Narrator: 00:00 Hello, thank you for listening to subject to interpretation hosted by Augustine de la Mora. My name is Claudia, and my name’s Kayla and we are the producers of this program. Before we get into the interview, with today’s special guest Tony Rosado, who you may know as the renowned interpreter trainer and founder of the well-known blog, The Professional Interpreter. We wanted to bring you the latest announcements from de la Mora interpreter training beginning with the podcasts becoming a weekly series. If you found us on Facebook, we would like to remind you that you may download us directly to your phone wherever podcasts are available, and we pride ourselves on being one of the very few podcasts for professional interpreters out there, so please share us with all of your colleagues. Now onto some more exciting news starting with de la Mora’s annual summit, Finding the Parallels which will be taking place this year on November 9th, 10th, and 11th here in Orlando, Florida.
Narrator: 00:58 We’re very excited about the agenda that we put together for you guys starting with a welcome reception on Friday night, which will have a surprise guest. A panel of very interesting people coming together and speaking about this field and of course food and drink, so don’t miss it. Also, all the details regarding this event, of course, will be on our website and don’t forget all of our Florida registered and certified interpreters that you will have the opportunity to gain all of your 16 ce credits just in this one weekend. And of course we have some great discounted rates for all of our guests that may be traveling over to stay here with us in Orlando. So take this as an opportunity to come and get your ce credits and possibly go to Disney world. Why not?
Narrator: 01:50 Besides all of the great legal training that we provide, if you are looking to become a medical interpreter, look no further. Our signature medical training program begins September 10th and is designed for students of all languages. This 40 hour course meets the prerequisites required to obtain your medical interpreter certification and also prepare you for the oral exam. Spaces are limited for all of our live online classes, so sign up today and all of the details for these announcements will be in the description.
Narrator: 02:22 Don’t forget to stay tuned for next week’s podcast featuring Holly Mikkelson. Now if you are a professional interpreter or even if you’re just starting in your interpreting career, you will most likely have heard of Holly’s name. She’s been incredibly influential, not only to everyone working as an interpreter today, but to Agustin as well. And actually, I do believe she is the sole author of Intro to Court Interpretation as well as the coauthor of Fundamentals of Interpretation. Yes. Both books that I’m sure every interpreter must have in their library today. Yes, for sure. We’re very excited to have her and it’s a great conversation. So don’t miss that. It’s coming up next week. Yes. And we do appreciate all of you for listening in. We would love to hear your feedback and also if you do have any questions, please feel free to contact our office. You’ll most likely speak to one of us, yes, but until next week. Now enjoy the interview with Tony Rosato. Alright guys.
Agustin: 03:26 All right, well good morning everyone. Welcome to subject to interpretation. My name is Augustin de la Mora and I’m your host today and I’m super happy and I’m very privileged and honored to have a good friend and very well known interpreter Tony Rosado. I’ll just give you a very brief introduction as to what I remember from Tony because he has so many things going on, but I know that Tony’s a conference interpreter. He’s federally certified for sure. I’m pretty sure a consortium certified, maybe State Department certified. He’s an interpreter, a translator, he works conferences all over the country and the world. Um, we have had the pleasure to cross paths many times while we were both teaching or attending the NAJIT conferences and maybe some other conferences. He’s an expert in the field, especially legal interpretation and a great instructor. I know he worked for the Defense Language Institute at one point. I don’t know if he still does, but I’m going to let you, Tony, introduce yourself. Thank you very much for being with us today.
Tony: 04:41 Thank you. Thank you to all the people that are listening to us today. Like Agustin was saying, we’ve known each other for quite a few years, and yes, I do all those things that that Agustin was saying. Actually at this time I am concentrating most of my practice in two main things. One is conference interpreting and the other one is in teaching, being an instructor of interpreters. Those are the two main things that I’m doing at this point, but yes, I have the certifications and the other credentials that Agustin was mentioning plus the fact that I also have a law degree.
Agustin: 05:18 Yeah. I forgot to mention. And where is your degree from Tony?
Tony: 05:22 I have a law degree, an original law degree from the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico City, and then I did a comparative studies Master’s at Columbia University in the United States, which is what allowed me to then take the California State Bar.
Agustin: 05:40 Oh, cool. So you’re still licensed in California?
Tony: 05:43 I am licensed, but I don’t have an active license at this time.
Agustin: 05:52 Got You. And that’s an interesting switch because many people would think, well, hey, you know, he’s an attorney, those guys make a lot of money. How come you’re an interpreter instead? What happened?
Tony: 05:58 Well, this goes back to the beginning of my decision to study law. Originally I really had two interests or two passions if you want. One is to practice in the legal field. And the other one was to be an interpreter. I grew up in an environment where I was exposed to interpreting all my life and to the legal profession all my life because my father was in diplomacy, so I knew both fields from the beginning, but I was told many, many times that the safest route was to become an attorney because that way I make sure that I wouldn’t starve. So I kind of went along with that and I started law first. I really like the days when I practiced law. But uh, as I was studying law and I started practicing the profession, I realized that indeed my first love was not the legal practice, but it was interpreting. And at that point I felt confident enough to make the switch and devote the rest of my life to interpreting, and taking advantage of the tools that I have learned by going to law school, not just of the legal knowledge itself, but also the techniques of how to do research and how to study.
Agustin: 07:13 That’s great. And, and I guess your parents sounded a little bit like those parents like here somebody says, I want to be an actor, right?
Tony: 07:21 Exactly.
Agustin: 07:22 And you know, you’re going to be a starving interpreter, so we’re happy to say that you’re not starving as an interpreter.
Tony: 07:28 Yeah, that’s right. Once I got into the field, I did realize that interpreting is not a starving interpreters field. It can be a starving interpreters field if you don’t do things right, but actually interpreting has allowed me to live a more than comfortable life and you just have to know how to do things, because, 50 percent is being a good interpreter, but the other 50 percent is also being good at business. And that’s one thing that a lot of colleagues sometimes do not realize. Once that you merge those two things, you will see that you can have a comfortable life and be an interpreter if that’s what you like.
Agustin: 08:04 Yeah, and I love you saying that, Tony, because I think that part of the things that I wanted to touch on today was the fact that you decided to be an interpreter even though theoretically an attorney could be very successful and live a comfortable life, but you decided to be an interpreter because it was your passion, but you found out that it’s not necessarily true, and I’m pretty sure that there’s some attorneys out there that are starving attorneys, right?
Tony: 08:31 Absolutely many, many.
Agustin: 08:34 So you’re an educator and I know that, I think the first time I met you was because I attended one of your seminars in NAJIT. We’re not going to say how many years exactly, but many years ago when you and I were probably in our teams,
Tony: 08:50 When it was raining a lot outside! Just a few of us got saved!
Agustin: 08:53 That’s right. So as an educator, what do you think are the mistakes that interpreters are committing? Why are they failing, especially this exams? You know, this very scary, “Oh my God, I can’t pass the test” kind of thing that we hear around our interpreters. What is it that they’re not getting?
Tony: 09:14 I think it’s several things, Agustin. The first thing that I think that people do not understand is that this is a profession. This is a serious profession. And like all professionals, just like a physician or like an accountant, or like an engineer, good interpreters need to study. You need to do your homework, you need to practice, you need to research your subject matter, and I think those are some of the things that are lacking and a lot of times people think that studying for an exam or studying for a conference, or to prepare for a legal or a medical case is all about just collecting a glossary and good luck, and it goes much more beyond that. You have to first of all understand the subject matter, so you have to have good comprehension and for that you have to be willing to study.
Tony: 10:09 It is not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight, but those are the main things that people have to do. I have noticed that the people that really understand what they are interpreting usually have very little problem, succeeding in the court interpreter certification examinations, in the healthcare interpreter certification examinations, and a State Department credentialing and any other type of interpreting certifications or examinations because once you understand what you need to do, you know what to study and you’re not so nervous to take the test and later on in professional life you will have many more resources and you will have the gift of knowing where to go look for what you need to learn or what you need to understand in order to have a good rendition for that assignment.
Agustin: 11:02 Of course. And you’ve mentioned credentialing from the State Department. I wanted to touch on that because I think that there’s, especially in the circle side move when I–even when people even realize that interpreters need to actually be trained because it’s very common for me, when people ask me what do you do, and I say, I train interpreters, they say “what language?” You know, the assumption is I teach them languages, which I don’t, but uh, when we talk about that even among interpreters, there seems to be this conference, court, and medical are the three most talked about fields, but the conference interpretation does not really talk a lot about this State Department credentialing. So how did you get–are you credentialed by the State Department? How does that work?
Tony: 11:57 Yes, I am. The credentialing by the State Department is not really a certification. It’s just a credential that allows you to work for the United States executive branch of government, but it is similar in a way to court or healthcare interpretation in a sense because you have to pass an examination in order to get that credential. State Department credentialing is for certain type of work that is definitely part of conference interpreting, but it’s the part of conference interpreting that you can call diplomatic interpreting. And it has three different levels. With the State Department, you can take a test to get a credential in one of three different levels going from the lower to the higher. First, you have what is called the Administrative Level Interpreter. These interpreters that can work as contractors or as staff for the United States Department of State doing work with the dignitaries and international visitors that come to the United States in some official business, helping them and assisting them in a daily tasks needed for their mission, such as with hotel reservations, going from one place to another,airplane, transportation, etc.
Tony: 13:26 The second credentialing, again from bottom to top could be the one call Seminar Interpreter. Seminar interpreters at those interpreters that do conference work that is work on simultaneous mode and consecutive mode during a conference, a talk and negotiation where the international visitors are present, characterized by the fact that it’s a small conference. It is done with equipment, but it’s with a very small group, let’s say 10, 15, I think the top is 20 people and it is never the highest level of diplomatic visitors that come to the United States. Finally, the highest one on the three levels is called the Conference Level Interpreting, and that allows you to do everything that I have explained so far, but these certain interpreters, they can work at the large venues, they can work large gatherings, and they can work with all types of government officials, including the president and the vice president of the United States. Conference interpreters–state department conference interpreters for that reason, unlike seminar and administrative interpreters, work not just within the United States, but also work abroad when they travel with some government official. That can be all the way from being on Air Force One with the president to accompanying an FDA inspector that is going to inspect a plant in some foreign country to determine if those products will be allowed to come into the United States for the consumers.
Agustin: 15:04 That’s awesome. And have you had any experience traveling with one of these officials at one time or another, Tony?
Tony: 15:10 Yes, I have. I have had several of these uh, experiences, and it is quite interesting. I cannot say much about it, but it is a very interesting part of the work.
Agustin: 15:22 That’s wonderful. So do you think that if I want to be an interpreter today, is there room for me? Can I make a living? Is there the possibility of fulfilling what Tony’s dream was and my dream now now, which is I want to be an interpreter. Is there an opportunity still?
Tony: 15:39 Absolutely. There are plenty of opportunities. The only thing that is very important to keep in mind that it’s not for free and it is not effortless. There is a lot of competition. You have a lot of competitors that you’re going to go and try to share the market with, and that will require for you as a new interpreter to be well prepared, to be savvy in business, skilled at your craft, and also in my opinion, and I think this is more and more, needed nowadays. You should have a specialization. You cannot be just like a general practitioner interpreter because then you’re competing with the rest of the world and you are at a disadvantage with most of them. But if you decide that your niche is this or that specialty and you devote your practice, your study to that area of interpreting then you’ll have a very good chance to succeed, especially today when we are competing with interpreters from all over the world. Ten years ago we were competing with interpreters from our own state or our own country. Now we’re competing with interpreters from all over the world with this great surge that simultaneous robotic interpreting is having for healthcare and legal interpreting. Also the VRI. Now there’s people that are probably 12 time zones away from you that might be your competitor for a specific assignment.
Agustin: 17:10 That’s right. Which we’ve never had to fear before.
Tony: 17:14 Yes.
Agustin: 17:18 So, tell us one of those tips that you say, “hey, listen, let me tell you this thing that you really have to do that helped me,” Tony, to go over my first–what was your first certification? What did you seek first?
Tony: 17:31 Well, because I was an attorney, my first certification was as a court interpreter. And I got first, a couple of, uh, no, actually one, first I got one state certification, then I got the federal and then I got another state one, don’t ask me why, but I got. It wasn’t needed, but I got it. But the first one I got was the state level certification, what we used to call in those days, the consortium level certification, and that was so that I could work as an interpreter, in the big law firm where I was working at the time, that was an international law and immigration law firm. And then that’s what allowed me to bend and breakaway and start my freelance career, first as a court interpreter, and later on evolving to be an instructor/teacher and a conference interpreter as well.
Agustin: 18:24 So tell us about direct transition. How did you go from being an interpreter to deciding to, well, I’m going to teach interpreters?
Tony: 18:33 Teaching has always been an art thing that I liked very much. I have to say that my first teaching was not to interpreters. The first thing that I taught was in law school. I taught, in law school, the course of civil law, and I did that for several years. That was my first time that I taught. I fell in love with that. At first I started as an adjunct professor, and then I got my own class, and from there it was easy for me to take the next step and go into interpreting, teaching to interpreters, and being an interpreter instructor for interpreters who already developed that are seeking continuing education or to sharpen some skill. So it was a very smooth transition but I really learned a craft, teaching at law school, and then that allowed me, then, to transition and teach at the different universities that I have been fortunate enough to teach interpreting as well as some institutes and the special instruction that we do to professional interpreters. Just like you very well know because you do that all the time as well.
Agustin: 19:41 Right. And what do you remember the first time you taught in a conference for interpreters? You remember where that was?
Tony: 19:49 You know, specifically, I don’t remember, but I am sure it had to be some NAJIT conference a long, long time ago. I want to say it was NAJIT, maybe it was ATA. I do remember it was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and it was ages ago, but I don’t remember which one of the two it was. I think it was NAJIT. What? I am not very sure. It was way over 20 years ago.
Agustin: 20:15 Yeah, it’s fuzzy to me too. I want to say I started in an ATA, but uh, I’m not sure yet. Um, it’s, I’m not sure for sure if I started there, but I remember I was quite nervous but super excited because I always loved teaching. And it’s interesting because my dad was a professor at the university and I remember as a kid thinking, man, who wants to be a teacher? So you go to the same class, teach the same stuff every time, and then get the same answers and, what a boring profession. I think that was some kind of hex that I put on myself because then I’ve been teaching for the last 30 years or so. But I remember the first time it was very exciting to stand there and say, oh man, all these guys are colleagues and want to learn about uh, what I’ve been doing with interpretation, so that was cool. What do you, how do you see the field now and what would you like to see happening?
Tony: 21:13 Well, the field now, I see, is very big, bigger than ever before because we’re on a worldwide stage, like I was saying. I see a very competitive field with a lot of good and a lot of bad things. Things that really concern me about the field right now is the idea of trying to turn our profession in an industry where we are treated as commodities, and where the bottom line is just to provide a warm body, well now actually, the colorful voice regardless of the quality behind that voice or the brains behind that warm body, because the bottom line is to give the client, which in this case I couldn’t even call a client, but I would call the person or the entity or costumer, whatever they think they want so that they are happy. So in other words, I am concerned about the fact that people might think that they are buying a good service.
Tony: 22:14 They are buying a professional interpreter and they’re getting something that is not really what they expect. If you want to go buy a Mercedes or a BMW, you want to drive off the lot on a Mercedes or BMW. But if you go to buy a Mercedes and you get a lemon, then you will live to regret it. And unfortunately sometimes the lemon looks good because it has fresh paint and it smells really good. But, you know, if you look under the hood, you aren’t gonna find what you needed to find. And I think that’s a big problem that we have. A lot of the colleagues are competing with people who are really not interpreters, but people that have been attracted to making a little bit more money because they are bilinguals, and under the false assumption that any bilingual is an interpreter, they come into this so-called industry where they are paid really pitiful fees, but to them you know, compared to what they were making, I don’t know, flipping hamburgers – nothing against flipping hamburgers, I love hamburgers – but it’s not a profession comparable to what we do. To them that amount of money might be attractive and that’s what really concerns me. What I really would like to see is more of a professionalization of our craft. Some countries are ahead of others doing this. One of the great things that the profession has allowed me to do is to travel and work all over the world and I see that some countries are way ahead of others. I see a much more professional mentality for interpreting in Europe and I see in the United States, for example, and I would like to get to that point. I would like to get to the point that everybody has to be a professional interpreter with some professional background education, and of course in a transitional way. But I think that even from the beginning with somebody at least having some kind of a bachelor’s degree in whatever it is, so that at least we know that you can learn how to do research and how to study for an assignment. And I think that would be very, very important. And also the fact that professionals command professional fees and the professionals have a professional mentality and it’s much more difficult for these people to want to settle for less than for somebody that is really not a professional.
Agustin: 24:39 Right. And, and I think, you probably see it the way I see it, is, it’s quite a conundrum because we have the market pushing to take more and more bodies quickly. Um, training is not that issue, but also I’m concerned on one hand that I don’t want the government to stick their nose into anybody’s business a lot, but I think we do need better regulation than we have right now. Um, as far as these certifications or licensing or whatever, so people would be a little bit more inclined, let’s say, or actually obligated to use trained interpreters. How do you see that? That idea of making it a lot more strict about licensing procedures or the teeth of being licensed or not?
Tony: 25:26 I would love to see that because that would be treating us like any other profession, but I do not think that this has to be something that government does. In fact, I would not like the government to do this and there’s no need to. All we have to do is to look at all the other traditional professions. The attorneys self regulate themselves. You have state bar associations in every single state. You have then the American Bar Association for the federal level. You have the medical board for the physicians and you have the same thing for architects and engineers and accountants and so on, so I think that we could self regulate ourselves. Of course in the United States, due to its complexity, it would probably have to be at the state level because states are different. And with some reciprocity, agreements, and some requirements maybe to overcome to be able to practice in another state, but this could be done by interpreters, interpreters regulating themselves, and I’m not talking about the professional organizations that we have right now because I would want to stay away from the big corporations having a say in this. I would like this to be the interpreters, but I don’t see why we cannot be like an attorney or a physician. I think that we have people with the brains to do it. I know many that do have them and we have the will to do it, so I don’t know when this will happen, but I would definitely like for us to go that way.
Agustin: 26:55 Maybe we should start planting the seed of that next step. I often thought that. I don’t see why the states of every state have to do the certification exams and and deal with them themselves when we should have an organization that deals with them, and maybe even one of these has some kind of national recognition in the case of a court interpretation. So let me move right along to asking you this controversial thing that happened very briefly about this Russian interpreter. What’s your take there?
Tony: 27:31 What happened in this issue, you’re talking about the case of President Trump and President Putin meeting in Finland in private, and then after coming out of that meeting, the people in congress, especially the opposition party, wanted to know what happened behind closed doors. And because there were no third parties, but just the two presidents and their respective interpreters, in our case, the state department interpreter, and in the case of President Putin and the Russian interpreter, congress wanted to subpoena the interpreter in our case, Marina Gross, to see what happened at that meeting. I think that the lot has been said about that. Most of what has been said by our colleagues, the interpreters that do this kind of work, the interpreters that care about the profession, is right, and I do agree with that. There is no way that an interpreter should be required to come and testify in that sense because confidentiality is paramount to the profession.
Tony: 28:34 Moreover, confidentiality is paramount to the business of government and you have all kinds of issues here besides the specifically applicable to interpreting, such as executive privilege, it says how far the subpoena power can reach, about when the judiciary would come and decide this, and then the consequence of doing or not doing, or complying or not complying with what the government wants. So I think it’s a very difficult road to go to. I think that it was uncalled for. I was very disappointed in these politicians, that just to advance their political career or maybe gain votes in November, are trying to kill. Forget about who is the occupant of the white house right now. Trying to kill one of the main professionals that have helped keep peace in the world after World war II, which is the person that facilitates the diplomatic dialogue between heads of state. I don’t think that that’s proper. I don’t think that that should have ever happened. And that’s just an awful thing. I knew from the beginning that, that was never going to fly, and there are some other reasons that we never even got to witness or to explore for this to happen. But the main concern here is not what didn’t happen because fortunately nothing happened here, but it is the chilling effect that this will happen both on the diplomat and on the interpreter. In other words, Agustin, let’s say that they called you to be an interpreter for “x” important officially in a private meeting, whether it is a, you know, a politician or a head of state or even the president of a big corporation with some big intellectual property rights that they protect, and all of a sudden you know that there’s a danger that they’re going to take you somewhere and force you to disclose what you heard. Who would want to that? I mean you’re getting paid for being an interpreter. Who is going to cover your expenses and who is going to cover your psychological damage, and the tremendous hurt her reputation that you will have if you have to go through that? So who would want to do that? And on the other hand, who would want to hire an interpreter? Everybody’s going to show up with their spouse because they’re going to claim to spousal privilege as their interpreter. So everyone’s and marrying somebody that speaks another language. That’s ridiculous, you know?
Agustin: 31:02 Yeah, yeah, I agree. Tony. I was pretty sure that I was going to hear that, but I still wanted us to chat a little bit about it, and I really appreciate you being with us, but before I let you go, I want you to tell us, tell our audience, where do they find you? Where do they find Tony? And I know you have a very highly followed blog, so you want to give us a little bit of a pitch.
Tony: 31:24 Yeah. I would love for people to go and read my blog. My blog is the Professional Interpreter Blog. You can just Google it that way, The Professional Interpreter Blog, and you will find there is some blog entries, usually once a week, on all kinds of things that are important to the profession. I tackle all fields. This is a worldwide audience that I have, so sometimes it’s about things in the United States, sometimes it’s about things in other countries, but I think that it contributes importantly. Also for more day to day things, you can follow me on Twitter as @RPStranslations. Again, @RPStranslations. You can follow me on Instagram at +tonyrosado1. One is a number one at the end. +tonyrosado1. You can try to link in with me on LinkedIn under Tony Rosado. You can also go– I have a youtube channel. You can go to Tony Rosado Interpreter, where once a month we also share videos with people about things pertinent to the profession. You can also follow me on Tumblr. And if you think that it’s too complicated to get all this, go to the professional interpreter blog, you’ll find it there. Or to my website, rpstranslations.com. They have links to everything. Or if that’s too difficult for you to remember, just go to about me. In about me, just look for Tony Rosado and you will find all my different links there.
Agustin: 33:04 All right, well certainly you have a presence and well deserved reputation. Tony, I appreciate your tim. And any last words of wisdom that you want to give, especially to our budding interpreters who are thinking about doing this?
Tony: 33:18 Yes, I want to leave you with one thing guys, I think that, and this is geared to freelance interpreters more than staff, but it’s also I think a good tip for the staffers. Remember that that as an interpreter you have clients because you’re a professional. You don’t have a boss. It disturbs me sometimes to hear my colleagues say, oh, you know, such and such hospital, I work for such and such hospital, or I work for such and such courthouse, when in reality they’re freelancers. You have to treat all of these entities as your clients because that puts you in charge and that allows you to move on and progress and become wealthier, both in wisdom, in money, and also reputation because you will be moving on up, finding the client that best suits you for that time in your professional life.
Agustin: 34:12 Alright. Well thank you very much Tony. We appreciate your time and we’ll see you around in one of these, conferences or something. I actually missed you at the IA conference. I’m assuming maybe you were somewhere else.
Tony: 34:24 Yeah. I was somewhere else and I missed you there too, but it’s a pleasure, as always, Agustin, and no doubt about it we’ll continue to run into each other many more times.
Agustin: 34:32 Okay. Thanks a lot Tony. Bye.
Tony: 34:34 Bye.