Isn’t the script changing?

The Liaison Interpreter in Japan has a blogpost on “Isn’t it time to change the Script?”. His idea is that instead of being offended by people who don’t see our job as a real job, interpreters should change their script themselves. By not accepting the “non-job” implication we change the script and ultimately (I suppose) others perception of our job. Lionel ends by saying:

Let’s shift back to the script issue. I suggest to change the script, to stop the offended therefore defensive, sly (= trying to heal the wound suffered) innuendo at those (bastards) who know NOTHING! about my JOB! Let’s try and do this, starting with the following proposition.

“My job is allowing two people who don’t speak the same language to communicate. I am a communication enabler.”

Create your own short sentence.

Now can (we) you deliver a speech, impromptu, around this not-defensive affirmation, explanatory speech of five minutes to a crowd, just explaining what your job is about, while totally avoiding the script that “contrary to what (some f…..g!) people think, not everybody can do it at the snap of the fingers”?

Probably, the best scenario would be to imagine that you have 5 minutes to explain to a class of 10 years old or less what you do for a living (and keep smiling). That would be the first step to change the script.

Not a bad suggestion. In my comment to his post I said that I believe we are already changing the script. The text that inspired his post is my translation of a Swedish colleague’s blogpost. This colleague is an active blogger, interpreters’ union worker and also the creator of a register for community interpreters in Sweden. (There is of course the official register of certified interpreters, but her idea with this register is that there is no official register of active interpreters who are not certified, and since for some languages there is no certification or the certification exam is given only on rare occasions, such a register is needed). I have another interprepreting colleague who has started an organisation for certified court interpreters in Sweden. Their aim is to make the courts use certified court interpreters as a first choice, somethting that courts don’t necessarily do since the certified interpreters are more expensive.

So based on the fact that there are interpreters out there who are blogging, organising themselves and militating for more visibility, I believe that the script is slowly changing. I also said in the comment that I thought he was a bit negative when he said that as interpreters we don’t belong to organisations and we will never meet.

Lionel did not (perhaps not surprisingly) really agree with me in his answer to my comment. And when I wanted to reply again, blogger’s comment function went down. Hence my blogpost reply. Since Lionel wanted pointers to people who militated I have provided links to the colleagues I mention above. I’m sorry that I found the tone in the article negative, I agree that a bit of sceptisism is necessary and maybe I mistook sceptisism for negativism. But positivism is not only a drug prescribed by marketing bureaus, it is a forceful power too.

It’s true that we are not running webminars yet, but Lionel I have sent you a message on Skype and why not a podcast of our discussions in this matter? This may be our first step towards a webminar. But first I have to finish proof reading this volume.

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