Friday, 5 May 2017

On Some Managerial Issues Affecting the T & I Industry:

A Quick Chat


Director Sulaiman Khan Zadran

Deputy Director
Project Manager
Chief of Staff
Strategic Communication Manager
Pashto, Dari, Persian & English
Member of International Translators Association


Masters in Translation/Languages
M.A Political Science
Kabul, Afghanistan




Tel 0093777585384

Doctor Marcia Pinheiro

Lecturer at IICSE University
Certified Translator and Interpreter
Portuguese & English
NAATI  40296         
Member: PROz, RGMIA, Ancient Philosophy

Ph.D. in Philosophy and Mathematics
Master in Philosophy
Certified TESOL/TEFL professional
Licentiate in Mathematics
PO Box 12396 A’Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC, AU, 8006


Tel 0416915138
E-mail drmarciapinheiro@gmail.com


Director Sulaiman, I understand you have to manage a few translators at your agency. I have been working in this industry for quite a while now. I started in Brazil, South America, decades ago. I also have courses in management and experience that allows me to state that I am a really good manager if results are what matters. Because of this background, I believe our discussion will be of value to the industry, the T & I Industry. One of the things that attract my attention is assessment and selection. I wonder if you are concerned about ethical issues. 

Doctor Marcia, The T & I Industry is expanding on a daily basis due to the increase in integration level of different cultures into one another and the industry requires bringing diversities together for overcoming the demand of translation, which can literally raise concerns about ethical issues during assessment and selection. To avoid ethical issues we need to respect the autonomy and choice of translators from all cultures and use organizational behavior to its highest levels in the Industry. The supervisors and Translation PMs should look after the skills and experience of a translator instead of discriminate them for being from a different society. 

Director Sulaiman, I suppose you are talking about the so many ways in which we can use the organization in terms of imposing behavior that is expected. If so, we can talk about how the managers can make everyone proceed in an ethical manner, and that is a good proposal. We then do have to think of the role of supervisors and PMs, that is, of the functions that those usually have. Looking for the translator and then worrying about whether they are keeping or increasing their range of skills and depth of experience seems to be a good start. The fact that they come from a different background should create excitement and interest in us rather than the will of treating them in a less favorable way, I totally agree with you. There is a concern with the amount of demand, and NAATI, for instance, I was told, has been obliged to accept people without even considering assessment because of how rare their language is in Australia. I tend to think that the best way to deal with diversity is conversations, time to mingle, space to think about things, so say events and things of the type. I do see our class, of Ts & Is, as a much sacrificed class in those regards: We seem not to be able to talk much about what most matters, so say levels of compliance and most adequate wording for the ethical guidelines. 

Doctor Marcia, I agree with the points you made on how managers can make everyone proceed in an ethical manner and more. I also believe in an idea which can help managers and supervisors of every industry to avoid discrimination against their employees; We have similarities between our employees/translators as the tool to build more friendly environment and closeness among them, while on the other hand we have the differences which generate the whole issue and I believe in replacing it with respect. Managers should ethically guide employees of Ts & Is or any other industry to avoid discrimination. When it comes to business and an official environment we don't always have to look at it officially, but rather to provide some space for ethics, friendship, and as you mentioned events of different types. When we deeply think about ethical issues we also come to the point that it is not just the managers who are responsible for this, a translator or interpreter from a different culture should be more careful than the organization not to put himself in a condition to be discriminated. Minorities are the people who become upset very easily, maybe no one has an ethical issue with you but rather they might have given you some negative feedback because of your work performance while you would be thinking that you are being discriminated. Therefore, I would call that the duty and responsibility of one and all.

Director Sulaiman, the points you make are of major importance: I always believed in managing by example. In Australia, they do not seem to care much about that, but I imagine that, in places like India, because of the influence of people like Gandhi, they must do their best to always behave in an ideal way when occupying the position of manager. I also became aware of the One Minute Manager. This is a book used to teach management in Australia, and I do embrace their philosophy: one praise, then one reprimand. I do think that is a good strategy, since it leaves the person with something good, and, perhaps, because of that, with the will to invest in improving their performance. One of the main issues in my mind, when it comes to ethics, and you must know that my concern is as high as to make me create a course on the topic (https://www.udemy.com/ethical-codes-for-translators-and-interpreters/), is crime: Believe it or not, the amount of crimes, and even atrocities, committed by some translators and interpreters against others, and even by managers against interpreters and translators, is realistically not low. I actually know of people who exist practically in full slavery, with all members of their company knowing about it. Whilst publishing what they see in the press would save the life of the professional, and they can certainly do that, they watch and participate in the festival of atrocities in First World Democracy for even more than 16 years in a row and do nothing. In places like the Middle East, things must be much worse than in Australia, Brazil or the United States, I imagine, since the official regimen allows for all that. I got to know about things and I denounce for these spectacular 16 years plus with no success. I, unfortunately, do not possess any vehicle that could be meaningful in this case, so say a newspaper, a TV channel or anything like that. I would hope that you, as a manager, despite your religious choices and origins, would do the impossible to make sure the rights of the person are fully restored and they enjoy maximum justice, compensation, and reversion of damages. I definitely think there is nothing more important, also in terms of management, than being able to put ourselves in the shoes of the other. You mention another point that matters a lot to me: Managers should guide employees so that there is no discrimination. I definitely think that both translators and interpreters should be normal employees, not casual or contract ones. With this, we would be able to have even daily meetings with them and influence their behavior in a more meaningful way. I wonder about the reasons to keep them under the situation of casual or contract when there is enough work in their language to keep them busy for 40 hours per week.

Doctor Marcia, let me continue by agreeing with your idea that translators and interpreters should be normal employees as this is a field where diversity exists to the highest level and it's very difficult to deal with it remotely. I was a translator and interpreter for more than 7 years in Afghanistan and India both as a normal employee and on a freelance basis. I had faced clients and companies from different regions while most of them were western. I did feel discriminated with the client I worked as a freelance translator even by my first and last name, though I am not sure about the idea my clients had during the time but being a translator with a different culture, religion, language and everything else, I had that automatic feeling even before approaching a client, the feeling that I might be discriminated, but that would finally and unexpectedly end up with a great friendship. There wouldn't be any of the so-called discrimination. I thought about the real reason behind it and I believe it was the Translation Project Managers who were treating me as a member of their team and it was the company who had put restrictions against discrimination in their manual policies as well as the training they give to their managers about the best ways to deal with an employee from a different region. The leaders of an organization should take ethics as serious as the business that they are making money with and then only they can build a progressive network. Peter Drucker says Culture eats strategy for breakfast, which emphasize on the idea that we must pay serious attention to ethics in our official and business environments otherwise it will not just make us upset but it can also take us far from our goals and strategies.  Therefore, translation and interpretation companies should carefully look after ethical and cultural issues both for broader business, network, income and having happy translators and interpreters from different regions around the world. 

Director Sulaiman, it has been a pleasure conversing with you here, and I am sure I would like to hear more from you, especially in what regards the topics one of us started here but the other did not have the opportunity to address. You seem to talk about friendship between interpreters, translators, and clients. As you know, friendship with clients is seen as a threat to impartiality, so that it is not really advisable. Of course, as a director or manager, you would not be tied to those rules, especially if not providing linguistic services yourself, but, as an interpreter, we would have to avoid intimacy with the client at any expense. I would agree if you said we need to rethink some items that are currently in the ethical codes since that is one of the issues I mention in my online course. Is that the case, please? Once more, thank you very much for your generosity and contribution to the T & I industry: Each article helps us inspire others to think, organize things, and act.

Doctor Marcia, yes, that's very true for many cases to rethink some items in the ethical code and as well as avoiding intimacy with the client. I would like to add one more point about discrimination against freelance translators and interpreters; as the industry is becoming more dependent on freelancers from all over the world who work from their homes or small private offices and discrimination against them can be more likely to take place due to a big amount of diversity and they do not have the opportunity to meet or spend time with staff members of the company physically. Let’s talk about a company which handles translation for more than 50 languages, they probably cannot handle in-house linguists for all language pairs and would need to reach out to translators from different countries. These companies need to have managers who understand the ethical values of a work environment and should be examined against discrimination during the recruitment by asking about their ideas indirectly on the subject. It is very natural that a translator or interpreter would be as nice with the project managers as possible for their employment security and for not losing the opportunity and for addressing their ethical concerns a company must be very careful during the recruitment process, not just for the purpose of preventing discrimination, but for running the business in a great manner, they need to hire open-minded project managers who have broader ideas and can put an end point on ethical issues towards their translators and interpreters. While this case is applicable for regular or normal translators too. Thank you for sharing your great ideas on the topic, an article can change lives of many professionals and can give ideas on one’s ongoing but remained unsolved issues. 



Monday, 3 April 2017

Reading Letter by Letter








Today I got a really nice officer asking my client to read a certain line from a board and reproduce the letters on a piece of paper. I got clients that had to read letters from boards before, but nobody ever had this idea. They were usually medical tests. This was for driving. The thing is that some of my clients cannot really spell, so that they say Greek I, for instance, instead of Y (in Portuguese), they also say Gã Gã, which is perhaps the sound of G in Portuguese, instead of G. We do get used to those, but takes us a while. It is all very difficult the first time. This system, of asking them to write down the letters they see, works well for both sides, I reckon. In this way, what is being tested is exclusively their eye sight, and that is their intention with the test, they all say. 






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Friday, 31 March 2017

Family Name and Australia







Today and yesterday I had problems with my passport because the Australian systems demand that I write my family name then my given names. First of all, they only have surnames and names in the Brazilian system. In second place, traditionally, in Brazil, your kids will inherit one name from the mother (last one) and one name from the father (last one), so that the name of what I myself call family is only the last name I have. Our family of origin, however, let's say, had both names, the one that came from my mother (last one) and the one that came from my father (last one). That could also be told to be my family. In this way, family name is a very confusing expression and, as such, could never be used in documents, which are supposed to be objective things. Given names, first name, middle name, and last name, I notice, is something that will always confuse those who come from Brazil. There we have one more thing that is absolutely wrong and should definitely be simplified: Why doesn't Australia use surname and name? That sounds simpler and way less confusing. 






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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Rights to Withdraw






One thing that I have been paying attention to is the rights to withdraw: Clients and employers seem to be unhappy when that happens, but we know that should be part of the basic rights of the interpreter. We should also have efficient processes to deal with that, so that all the parts involved are not that unhappy.



I think I am sure most of the interpreters would be OK with not getting paid for the jobs where they effectively did not work, so say where they had difficulties, outstanding difficulties, when it came to understanding clients. That is one point because paying for jobs where the interpreter effectively did not work could make employers upset. 



A second point is still rights to withdraw for no reason: If we work as contractors, we do have the rights to withdraw for no reason, like we may not be feeling well, we may think there is something that deserves our attention more than that job at that very moment, we may not have the equipment in conditions that are suitable, etc. The reasons shouldn't actually be part of the actions: We are contractors, each assignment is a new contract, and, as such, may be rejected. 



A third point is full disclosure of basic details: Some organizations still refuse to give us details of the jobs they are offering to our employer. Because of the nature of our work, and, in special, because we are contractors, the agencies should be legally obliged to disclose at least the names of all parties involved plus topic before we are offered the opportunity of saying yes or no. First of all, one of the clients may be an acquaintance or a relative. We are ethically forbidden from serving those. 



I feel as if, different from all other contractors, we don't have the rights to withdraw, like not for real. It may be that the reason is that the employers still pay us if we withdraw. It may be that the reason is another. Yet, if they keep us as contractors, we do have the rights to refuse jobs at any stage of the process. We would gladly accept not getting paid for those, but we still have the rights to withdraw at any time. The cops pass to their fellows when feeling uncomfortable. And they are not contractors!







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Friday, 3 February 2017

Psychology and Interpreting






I first thought that bonding time was something useless after arriving at the locations of the assignments a few minutes before the starting time a few times: It all seemed waste of all most of the time. Sometimes they had questions that I could take note before the consultation and I would then be able to help them better. Sometimes they had requests and they could make them clearer outside of the session, when more time was available and the conversation was more informal. Apart from this, most of the time, it seemed to be complete waste of time. I was then having at most fifteen minutes to bond with the client before the starting time. 




Well, my latest experiences have revealed very different results: Due to the delay we got because of the non-NES, we had about one hour to bond and the assignment was then a wonderful experience, the best we could have had. 




I concluded that it is all just like in Clinical Psychology, where Dr. Lea Maria was an ace: Bonding time should be something like one consultation, therefore something between 45 minutes and one hour. 




All the principles of group work also seem to apply: I noticed that the more we deal with the same clients, the better, provided we have a group to serve, not only one person. If it is a group, we have the opportunity of, for instance, shifting the focus of our attention. With this, wonders may happen, such as what happened to me more recently: When the focus is shifted, and attention is mostly given to a usually neglected member, for instance, we may end up with a much better overall result. 




In Medical Interpreting, in special, optimization of effort comes from best result to the doctor in terms of information, and this will include even the color of the phlegm, best result to the interpreter in terms of depth, and this will include even learning how to best manage the group at hand, and best results for the NES, and this will include largest amount of recommendations, insights, solutions, etc. that they can get. 




I am now surprised with how much Psychology is relevant ALSO in this setup: Our class can benefit quite a lot from learning techniques and theories that appear in association with this beautiful discipline. 







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Monday, 30 January 2017

The Sounds that Confuse X









I was having a conversation with a fellow who has just started in T & I and a secretary: The secretary mentions that she knows of the existence of Cuckoo, an e-mail service. The fellow who was just starting had very strong connections to the Asian peoples. I then point at my own head and say, Cuckoo, you mean? Oh, well, I say something to that extent. The secretary then says yes, but the young fellow says that it isn't so. That it was Q for Quebec. I think that the girl is probably misspelling and they meant Cuckoo, as the secretary assumed. I then say KuKu, in an attempt to guess what should be, not believing that it was Q. The secretary then completes: She means Q for Quebec indeed. I go, OK, then QuQu. 







Some apparently thought that what I did was an offence, like I could not have rejected the Q as in Quebec that the young fellow said. The young fellow didn't. I think that we don't really have a very convincing explanation as to why we would have Cuckoo and not Kukoo, for instance, in the English language, and sounds do confuse quite a lot. I wrote about K for Kappa before. Whoever read will understand. 







Fellows, regardless of what the others tell you, always bear in mind that mistakes, especially in language, are common, and it is very rarely the case that those that claim to be experts do not commit them. First of all, we do not have a Universal Grammar yet, even though some people, like myself, are trying to put the idea out there (Research Gate, my paper). The rules, if ever making sense, should be the same. It obviously does not make sense to write a comma before because in English when in Portuguese that is a crime of no dimension. It either makes sense or it doesn't. 








We are not walking lexicons, and as such should not be seen. I was just conversing with a client and we ended up talking about a famous Brazilian book, which is apparently still considered mandatory reading in Brazil, secondary school, a book that won many awards. This book has been written by a man and the first pages are absolutely unbearable. She agreed with me that they were. The guy seems to have used the entire lexicon in the first chapter, basically. It is all descriptions and things like that. It is an extremely boring book, nothing pleasant. I told her that I think they got prizes just because a man wrote it. Were it a woman, it would never leave the shelf. What is good about a book? That the author is incredibly eloquent? We want to be able to read the damn thing, first of all. I could never leave the first chapter, since I was feeling like killing myself by the fourth page or so. In Interpreting, mistakes are expected. We get context in translation, like most of the time, but not in Interpreting. When we get the context, the time to interpret has already passed, so that we will have to come back if we got the wrong river, basically. That has to be expected. In the example I mentioned in this blog, on a recent post, a post involving the sigmatoid dummy, it was all very hard: Certain things belong exclusively to the personal lexicon of those who speak, first of all. We are not only allowed to ask questions for clarification, we must do that whenever we have doubts. People do have to accept that. We may think that the person is from overseas and said something wrong, such as a Q for Quebec when she meant K for Kilo or C for Charlie, and we may think it is like that from being tired of seeing people from overseas doing that sort of thing. It may then be a necessity to clarify, to even assume that what they meant is something else, even because in my case the secretary said something different. 






Never feel ashamed of what you have done in those regards: You are not a machine. Sometimes you will decide for the wrong option, but it is precisely because you are not a machine that things can be fixed by yourself on the spot. The machine would have committed many more mistakes, and it does do that, but it fixes nothing, remember that. Each, and every, time you fix a mistake that you have committed, think that you are proving that a human interpreter is way more valuable than a mechanic one. That is the difference: You can notice your own mistakes. You can fix them. You can get to those conclusions and fixings completely on your own. You have beaten the machine once more, basically. 








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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Basement and Attic






Basement should mean porão in Portuguese, but, in certain situations, it doesn't. Just today I was taking a police report. The female cop said she went to the basement of the nightclub in order to get to the toilet or something to that extent. Well, if there is a toilet there, and the environment is a nightclub, that place, where the toilet is, must not be accessible through only one door, and it must not be a place where people usually don't go. Instead, it must be a level like any other in the nightclub. In this case, we say parte de baixo (bottom part) in Portuguese or andar abaixo do térreo (level below the ground level). 




Attic attracts the same issues: It should be sótão, but that is if we rarely access it or if we are not supposed to access it, so say it is where we keep our wine bottles in order for the wine to age. If we have an entire bedroom there and it is accessible by more ways than one door, then it should probably be called parte de cima (upper part). 






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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Australian Baby Shower







Be prepared for the world where a dummy cannot ever be a doll in a car: Australians do use the sigmatoid dummy to mean anything that can be put in the mouth to occupy the teeth of the babies. It is hard to imagine what Brazilians would use in place. I was just discussing that with Adrian, a fellow from Spanish, and the conclusion is that perhaps we would have to use several sigmatoids to replace that one, so say coisa macia para morder. Pacifier is more commonly seen applied to chupeta, but it can be anything that calms down the baby and is of the type. Again, coisa macia para morder would be OK. 





Cots are caminhas feitas de tecido grosso em estrutura que pode desarmar or simply caminhas suspensas. The most common decision for interpreters that I have seen is Cyril's: In doubt, repeat in the original language. In this case, you can say cot. You could also say pacificador in Portuguese for pacifier, of course. It is just that it is not everyone who will understand this. Cot and crib are the same thing according to the dictionary (freedictionary). 








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Series Exotic Animals









Have you ever had to translate Raccoon into Portuguese? Don't laugh at others, since one day it may happen to you. Despite what we see in Infopedia.pt (Infopedia), Raccoon is Guaxinim. 





This is a guaxinim: Movie





And this is a raccoon: Picture





I dare disagreeing with Infopedia.pt, even though this is not my research area, and I little like animals, especially wild ones, just because the images are really clear, aren't they? Got the suggestion from Linguee, and I am thinking that we all must support it. It is definitely it. 





Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The Art of Glossary Making













This is an extract. It came from source.



As an exercise, I ask you to dedicate some time of your life to the art of contemplation. Use the extract. 




What could be improved?




1) We must try to stay as close as possible to the original words, and that must include things like size and shape if possible. The Portuguese language has APELO  and that is a sigmatoid the Brazilians use at the courts for the same situation. In this case, apelo would be a better choice than recurso;

2) In interpreting, we must try to be simpler, what may mean simplifying words if that is possible. We need the person to understand things in an instantaneous manner if possible, something very different from the intentions we have with translation. Apelo would be understood by many more people than recurso, which is, by default, a sigmatoid with possibly blurred meaning. For starters, its different possible senses point at very different places (um apelo na TV para pegar dinheiro refers to appealing to people's feelings; apelar de uma decisao refers to contesting a decision. The senses are practically conflicting, so that this is the worst choice as possible); 

3) Judicial normally has the same meaning as its equivalent in writing in English, like I would like to define similarity via writing, similarity via sound, similarity via sense, similarity via meaning, similarity via length, and so on here, and Judicial is a sigmatoid that exists in the English language. Why contencioso instead? We must choose what is most similar, especially when the similarity is obvious. Contencioso has to do with contesting, so that it is really not appropriate. A judicial procedure is something that may not refer to contesting, first of all;

4) Judicial Circuit being the same as circulo, which is circle in English, is an atrocity. This one is possibly a misprint. Circuito Judicial, fellow, for Christ's sake!