After having a Session on Interpretation and Translation, it occurs to me that I do not normally come across research or any discussion about the challenges interpreters face while interpreting or translating for parties that are in conflict with one another. It was a very interesting session to hear about translation and interpretation and what the skills sets are for this arena. Also, I now know the key differences between Translation and Interpretation.

  • Translation: written to written forms
  • Sight Translation: written form to oral form
  • Transcription and Conference Translation: oral form to written form
  • Interpretation: oral to oral forms
  • In addition, the modes include consecutive, simultaneous, and whispered.

I remember when I did Translation and Interpretation work, I did not really think much of this work nor did I feel there were any challenges. In fact the translation and interpretation work was an addition to the nonprofit work I was doing at the time (domestic violence, trafficking, housing, immigration, government services, and healthcare). I guess the work I was doing seemed natural to me and I was translating/interpreting between two languages I grew up with-Spanish and English. I realized that it also seemed natural doing this kind of work in California since it feels like many Californians tend to speak both Spanish and English. In addition, I am of the same ethnic and racial background as those who spoke Spanish. I never saw any challenges because I am a Latina who has binational ties between Mexico and the United States. I understand the cultural differences between both nations as well as understand the cultural differences and similarities of Latinos from other Latin American countries. I guess you can say that although interpretation and translation work is very important, it just seemed like part of the deal for any job and something to be expected. The nonprofits I worked for did not have specific people translating or interpreting nor did they have background in interpretation and translation.  Rather, the employees, who already had knowledge of a language (whichever it may be), were told to automatically translate and interpret to English. We were asked to do such tasks during interviews, events, meetings, written materials, etc.

It was during this session when our group was doing a role play that I realized the challenges and issues that could arise.  I never thought how complex and yet intricate this work can be. I never thought about how one needs to know what the context of the meetings or discussions would be about. I never thought that interpreters/translators needed to pay attention to who they are interpreting and translating for. The individual can be a myriad of things. I never thought that a interpreter/translator may have problems with interpreting/translating certain things, such as vulgar words.  What I did realize was that interpreters/translators sometimes have a difficult time doing their jobs when dealing with such difficult topics as war, rape, murders, domestic violence, and among other things. While watching the role play occur, I saw that not only this is a real problem but that I was curious to know more about how interpreters were handling such situations, especially in international institutions such as the European Union and the United Nations.

Unfortunately, this was a short session and I wish we had more time. I was very interested and I wish I was able to ask them questions when I had the chance.