LIL: What makes a bad translator or interpreter?

While reading through this brief discussion with Betty Howell on what makes a good translator, a lot of different questions came to mind. “Why do certain characteristics, i.e. the recognition of language variants and cultural differences, make a good translator? Can these be applied to the field of interpretation as well?” Most notably, “if this is what makes a good translator, what makes a bad one?

It’s not uncommon to focus on the good aspects of a given field, and how to be the best that we can be. It’s not a bad thing of course; I strive…

LIL: Lose Your Accent; Learn IPA

“IPA” transcribed in IPA

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation introduced in the late 19th century by the International Phonetic Association (also IPA). It is a standardized representation of the oral components of language: phones (any distinct speech sound), phonemes (units of sound that distinguish one word from another), intonation and the separation of words and syllables. Thus, an IPA Transcription is a language-neutral visual representation of the sounds we produce in our speech. In other words, IPA shows you how to say things. More importantly, perhaps, is that it shows you how to…

It’s Time To Pay It Forward: Interpreter Challenge

Dear Colleagues,

First, let me say that I am so grateful to those pioneers who had the vision to create an organization like NAJIT (National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators) for individuals like us who are engaged in providing an invaluable service. After all, Court Interpreters work so those who cannot speak or understand the language can seek justice without boundaries or limitations. Interestingly, this is a field that is only beginning to be recognized as a respected profession in this country, even though  President Carter signed the Court Interpreter’s Act the same year that our association was…

LIL: The Importance of Translation Memories (don’t forget it!)

    As a language student preparing to be an interpreter, one of the most infuriating things I’ve had to deal with is having to go back and research terms again, especially if I’ve worked with them or translated them already in the past.
    It happens to all of us – you hear a complicated and specialized new term and its translation for the first time like los inhibidores selectivos de la recaptación de serotonina [ISRS] (in English, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), and If you’re anything like me and forgot to write it down, when the…

LIL : Language and Thought; the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, or Linguistic Relativity, is an extremely controversial concept  which explains how language affects the way we think and perceive reality. It is often defined to include two “versions,” strong and weak. The strong version of the hypothesis claims that language determines thought, and that linguistic categories both limit and determine cognitive categories. In other words, the language we speak completely controls the way we think and perceive reality. The weak version claims that linguistic categories and usage can only influence thought and decisions, and do not determine them. In other words, language guides the way…