November 23, 2009

Raise:Raze or Tomato:Tomahto

The last post mentioned accents--the only thing worse are those crazy sound alike words known as homonyms. Awhile back I was attending a meeting and watching the interpreter (like we all do--admit it!) While she was working, I realized how much interpreters use our own experiential knowledge to make sense of what's being said. The speaker was talking about a building on campus that had recently been razed. What was fascinating watch was how the interpreter: 1. registered the homonym, 2. tried to get her team to give her a clue as to which word--raise or raze--was meant (the co-interpreter also had no idea,) 3. make a judgement--okay, we going with raise!, 4. sign it and check in with the Deaf person (who looked quizzical for a moment then realized what was happening and told the interpreter what she meant.) All of that occurred in about 5 seconds.

Now how experiential knowledge factors in here is that the interpreters working this meeting were both from outside the U. All of us here at the U are completely aware of the status of the building because if you have to walk to the west bank, you have to know you can no longer get to the bridge from the science classroom building as it's been razed!

May 13, 2009

Love those accents!!

Working here at the U, the interpreters and captioners are constantly bombarded by accents. Love them or hate them, you have to admit what you hear can really throw ya for a loop!

Just the other day, I was working with another staff interpreter and we were interpreting a tour for prospective students. These tours are always lead by very enthusiastic students who work for the admissions office. It so happened that our tour guide was an international student with--you guessed it--an accent.

My co-interpreter is "on" and I'm working as the "feed" interpreter. We are in front of a building and I hear the tour guide say "In this building is the Korea Center..." at the same time I see my co- sign that same phrase. Now I begin to think to myself "Huh! I didn't know we had a Korea Center on campus...I bet it is something else..." The next phrase out of the guide's mouth is "There are 27 'Korea Centers' on campus." "Oh!" I think, "It's not Korea Center but CAREER Center."

But before I can tell my co- we've gone down the wrong linguistic path, she's already signing--"27 Korea Centers." Oops, time for a repair! I butt in and sign--"not Korea center, career center!" The consumer and my co and I all have a laugh--no real damage done, but dang funny!

Later as my co- and I processed the job, she said, "I knew Korea Center probably wasn't right, but in this job I've heard stranger things!"


Hi everyone,

This blog is intended for interpreters at the University of Minnesota, however, any student of language and/or translation may find it amusing. I will try to regularly post items I've either encountered in my own work or that of my co-interpreters. At times, I may allow guest writers to publish things they've "seen and heard" while on the job. This blog will adhere to the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) Code of Professional Conduct ( Any posts not adhering to this code will be deleted. Thanks!