Cross-Fertilization of Training and Research in a Master's Program in Public Service Interpreting and Translation: Some Challenges and Results

Cross-Fertilization of Training and Research in a Master's Program in Public Service Interpreting and Translation: Some Challenges and Results

Carmen Valero-Garcés (University of Alcalá, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6615-3.ch021
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This chapter addresses the need to combine training, research, and practice to guarantee the existence of competent professionals in the field of Public Service Interpreting and Translating (PSIT) (also known as Community Interpreting and Translation [CIT]). These elements are integrated in the design of the Master's in Intercultural Communication, Public Service Interpreting and Translating (MICIT) at the University of Alcalá, Madrid, Spain. The program is based in the principle of cross-fertilization of these three main parameters: training, internship, and research. The focus of this chapter is to show the interrelation between these three elements, with special emphasis on the last element: research.
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Introduction: Challenges In Public Service Interpreting And Translation

PSIT originates, fundamentally, within and for the institutions and the public services (“institution-driven”) (Ozolins, 2000, p. 32). This implies a strong connection between the functions of interpreting and translation dictated by the immediate needs and expectations and the answers generated to these needs.

Public Service Interpreting and Translating (PSIT) (or Community Interpreting) can be defined as a profession that facilitates access to community services (health, police, school…) for linguistically diverse clients who do not speak the language of service. However, contrary to what can be observed in countries such as Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States, PSIT has not yet been a profession and is virtually unknown to most in some other countries. Nevertheless, a rising interest can be seen in the increasing number of publication, conferences and training programs available as indicated below.

In Southern European countries (Italy, Spain, Greece), as had already happened in other countries, the first steps for PSIT were taken by individually-led initiatives, which were held back by limited state support, low pay, if any, and lack of training, coordination, and standardized ethical codes as the collection of papers presented at the First International Conference on PSIT held in Alcalá, Spain in 2002 demonstrate (Valero-Garcés & Mancho, 2002). After that, developments have been made, as the information presented in the subsequent International Conferences held at Alcalá and Critical Link Conference series illustrate.

The information presented at these conferences made it clear that there is a growing interest in this area of work and research, and not only in places such as Australia, USA, Canada and Western Europe. Papers were also presented in Poland, Japan, China, Argentina, or Cuba. These papers all looked at PSIT from different perspectives, but always with one common goal: promoting communication between linguistically and culturally different communities. The Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Critical Link Conferences held in Sydney, Australia in 2007, in Birmingham, United Kingdom in 2011 and in Montreal Canada in 2013 as well as the Third, Fourth and Fifth International Conferences on PSIT held in Alcalá, Madrid, Spain in 2008, 2011 and 2014 (Valero-Garcés, 2005; Valero-Garcés, Pena & Lázaro, 2008; Valero-Garcés, C., Bodzer, A., Vitalaru, B. & Lázaro, R., 2011; Valero-Garcés, Vitalaru & Mojica¸ 2014) only reaffirm this interest. An example of interest can also be seen in the considerable growth in the offer of training programs and practical initiatives in different countries, which tend to have the objective of systematizing the professional’s duties. This systematization occurs, without a doubt, as a result of the harmonization of supply and demand between the formal offering and the needs. And this harmonization requires that all interested parties establish alliances solid enough to stand up to the resistance to change and the inertia.

The result of these alliances would be reflected in an optimal cycle of productive development, made possible by a quality assessment that would shape policy, as illustrated by Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Optimal cycle of productive development


The effective implementation of this cycle would allow us to confront some of the challenges posed by PSIT as identified by Hale (2007), Corsellis (2009), Greere (2008), and Valero-Garcés, Pena, Lázaro (2008) among others.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Public Service Interpreting and Translation: See Community Interpreting (and Translation).

Conference Interpretation: Is conveying a message spoken in one language into another. It is practised at international summits, professional seminars, and bilateral or multilateral meetings of heads of State and Government. Conference interpreters also work at meetings between chief executives, social and union representatives, at congresses and meetings, and so on.

Community Interpreter (and Translator): (also known as public service interpreter in some EU countries): a professional interpreter but also frequently referring to bilingual staff member or volunteer who interprets for community services such as health care, education and social services.

Ad Hoc Interpreter: Is an untrained person who is called upon to interpret, such as a family member interpreting for her parents, a bilingual staff member pulled away from other duties to interpret, a self-declared bilingual in a hospital waiting-room who volunteers to interpret, or an advanced language student. Also called a chance interpreter or a lay interpreter.

Public Service Interpreter (and Translator): See Community Interpreter (and Translator).

Bilingual: A person who is capable of communicating in two languages and who has two different levels of mastery in each language. There are individuals who possess a similar command in both languages and others who show greater skill in one language or specific field. Bilingual is not a synonym of translator or interpreter.

Mediation: Any act or utterance of the interpreter that goes beyond interpreting or that takes place outside of the session and which is intended to remove a linguistic barrier to communication.

Community Interpreting (and Translation): (or Public Service Interpreting and Translation)- A profession that facilities access to community services (health, police, school…) for linguistically divers clients who do not speak the language of service.

Intercultural Communication: Relationship, type of contact, interaction or communication among groups of humans from different cultures. Interculturality is associated with: 1) Problems resulting from deficient communication (due to a lack of knowledge of the other person’s culture) in varied projects and programs: health, education, industry, etc. 2) Problems related to discrimination against persons of diverse racial and ethnic groups, and 3) Typically asymmetrical relationships between different cultural and ethnic groups.

Dialogue Interpreting: An interpreter-mediated communication in spontaneous face-to-face interaction. It includes what is variously referred to in English as Community, Public Service, Liaison, Ad Hoc or Bilateral Interpreting. Included under this heading are all kinds of professional encounters: police, immigration and welfare services interviews, doctor-patient interviews, business negotiations, political interviews, lawyer-client and courtroom interpreting and so on.

Liaison Interpretation: A two-way manner of interpreting used to facilitate understanding between two parties that speak different languages. Some authors see liaison interpretation as a type of consecutive interpretation and some experts also called it bilateral interpreting.

Cultural Sensitivity: A willingness to accept and value cultural differences.

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