Archive for October, 2007

An update!

October 28, 2007

Regarding my past assignment: dressing in layers was a good idea. And real-life court proceedings are a lot more sedate than their TV portrayals. Law and Order lied to me!

Next on my schedule: try to figure out how I am going to get to and from my next assignment.

A to-do list for my next assignment

October 21, 2007

There are some things I need to do in preparation for my next interpreting assignment. Of course, I am leaving out the obvious such as studying terminology likely to come up. I am just mentioning the smaller yet important items:

  1. Assemble and iron (if necessary) a suitable outfit. It must meet the following parameters:
    • Consist of layers, as I have no idea what the location will do with the thermostat. Chances are, it will be freezing outside but roasting on the inside.
    • Include suitable footwear. It must be comfortable, because there will be a lot of of standing involved; look professional, to add to credibility; and be subdued enough not to call attention to itself, because the perfect interpreter is invisible. I guess this adorable pair doesn’t meet the third criteria.
  2. Pack appropriately. My normal tote (crocheted and felted, multicolor, and delightfully quirky) will not get the job done, sadly. I will have to steal my daughter’s overnight bag, which is really a more subdued tote.
    • What to include: a notebook for notetaking. A couple of pens in working condition. A copy of Holly Mikkelson’s The Interpreter’s Companion. Some snacks. Water. A watch.
    • What to exclude: the digital camera I carry around on an everyday basis. Anything that could be mistaken for a weapon, such as my aluminum knitting needles. This is not much of a problem, because I prefer bamboo needles, anyway. 

Wish me luck.

Handwritten materials

October 15, 2007

I recently translated some handwritten materials. Lengthy handwritten materials. Without disclosing identifying details, I can share the following:

  1. The benefits offered by the spellchecker in a word-processing program cannot and should not be underestimated.
  2. For me to criticize anybody else’s handwriting would be a big fat case of the pot calling the kettle black. Eight-year-old boys produce more attractive cursive than I do. At least this text was legible.
  3. If the writer of the handwritten text appears to have written it as a transcript of a conversation, try reading it out loud and treating it like a sight translation.

Run for the hills! (warning: post full of righteous indignation)

October 6, 2007

Haven’t you heard? On September 28, the Lincoln Journal Star published an article in Spanish. Well, just the translation of this article, anyway,  Run for the hills; it’s the end of the world as we know it.

Oh, I kid. Sunday, September 30, the paper’s editor, Kathleen Rutledge, printed an explanation as to why:

On Thursday, we learned from Lincoln police that a lack of accurate information about the killing of Maria del Rosario Moreno was leading to fear and confusion among some Spanish-speaking people in Lincoln. Some erroneously thought a killer was still at large, for example.

We considered printing a story about the case for our Spanish-language publication, Hispanos Unidos. But the next issue of that newspaper will not appear until next week, too late to do much good for people in need of immediate information.

We settled instead on translating the Journal Star story into Spanish.

Fair enough. I wasn’t very happy with the quality of the translation (which apparently, isn’t even available online). But sometimes, the people’s need to be informed outranks the right to proper grammatical Spanish, worthy of the Real Academia Española. ‘

Other people were just as upset as I was. But for completely different reasons.  Two of the four letters to the editor that were printed on October 3 (available at, were regarding this article. The first one boasts the headline “Americans speak English” and starts with the following text:

I want to say first that I am all for equal treatment for everyone. I am also proud to be an American, and I am not happy about a Sept. 28 Lincoln Journal Star article being repeated in a foreign language. I don’t care what language.

The next letter is titled “Not happy with Spanish” and reads as follows (first two paragraphs only):

I don’t know if it was a mistake that could have possibly gotten through all the editors and page layout people, but on page 7B of the Sept. 28 Lincoln Journal Star, there was an entire article written in Spanish.

I do not appreciate paying for a paper that I can’t read … and if you wish to continue to publish articles in a language other than English, I will be discontinuing my subscription and wanting a refund for what I have already prepaid for the year.

Dear people who think the world is going to hell in a handbasket because an English newspaper chose to print ONE article in both English and Spanish:
First of all, calm down. Seriously.

Second of all, in a rephrasing of my point above, the need of the community (and yes, that DOES include the Spanish-speaking members) to be informed about a violent crime against a woman exceeds your need for a paper that was 100% English. Seriously. How many articles that could have been of usefulness to the Spanish-speaking community went untranslated?

Third, none of the people taking ESL classes will take a look at that article and all of a sudden quit. Many people DO know that it is hard to get through life in this country without at least a working knowledge of English.

Fourth, the tragedy is not that an English-language paper printed ONE article in both English and Spanish. The real tragedy is that Maria del Rosario Moreno was murdered by somebody she knew, like way too many women.

NEXT: A return to posting light-hearted snippets of my life as a translator.