Part 2: Professional organizations- what are they good for

As said in the previous blog post, I felt an extreme urge to explain and elaborate on professional organizations and my involvement in them after last #IntJC. In the first tweet where I expressed an opinion I said:

“I miss the discussion about the trade in the organizations.” Here’s what I meant – there are far too few discussion platforms within the professional organizations. Things are slowly starting to change ATA has great webminars and a lively discussion platform on LinkedIn (not to mention their conferences). AIIC is tweeting @aiiconline and has a great Facebook page as well as a group on LinkedIn. EST is on Facebook and also tweet at @estrans. But you can always improve – right? When I was a new comer to AIIC (I think I was just pre-candidate) I dared mention at a meeting that it would be nice with mentors. The idea did not catch on – to say the least. One wonderful colleague approached me after the meeting and said: “I’ll be happy to be your mentor, if you want to”. This was different times, and outreach is better now, but I think that we could still use mentors, I think that we could organize regular meetings with people in the professions, both in the real world and on the Internet. #IntJC is a great initiative for this purpose, but I’m sure there are more possibilities.

Second tweet: “Assn are expensive and you want value (i.e. jobs) for money”. Yes most associations are expensive and if you cannot directly see the benefit of joining – why should you? I mean if the organizations does not yield any paid jobs or even limit your negotiating space (like demanding you work under decent working conditions). Then there is no value for money – or is there? Well, let me take a few examples that I have experienced personally. And which also takes me to my next tweet:
“In hard times you act and negotiate as one big body which can be totally vital (sic. in the hurry I wrote vital, but I meant crucial)”. Here’s my experience of that. At one point government bodies in my country decided that the use of English should be the only policy promoted in international context. This meant that a lot of big clients stopped hiring interpreters completely, a very hard blow on the interpreter market. My regional AIIC immediately set up a contact group who visited all involved parties and presented AIIC and interpreting. It raised awareness of professional conference interpreting, and it also helped changing government policy. It demanded a lot of work, and it was not AIIC alone who could change it, but the fact that we were representing an international, professional organization with some 3000 members was a door-opener in this case. It did not mean that individual interpreters were hired immediately, but it probably saved a market in the long-term. My second example is about the ranking of academic journals that I’ve written about here. When the Norwegian Science Board were reviewing their ranking of academic journals (very influential in at least the Nordic Countries), we were many Translation Scholars lobbying for them to upgrade the Translation Journals they had downgraded a few years earlier. The down grading was not due to lack of academic quality, but merely reflecting the fact of an organizational restructuring in Norway. In that case we got support from the EST. The EST president wrote a letter to the Science Board explaining the status of Translation Studies and how the previous change in ranking was groundless. That battle is not over yet. Many publications fight for the higher ranking and Translation Studies does not have its own field in Norway. But our words carry more weight with important international scholars in our ranks. And these battles are usually long and tough unfortunately, you have to show stamina. And that’s easier to do as an organization than as an individual.
So, in my opinion, what are the most important areas for professional organizations? First of all outreach. If you’re not seen you have no impact. So, contact building with other organizations, institutions, practitioners and so forth. And it has to be done on the local level (bad news guys, more unpaid work :-)), the local chapter needs to promote their organization. We are so much stronger if we work in bigger networks with other organizations and people that have the same interests. Secondly, keeping the discussion, professional development and training going within the organization, we are added value! We should be something or members look forward to. Again in big international organizations the work on the international level must be combined with work on the local level. And I know of a lot of good examples as I mentioned in the last post, but I also think there is room for more.

Organisations in the profession – Professional organisations – Part one

It’s time to move on after two weeks of holiday and another two weeks of paper writing and catching up. So, time to catch up on the blog too. And what would be better than take a few lines from the last #IntJC on professional organisations. You can read the archive here. #IntJC is not a forum for long, elaborate and eloquent lines. But that is the strength of it, too. However, after an #IntJC I often feel the urge to complement and summarize, but this time even more so. This time I really felt that I just blurted out strange things. So these two posts are aimed at going back to my tweets and elaborate.

Before I start elaborating I’ll go through the translator/interpreter organisations I’m a member of and explain why. I thought I would be able to do both the run through and elaborate on my statements in one post, but I realize it will be too long. So, here’s first my list of organizations where I’m a member and in the next post I’ll continue to discuss professional organizations.

1) AIIC – The longing to be a part of this exclusive club started as soon as I started working. Why exclusive? Well, that’s how it felt when I started working and had maybe 4 conference interpreting days/month, and realized that I had to have 300 days (it’s been cut down to 150 now) in order to become a member, on top of that I had to ask my daunting, experienced colleagues for signatures. But why long for it then? Well to be quite honest, my first reason was selfish – that’s where the interesting jobs lied. On a small market with a strong AIIC community, I had two choices; going grey (i.e. accepting sub-standard pay and conditions) or stick to AIIC standards and colleagues and secure a stable market in the long-term. I didn’t think twice. I’ve been a member for 12 years now, and have probably become one of those daunting colleagues. I have also served on different functions in the organization and I really appreciate what it does for the profession. We can do more – but we are first and foremost the closest conference interpreters get to a trade union. As I also work as community/social interpreter I really understand what a strong professional organization mean to the profession.

2) EST – This is an organization for translation and interpreting studies. Again, joining was of rather selfish nature. I wanted access to their newsflashes and their list of members. But EST is doing a lot of work to defend translation studies in academia, e.g. journal-ranking which is a hot topic that I’ve discussed earlier. They also have an absolutely outstanding scholarship for young researchers in translation studies. And their congress is a vibrant and active TS event, usually resulting in one of the most interesting conference proceedings in the field. The website is loaded with resources both for members and others.

2) ATA – Why on earth would a European interpreter join a US translator organization? Well, first of all, they work for interpreters too, with an active interpreting division. I joined when I went to their conference four years ago, but I have remained a member since I like their newsletter, their journal and the different discussion forums. I have not learnt the profession, but I’ve learnt so much about the profession from them.

3) CATS – Again an organisation for Translation Studies. And no surprise that I joined when I went to a conference there. They support young scholars, they have a good journal and they organize interesting conferences. Good reasons for continue to renew my membership.

4) ATISA – One of my newer memberships. The American Translation and Interpreting studies association. I’m too new to ATISA to have experienced all they do, and unfortunately I will not go to their conference this year. They publish a journal – Translation and Interpreting Studies that I’m looking forward to.

5) Conference of Interpreter Trainers – Also a new addition. Focus on sign language interpreter trainers, but not only. And their journal is online for members!

So much for the professional organizations I’m a member of. I’m not a member of IAPTI,but maybe it’s time to join. None of my memberships are with organizations focusing more on community/social interpreters. So maybe it’s time to add a few more.

Why so many organizations? Couldn’t I use the money better? Maybe, but for all of the above organizations I feel that I’m getting something out of it for me personally , and that I also contribute to the community. But more about that in the second post.

Do you recommend any other organizations? How many organizations are you member of?

Merry Christmas and all the best for the new year

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate that. To all of you I would like to wish the best for the new year. I hope this will be a year filled with continued discussions via blogs, facebook, twitter and all the other platforms. I am looking forward to more #IntJC and other interesting discussions. I also hope that it will be a year of many occasions to connect outside the virtual world. Personally, I will work hard on my thesis, try to be a little bit more regular with my posts and commitments. Right now though, I will disconnect and spend well deserved time with my loved ones. See you next year.

Versatile Blogger Award

versatile-blogger

Life Overseas, Voice Link and Boots in the Booth passed the Versatile Blogger Award to me. Thank you so much! Sorry I was slow to take up the baton. But here we go.

In case you have missed the Versatile Blogger Award the rules go like this:

1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post – Well that’s done already.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

Seven things about myself that are not generally known to my blog readers I guess.

• The first is my favourite, people are usually so surprised that they don’t really hear what I say when I say this: My first professional training was horse logging. I also worked both with heavy horses and warm blood for a few years before changing careers.

• Two. I have said this before, but I would like to tell you anyway. I was born and raised monolingual. I have learned my languages in school. Languages and interpreting are of course closely linked, but it is well worth repeating that bilinguals are not born interpreters and interpreters are not necessarily born bilingual.

• Three. I’m a dog AND cat person (and horse), so the poor critters have to share the same roof at my place (well, horses usually get their own accommodation).

• Four. Don’t invite me for potluck, I really don’t like it, I’m useless at finding out something to make and be compared to other’s cooking talents. My cooking talents are nil, I don’t like to cook and I’m not particularly interested in home styling either. That said – Please invite me! I love to be invited home to people who set wonderful tables and excel in cooking. And I’m just as happy if you just invite me over for pizza take-out or a bag of crisps. I also really like having people over, but often opt for the easiest possible cooking, think stew or cheese and wine.

• Five. I like to be nicely dressed, but find shopping for clothes rather boring. I do not see the charm of walking from shop to shop just browsing. I hate to spend time looking at myself in a fitting room mirror. I bored after five minutes at a website with clothes. Put me in a book shop though (bot virtual and IRL) – chances are I will spend hours there and exit financially broke, but rich in stories. Last time at Waterstone’s my husband had to pull me out after two hours.

• Six. I have a near perfect sense of direction. I probably have a pathfinder somewhere among my ancestors. I cannot point out North intuitively, but put me anywhere and I will be able to navigate safely, works on sea too (at least inside skerries).

• Seven. I’ve always wished I was as well organized as this interpreter. Truth is – I’m the total opposite. Before you think I’m completely unreliable I have to say that I’m always early to meetings, and I’m always prepared. My colleagues often compliment me for being so organized. But that’s not the whole story. I have countless stories of forgotten shoes, clothes, computer chargers, books I was reading – basically everything that is not crucial for the mission. To flatter myself I explain it with – “it’s only the mission that counts”. But I’m afraid there’s more to it…

3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.
Wow, 15! I’m afraid it’s not going to be only those I discovered recently, and considering I’m fairly late here, some of you risk already having received the award, but here we go:
1) 2Interpreters – Promising blog of two young interpreters graduating from interpreting school in Heidelberg
2) Daniel Greene – American Sign Language interpreter, lots of interesting posts.
3) Le Tolk – Jonathan, who also blogs in Dutch (does that count as two?)
4) Francois Grosjean’s blog – Two professors in my list. This is the first one. Interesting posts about bilingualism.
5) Language and Intercultural studies at Herriot Watts University – I think more schools should have blogs. There is Don de Lenguas too of course. I cannot think of anyone else but please challenge me!
6) Maria Cristina de la Vega‘s musings – Great woman and with lot’s of interesting interviews with other interpreters.
7) Mox! – Funniest in the interpreting/translation blogosphere (some competition from Boots in the Booth though :-). Now with book!
8) The Booth inhabitant – Young, ambitions interpreting student, mostly in Spanish :-S.
9) Tolmacka who blogs in Slovenian, but also luckily sometimes in English
10) Swedish Tess – We need some Nordic representation here too.
11) Tony Rosado – new interpreter in the blogosphere, nice! And not only interpreter.
12) I really enjoy reading professor Harris reflections.
13) I don’t read German, but I just love Caroline’s doodles.
14) I read Tiina’s blog too seldom (another Nordic, by the way), very well-expressed thoughts in French.
15) And Lionel, the Liaison Interpreter, who started the #IntJC, not a new acquaintance but very suitable for the award. Also blogs in French look at his pictures!

OK. Now on to my fourth and last task:

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.
I’m sure it will take a while. Writing this post as innocent as it may look took ages! But it was very nice to go through my blogroll again, and yes, I will update the blogroll on this page as well.

Thanks!

I hope I am a conscious competent

Did you read this great post by the Interpreter Diaries? It sent me right down memory lane. I will share some secrets with you from my early days as a budding interpreter, and follow the four stages of learning that Interpreter Diaries uses so wisely.

1. Unconscious Incompetence
I hope you understand that I’m really sharing a confidence here, so don’t tell anyone. The first time I actually saw simultaneous interpreting live was when a friend’s husband was kind enough to show me his job. I had been curious of course, that’s how he ended up telling me that I could visit him one day at his work. There was a dummy booth (i.e. a silent booth, one that the delegates cannot tune into) in the meeting and the head of the team agreed that I could sit there and try for myself. And did I try! I was so good at this, actually I didn’t find it very hard to interpret from English into Swedish or into French or from French into English or anything really! Piece of cake! I am embarrassed to this day that I even told my friend’s husband that it wasn’t difficult at all, not even into foreign languages. He’d probably heard about the four stages of learning, because he never held that against me, instead he encouraged me to go into interpreting school, which I did.

2. Conscious Incompetence
And I surely hit the wall – with a supersonic bang! It’s like one of my students recently told me: “Now I know exactly what interpreting is and why I cannot do it”. It taught me a lot of humility too. In the beginning I struggled to understand what it was I was expected to do. I was a very eager learner, but I had some difficulty understanding exactly what I was expected to learn though. I mean, of course I understood learning symbols for note taking or doing consecutive exercises. But what was all this about “gist” and “sense” and how did you actually know that you had transferred that “meaning”, and why were my teachers never satisfied. Today, I see the same confusion in my students’ eyes, and I begin to understand exactly how difficult it is to teach it too, not just to learn it. (By the way I LOVE the fact that English has one word for teach and one word for learn.) . For me it was somewhere between the end of interpreting school and the first years of experience that I went from the feeling of constant incompetence to some competence.

3. Conscious Competence
It is so hard when you think you master “it” and your teachers keep telling you: “It takes at least five years to become a professional interpreter”. I mean you graduate from interpreting school, you even pass a freelance test for some important institution, and your older colleagues will still go round telling you that in a few years’ time you may be mature. On top of that there are days when you stumble out of your interpreting job, be it a booth, in court or a medical appointment and feel – incompetent. But it is also somewhere at this point when you realize what you need to do and how to do it. When I graduated from interpreting school, I continued to do consecutive exercises with a friend regularly for over a year. My bag when going to meetings weighed tons, because when I started lap-tops and electronic dictionaries were unheard of (well – at least, way too expensive). “I see you’re still using crutches” one of my older colleagues kindly commented when I unpacked dictionary after dictionary.

4. Unconscious Competence
I’m not sure any professional interpreter would tell you they master their skill to perfection. Or if they do, you should be suspicious. On lucky days it’s tangible, you’ve got flow, interpreting is really like that second nature. Anything uttered can be clad into another language’s shape. But then again, we work with new topics, new languages, new contexts, new speakers, and then you’re back again to the third stage. This is also part of the expert nature (you know the expertise approach I have been talking about here for instance). The deliberate practice part of the expert personality challenges you to go back and evaluate and refine your performance, constantly. Another important part of this (maybe only for me in my researcher hat), is the implicit, or tacit, knowledge. This is comparable to an excellent rider who just “has it” in his or hers hands, seat and legs. You just “know”, without necessarily knowing what exactly it is you know or how to verbalize it.

So, I do agree with Interpreter Diaries on the four steps, and hopefully today, I think I have developed into at least step 3 and on some days maybe even step 4.

What about Interpreters and Stress? Is stress in interpreting a myth?

I have colleagues who have night mares about looking for the booth, running around in maze-like corridors without ever finding your way to the booth. I cannot remember night mares like that. On the other hand I remember real life situations when I was completely stressed out sitting on a bus, in a taxi, on a train that does not simply arrive on time. So much for stress around the job, but what about stress on task.

I think the worst stress situations for me in the interpreting event is when you sit in the same room as you clients and you realize that they for one reason or another do not believe what you say. And you have to take back your clients trust.

So much for my personal reflections. Interpreters and stress was the topic of the second Interpreting Journal Club #IntJC. You can read the chat here #IntJC Session 2, September 24th. I have been meaning to write up my impressions and what I’ve learned from the second Tweetchat for quite a while now but time flies as usual. Maria Cristina de la Vega wrote a very nice report here. My participation record of #IntJC has not been splendid. I was particularily annoyed to miss out on the one about ethical issues. I will try to write up blog posts on the different issues dealt with based on my own experience and the protocols from the chats.

People’s general perception of interpreting is also that this must be very stressful, people hear you are an interpreter, and often respond – “but it must be very stressful”. So what did the interpreters present at the discussion think about it.

First of all, to a certain extent stress is positive, but the interpreter easily crosses the line to negative stress. Stress – or maybe excitement – is positive if you can cope with it. It keeps you on your toes and several participants felt that it helps you deal with the situation at hand, but when stress takes over it makes you “freeze”. @DosParules defined positive stress as the fuel that makes your engine react and negative stress as the one with you cannot cope and makes you freeze. @avic1 beautifully said when excitement turns into anxiety that’s when the stress gets negative. Stress also affects your performance. If you’re stressed your performance decline, you have to cope and stay serene.
It turned out though that these interpreters stress less about the actual interpreting and more about the stress around work, technology, working conditions, documentation, location of the meeting and so forth. Stress also comes from many things that are not necessarily work related (personal situation, environmental factors etc). Interestingly enough, stress form speakers and colleagues can be contagious. @MariaCdelaVega2 rightly pointed out that you should not waste your time on the imponderables. So true, but so difficult not to, if you ask me.

Different ways to deal with the stress in the situation were voiced, those were breathing, sticking to the topic, imposing a calm attitude, stay neutral. Different participants also had different ways of how they behaved under stress, it could be cognitive, subjective or behavioural, i.e. people’s performance goes down, they get moody and they start to move around.

It can be very stressful to see that you are not understood, or to not understand what you have to interpret. In some situations the interpreter can be used as scape goat, a situation which is stressful for the interpreter. Another issue is clients’ unrealistic demands, since you’re the interpreter of X-language you can probably interpret Y-language too. When you are not in the booth, but next to your client, your clients perceive your stress and that becomes stressful too. Only @lioneltokyo had the experience of working in a crisis/conflict situation, but all interpreters agreed that those situations are likely to be extremely stressful but in another way than the “usual” work stress.

Preparation can be stressful too, for instance when you have difficulties preparing yourself or when you are not enough prepared. Preparation is more stressful for beginners than for experienced interpreters. Jobs that come up last minute are very stressful and some even say no to them because of stress.
Is interpreting more stressful than other jobs? The participants said that it is more stressful than many jobs, but it does not deal with life and death or other extreme jobs.

On the issue of how interpreters deal with stress on a more general level, we all agreed that having a life outside interpreting was important. Participants also stressed an active life, running yoga and so forth.

So what have I been up to

I realize I’ve been very silent the past couple of weeks. I don’t lack ideas, just time. Here’s a short overview of what I’ve been up to. I will try to get back on track on the blog as well.

First of all, I’ve finished my Interpreting Theory course at the University of Bergen. My studetnts have completed their compulsory work and are now doing their exam paper. I had some really interesting term papers and I’m looking forward to reading the exam papers. Way to go! You’re doing a great job guys, I’m so proud of you!

I gave my second and last class on terminology for the conference interpreting students at TöI in Stockholm. There too I was happy to see that students are serious about what they do.

Second, I was part of the organizing committee for the Text-Process-Text conference in Stockholm. The conference topic was process research in interpreting and translation studies and it was a huge success. At the conference we also officially handed over this volume to Birgitta Englund Dimitrova for her birthday.

Directly after that conference I co-organised AIIC Nordic countries’ regional meeting. We were very happy that Miriam Shlesinger agreed to stay for our regional meeting, she gave a talk that was very appreciated by the interpreters present. Personally, I think I have to make a mental note that it can be very burdensome to organize two conferences one after the other even if you are only a co-organizer.

I have also had the opportunity to interpret a few days and also meet The Interpreter Diaries IRL.

So now you know a little about what I’ve been up to during my silence. What have you been up to during November? For interpreters and teachers, one of the busiest months!

Self assessment

Although I often like to picture my students as readers when I blog, this post is in particular for you, dear students. The idea came after a very pleasant lunch with an aspiring interpreter. We shared ideas and experiences, personally I was probably very close to a perfect personification of the benevolent granny: “I remember when I was…” Anyhow, I realized that my future colleague could use a few hints on self asssessment and out of classroom practice. I have touched upon practice and learning consecutive earlier. But this post is particularly aimed at giving tips on practice and self assessment.

If you are going to improve and grow as an interpreter practice and self-evaluation is essential. You have to listen to yourself critically, identify areas that can be improved and work on them. Here’s my own step-by-step guide to how to do it. This guide assumes you have gotten basic notions of interpreting and what interpreting teachers are looking for. I will give you ideas on how to correct yourself, but you can probably not follow this guide as a DIY interpreting school. I should also say that there are a million ways to practice and assess yourself, these hints are just a few of my personal ideas that have worked well for me and for my students (or so they tell me). They are a mix of tips I got myself and things that I found out worked for me.

One – Equipment
Get yourself a good mp3 memory, small in size but big in memory. It should be small, with a good mike and good recording quality. Always carry your memory (charged or with extra batteries) with you.

Two – When and how much?
Take every opportunity to practice. If you’re lucky enough to get into a dummy booth, just take out your memory and interpret away. But don’t forget to put on your mp3 memory. If you find yourself in a situation where you can take consecutive notes, then do. Maybe you will have the opportunity to interpret just a little later from your notes. And by all means have your friends, girl/boyfriends, and family give you speeches. And practice often! Every day in short units. But don’t overdo it either, your brain needs som rest as well.

Three – Get the original
Ideally you would want to get the original speech to compare to your own interpreting. There are several ways to do this: a) ask a friend to read speeches to you that you take off the Internet. The Internet is such a wealth of speeches, for instance, most governments and organizations post speeches from their front figures on the web for the press to use. But remember that if your friend reads it, s/he has to adapt the speed. Read speeches can literally be impossible. b) Use the internet and listen to uploaded speeches, news, interviews that you can interpret either simultaneously or consecutively – think You Tube. c) News flashes on the radio. 3 minutes every hour or half-hour and unless something big happens they tend to be the same several times in a row. You can interpret one and then listen to the next one and compare your notes and interpreting(again, remember it’s fast).

Four – Assess
The most painful part of this exercise is to listen to yourself. The first thing here is to get used to listen to your own voice, most people are not used to listen to themselves and find it difficult. You just have to get over it, just like ballet dancers have to get over looking at themselves in the mirror. Then you have to get used to listen critically, and now we are getting to the really crucial point about self assessment.
1) Listen to the overall presentation. One of my friends once complimented another colleague by saying, you sound like a skilled story teller reading from a book. This is what you want it to sound like. No “ahms” or “uhms”, no excessive use of “ands and buts”, no extra sounds. If you’re not producing real words you close your mouth – full stop. And speaking of full stops – finish your sentences! You don’t want to leave your listeners wondering what’s coming next. You can break up the speaker’s sentence in several shorter ones, but make sure to finish them. Also listen to how you come across when it comes to intonation, do you sound sure of what you say or unsure? Do you give a trustworthy impression or not? Do you take your listeners by the hand and guide them through the presentation?
2) Now you have to listen to what you actually convey. Do you interpret what the speaker say or something else? You listen for terminology of course, but also for nuances. Do you interpret what the speaker says or are you perhaps changing the message slightly. This is NOT about using all the words and the same words. I guess we already agree that a word for word interpreting is not the ideal here. You want to say exactly what the speaker says, but in your language and your own words.

Five – Keep a log
Keep a log book of your evaluation. Doesn’t have to be very detailed, but you want to keep a record of what type of speeches (e.g. general politics, easy, 10 min, French>English), your goal (e.g. interpret without interruption for 10 minutes/use a political register/avoid using “and” in the beginning of the sentences) and how you succeeded.

Six – Ask for feed back
Ask your fellow students to help you, ask your family to listen to you, and, if you have the possibility, ask a professional interpreter.

Seven – Set goals for your improvement
Based on your assessment you set goals for the next exercise. Tangible goals such as: “I’m going to interpret without interruption for five minutes” or “I’m not going to use any extra-sounds this time” or “I will use the new vocabulary (word X,Y and Z) or the new set phrases I’ve learned”.

And a final word, you start with easy texts and as you feel more confident you add difficulty. If you are aiming for a conference interpreter test you will want to be able to interpret effortlessly in consecutive for more than six minutes and in simultaneous mode for 20 minutes.

And remember the old story about the tourist in New York who was lost and unknowingly asked Arthur Rubinstein “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”. Rubinstein answered: “Practice, practice, practice.”

Good luck and Go for it!

Ranking of Academic Journals – does it work for you?

Ranking of academic journals may seem totally irrelevant and even a bit ridiculous, after all who is to decide whether one peer-reviewed journal with a solid editorial board, renowned professors as editors and regularly publishing work of important scholars is better than an other. Nevertheless, this is an important part of academia and also of many academic debates. Important bodies such as the European Science Foundation or the Norsk Samfunnsvitenskaplig Datatjeneste rank journals, book series and editors. Now, this may of course be good for you, if the journal you publish in or edits get a high ranking then good for you and your CV.

Furthermore in the academic world (at least in Sweden, but I suppose it’s not an uncommon practice), you get points for your publications, and ranking is used to evaluate your research. If an article is published in a high ranking journal you get more points than if it’s published in a low ranking journal. These points are then the basis for promotions, funding and so forth.

Only one MAJOR problem – the system is heavily biased. Naturally, not every publication can be ranked on the top level, if you rank too many publications on the highest level, then your index is not worth anything. There can only be one winner, otherwise the gold medal is quickly devaluated. So the ranking indices have a limited numer of journals that can receive the highest ranking. This means that fields that have representatives in the ranking bodies get journals on the list, other fields regardless of size, impact, quality in the publications and so forth are kindly requested to wait outside.

In 2008 the translation schoolar of the ERIH board (the ranking for ESF) resigned, and in the subsequent rating excersise translation journals mysteriously disappeared. The Publication channel of the Norwegian NSD and very important for the Nordic countries degraded the only two translation journals who had the highest ranking following a merger of bodies who were allowed to rank journals. Translation Studies disappeard from these bodies and mysteriously enough so did the transltion journals. One can of course ask if the journals that were degraded had not lost in quality, and therefore deserved degradation. Truth is nothing, apart from translation scholar presence changed.

For me as a translation scholar it means that if I want to earn points and get good evaluation on my research in order to be competitive for my academic career, I have to publish in other journals or with other editors than the ones in my own field. In order to get published in top ranking journals in other fields I would of course send my best articles. Now, what does that do to the publishers and journals in my own field.

In October the NSD is performing its bi-annual ranking excersise again. Needless to say we are many translation scholars who have approached the ranking bodies with demands to at least put the two degraded journals back on the level they had.

I continue to believe that good solid work will pay off regardless of where it’s published and regardless of ranking. But it annoys me when ranking is totally random and yet have so much influence. So does the ranking work for you? If so, do you have any tips?

You can read more about from this heated debate, here and Open Letter AIETI2SCH-ESFhere.

#IntJC – first session. What did I learn?

Last Saturday was extremely busy. I was at a blog meet with other Swedish bloggers in Brussels courtesy Brysselkakan. And in the middle of that lunch our first Interpreting Journal Club started. For those still not initiated to the #IntJC read this decicated website or this blog. But despite eating cakes and going home on the bus I managed to participate fairly well. Thanks to Lionel there is also an archive of the discussions and I would like to dedicate this post to what I learned from the discussions.

The first meeting dealt with interpreter’s personality. We had all read the Nicholson-Schweda article and many of us had also done the Myers-Briggs personality test. First thing that struck me was that of all those who participated (15 people from all over the planet, so different culture, different languages and so forth) and had taken the test there was no clear trend of personalities, we were spread over all the different personalities. This further supports my claim that the Schweda-Nicholson study may say something about interpreting students personality (with that specific cultural background), but not about interpreters. The test may tell us alot about our personality, but not necessarily anything about us as interpreters. There are probably as many interpreting personalities as there are interpreters. The research paper also seems to be focussing on conference interpreting and the professional personality you use as a conference interpreter is not necessarily the same as the one you develop as a community interpreter.

As teachers we are longing for better screening or aptitude tests. It’s so sad that we have entrance tests where we really try to single out the student’s that will be successful and we still have a 50 % fail rate. There’s something we’re doing wrong there. HOWEVER, personality does not seem like the thing to screeen. Also, student develop at different rates. So does the entrance exams spot students with a potential to become interpreter or students who already possess the skill?

The problem with the study is that the MBTI test is grossly western oriented. But it’s interesting to find that there are many different personalities among student’s too. And of course the problem mentionnned above that only students are tested. The author of the study also uses many sweeping descriptions when she outlines her personalities. The interpreters present at #IntJC all found these terribly sweeping. Considering we are all of different nationalities living in different cultures, many of us living in another culture than the one you grew up in we are probably extra sensitive to these generalizations.

Many of the participants also said the went into the role of the speaker. Similarily to what an actor does. This also supports the fact that you would maybe not seem to be the personality you “truly” are. On top of that one of the participants said that he’d done the test twice and gotten different results.

We went on for an hour and twenty minutes and at the end of the meeting we got into stress. Lionel therefore suggested we’d discuss stress on the next #IntJC on September 24th. All the preparation is here.

So, once again – Thank you Lionel for organising this. It’s a great learning/networking/discussion experience. So well needed in our community.