Happy New Year!

FIRE WORKS in curacao

(Photo credit: Jessica Bee)

We were out walking today and talked about what was the best thing about 2013. For my part it was easy to answer – finishing and defending my PhD! Yes on November 26 I finally defended my PhD, proof here. But 2013 has been a particular eventful year for me. Most of which I have touched upon in my previous post so I won’t dwell anymore on that, suffice to say that I really wish I had had some more time for blogging (no new posts and 500+ unread posts in my feedly…) and twittering these past months. When I met with Michelle (@InterpDiaries), in April I think it was, we both agreed that it isn’t ideas that lack when it comes to blogging, if only there were some more hours in a day.

During autumn I’ve been busy teaching two introductory courses on interpreting, one in Bergen (TOLKHF) and one in Stockholm (ToÖ I). At TÖI (the Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies), I’ve also been busy launching our Facebook page and our Twitter account (@TOI_SU). On the course developing side I’ve been busy revamping the course Interpreting II, and I’m very excited to see how it turns out as it will start on January 20th. Traditionally we have always given Interpreting II only with Swedish and one other language. This time it will be Swedish and four other languages which means a completely new approach to both teaching and learning interpreting. I have integrated Lionel’s (@Lioneltokyo) approach to start teaching consecutive, when you have students interpret from notes before they actually start to learn note taking. Next term for Interpreting III we will also take on simultaneous interpreting for public service interpreters. I’m still thinking about this since the techniques in public service settings are not the same as in conference settings. There is also very little course literature on simultaneous interpreting for PSI so we’ll see where that takes me. If you have any suggestions, please comment!

As my PhD project drew to an end this year I have also thought about what to do next of course and I have one or two threads I would like to pursue. My most recent research interest has been young children and interpreting or child language brokering as it has been coined (professor Harris writes a lot about it on his blog). I applied for money for a series of workshops on children and interpreting in the Nordic Countries, we did not get it this time but I will apply again, and hope to be successful eventually. I will also try to get project money for a project on just mapping the practice and the ethics around it in the Nordic Countries.  I would, of course, also like to continue to follow and interview my fellow interpreters. I hope they will let me continue to record them and investigate them. I have such a wonderful material that I would like to build on. And finally, I hope to start up a project with my friend Emilia Iglesias Fernández of Granada. We have been in touch again and I hope it will lead to something. All of this will of course not come to an end (or maybe not even to a start) during next year, but I’m positive some things will.

This autumn I have also been the extremely proud guest blogger at Rainy London’s blog. I get tired just reading about my own week, but that was a very fun culmination of an extremely busy spring. An I was very flattered to be mentioned by Jonathan Downie (@jonathandownie) in Ligua Grecas blog.

When I write this I sit in front of my bedroom window at our house in the country side, it is pitch black outside and in the distance I can see the lights from our neighbours’. My projects now are like the lights out there gleaming in the distance. I hope I will find my way there and catch up with them. Any new years resolutions? No, not really, they only give me bad conscience as I’m really not good at following them, but if any – being better to stay in touch.

I wish you all the best for the New Year and I hope that you have plenty of projects that you will be able to carry through too. Thank you all my friends, (both in and outside Internet) for staying in touch and being so supportive this year. I hope we will continue our discussions in 2014.

Good tidings

Summer 2013

Regular readers of the blog will know that summer is a less active period for me when it comes to blogging. Other activities, also known as family life,tend to take over. With three darlings out of school, and two extra darlings who join us for the summer, and an additional four ponies, three dogs, a cat, in-laws, and lots of friends around the house, academic life, writing, or just time in front of the computer is very limited. This year the usual summer silence has dragged out well into the new term. Rest assured that the silence is not final though 🙂

New home, new job and…

There are however lots of changes in my life and hence the reason for the silence. I am happy to share these news with you now, as things are clearing up (and darlings are back in school). First of all we have relocated back to Sweden this summer. After another summer in boxes, I’m now back home ready to start flying (not really looking forward to Swedish autumn, but there we are).

Second big news; I have taken up a part-time position as lecturer at the Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies at Stockholm University. This means that I have the privilege of teaching interpreting both in Norway and Sweden. My course TOLKHF continues as usual at the University of Bergen, and this term I will teach part of the introductory course to Interpreting and Translation. I have a few lectures and a few seminars to plan so I hope to share some ideas with you and also hopefully get some feedback. I’m slowly getting used to leaving freelance life after almost 20 years of freelancing. I will not completely stop interpreting – it’s too fun, and I need to stay in touch with the business both for my students and for my research.

And finally, my thesis is submitted! I handed it in just before summer and just before our move. Now I have firm indications that I will defend end of November. I’m extremely happy to be done, but naturally, when something as important is no longer part of your life it’s a little bit empty too. In case you’re in Bergen end of November, let me know and I’ll give you all the details.

7th EST Congress

Apart from these more important changes in life I have also participated in two great events. This week I attended the 7th congress of the European Society for Translation Studies where I held a presentation on the results of my thesis, I got good feed back and it was a really nice conference. I met @jonathanddownie in person, very nice experience, an amazing amount of energy, and an interesting thesis in the making. Jonathan co-organized a panel on religious interpreting a very under-researched area that professor Harris has written about on several occasions on his blog Unprofessional translation. My friend Adelina Hild was there too and gave some impressions from her ongoing research on religious interpreters.

I also had a chance to chat with Pekka Kuijamäki who is behind the project of translation and interpreting in WWII Finland (blog here). Very interesting project that I think professor Harris has blogged about too. I was also happy to meet Céderic again. First time we met was this spring in Mons at the conference “Le Nord en Français” and he gave me the inspiration to a previous post. This time I got to listen to a presentation of Céderic’s research project on how intonation affects the understanding in interpreting, very interesting project and an extremely ambitious data collection.

The EST congress is an exhausting exercise with more than 400 participants (record for Germersheim, the organizing university) and over 20 parallel panels. The best thing about EST though is that ”everyone” is there, so you get to socialize with most people in Translation Studies i Europe and beyond, very nice setup. Congratulations to the organizing committee at the FTSK at Germersheim too, who managed this huge event.


This spring I submitted a proposal for InterpretAmerica and was accepted to their Interpret-Ed sessions, a ten-minute-talk that was be web-streamed and recorded for publication on their home page. Splendid opportunity to talk about one of my findings that I still cannot get to grips with. And absolutely daunting!

InterpretAmerica was a great opportunity to meet and network with colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic (and a few from this side too). Brandon Arthur is just as nice in real life as he seems on Street leverage, and imagine I had to cross the Atlantic to meet Ian Andersen from SCIC interpreters :-). It was also great to meet Stephanie Jo Kent again, and to get to know Cris Silva, and finally meeting Andrew Clifford @GlendonTransl8 in person, and many, many others.  And yes, I got to meet and talk to the Babelverse guys Joseph and Mayel, we had a good discussion, I’m not totally convinced yet, but I’ll admit they want to listen to the profession, their FAQ page is new, and they seem to have listened to a lot of the questions that came up in Reston and are looking to answer them.

The whole event was extremely well-organized (great work Katharine and Barry!) and with a nice open atmosphere. Apart from the keynotes and panels (the program is available here) there were also thematic workshops. Although the workshop on social media was extremely tempting, I decided to go to the workshop on vicarious trauma, separate post will follow on that. At the speaker dinner I got to sit next to the charming Saima Wahab, author of “In my father’s country”, she was supposed to be the second keynote, but could not make it last-minute. I was very happy I got to talk to her at dinner, I’m reading her book now.

If you want to listen to my topic that I cannot really come to grip with, you can watch it here:

I can also recommend that you listen to the other Interpret-Ed talks. It was very interesting to hear both Cris, Victor, Michelle and Stephanie. Victor’s approach to managing medical interpreting is absolutely amazing.

Now I’m looking forward to an intensive autumn with students to teach, courses to plan, articles to write and of course a thesis to defend. And some interpreting, what about you?


Day 19 Something I regret

English: Hemulen in Muumimaailma, Naantali.

English: Hemulen (the reseracher in the Moomin world) in Muumimaailma, Naantali. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I don’t regret much actually. I have a positive mind and I don’t like to dwell too much on “if only”. My basic philosophy is that everything that happens adds experience (good or bad) to your backpack, and that experience makes up the person you are. I don’t consider myself fatalistic, but believe things that happen shape who you are which in turn shapes your future.

But if I try hard I can probably come up with a few things I regret. Not staying in Finland where I was an Au Pair girl a thousand years ago. I left after only three months because of a boy, and my knowledge of Finnish is still non-existent. How great it would have been to have Finnish in my combination. Not too late you may argue, true, it’s never too late, but I don’t think I’ll take up Finnish now.

A few assignments when I did not prepare enough. Rule number one, you can never prepare too much! But yes, I too went into the trap and thought that I knew enough, which ended up in some rather embarrassing situations. There’s actually a difference between not knowing because you didn’t prepare, and not knowing because something completely unknown came up that you could not have prepared for.

That time when I, for some incredible reason, did not ask for my colleague’s name. Needless, to say there was a reason that I did not get it. I ended up working with somebody who was not an interpreter. Never again! It was such an utterly unpleasant situation. The person was so sweet, but completely incompetent and it was just awkward.

No, I don’t have too many regrets, luckily. How about you?

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. The whole list is here.

Booth confessions

Interpretation Booths

Interpretation Booths (Photo credit: TEDxMonterey)

As I just finished a week in Strasbourg, I also finished several hours of booth time. The confined space of a booth is a very interesting microcosm. How the interpreters arrange themselves in the booth, who sits where and who sits next to whom, and so forth. Most booths on the private market only have two consoles, so your choice is basically just left or right. But do you prefer to sit near the door or in the corner? Which of the places have the best view? And where are you close to a socket? And do you have a colleague with an extremely strong preference (you really don’t want to spoil someone’s day). At the European institutions there are three pulpits (and interpreters) which means that someone has to be in the middle. I know that I share the aversion of the middle seat with many colleagues, make sure to be on time if you want to avoid it. If I’m first in the booth and have the privilege to choose I look at three things: socket, view, side. I don’t have any colleague I dislike or have had an argument with, but it has happened that I decided to sit in the middle because I knew the two colleagues I was about to worked with were not best of friends, to put it mildly.

How much and what you spread is also important. The booth is our work place so obviously we bring stuff to the booth, but that does not mean that your colleagues would like to share your lip-stick smeared, half-drunken, cold coffee, or that they appreciate having half of the Guardian rustle over their console (actually, the client may not appreciate that either). I had one colleague who was absolutely obsessed about eating in the booth. “This is a booth” she used to say, “not a train compartment”. And I don’t believe she’s entirely wrong either (although I admit to eating, discretely, in the booth), I don’t think your listeners will appreciate slurping over the microphone, neither from you nor your colleague.

I have another bad, although silent, habit in the booth – I put my lipstick on. I’m not really sure the listener really likes sharing my make-up routine. I try to combat this more tic-like behavior.

But it wasn’t really booth manners I wanted to share, but rather booth talk. When we’re on air there’s not much conversation going on between colleagues, and admittedly during some meetings there is not one spoken word exchanged between the interpreters, the meeting is just too dense. But when we’re not interpreting a lot is going on. I have touched upon the topic already here, but I wanted to reiterate it, because, this week,  I really felt how important it is. First and foremost there’s background and terminology check of course. But when working with colleagues you like, it’s amazing how quickly the conversation gets deep and intimate. It is as if the very intense work, the secluded space, and the short moment of time spark important discussions. I don’t mean that every time I meet somebody new I give or get long revealing confidences. But over the years I’ve heard all types of life stories, been part of important decisions, shared deep sorrow, great joy and much more. I’m amazed how many interesting jobs, travels, families and hobbies interpreters have. Provided you like other people and take an interest in others’ life this is really an upside of the job. And interestingly this does hardly ever happen outside the booth, it’s as if the booth is a perfect mix of space and time.

Oh, and a final word. Don’t forget to take your trash with you when you leave the booth. Leaving trash is disrespect for colleagues and technicians.

Day 17 My best interpreting memory

This is one of the hardest questions to answer. What is my best interpreting memory? And by that I don’t mean that I need to have a good memory in order to interpret. But was there one really special occasion when I interpreted? Something that I will always remember.

The problem is that there are so many fantastic times. First of all purely physically, the adrenaline rush, the flow, the feeling of complete control. But then all the fantastic people that you get to interpret for, and the great colleagues you work with. Sorry if I sound a bit pathetic, and I know not all days are like that, but those are the moments you live for.

When I started working for the European Institutions, I spent quite a lot of time in Luxemburg. It’s sort of their plant school. Interpreting for the meetings in Luxemburg is usually very technical and can be extremely difficult, but I remember how much fun I had with my colleagues there, and what a team we were.

Some speakers I have interpreted for have been magic. Maybe not because they were very famous, or very important, but because they were such wonderful speakers. You get dragged into their way of speaking, and if it clicks with your way of interpreting, nothing is more rewarding.

Then there are also the situations where you feel that you really made a difference for somebody. The fact that you were there at the doctor’s appointment, or in court that day actually made a difference for the person you interpreted for. I don’t mean to say that interpreters don’t usually make a difference, but I’m sure you understand too that there are days where you are more important than other days.

So I’m not sure I can pick out my best memory. Or, yes, of course I can – it’s the day when I passed my final exams at interpreting school. Otherwise, I would not be here.

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can view the whole list here.

Day 13 An interpreting week

A week of interpreting is usually very varied, since I did not interpret this week (I try to finish a presentation for a conference, and don’t succeed very well), this is probably an average week for a free-lance interpreter:

Monday: No interpreting assingment – preparing for a conference Thursday and Friday.
Tuesday: Continued preparation in the morning. Last minute court interpreting assignment, 2 hours in the afternoon.
Wedenesday: Community interpreting at a local health care center. The afternoon continued preparation for the conference on Thursday and Friday.
Thursday and Friday: Two day conference for a European Works Council. To get a glimpse of a conference interpreting day have a look at aiic:s article on that. I think it has a self-righteous tone but it also gives a certain idea of what it’s like.

Any free-lance interpreter will tell you that no week is the same, certain weeks are desperately calm and if you have a rare language you will probably have to work with other things as well. Ohter weeks you could have gotten three assignments for each day. There is simply no way to forecast.

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can view the whole list here.

Off topic: ABCs of travelling

Both Musings from an overworked Translator and Thoughts on Translation have had this list. I thought it would be fun to go through as well. It was really a trip down memory lane. Here we go:

Age you went on your first international trip: If you don’t count when I was six and took the 24-hour-cruise to Helsinki (doesn’t really count as an international trip in Sweden, it’s like Belgians going to Luxemburg), it was when I was 11 and went with my mother and godmother on a road-trip to Norway (strangely enough THAT was considered abroad). First time outside Scandinavia was at 12 when I went to Paris. English-speaking country was not until I was in my twenties, same thing for first time outside Europe.

Best foreign beer you’ve had and where: Belgian of course, in Belgium. Almost any Belgian beer monastery beer is the best. I don’t like Kriek (the Cherry one) and I don’t like when they mix it with syrup (yes they do!). But Duvel is great, as is Leffe, and Grimbergen, and Chimay and… The sad thing about discovering Belgian beer is that it’s totally impossible afterwards to just “have a beer”.

Cuisine (favorite): Oh, difficult – probably French and Belgian (No, they’re not the same), but I really like Italian too, and nothing compares to the Swedish fermented herring (surströmming).

Destinations-favorite, least favorite and why: Favorite destination I don’t think I can choose between London, Paris and Chicago. Granada in Spain was absolutely fantastic too. And Bergen in Norway is wonderful. I have recently discovered Tunisia which is also a definite favorite. Least favorite – although there are other parts of Egypt that I really like, Kairo was a bit too much for me, the mass of people, the poverty, the chaos – very hard to find the charm there.

Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: The carnival in Stavelot, Belgium, where I was recruited onto one of the teams was so much fun. And flying a helicopter over the Grand Canyon was extraordinary. The Perigord is sometimes so beautiful it hurts. But I had an almost religious experience looking at a black stone beneath the Forum Romanum.

Favorite mode of transportation: Train! It’s so sad that trains in so many countries are being less and less cared for by politicians and infra-structure actions. And it’s so great in areas where the train really works well like France. One of my best experiences of a train ride was with Southern Rose and her family on the night train from Paris to Venice.

Greatest feeling while traveling: I like arriving more than travelling.

Hottest place you’ve ever been: Everything that is above 25 Celsius is hot for me, so to me I have been to too many hot places. But I guess it must be Singapore or Bangkok. Probably Singapore in July and I don’t think that’s their hottest period. But Nevada was pretty hot too as I remember.

Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Bali. The friendliness and service level was amazing without being ridiculous. My most recent best service experience though was the hotel Klosterhagen in Bergen where I ended up unannounced at 1 a.m. due to a misunderstanding with my usual place. Otherwise my experience of service is usually that it is something that hotels, airlines and others brag about to justify their exorbitant prices, but which seldom are delivered because the people they hire are probably paid too little to really care.

Journey that took the longest: Stockholm to Rome when I was 14, it was over 36 hours on the train. The journey that was mentally the longest was probably returning from a skiing holiday when the cables were stolen from part of the railway tracks (yes I know, it sounds like the wild west) and the train was 6 hours delayed. When we arrived in Lille at three in the morning the car park where we had our car was locked. At 5.30 am we were finally driving home (another hour and a half). Considering we started at lunchtime the day before it was a very long trip from the French Alps to Belgium.

Keepsake from your travels: Only photos. Of course I bring stuff back from time to time, but nothing particular, or nothing that I collect. But I try to bring back food stuff that I cannot get at home.

Let-down sight-why and where: I was in Leningrad (St Petersburg during the Soviet-era) when I was 15. Although it was amazing in many ways, I cannot say that that trip stuck as a particularly beautiful or pleasant. The Hermitage was sadly worn down and everything and everyone looked dirty and tired.

Moment when you fell in love with travel: I think it came gradually. I don’t think I’ve ever seen myself as a traveler, but as I fill out this list I realize that I have travelled a lot. There are many places I haven’t been to, though.

Obsession-what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: There are many horses in photos from my travels 🙂

Passport stamps- how many and from where?: When I was a kid you got stamps for Europe as well, now you don’t any more so for every new passport I get fewer and fewer as most of my travelling goes on inside Europe. In my current one it’s the US, Canada, Thailand, Egypt and Tunisia

Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: It’s not really an attraction but Madonna Inn in California was definitely different.

Recommended sight, event or experience: The stars in the desert. I cannot think of many things that beats that.

Splurge-something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Books. Photo books if I cannot read the language of the country in question. But I always come back with books.

Touristy thing you’ve done: Oh, everything, like going on the tourist buses, throwing coins in Fontana di Trevi, caressed all sorts of statues with the hope to come back to that place. I mean if you are a tourist…

Unforgettable travel memory: Many. But having a cup of tea in a store as big as a shoe box in the bazar in Luxor is probably one of them, or looking out over the Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul from a horse back, and diving in Bali on our honeymoon.

Visas-how many and for where?: US, Canada and Egypt. No residence permits only tourist visas. It’s my third time around with a Belgien ID-card though.

Wine-best glass of wine while traveling and where?: I would lie if I said I’m a wine connoisseur. I can tell a really bad wine from a drinkable one, but that’s about it. Just as for beer, you get spoilt after living in France, and it’s harder after that to just “have a glass of wine”. But the best glass wine is probably the one you have with your friends.

eXcellent view and from where?: Here I would have loved to say from Kebnekaise, highest mountain in Sweden, but when I made it to the top it was wrapped in a heavy fog. So I literally (and luckily) only saw the back of my friend in front of me. Otherwise I like towers: Sears tower, Tour Montparnasse, Eiffel Tower , London Eye. And the view of Mt Blanc from Geneva is also worth mentioning. It looks just as on the Toblerone chocolate.

Years spent traveling: I have no idea. Shorter holiday trip every year since I was 12. I have only lived abroad in France (18 months) and Belgium (total of five years in different periods). I have been to longer trips/courses to England and the States. But since I started travelling for work as well, I have lost track completely. Although I can say that I have never backpacked neither on interrail in Europe or on a trip to Asia. My backpacking experience limits itself to hikes in the Swedish mountains.

Zealous sports fans and where: Surely baseball in the States. Just imagine that you don’t know when the game will end. Or, in theory you know, but how long it will take to get those innings… The only time I went (years ago in Washington DC), “luckily” it started raining and the game had to be postponed. As you can imagine sports is not my favorite pastime. Well, except for riding then.

I’ll add the three letters of the Swedish alphabet.

Återvänder gärna till (I’d like to return to): Fort White, Florida; Charlottesville, Virginia; Stavelot, Belgium; and France of course.

Än så länge har jag inte besökt (I haven’t been to these places yet): Australia (I should be ashamed of myself since I have one of my best friends have lived there for 20 years), South Africa, Botswana… (so many places south of Sahara I’d like to go to), and South America, another continent I haven’t been to (!), Israel, Greece, Turkey and lots of other places of course.

Öar jag tycker om (Islands I like): Gotland (one of the most charming islands I know), Azores (well worth visiting), anywhere in the Swedish archipelago, and Bali of course.