

Let’s start with one prompt and two interrelated problems. First, the prompt. The unqualified interpreter as Mandela’s ceremony has stimulated public attention on interpreters. The details of the incident are in many ways secondary. The real impact of the incident was to create a flash-bulb which illuminated the amazing, professional work that the majority of interpreters do everyday. But it also illuminated some central problems in our field.

Now, the interrelated problems. The first problem is that interpreters seem generally unprepared to respond to public attention with urgency and coordination. The second problem is that the interpreting field itself of marred by hostile politics. Neither of these problems are judgements of individual interpreters, but they are symptoms of the marginality of the field and the lack of strong leadership and collaborative discipline that marginalization engenders.

For instance, I posted a review of RID’s response to the events in Jo’burg as a way of applying discourse analysis (a common technique in our field) to political texts produced by our own organization. The RID statement is an important text which I  understand as an indication of both of the problems I outlined above. First, it indicates our struggle to respond effectively to an event that became politicized in the media. (By “politicized”, I mean that the event was turned into an object of political discourse.) Second, RID’s response was not, for me, an indication of the organization’s inherent moral worth or (in)competence, as many on blogs and Facebook took great pleasure in denouncing. Rather, RID’s response itself is an indication of the destructive horizontal violence that permeates the field of interpreting. The ability of RID to respond effectively was dramatically hampered by internal debates within the membership over who gets to speak for interpreters, what kind of ASL gets represented on video, who within the organization can make a statement on behalf of the organization, and on and on. These problems cannot be ignored as being specific to a momentary crisis. Rather, they are the product of years of contests over which various individuals – hearing and Deaf – have argued over the idea of an ideal “Deaf community” to justify particular professional opinions, or to create and defend insular realms of relative authority over other interpreters. This doesn’t automatically disqualify or undermine claims of authenticity. Nor does it mean that the Deaf community is only imaginary and not actually real. Of course the Deaf community exists; it’s just that every real community also has an “imaginary” aspect of it which holds it together.

What worries me is that  it seems like when we try to challenge oppression, the result is that we end up re-internalizing oppression within our professional community. (See crab mentality.)

To emphasize: none of the problems are specific to interpreters or the Deaf community. These problems have analogs in every marginal profession, every minority social group, every shade of political viewpoint. To be sure, there are specific aspects of the problem within the interpreting community which are qualitatively different. But we are mistaken when we think that these problems are the special ownership of specific people or even specific people groups.

What to do? I have some starting points or premises that I’m trying to work from.

1. Be cautious about using vague terms to screen each other. When I started in interpreting it was ATTITUDE. If you had ATTITUDE or make a public confession of the importance of ATTITUDE (often in ASL classes from one hearing student to another) then you gained authenticity. In some parts of the field, the current term is DEAF-HEART.  It’s not that these terms are useless. Often the power of such vague terms is that they provide a way for otherwise powerless groups to screen membership. But this can also become a way to justify  horizontal aggression. But Deaf and CODA interpreters deserve to know that these terms are frequently used by hearing interpreters to belittle each other.

2. Think beyond the level of individuals. Individual subject positions are the product of social and political contradictions, not the immediate cause. We cannot continue to blame underpaid and underrepresented interpreters for the failures of the profession, nor can we pretend that if we only had better leaders that we can resolve the fundamental problems we all care about. (As I often say to may students, “racism doesn’t need racists,” – i.e. racism can be an active social force even if individuals don’t expressly hate each other based on racial classification.)

As Zizek wrote in his book on violence,

“We should learn how to step back, to disentangle ourselves from the fascinating lure of this directly visible “subjective” violence…”

3. Pick a different starting point. I suggest beginning with understanding the political economy of interpreting. By political economy, I mean the economic position of interpreting services in late capitalism as one tiny part of social relations. This helps us to avoid blaming each other for problems that are endemic to global affairs, thereby lessening the horizontal violence in our field. And it might help us formulate a political agenda that creates practical, effective solutions for working interpreters.

This may prompt new questions:

  • what does it means to act “politically”?
  • what is the “political economy of interpreting” look like? (or should look like?)
  • where should we focus our scarce resources?
  • how radical we can be and still be successful?
  • what strategies and tactics will protect working interpreters and the Deaf community? or such a thing impossible?
  • what ideas should we draw upon to reshape our thinking about interpreting?

Ultimately, there’s more to say about all this. I will give what I have to work in this direction. I hope there are others out there who want to work on this project with me.

RID Response to Fake Interpreter Lacks Urgency, Misses Opportunity? (Updated and Corrected)

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This post broadens our analysis of the fake interpreter episode by looking at responses from interpreting organizations, especially RID here in the United States.

I felt devastated and frustrated when I watched the interpreting disaster Mandela’s funeral last week. To me, it symbolized the systemic, global, unequal treatment of Deaf persons. But when I watched RID’s Dawn Whitcher’s response to the interpreter scandal, I felt a disappointment of a different kind. Sort of how I felt to watch the undefeated OSU Buckeyes lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game the other week.

Dawn is the president of RID, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, the organization that represents over 12,000 interpreters in the U.S. She is a talented and passionate interpreter, and I respect her commitment to RID. It takes courage to put yourself online with a public statement. However, the statement that RID released on YouTube and on their website struck me as a missed opportunity. I want to explain why I feel that way, and also present some counter-examples and solutions.

RID Official Statement on Fake Interpreter

Let’s start with the video. Several years of research on undocumented immigration enforcement have made me sensitive to the way that political issues become represented in popular media. Let me remind everyone that sign language interpreters haven’t received this much attention since Marley Matlin won the Oscar for Children of a Lesser God in 1986. This is a crucial moment for RID. Click here for the English statement, and here’s the video statement:

Here’s my impression. I wonder if you feel the same. First, I thought the video was emotionally flat, which contrasts sharply with the utterly outrageous circumstances that RID was responding to. I think this is an outcome of the overly-reflective nature of the content. I understand that we are all trying to be patient and understand exactly what happened. But from an organizational perspective, we need something punchy. Let’s see some passion!

Second, the statement wandered and compromised its own authority. I waited and waited for something specific until the president started signing “…and now RID wants to offer our OPINION, too”. I went livid in my chair. Opinion? RID is supposed to be the premier interpreting organization in the U.S. RID is our organization of representation because they are experts in providing, managing, and certifying interpreting services. RID doesn’t have an “opinion” (in my opinion). RID has an authoritative statement based on 50 years of experience, on behalf of 12,000 (oops, that’s AILA, got my orgs mixed up)  16,000 members, and in support of (about) one million Deaf people who use interpreting services in the U.S. Now is not the time to be circumspect. Be bold!

Third, there didn’t seem to be any direct point to the video. RID says it was “SHOCKED”, but there was nothing substantively shocking about what they had to say in response. The signed version has some thoughtful comments about language as a human right, but even when the statement is signed “VIOLATED THOSE RIGHTS”, it is signed with an uncertain tone, that reads like this: “Well, I guess this guy probably violated the language rights of Deaf people?” (rising intonation at the end). For a good counter-example, see NAD’s YouTube statement on protecting Deaf schools – you really get a sense that we need to respond urgently to the needs of Deaf student now! I’ve also searched RID’s English translation for a single strong affirmative statement. Instead, it’s filled with waffling, equivocating, pensive sentences that reads like a meditation on some minor insult from the distant past.

[Added: As Zizek claims in the Guardian, this depoliticized appropriation of Mandela is symptomatic of the act of ignoring the ongoing crisis around the world and in South Africa today: growing inequality, ongoing racism, environmental degradation, etc.. In other words, drawing on Mandela’s quotes in isolation without drawing on his fervent activism is the central contradiction of the politics of Mandela’s memorialization.]

Most important, RID’s statement announces a big question, How can we prevent this unfortunate and oppressive situation from happening again? Exactly what we all want to know. But the statement itself can’t seem to identify the problem or a point towards a tangible solution. [Added: Again, just to be clear: this is not a fault of RID or of Dawn. But it is an indication of the crisis of meaning in late capitalism. See my posts on Judith Butler and Gramsci for related material.]

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I don’t intend for my comments to be harsh. My criticism is out of my deep desire to see RID wildly succeed as the collective face of interpreters in the U.S. The stakes are high and the opportunity is unique. It’s important for all of us – not just RID – to be ready to respond to moments like this.

We can do better

Someone once told me that pointing out a problem without identifying a solution is complaining. I wouldn’t write this critical public statement about an organization I love without pointing out what we can do better. Let’s start by looking at statements from other organizations similar to RID.

EFSLI (European Forum for Sign Language Interpreters) opened up their snappy, one-paragraph statement with this sentence. Think about how it contrasts to RID’s statement, and how EFSLI prioritize a major point from the beginning.

“The world is at last taking notice that untrained and, as in this case, incompetent interpreters are denying Deaf people access to important events that the rest of us take for granted.”

Slam! A reporter can easily put that into a column. No beating around the bush, no hedging, no waffling, no pensive meditations on a quote by Mandela. And whose fault is this “scandal”? EFSLI answers:

“…it is the fault of the policy makers who often don’t think it is important that those who work to give Deaf people access to the essential services we take for granted are properly trained.”

Ouch! Heads up elected leaders – we expect you to do better. And EFSLI is doing better. They wrote their statement alongside the “the European Parliament launching its ‘Learning Outcomes’ for interpreter training programmes. The initiative, which has been fully supported by the European Commission, is just the latest example of EFLSI’s commitment to raising the standards of interpreting across Europe and, with it, the ideal of full citizenship for Deaf people.”  Knockout! EFSLI is doing something about this problem as we read the statement. We need to learn from this. We need to have a short, snappy statement that is backed up by meaningful, direct action.

Let’s turn to ASLI (Association of Sign Language Interpreters), our sister organization in the UK. They quote from the WASLI/WFD statement (which I think is a little soft, too). But then open up with this:

ASLI strongly advocates the use of appropriately qualified interpreters in all domains. The sad incident at the Mandela memorial is not a one off occurrence. In the UK unqualified or inappropriate individuals are often used in place of trained and qualified interpreters. This has been central to many of our campaign messages.

There are two examples here that could be incorporated in the the RID statement. First, they have a clear statement of what they advocate for, and what they advocate against. Second, they bring it back to how ASLI is creating programs right now to solve this problem. The ASLI statement goes on to mention a specific program they are working on now to make sure that “only appropriately trained and NRCPD registered interpreters are used in health care domains.” In contrast, RID’s statement doesn’t take a clear stand for and against, and doesn’t mention any of its own programs by name. It might leave the reader wondering, is RID doing anything to improve the quality of interpreting in the U.S.?

Why does this matter? I mean, it’s just a little public statement, right? Wrong. We interpreters should know better than anyone how important it is to say things accurately and powerfully. Press releases may seem irrelevant. But press releases are often what drive news articles, get cited in academic research, and preserve the history of the profession in the permanent record. Especially at a time when interpreters have more public attention, we need to get this right.

How Would You Rewrite RID’s Public Statement?

Here’s my attempt to rewrite the statement. It’s not perfect. But I hope that it provides an example of a more assertive, powerful statement – the kind of statement I would have liked to see from RID. It’s not too late. RID could edit their statement to make it stronger.

“The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) strongly condemns the disgraceful quality of sign language interpreting services provided at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg, South Africa on December 10, 2013. Mandela’s life-long fight for justice should have been commemorated by being accessible to the South African Deaf community as a linguistic and cultural minority. Instead, allies and members of the Deaf community suffered an injustice at the hands of an unqualified and unvetted interpreter who failed to provide even a minimum level of access for sign language users. Yet we recognize that this unfortunate event is not the result of one individual, nor is this an isolated incident. Unqualified interpreters are frequently hired out of convenience rather than based on professional credentials. We hope that this raises the public awareness of the systemic injustice to the Deaf community and the detrimental effect this has on businesses and federal agencies who mistakenly or willfully hire unqualified interpreters. RID has worked hard for 50 years to raise the quality of sign language interpreting services. Today we administer the most widely recognized professional interpreter credential, the National Interpreter Certification, in partnership with the National Association for the Deaf. We stand with our over-12,000 U.S. members and the global Deaf community in this moment of disappointment. We call on our elected leaders, leaders in the business community, and the wider concerned public to work with us to make sure this situation doesn’t happen again.”

Update (12/17/2013): I noticed that RID was mentioned in a news report was today on the PBS “Lost in Translation” article, and the this NYT article. I’m glad to see coverage.

How to become a sign language interpreter

So you saw Lydia Callis interpreting for Mayor Bloomberg or you saw Marlee Matlin’s interpreter, Jack Jason, on Dancing with the Stars and you thought to yourself, “I wanna do that!” What’s next? Here’s what it takes to become an interpreter.

  1. Develop fluency in your local sign language and Deaf culture: That’s right – sign language is not universal. You will have to learn your country’s or region’s sign language. If you’re in the United States, much of Canada, and some parts of Latin America and Africa, that will some dialect of American Sign Language. If you’re in the U.K. that will be BSL, QLS in Quebec, and so on. Developing fluency will require a mix of college-level course work and community interaction.
  2. Develop explicit knowledge of your dominant language and dominant culture: Yes, you may have spoken English since birth, but that doesn’t mean you are knowledgeable about its morphology, syntax, and pragmatics. Since you are using your dominant language at least half the time, you need to be as knowledgeable about it as you are about sign language.
  3. Develop interpreting skills and knowledge: Being bilingual isn’t enough. Interpreting is a whole other skill set. You need to be able to recognize how language works in theory and in practice, and be able to think quickly in two languages. This, too, will involve college coursework, skill development, and on-the-job training.
  4. Attend and Graduate from an Interpreter Training Program: In the U.S. and many parts of Europe, steps #1, #2, and #3 are combined in what we call an ITP – interpreter training program. This is the most direct path to becoming an interpreter, but I mention it separately to let you know what you should be getting out of your ITP. It’s not enough to get a piece of paper – you should take charge of your education and make sure you get what you need.
  5. Get Qualified: Just because you have an interpreting degree in your back pocket, doesn’t mean your actually good at what you do. Interpreting is largely skill-based, which means if you can’t do it, you can’t do it. Qualified means a lot of things to lots of people, but let me put it like this: being qualified means being able to do the job someone hires you to do. You might be a great medical interpreter because you used to work in a hospital, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready to interpret a three-day workshop on government accounting procedures. Getting qualified means attending advanced workshops, developing industry-specific knowledge (accounting terminology, for instance), and teaming with more experienced interpreters.
  6. Get Certified: Certification is important, as well. Many countries have an interpreting organization or government agency that has developed a standardized test for certifying interpreters. Think of it like the ASE certification for mechanics: it tests your basic, general knowledge and skills of your field and is nationally recognized. In the U.S., the test is administered by RID (the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf) and involves a written portion and performance portion, both of which you must pass before getting certified. Do this sooner rather than later. There are also a few states with state-led certification, and there is an education-specific certification.
  7. Get Work: I strongly advise against going it 100% alone. Find an agency to work with, get a full-time position (rare, I know), or work in a school system. This will keep you connected to the profession and give you a network of colleagues for support. Of course, always keep your options open. Learn how to drum up work on your own without undercutting other interpreters, and learn how to manage taxes and contracts as a freelance interpreter.
  8. Grow. Grow. Grow: Let’s be honest, no one respects a colleague who tries to do the bare minimum. This is especially true in the language services field where language, the economy, and the social groups we work with are changing all the time. Workshops are a great way to stay on top of the game. But I actually believe that peer study groups, college coursework in closely-related fields, and volunteering are better ways to develop as a professional. — Following blogs like this one is a good way to keep abreast of new ideas, too. 🙂

So that’s what it takes to become an interpreter. This isn’t much different than a lot of professions. We could be talking about becoming a lawyer, a welder, a teacher – lots of things – and it would easily map onto this list. I love interpreting and I’m sure if you go down this path, you will, too.

RID Membership Per Capita Map

Which states have the highest total rate of RID membership? Not just total membership, but total RID membership relative to the total population of the state? I though this might be a way to measure the size of the interpreting economy, or be a proxy to some other factors. I used data from 2011 RID annual report to answer this question. Here’s what I did:

  1. Copied the RID total membership data into an Excel spreadsheet.
  2. Cleaned up the data, removed extra spaces, etc.
  3. Divided total RID membership in a state by total population to get a “density factor”. (For readability, this is at 10^-6, so 5.0 means 5.0 10^-6. In other words, interpreters make up a really really small percentage of the total population.)
  4. Uploaded it to Google Fusion Tables along with the U.S. state polygons.
  5. Created four quantitative breaks which yielded five “membership densities”.

Keep in mind that the national average is 5.0. States below 5.0 are below the national average for interpreter density, and above 5.0 is, well, above the national average. D.C. is the highest with 24, probably due to the concentration of government agencies and related services. Puerto Rico is the lowest at 0.6 and Mississippi is the lowest on the mainland with 1.5. Check it. (WordPress.com doesn’t allow me to embed Google Fusion maps yet. Bummer.)

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The Interpreter’s Library – An Introduction

This is the first post in a series I’m calling the interpreter’s library. The purpose is to put important interpreting resources together in one place. (Check out the new resource page.)

Strangely, no such online resources exists at this time. When I first became interested in interpreting in 2002, David Bar-Tzur ran a website called The Interpreter’s Friend, which is as close as we’ve ever come to a comprehensive online resource center. Sadly, David passed away in 2009, and his website, while still active, is starting to age.

RID.com has some professional resources. But by no means have they tried to be a clearinghouse for resources. StreetLeverage has done a terrific job of getting a variety of contributors to share their thoughts on current issues. The Interpreting Diaries blog is also a great resource, but light on sign language-related materials.

To date, no summary and critical review of interpreting research and literature exists.

One excellent anthology exists: Introduction to Interpreting Studies and the corresponding Interpreting Studies Reader assembled by Franz Pöchhacker, professor of interpreting studies at the University of Vienna, Austria, and Miriam Shlesinger, professor of interpreting in Israel and recipient of the Danica Seleskovitch award in 2011. (Miriam passed away in 2012.) These two books provide the most comprehensive introduction to interpreting studies available. The Reader is especially terrific because it includes seminal articles and chapters from key researchers from spoken and sign language interpreting research.

I can’t claim to fill this void completely. But I want to get started by creating a page devoted to interpreting resources. And to add to the quality, my plan is to review each item that goes on the resource page so you have some context for it. If there’s something you’d like to see, let me know.