Letter from the Editor: Thanks to the interpreters
The meeting is coming to a close and you are already looking forward to the weekend, a free day, a quiet walk home, or whatever it is that lies in wait on the other side of the booth door. Bits of applause intersperse the chair’s pre-closing words of thanks – to the delegates, the host country, the conference organisers, the support staff, and yes, there it is, to the interpreters.
“For once we weren’t forgotten,” you think, although you would admit that you can’t really say if you are forgotten more often than remembered. Besides, isn't going unnoticed was the supreme compliment? Ah, but noblesse oblige and all ………. The gavel falls and with it your concentration. Time to relax.
We interpreters definitely appreciate shows of appreciation, especially when they are based on a true understanding of what we do and recognition that we are veritable participants in events. We who are so often invisible savor acknowledgement of our contribution, such as that proffered in a recent European Parliament debate on the future of Europe after enlargement.1
“I would also like to pay a very special tribute to all of the staff of the European Parliament and the staff and assistants in the Accession State parliaments who have helped us along the way in organising today's events. I would particularly like to thank one group that has been indispensable to this success: I am referring to the interpreters, who have done a magnificent job. (Emphasis added)
We have done something here today which has not been done anywhere before. We have had 23 language interpretations with a combination of 506 cross-interpretations. That is a powerful organisational achievement and a brilliant tribute to the professionalism of our staff.”
The most powerful message, however, is not that we achieved it. The most powerful message is for everyone to understand that the Europe we are building respects the cultural diversity from which we come and promotes equality for all.”
When I hear something like this, I am tempted to flip the mike on and say “You’re welcome”. Yes, we do our best and we help you to communicate – and we enjoy doing it! We are happy when your right to speak your language, the language you speak best, is respected because that fosters communication in the truest sense of the word. Equality within cultural diversity is a worthy goal.
Communicate! would also like to say “Thank you” to the interpreters who have been our readers, and to all others who have taken to consulting these pages over the last 3 years and 20 issues. And we would like to express our appreciation to all who have contributed to the 100+ articles in 11 languages that we have published in that period.
In this issue two of our most respected colleagues, Patricia Vander Elst and Marie-France Skuncke, offer us chronicles of their personal experiences under the titles “The Nuremberg Trial” and “Tout a commencé à Nuremberg…” These articles are part of the project we introduced in our last issue that aims to collect stories from colleagues regarding memorable moments. We again invite you to sit down and write about that unforgettable incident or formative event in your professional life. Please contact Michel Lesseigne with any questions or contributions.
Also Terry Thatcher offers us some ideas on “PDAs for Interpreters.” As she says, “A “personal digital assistant", or PDA, might be just the thing to keep everything --- including multilingual glossaries and conference documents --- at your fingertips while in the booth, on a plane, and anywhere else.” Read on and feel free to post a comment on your experience.
Last but not least, this issue introduces four short contributions to the VEGA “First Contract” series. If you need practical information about the CERN, WHO, ITU or WIPO (or just want to check what the acronyms stand for), read on.
And come back for more in 2003.
Articles published in this section reflect the views of the author(s) and should not be taken to represent the official position of AIIC.