Page 1 of 1
relationship between pros and beginners
Posted: Fri Dec 12, 2003 2:08 pm
This did not happen to me personally, but I heard of two people on the same day who had their mikes shut off / were sent away from a conference by another interpreter rather rudely. In both cases the more experienced interpreters put the first timers down.
I'm not saying this to start a fight. I shared cabins with professional interpreters twice who were really helpful and my personal experience at the ESF was great!
I just think all the interpreters, wether pros or first timers, should be able to cooperate. We are all doing this for a good cause, or because we believe in the ideas the ESF stands for. Let's quit all this backstabbing for the next conference!
Re: relationship between pros and beginners
Posted: Fri Dec 12, 2003 3:57 pm
I just think all the interpreters, wether pros or first timers, should be able to cooperate. We are all doing this for a good cause, or because we believe in the ideas the ESF stands for. Let's quit all this backstabbing for the next conference![/quote]
I agree with you. They were very rude. I am a professional aswell and I would never do that. Nevertheless I am playing the devil's advocat role and I want to make some comments.
A professional intepreter makes his living from this, interpreting. A job with a rather unclare legislation and taken by loads as an easy job, as a mock job.
It is painful to see, honestly, -I worked with professionals, first time peolpe, students...- how some people take the job as a funny experience and a way to go for a weekend to Paris. I have seen terrible interpretation and it hurts, since this is the job we love.
I also must admit, that some professionals think that they ara above the rest of the world -I had an argument with another professional interpreter due to the way she adressed non professionals- and that is something dreadfull.
I have tried to help as much as I could first time experience people, but I would also like to make a comment -which is certainly not nice to hear.
A professional interpeter is NOT better than a first time experience, or than a experienced intepreter just because he or she is professional. Nevertheless, a professional has experience on this, and experience can be helpfull tool. I totally disagree with the comments done by some member of ECOS in the general meeting, when they said that a professional or an experience interpreter has NOT priority over a 1st expereince one. If we want this to work, if we want Babels to be a helpfull tool to all the people who trust in our capacity and our skills, let's do things fine. Let's try to put professionals or experienced ones with first experience interprters together. It is a terrible mistake to see 2 first timers together in a booth!
And let's highlight something. As a professional with Babels, I have a personal commitment -nothing to do with Babels but with my personal ethics- Everytime I work with a first timer I will help as much as I can!
Babels is not a job, therefore more than ever, solidarity, respect and sharing of experience should be the key.
between what was planned and reality
Posted: Fri Dec 12, 2003 11:51 pm
Just a quick answer : from what I remember, putting 3 people of different levels in one booth was the original goal. So that first experience could pick up from pro, ect... now, between what we had planned and reality, we experienced huge gaps!
Just one example : I volunteered to be in charge of the coordination of the Women Assembly. Thanks to a team work (not less than 4 people took part in the organization of this particular event), we had our team ready days in advance and I could send the materials I had to the different teams of the different workshops. As you know by now, the teams were designed to be able to work "en relais" if it was requiered.
Now, after confirming people and sending the documents, people kept walking out on us. About one third did - until hours before the event took place. How do you do to replace the people you chose, based on their skills, level of experience and the fact that they claimed they wanted to do it absolutely? How do you find the right people with the right combinations of languages? That's a tricky issue : since we"re all volunteers, no coordinator will come and wake you up if you decide not to show up, right?
I'm not saying this is THE reason why 2 "first experience" happened to work together, but that sure did not help.
Posted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 1:42 pm
Jasmina, I agree that that was very rude and something that should not be done.
However, I also agree with Jairo: this is our job, we love it, and I personally see it as my commitment to make the audience hear what the speaker wants them to hear. And if someone says half a sentence every few minutes, the audience obviously can´t understand what the speaker is saying. And, as Jairo said: it hurts.
This is a very sensitive issue and I´ve given it a lot of thought since the ESF (that´s why I think it is great to have this discussion forum!). The ESF wouldn´t have worked without the many first-time volunteers, that´s a fact. And some of them did a very decent job - they realized that if you can´t get everything across, the best thing is not to panic and just summarize the facts. The interpretation may not include all the details, but at least the audience has an idea of what the speaker is saying, and that´s great.
However, others did not. And I fully understand why they didn´t - after all, simultaneous interpreting isn´t easy, it takes a lot of practise, and someone who has never done it can´t be expected to just get into the booth and do a great job. And I´m afraid several people overestimated their language skills. Just one negative example (and as I said, there were positive ones as well): I was in a booth with someone who obviously didn´t really get what the speaker was saying and was quiet for minutes on end, only to say half a sentence and be silent again. He was desperate and it was obviously too much for him. I´m not blaming him. But I ended up interpreting for two hours straight (I didn´t shut him off, he asked me to) because otherwise the audience would have missed half of what was said, and that would have been a pity, because the speakers were very interesting.
Another problem was the relay interpreting (i.e. not working from the original speech but from an interpretation). You can only do that if the booth you are taking the relay from actually says something. I know it was necessary to do a lot of relay because there weren´t enough interpreters to cover all source languages twice (e.g. I don´t know French, but my colleague in the booth can only interpret for so long until s/he loses his/her concentration, so I have to take over - and if everything happens to be in French, I have to take a relay from another booth). This necessity combined with the fact that sometimes both booths I could have taken as a relay weren´t actually saying much meant that I couldn´t say much either. The problem perpetuates.
What I guess I´m trying to say: yes, an experienced/professional interpreter usually does a better job than a "first-timer". That´s no reason, however, to completely dismiss the first-timers´ efforts and enthusiasm or to treat them badly.
However I believe that if there happen to be enough experienced interpreters, they should be preferred for the sake of the audience. (There weren´t enough, I know. This is just a hypothetical scenario.) That means that maybe the first-timers don´t get to interpret that much. But what is more important: Letting people have a go at interpreting or making the audience understand what is being said at the conference?
If these two things can be combined, that´s great. But sometimes it can´t. And if I (experienced but not yet professional) were there and there were two professionals, I would let them interpret because I assume they can do a better job than me.
I´m afraid this comes over as pretty arrogant, I don´t mean it that way.
When I was in a booth with a first-timer, I tried to help them whenever I could, showing them the ropes, writing down names and numbers etc. Shutting off the mike and telling them to stop is just something you DO NOT DO.
Steph, I´m not criticizing you or the other organizers in any way, I know you had a rough time and I think you did a great job! I think I´ll post some more in the other thread on problems and what could be done better - this post was just a (rather lengthy, I´m sorry...) answer to Jasmina: I agree with you, but I´m trying to explain the point of view of an experienced interpreter.
Maybe the main problem between experienced/pros and first-timers was just that: different points of view. The pros wanted to make sure there would be a good interpretation and were therefore reluctant to have first-timers do the job, and the first-timers saw this as an arrogant gesture because they weren´t given the opportunity to interpret.
Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:24 pm
Having lived the first ESF as an interpretor myself, I knew what to expect from the "interpretor side" - not everything off course, but some of what you"re reporting was already there at Florence (Sylvie may confirm that, by the way). I remember having an argument in Florence with some pros - the very pros that were paid by the ESF at that time and we knew nothing about them but they knew about us and looked down upon us.
This time, I was amazed and awed at all the efforts my fellow babelian friends put in the preparation of the ESF. Yet, not everything worked out the way it was planned and a lot of efforts, "nuits blanches" (how do you translate that : sleepless nights????) were maybe spent for nothing. Let's try and make sure this does not happen again to that extent.
So, I surely donot take any of Sylvie"s comments personally or as a mean critic to destroy what was tried (it sure feels strange to write to you in English, though!). Please, go ahead with your comments, analysis, sugggestions, propositions, whatever can help improve the whole thing.
Posted: Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:38 pm
maybe you are confusing me with someone, because I wasn´t in Florence and I´m pretty sure I only spoke English with you at the ESF (I was in the German booth at the plenary session (afternoon) at the Women´s Assembly in case you remember).
That aside, as I said in my first post there is really no need for pros to look down on others or treat them rudely! Quite the opposite, I found it admirable that so many people volunteered to do such a difficult job and some really did amazingly well! But on the other hand, I think everyone (beginners and pros) was taking matters too personally. Everyone was disappointed or offended if they didn´t get to work as much as they expected to. (In the beginning it looked like I would interpret at only two workshops during the whole week and I was a bit disappointed, too, I admit that - but in the end I worked quite a lot, so that was fine.)
I made some suggestions in the other thread on technical matters - number of booths, language combinations, etc. But I think the main issue is not to take it too personally. Beginners shouldn´t be offended if pros are preferred. Pros shouldn´t feel depreciated for "having to work" with beginners.
I think much of the chaos was due to the fact that many people (not only beginners!) gave up or dropped out for whatever reasons, so it was hard to plan (like you said about people walking out on you at the Women´s Assembly). I think if you could rely on everyone to be there when they promised to be, a nice plan could be worked out beforehand that would only have to be changed if someone became really sick. But that is not something babels can influence - that´s up to us volunteers.
BIG HEADED PROS
Posted: Tue Dec 16, 2003 5:09 pm
Some "pros" may think they have a big head. They should think about this simple fact: their stomping feet are proportionally as big as their heads. That does not make them professional, that makes them ombilical and self-centered. They have, some of them, maybe forgotten the days when they were learning. Or they think they have been given the responsibility to make everything perfect around them, even by excluding what does not seem to be as perfect as they would like it to be. There will always be in a community some one or some ones who may think they are the Holy Spirit or God Almighty. But even God Almighty knows that humility or humbleness is the first quality one needs to get to perfection and to produce perfection, and most of all to make things and people around them perfect or at least a little more perfect than they were a minute before. You always have those who see the moon and those who only see the finger pointing at the moon. Let a cloud come along and the finger is still pointing but at nothing but a vaporous formation of water droplets. Where is the moon then? And they are at a loss. That is a metaphor for those perfection-seekers. They also seem to forget that they may have a beam in their eyes when they point at the straw that they think there is in the other's eyes.
answering Jacques and Steph...
Posted: Thu Dec 18, 2003 8:44 am
In another thread Jacques post
<blockquote> "PROS" are an illusion, a ghost and a phantom. Today's "pros" are yesterday's "beginners" and today's "beginners" will be tomorrow's "pros". So where is the problem? We have all been beginners and we will always be beginners in fields we do not know perfectly. There is no universal "pro". A "pro" always has his limits. ETC ETC ETC
Next time everyone will be a little more "professional" than last time. That is all and that has to be all. </blockquote>
Steph answered it also.
My points there is a question. We are a volunteer network, what does it means to volunteer ?
1- my first point is regarding the burden of the proof. In a school or in a job you should prove that you are good or up to the job. In a volunteer network the burden of the proof is reversed. (or should be) If we are all collaborating with each other therefore we should evaluate ourself in respect with the fact that if not "up to it" then others will have to double their tasks. This is our reponsability as a volunteer. On the other hand if you say "yes I can" the first move is to trust you.
2- I guess in this discussion we are mixing two things: pro=mastering a technique and pro=mastering a subject. For me the two are not related. They can be of course. But we need both, and do need it really. People mastering a technique and able to help others, and people mastering a subject and able to help others. That is also my sense of volunteer network: we are not in competition and related to each other.
3- There were no time or nearly no time to develop this exchange of knwoledge before and during the ESF. That is clearly something that we should work on for next time, something that cannot work by itself and therefore we are in clear need of people getting involved.
4- I withdrew from these points the fact that defining "pros" ould be also being paid for something and live thanks to it. This is noble. But I guess in my mind "pro" as "occasional" as... is a level of proficiency, since I started (and that is maybe a mistake" by just estimating that "volunteer" was a keyword therefore that no money was exchanged for time...
a first timer's view
Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2003 3:06 am
as a "beginner' I personally had no negative experiences with any of the others (pro or other wise). As it happened I didn't have much to do. The couple of times I did, someone with obviously more experience did most of it and I filled in for them a bit here and there to give them a breather.
I'd guess a fair bit of any "attitudes" (not that I saw any myself, maybe I was lucky, but everyone seemed good natured) may well have been due to the general hectic and chaotic pace that the whole event had to deal with. No offense to any babels people of course. I got the impression, maybe I'm totally wrong, that the whole thing was finalised only days (hours?) before it was due to begin. It would seem that the Babels team were left with an impossible task to allocate and arrange all the planning. Particularly view the size of the event and variety of seminars, subjects and so on. I don't think it would be at all unreasonable for babels to put their foot down a little and say something along the lines that the final program (of seminars, ect) should be determined some weeks, maybe even a couple of months, before the ESF takes place. Maybe it was, but it didn't seem like it. I would have thought that also be helpful for the ESF generally not just the translating! Obviously they want as many groups as possible to be able to take part. But seeing as the next one is Nov 2004, setting a deadline for applications to take part maybe at the end of August I don't think would be unfair. If some group or organisation can't get to together in the next 8 to 9 months to clearly state what seminar-discussion they wish to host ot put on, then maybe that should be put off till the next Forum. Couple of other things I'd like to throw in. I hope no one takes these as criticisms, hopefully rather as constructive comments.
- if possible get more info from the babels translators with regard to their background, that might be helpful in placing them with seminars more relevant to subjects they are familiar with (translation issues aside). Example: my first attempt was at the seminar on childrens rights. Must admit what I did was a bit rough. It didn't help that the seminar started early than advertised and when I got there had already begun. This made me a bit panicky, trying to "catch up", I had no idea who was talking on the stage, I was shuttled around between 3 booths before one was decided upon, then after a couple minutes, one of the delegates started gesturing towards the translation booths. I thought maybe it had something to do with me as I only just got there. Turned out it had nothing to do with me. It was the Swedish delegate trying to let someone know that the Swedish translation wasn't coming through. Thing is, by then I had stopped translating, thinking someone would come along and let me know what the problem was. Fortunately a little while later another translator turned up and took over, much to my relief. The point is then (yes I am getting round to it!), the next day the seminar I was at dealt with stuff like nuclear power, GM food, ecology, sustainable development and such. Due to my line of work and personal interests, these are subjects that I am much more familiar. Consequently I faired a lot better with the translation. Generally speaking, I feel it's safe to assume people will manage a lot easier if they already know a bit about the subjects in question.
- Perhaps it would be good to try and get the translators to let Babels know when they have actually got a ticket to travel to the ESF. Not entirely fail-safe, but at least if someone has already got a ticket it's maybe 99% certain that they will actually be turning up
- underline (repeatedly if need be) to the delegates that some bugger is having to translate what they're saying. Speak slowly and occasionally leave gap of a second or 2 (Please!). Some of the delegates seemed to have forgotten this. I guess many of them felt passionately that things needed to be said. Still, on a few occasions, especially during the open discussion at the end of the seminar, some of them got quite "heated". It may have been difficult for even the native speakers to follow. Let alone the translators.
- could the ESF not pass on info about what seminars will be held and by who, as and when it becomes available. It may well be that some groups have got their application and program established well before the ESF actually takes place (maybe this is already done?).
hhmm! .... anyway, that's my few snippets for the time being.
I gather the next ESF may well be in London. I've been to a couple of meetings regarding this, as I live in London. I'll try and post some info as I find things out. Probably in a separate thread.
Anyway, not having been to one of the "Forum thingys" before, it was all encouraging.
Au revoir a tous!
Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:05 pm
I think you are making quite a lot of good points here.
One thing is yes, the ESF preparation was all a bit last minute, as these forums are bound to be. Consequently Babels never really knew in advance who was going to speak and where, and in what language.
If I understand well, there was quite a lot of effort done by Babels to get the topics in advance, and a separate group within Babels concentrated on creating lexicons according to keywords that were painfully "retrieved" from the NGOs present at the forum.. This lexicon is still being worked upon ; as you can imagine it is a lot of work and we are usually all busy working elsewhere to pay our rent.
In terms of getting the speakers to speak slower and clearer, I think Babels also gave reminders but what could be done (which is what I did in Paris) was to ask the facilitators at the start whether you could introduce Babels before the debates start, and then remind them to speak slowly and clearly... It does not always work but it is a start.
As to the ESF-London, well we can only learn from the Paris experience which is a great one. Are you in touch with Babels-UK? Would you be interested in getting involved?
Ta. Happy holidays..
Emma (in Brighton)
Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 8:20 am
I agree with Emma that Danny made a few good points.
I have no experience with the Forums yet, my first experience will be with Mumbai.
I work as a translator and interpreter and I have always found it wothwhile to go directly to the facilitator before the start of the session, to identify who will be speaking, get their names, try and obtain a copy of their talk (most of the time they have a copy), and make them aware of our presence and the need to take us into account. It also allows for an initial personal contact which makes us part of the group. I would advise to do this systematically.
On the topic of "pro" / "non-pro"relationship, I am a bit surprised with some strong reactions I have read.
I understand that some reactions may be related to some arrogant, unacceptable behavior by "pros" linked to specific situations.
Although I work as a translator and interpreter I don't see why we should make a distinction. We are here to do a job, irrespective of where we are coming from.
Now it is true there is a minimum level of quality to deliver: the job needs to get done as participants rely on us as well as our colleagues relaying from us in other languages.
I personally would not object to my colleague sitting next to me (wheter "pro" or "non-pro") stepping in and taking over if I am not performing up to standards -- and "pros" do not always perform up to standards, as interpreting is a tough job (you have days better than others, or the subject is unfamiliar, or you just can't hear or make out what the person is saying...).
Having said that it is important that the workload is shared, as one can't interpret for hours on end without badly affecting the quality.
Delivering up to standards is mainly a personal assessment and this is what I personally find very difficult to do.
I really look forward to the experience.
Summary & propositions
Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2003 11:52 am
How to improve:
-to gather interpreters previously and elect leader of group of 3 interpreters (to propose most experienced one)
-possibility to reelect them
-to plan them this way (for stable groups) (one experienced, others - first timers)
-to test level of interpreters
-to propose to say about such cases to the coordinators to change teams (to mix) in time
-to register such cases of rude attention and to talk about with everybody on the meetings
-to organize team work of interpreters
-to evaluate work of interpreters - to clear Babels from "tourists" on the next time
-to formulate our principles (that must be worked out) - pro must have a priority over 1st experience
-to organize planning better
-to let 1st exp. to know their rights
-But seeing as the next one is Nov 2004, setting a deadline for applications to take part maybe at the end of August I don't think would be unfair. If some group or organisation can't get to together in the next 8 to 9 months to clearly state what seminar-discussion they wish to host ot put on, then maybe that should be put off till the next Forum.
- if possible get more info from the babels translators with regard to their background, that might be helpful in placing them with seminars more relevant to subjects they are familiar with (translation issues aside).
- underline (repeatedly if need be) to the delegates that some bugger is having to translate what they're saying. Speak slowly and occasionally leave gap of a second or 2 (Please!). Some of the delegates seemed to have forgotten this. I guess many of them felt passionately that things needed to be said. Still, on a few occasions, especially during the open discussion at the end of the seminar, some of them got quite "heated". It may have been difficult for even the native speakers to follow.
- could the ESF not pass on info about what seminars will be held and by who, as and when it becomes available. It may well be that some groups have got their application and program established well before the ESF actually takes place (maybe this is already done?).
-In terms of getting the speakers to speak slower and clearer, I think Babels also gave reminders but what could be done (which is what I did in Paris) was to ask the facilitators at the start whether you could introduce Babels before the debates start, and then remind them to speak slowly and clearly... It does not always work but it is a start.
-to plan gathering of all interpreters and speakers together before seminar
Back to the topic!
Posted: Sat Jan 10, 2004 2:23 am
I think some of you have gone off-topic!
Going back to the subject:
I didn't see nor felt any problem between pros and 1st experienced at ESF. But then, I was meant to be the pro, so maybe someone is complaining around about my attitude in the booth... Gosh, I hope not!
As a pro, I will not excuse any pros shutting off anyone's microphone, nor I will excuse anyone looking down on anybody. There is no excuse for that.
However, I do not understand why there were so many pros doing nothing at the check point while there was a need for them in the conference room!!! Someone said there weren't enough pros/experienced interpreters to cover everything. That is correct. But Babels could have taken more profit of the ones that were there, that's for sure. I'm telling you, I was not the only pro to sit there during long hours...
And yes, I think pros and experienced interpreters should be given preference over 1st experienced. Why? Because the person who is sitting there at the conference room with the headphones on, that person who might have traveled a long distance at his/her expense, has the right to undestand as much of what is been said as possible. Or maybe not?
The issue here is: why are we, Babels volunteers, there? We are not there to "have a go" at interpreting, we are not there to see wether we can do a career in interpreting or not... We are there because some people don't understand what is being said, and want to understand it. So maybe, just maybe, some of those who were so offended by other people's attitude, should have tried to listen to what they were saying and answer a simple question: Am I making sense?
Because things happened. I was at the ESF with a friend, another pro. She was at a conference one day. Languages: English, Spanish, German, Arabic, and French. A speaker started speaking Spanish. No German nor Arabic interpreter could understand a word of it. So they took the English boot in relay. But the only girl in the English booth with Spanish was a 1st experience. What happened? She could not follow. She could only say a sentece every few minutes. So all the English speakers in the room were lost, and the German and Arabic as well, of course. Everything collapsed. And this is where my friend, with Spanish A, took the mike in the English booth. Her English was not perfect, but she could make sense. The girl did not complain, on the contrary, was much relieved. Now, the thing is: this girl had come from the USA only to interpret from Spanish (only foreign language she knew), and her plane ticket must have been very expensive. I can't avoid wondering who decided that she was to come. Honestly. Like if Babels had money to throw away...
Now, don't take me wrong. I remember very well the days when I was beginning (after all, not so long ago...) I remeber very well how I stumbled, how I talked nonsense, how difficult it was for me. But I did not do all that in front of an audience! I did it in a silent booth, and only I was listening! Nobody depended on my interpretation to understand a speaker! It took me 2 full years to get where I am now, and I still have a lot to learn. I do not expect any 1st experience to do a great job at all, I just would not put them in a booth just like that, if I had a choice...
Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2004 2:13 pm
Some new propositions:
-for the pros interpreters that are waiting in the check point - to let them go to the conference room for the hot fix (if 1st exp. can't interprete well) - so to wait not in the check point room but in the conference room (there must be mob. phone for it)
-preference for pros and experienced interpreters over 1st experienced
-to reduce number of 1st experienced interpreters (to save money, to raise quality of interpretation)
Posted: Thu May 06, 2004 9:27 pm
I am posting this just in case anyone is still receiving notifications on new posts. I posted a new topic "Some remarks from the student interpreters' point of view" and we are currently having a rather emotional, but very interesting discussion. As student interpreters we are sort of "in between" pros and first-timers, so I thought that if you are interested in the exchange of ideas going on, you might want to have a look at it...
Have a nice evening