Language Professionals Archives - Masterword Services

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Recognizing the Impact of Nonverbal Communication on Interpretation Accuracy

By | Interpreting | No Comments

With the aid of an interpreter, a young Nepali man, Kamal, is meeting his very first primary care physician in the United States. Pushing through a little nervousness, he answers all the doctor’s questions as best he can. Towards the end of the appointment, the doctor responds to one of Kamal’s comments with a strange facial expression. Thinking that he may have somehow insulted the doctor, Kamal instinctively pinches the lobes of his ears, a gesture that is understood in his community to be an apology for causing offense (Matsumoto & Hwang, 2013a). Should the interpreter convey in English the…

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Myanmar, Houston, and Tanakha

By | #CultureWord | No Comments

Myanmar, Houston, and Tanakha Houston is one of the nation’s top resettlement locations for refugees. One of the top refugee groups is Burmese refugees. So we thought it would be important to find some similarities between our Burmese brothers and sisters. One of those similarities is the importance of physical appearance and skin care. We all know how important it is to take care of your skin and protect it from the sun. So how do Burmese people take care of their skin back home? Walking around Myanmar, it is common to see people covered in tanakha, from the wealthy to…

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Putting the Ethical Interpreter in Cultural Context

By | Interpreting | No Comments

Ethical dilemma: You are a passenger in a car driven by a close friend, and your friend hits a pedestrian. You know that your friend was going at least 35 miles an hour in a 20-mile zone. There are no witnesses. Your friend’s lawyer says that if you testify under oath that your friend was driving only 20 miles an hour, you would save him/her from any serious consequences. Would you lie to protect your friend? How you answer may vary tremendously depending on the part of the world in which you grew up. That became clear to researchers Fons…

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Do No Harm: Confidentiality in Community Interpreting

By | Interpreting | One Comment

Look at any professional code of ethics for interpreters and at the very top of the list, you’ll find the tenet of confidentiality. The fact that it is so prominent signifies its connection to the most fundamental principle of all interpreter ethical standards: the interpreter shall cause no harm (NAD-RID, 2005). Language serves two primary purposes: to facilitate social relationships and allow self-expression (Chomsky, 2004). It is the key to our success as a species. All humans regulate which information they wish to share with others: either to enhance social relationships or to be understood. When a person, government, or company…

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The Role of the Medical Interpreter in Identifying Potential Mental Disorders

By | Interpreting | No Comments

The role of the medical interpreter is always critical, and particularly so in mental health interpreting.  The interpreter’s ability to remain fully faithful to the register, language form, and linguistic content of the source message ensures the patient is appropriately diagnosed, treated, and offered benefits when available.  Sometimes, however, an interpreter may find themselves in a situation in which their interpretation into the target language is inadequate to properly convey a particular facet of the source message and this happens more often in mental health interpreting. Often times, language within the context of culture is a key component to the…

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Why do you interpret?

By | Interpreting | No Comments

“A professional values the interests of the client above monetary profit” This is an important principle for all professionals, including interpreters and translators. It means that our primary concern is to facilitate communication across languages – in written or oral form – while honoring and upholding a set of standards of practice. However, this statement can also lead to more profound questions such as: “Why do you interpret?” I was recently interviewed by a college student who asked me this very question and I was surprised at how easily I answered it. In fact, the interviewer probably got more than…

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Culturally Enriched Communication

By | General, Interpreting, Translation | No Comments

As linguists, our primary responsibility is to accurately transfer information from one language into another, which can only be achieved if we are culturally competent. Why? Language does not exist in a vacuum; rather, in order to be used effectively, it ought to exist within some cultural context. Without the cultural context, our rendition is robotic, confusing, and at times incomprehensible. I learned this lesson “the hard way” when I first arrived in Germany – despite previously feeling like I would blend in easily. I was excited to use my great language skills in my first encounter with a native…

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Houston Today: A Window into the United States of Tomorrow

By | General, Interpreting, Translation | No Comments

“No force in the world is going to stop Houston or Texas or America from becoming more Latino, more African American, more Asian, and less Anglo as the 21st century unfolds. Nothing in the world can stop that.” – Dr. Stephen L. Klineberg, 2014 International Language Services Conference, Texas Medical Center To a mixed crowd of medical administrators, practitioners, and interpreters at the 3rd Annual International Language Services Conference in Houston, Texas, Dr. Stephen Klineberg delivered the only speech on demographics that I have ever seen bring people to tears. Many in attendance were first, second, and third generation immigrants…

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I’m Already Bilingual, What Could I Possibly Need to Learn to Interpret in Court?

By | Interpreting | No Comments

Let’s just start with basic language.  Speaking a second language even on an everyday basis doesn’t mean you are speaking the languages used in legal settings.  Yes, I said languages.  There are at least five different languages spoken in any given court assignment or setting and you will need to immediately interpret without paraphrasing, omitting, or substituting. First you have English, the language you hear every day.  Then you have the English legalese spoken by the attorneys or Judge when they are speaking to the witness, to each other or to the jury.  Also each case has specific subject matter…

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We Say What They Say. Do We Feel What They Feel?

By | Interpreting | No Comments

Vicarious trauma “I interpreted that his wife had passed… it got to me how he kept asking and asking like he didn’t want to believe it. Every time he asked I had to interpret his question and then the doctor’s affirmation that she was indeed dead. Every time was as if I was telling him for the very first time.” -Health Care Interpreter I recently read an article in Psychology Today written by Dr. Robert T. Muller titled “Vicarious Trauma and the Professional Interpreter” published in August of 2013. In this article, Dr. Muller interviewed an interpreter as she talked…

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