Archive for the 'Interpretation' Category

Nov 13 2006

Translation, Interpretation, Foreign Langauge Instruction, and Cross-cultural Training Resources

The Linguistic Solutions – Resources page has links to translation, interpretation, foreign langauge instruction, and cross-cultural training resources.

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May 30 2006

WCMC-Q Training to Focus on Communication

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Communication between medical students and patients takes centre stage this week as Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) has begun a seven-day training programme for medical interpreters. A total of 25 candidates, selected from over 150 who applied, are attending the 40-hour ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme that started on Sunday.

They are the first professional medical interpreters to be trained in Qatar.

The course is run by experts from the Seattle-based Cross Cultural Health Care Programme (CCHCP), an organisation that has trained approximately 10,000 interpreters in the US, Canada and Japan since 1995.

The immediate aim is to train the participants, who are all fluent in English and one of four other languages, to work as translators and interpreters between the medical students and patients who speak only Arabic, Hindi, Tamil or Urdu.

A professional medical interpreter provides an immediate, accurate translation as the doctor – or medical student – takes a patient history, gives commands or explains procedures during the physical examination, and discusses treatment options. The interpreter also communicates discharge and medication instructions as required.


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May 01 2006

Speaking in (Many) Tongues Can Be Profitable

WANTED, and in many instances urgently needed: translators and interpreters of numerous languages into English. Opportunities especially good in New York and other cities with large and highly varied immigrant populations. And in government agencies where certain Middle Eastern and Asian languages have surged in priority in the post 9/11 world.

That, labor market and other experts say, sums up the outlook in the United States today for translators and interpreters, professions that have grown sharply since the 2001 terrorist attacks, though not solely in response to them. And with the routes into these specialties diverse — they all require a mastery of English and at least one other language, but there is no single form of certification in the country — people can enter them with varied educational backgrounds.

Although many people call anyone who renders one language into another a translator, practitioners reserve that word for people who convert written material in one language into written material in another, or speech in one language into a transcript in another. They refer to those who convert speech in one language into speech in another as interpreters.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says there were 31,000 translator and interpreter jobs in the country in 2004, up 40 percent since 2000, and estimates a further increase to 37,000, or 20 percent more, in 2014. (The bureau notes that the number of people in the business is “probably significantly higher” because many work part time.) The average full-time salary in 2004 was $38,000, with those employed by federal agencies averaging more than $70,000. About 2,000 of the jobs in 2004 were in New York State and about 500 in New Jersey and Connecticut.

But Kevin Hendzel, a spokesman for the American Translators Association, which represents about 8,000 translators and interpreters, predicted even sharper future growth, “based on the current demand.” Aside from a severe shortage in “national security languages,” among them Arabic, Farsi, Pashto and Dari, the demand, he said, is being driven by, globalization and by the need for interpreters in hospitals and courtrooms. The need at hospitals has been made more acute by a 2000 requirement that institutions receiving federal aid provide more effective service to people lacking English proficiency, he said.

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Jan 31 2005

Justice Sometimes Lost in Translation

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A murder case in Escondido reveals a serious flaw in the policies and practices of our police departments when they deal with people who don’t speak English or Spanish well.

Though the need doesn’t arise often, when police require help communicating with someone who doesn’t speak the county’s two main languages, they often rely on translations by people who are not trained interpreters. Because communication is at the root of all good policing, this “catch-as-catch-can” practice hinders cops’ ability to do their jobs well and safely, puts small numbers of immigrants at risk of being wrongly arrested or worse, and runs afoul of federal civil rights guidelines.

Vinh Pham is charged with a 2003 murder in Escondido. When city police detectives interviewed him in jail, a nurse working at the Vista jail served as his interpreter. She wasn’t trained in interpretation. More than just language, interpreters need to know ethical and legal nuances for their work to pass legal muster. Because the nurse didn’t repeat key statements Pham made in Vietnamese to police — “I want to go back to jail” and “I don’t want to say anymore” — a judge tossed out everything the man said after those statements.

The case is not over, and prosecutors say they still have enough evidence to convict Pham.

But the problem revealed by the misinterpretation is wider than just one case.

While the dynamic, responsive nature of police work makes tapping untrained interpreters unavoidable sometimes, it’s never a good idea — the stakes for both cops and citizens are too high. Life and liberty can hang on a misunderstood word or gesture.

In 2002, the federal Justice Department issued guidelines that urged “even small recipients (local police departments) with limited contact with Limited English Proficiency persons” to draft and adopt formal plans for dealing with these situations.

With better management, local police forces can better serve and protect some of our most vulnerable neighbors at their most vulnerable moments. At the very least, police need to redouble their efforts to identify and provide certified interpreters for the main languages in their jurisdictions, especially during major investigations and homicide interrogations.

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Jan 31 2005

Job Prospects Are Bright at Hospitals Short on Bilingual Speakers

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“I’m there just to interpret, not to give advice,” said Valdez, guest relations representative at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. “Translating medical terminology can be a tongue twister.”

Without her help, health care providers and Spanish-speaking patients with limited English proficiency would be at a loss for words.

Patients at other U.S. hospitals aren’t as fortunate. Fewer than a quarter of these facilities are staffed with skilled interpreters, the journal Pediatrics reported in 2003. And most of them don’t have adequate training.

The good news is hospitals, social service agencies and interpreter associations are taking steps to improve the numbers. They are determined to launch, sustain or expand interpreter services for an increasingly diverse pool of patients.

Almost one in five people, or 47 million of those age 5 and older, spoke a language other than English at home in 2000, up 15 million from 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, the number of Spanish speakers surged 62 percent, rising from 17.3 million in 1990 to 28.1 million in 2000.

“The need for interpreters in the health care setting is high,” said Elaine Quinn, administrator of cross-cultural programs at the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin.

“Many people speak English to converse over the more mundane day-to-day stuff. However, it is often difficult to verbalize signs, symptoms and other concerns. … The vocabulary is not the everyday words people use,” explained Quinn, also treasurer of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care in Santa Rosa.

Interpreters are more likely to be employed in hospitals, which are better able to afford their services and are also more legally bound to do so, said Charles Soltoff, associate vice president for marketing at Temple University Health System in Philadelphia. Temple is among 10 medical institutions in a program to demonstrate that hospitals can’t afford to operate without formally trained medical interpreters.

Other institutions use telephone-based interpreters and rely on employees who speak the same foreign languages as patients.

“Existing staff who can provide medical interpreter services on an as-needed basis — called dual-role interpreters — will become increasingly valuable,” Soltoff predicted.

To succeed, experts say, interpreters must be fluent and possess customer service skills along with knowledge of medical terminology.

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Jan 24 2005

More Hispanic Patients Means High Demand for Hospital Interpreters

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OU Medical Center Staff Stepping Up Training, Recruitment Of Interpreters

The number of Hispanic patients at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center is increasing, and that has led to a rise in Spanish language translation services.

The number of Hispanic patients increased 12 percent between 2002 and 2003, said hospital spokesman Allen Poston. He said 2004 figures are not yet available.

Meanwhile, patients needing translation services increased almost 15 percent last year. The medical center averaged 985 interpretations a month in 2004 compared with 842 a month the year before, according to data compiled by translation coordinator Jorge Cure.

Cure said it is difficult to tell if the increase reflects a rise in the medical center’s Spanish-speaking patient load or the availability of more translators.

Hospitals receiving federal funds are required to provide free interpreters to all patients who need them, but there is no requirement for special training.

Many hospitals rely on in-house language banks that might include Spanish-speaking housekeepers or cafeteria workers. Others contract with outside businesses for translation services in person or by telephone.

Cure is trying to raise the bar at the OU Medical Center, where interpreter applicants must be fully bilingual with some knowledge of medical terminology. Those hired then go through a week of training to learn interpretation protocol, hospital policy and more medical terminology.

At the end of the training, they must pass written and oral examinations with scores of 90 percent.

Cure said he hopes the state Health Department will adopt a program like his to certify trained medical interpreters.

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Jan 24 2005

Signing at Council Meetings Aids Few

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Deal to keep service for deaf, but some see need for Spanish translation

They flash a silent language for hours, never knowing who’s benefiting, if anyone at all.

The remarkable skill of these sign language translators, who convert fiery Dallas City Council debates and governmentese with their bare hands, are often wasted; and with it, tens of thousands of tax dollars, too.

While rendering an exact figure is difficult, the law of averages suggests that only a handful of sign-language literate, hearing-impaired residents each year sit through sparsely attended City Council meetings.

The signers’ translations go no further than City Hall’s council chambers. Dallas Community Television broadcasts council meetings, but sign language translators are never shown, rendering the feed useless to deaf viewers.

Then last week, without debate, the council unanimously approved a three-year contract worth up to $125,000 to continue the in-meeting sign language translation.

Meanwhile, Dallas’ Spanish-speaking population, tens of thousands of residents strong, receives no council meeting translation services – nothing in person, nothing via television or radio broadcasts.

No plans are afoot to expand city translation services to Spanish, although the new sign language contract provides for televised coverage of the sign language translators, Acting City Manager Mary Suhm said. Dallas routinely translates city documents into Spanish, provides 311 services in Spanish and features a Spanish-language version of its Web site, Ms. Suhm added.

The Dallas Independent School District has for years provided Spanish translations of its board meetings and many neighborhood gatherings, district spokesman Donald Claxton said. An on-site translator talks to audience members through headphones, he said.

“There’s someone at every meeting using it,” Mr. Claxton said.

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Jan 20 2005

Populations Push Hospitals to Hire More Interpreters

Published by under Interpretation

”I’m there just to interpret, not to give advice,” said Valdez, guest relations representative at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. ”Translating medical terminology can be a tongue twister.”

Without her help, health-care providers and Spanish-speaking patients with limited English proficiency would be at a loss for words.

Patients at other U.S. hospitals aren’t as fortunate. Fewer than a quarter of these facilities are staffed with skilled interpreters, the journal Pediatrics reported in 2003. And most of them don’t have adequate training.

The good news is that hospitals, social service agencies and interpreter associations are taking steps to improve the numbers. They are determined to launch, sustain or expand interpreter services for an increasingly diverse pool of patients.

Almost one in five people, or 47 million of those age 5 and older, spoke a language other than English at home in 2000, up 15 million from 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Meanwhile, the number of Spanish speakers surged 62%, rising from 17.3 million in 1990 to 28.1 million in 2000.

”The need for interpreters in the health-care setting is high,” said Elaine Quinn, administrator of cross-cultural programs at the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin

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Jan 17 2005

Linguistic Big Bang Creates Translation Headaches at European Union

The enlargement of the European Union from 15 to 25 member-states with nine new languages has created a kind of linguistic big bang in Brussels, with new headaches for intepreters.

“Integrating nine new official languages at one go when the newcomers joined last May was an unprecedented situation for the Commission,” said a member of the EU’s executive organ here.

Previously the EU had 11 languages shared between 15 members. Now it has 20 shared by 25.

Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish have now been joined by Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Slovak and Slovene.

The European Commission says it is more or less satisfied with the current state of affairs after the 10 joined — the 10th being Cyprus which shares a language with Greece.

But there were limits to the available capacity, admitted Manuel Barata, of the Commission’s translation directorate.

One of the biggest headaches has been the Maltese language. All the candidates for jobs as intepreters failed in November 2003, so all EU meetings — the council of ministers, European Commissioners, press conferences — have to be covered by outside interpreters.

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Jan 17 2005

Hmong Having Problems Finding Adequate Transportation

Finding adequate transportation has become one of the principal hurdles facing the most recent wave of Hmong refugees in central Wisconsin.

Mass transit can be confusing or nonexistent, finding volunteer drivers can be difficult, and the Hmong-language version of the Wisconsin driver’s manual can be tough to comprehend.

For 44-year-old Yong Yia Xiong… the permit test has proven difficult. Xiong, a new arrival to Stevens Point, failed four times, one shy of the state’s limit for taking the permit test.

He’s studied by using a Hmong-language version of the state’s driver’s manual, but the translation is confusing and ambiguous, he said.

Similar translation issues have plagued many refugees, Vang said, and the manual even contradicts itself in places. Hmong and English are very different languages to learn, Vang said, so the meaning of a statement or phrase could be altered or misunderstood in translation.

Also not all refugees read Hmong, said Chia Khang, a 1984 refugee who now works as a client services worker at North Central Community Action Program in Wisconsin Rapids. Some write Laotian or read Thai, and getting an interpreter to help with the English-language version of the manual can be tough.

“I used to ride the bus for two whole years, the first two years that I came,” Khang said. “Most of the problem, what I saw, is the reading and writing.”

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Jan 15 2005

EU Translation Costs to Surpass $1B Mark

Translation costs at the European Union are set to pass a billion dollars a year as the economic bloc struggles to accommodate 10 new members after its expansion into Eastern Europe and the Baltics, officials said.

Critics chafe at the sum, but to many its money well spent in keeping Europe’s quilt of cultures – and national egos – intact.

The 10 new members that joined in May expanded the EU to 25 and added nine new languages for a total of 20. Once the many cross-translation services this requires are at full speed, the overall costs will rise to $1.06 billion per year from about $720 million now, according to European Commission documents published Friday.

Interpretation costs may reach $312 million in 2007, up from $137 million last year.

Together, funding this unique system will take almost $2.62 out of the pocket of every EU citizen every year. Many EU citizens have balked at the cost and called for a drastic reduction in the number of languages used officially.

The United Nations, with far more member nations, uses only six official languages, critics note. But Europe’s Tower of Babel is essential, said Ian Andersen, a department head at the Directorate General for Interpretation.

“There is no way around it if you want to work in a community of law,” he told reporters. When EU laws are binding on its citizens, they should be able to consult them in their own language.

“It is the democratic right of everyone who participates in decision-making to make their point and to have access to information on an equal footing,” said Andersen, a Dane.

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Jan 13 2005

EU Faces Soaring Translation Bill

The European Union’s bill for translation will have to balloon by nearly 60 percent to over 1 billion euros a year to prevent the bloc from turning into a Tower of Babel after its eastward enlargement.

The European Commission said the annual cost of written translation was expected to grow to 807 million euros in the next few years from 549 million in 2003, when Brussels institutions already translated a staggering 1.3 million pages.

Expenditure for oral interpretation of 50-60 meetings held each day in Brussels is forecast to increase to 238 million euros a year from 105 million euros once the EU’s expansion to 25 from 15 members last May is fully digested.

The EU executive said the soaring bill was the price for ensuring a level playing field for all EU citizens, whose number grew to 453 million from 375 million.

The EU’s total budget is 105 billion euros this year, or about 1 percent of the bloc’s gross national income.

The number of official languages increased to 20 from 11 with the EU’s enlargement into mainly ex-communist eastern Europe. Bulgaria and Romania are set to join in 2007 or 2008, bringing two more languages into the club.

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Jan 11 2005

City’s Health Care Lost in Translation

New Yorkers who do not speak English face enormous problems communicating with medical professionals at the city’s private and public hospitals, a report released yesterday reveals.

Nearly 75% of the 51 hospitals surveyed by the city controller’s office failed to provide Spanish-language services to callers to one or more of the hospitals’ departments.

“Here in New York City, the world’s melting pot and home to over 2 million foreign-born residents, it is unconscionable that basic health care services remain out of reach for citizens who don’t speak English,” Controller Bill Thompson said.

According to the 2000 Census, nearly 40% of the city’s population is foreign-born, with 52% of those residents coming from Latin America.

“But while the face of New York is changing every day, our hospitals are trapped in an English-only time warp,” Thompson said.

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Jan 10 2005

Services All in the Interpretation

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Justice, just as crime, comes in all languages.

Without question, much of the work of Hampden Superior Court would come to a grinding halt without interpreters.

Take a recent Wednesday, when seven co-defendants in a cocaine trafficking case are standing in front of Judge Constance M. Sweeney with their lawyers, for a hearing on motions filed in the case.

All are listed on the court docket as “interpreter needed.” Three Spanish interpreters stand amidst the crowd, with each simultaneously interpreting for two or three defendants. Defendants look toward the interpreters to find out what is being said about this important point in their lives.

At the end of the process, Sweeney says to lawyers and defendants, “Thank you all very much. And thank you to the interpreters.”

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Jan 04 2005

Providence Councilmen Urge More Open Government for Non-English Speakers

Two Providence councilmen want to make it easier for renters and for residents who don’t speak English to be involved in government.

They would require city notices and postings to be multilingual and for [interpreters] to be available at meetings.

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