BP17: A Translation Conference, Reinvented

This May, we are both quite excited to be heading to the same conference together: BP17 in Budapest, which is organized  by our colleague Csaba Ban (yes, remarkably, there's  no big association or organization behind this conference). Throughout the last few years, we've heard amazing things about this conference, and this year, Judy is honored to be a speaker at the event. 

What we love about this conference is that it is quite different from traditional T&I conferences, and we are always looking for interesting and new experiences. The twelve TED-style talks (limited to 20 minutes) will be given by a great selection of speakers from four continents, including Paula Arturo, Nick Rosenthal, Michael Farrell, Jonathan Downie, and many others. These short talks are a great idea to get lots of information in a short period of time, and we also happen to love TED talks (who doesn't?). These will be held on May 5, and May 4 will be all about masterclasses, including Judy's. There are six of them -- and one of them is an ATA certification exam, which is fantastic, as those are relatively rare in Europe. As you can see, Csaba has been busy! May 6 will be a more traditional conference day with lots of sessions to choose from, which we look forward to. Half of the sessions will focus on business, which we applaud -- we need more conferences that focus on business, as we are all businesspeople first and linguists second. All sessions on May 4 and 6 will be held at the Hotel Arena, the
conference hotel.

And there's the venue for May 5, which we are already drooling over: a beautiful old movie theater called Urania. It's the loving maintained theater that you wish you had in your hometown -- and we bet it will make for a great picture backdrop!

Unlike many other conferences, if you purchase a full pass, the price will include a farewell dinner, which will apparently turn into a party (count us in) as well as lunch. The best deal is the 2-day conference pass (masterclasses are extra), and you can bring a guest to the farewell dinner for EUR 42. The two-day pass is quite reasonably priced at EUR 239, and the conference hotel is affordable as well. Amazingly, Csaba has also organized several day trips that can be booked separately -- we just might go to one of them. These trips are something we have never seen at American conferences, and we are all for them. There's nothing quite like getting to know your colleagues while on a short trip.

So in case you cannot tell: we really are very much looking forward to this conference, and look forward to seeing all our friends and colleagues. We've been to Budapest before, and it's a spectacular city. See you there the first week of May?

Keeping Your Distance

View from US District Court, Reno, NV.
If you are intrigued by the title of today's post, you might or might not be a court interpreter. If you are (and even if you are not), please read on for today's brief comments on ethics and keeping your distance.

One of the pillars of the code of ethics for court interpreters is neutrality: we don't get involved, we are on no one's side, and we are certainly not allowed to give legal advice (nor are we qualified). We are there to interpret and to do absolutely nothing else. Obeying this basic rule will serve you well as a court interpreter, and it seems easy enough, but in practice it can be tricky.

One of the rules of thumb that we try to use is to not be alone with a person who needs interpreting services in a judicial setting. One usually needs at least three people for interpreting to take place (in our case, the non-English speaker, the non-Spanish speaker, and the interpreter) and no good usually comes out of having any sort of one-on-one conversation with the non-English speaker (LEP), so it must be avoided at all costs. The question is: how do you avoid talking to people if they walk up to you in the hallway? What if you see them in the parking lot afterwards and they have a question about their loved one's case that you are not allowed to answer? These situations can be tough, and there's no one right answer, but we usually use this approach:

  • Avoid being in public places where you could run into one of the parties alone. Ideally, walk with the lawyer/person you interpreted for. If their client comes up to the two of you, then you can certainly interpret.
  • Avoid leaving a hearing right after the LEP or his/her family so you don't put yourself into the situation of being asked a question about the case. Wait a few minutes inside the courtroom if need be. This might be awkward, but it does remove you from a potentially challenging situation.
  • If an LEP comes up to you without his/her attorney and asks a question, excuse yourself as quickly as possible. LEPs usually see you as their ally because you speak their language, but as a court interpreter, you are no one's ally and you must avoid all appearance of conflict of interest. One option is to briefly apologize about not being able to talk, and say that the code of ethics does not allow court interpreters to speak with LEPs on their own because we are neutral parties, and go looking for their attorney as quickly as possible. This is oftentimes quite disappointing for LEPs, but you must stick to the code of ethics. You don't ever want to get into a situation where an LEP says in court: "The interpreter told me...." It happens more often than you would think, so don't put yourself in the situation.
  • If necessary, go to the bathroom. This doesn't sound like a very elegant solution, and people might still want to talk to you inside the bathroom, but being inside a stall is usually a solid bet.
We'd love to hear other possible solutions/thoughts from fellow court interpreters! 
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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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