Monday, November 26, 2012

What it Takes to Be an American Sign Language Interpreter: Guest Post

What it Takes to Be an American Sign Language Interpreter: Guest Post

This post was brought to you by Affordable Language Services, the nation’s most experienced translation, transcription and interpreting service provider of over 150 languages, including American Sign Language.

If you’re interested in becoming a certified American Sign Language interpreter, there is good news. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for interpreters is on the rise at a rate that’s faster than the average career. Certified sign language interpreters convert information from a spoken language into sign language. Alternatively, they may interpret what an individual is signing into a spoken language.  The greatest demand for this profession exists primarily within medium and large cities, but small and rural communities also benefit from the services an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter provides.

Career Background

ASL incorporates the use of one’s hands, arms, head, body language and facial expressions to communicate without the use of sound. The language is used throughout North America and is completely different from British Sign Language. In fact, ASL evolved from French Standardized Sign Language (SSL) because this is where the language has its origins. The Italians and French began to standardize sign language as early as the 1700s.

In the 18th century, the birth rate of deaf people on Martha’s Vineyard was abnormally high and ranged from one in every 25 births to one in 155 births. This “founder effect” led to the creation of Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language. Public sign language interpreting later began to grow with the help of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, an individual who wanted all churchgoers to receive the messages preached. Gallaudet traveled to France to learn more about SSL and convinced one of his teachers to come back to the United States to help teach at the American School for the Deaf, where ASL was born. It wasn’t until 1955 that ASL became a recognized independent language.

Sign language interpreting has grown from communicating at home, church and school to providing educational, vocational, medical, social and other essential services to those in deaf communities. There is no limit to the application of ASL.

How to Learn American Sign Language

There are a variety of ways to learn ASL, including:

  • Online resources
  • Videos
  • Classes at community centers
  • Classes taught at schools that serve deaf communities
  • Learning from friends or family members who know ASL
  • College classes
  • Books

When you learn ASL, it’s important to remember that classes or programs may be designed specifically for children, teens or adults. A great way to enhance your ASL skills is to practice with those who actively use it to communicate.

How to Become a Certified American Sign Language Interpreter

Simply knowing how to sign doesn’t qualify you to be a sign language interpreter, but it goes a long way toward earning a certification. After you graduate from high school, the following path will help you become a certified interpreter:

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree. While a degree in any field is acceptable in order to obtain a professional certification, it’s a good idea to consider a degree in ASL interpreting. 

2. Complete an ASL interpreter training program. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf provides a list of programs. Such programs will help advance your ASL skills as well as the skills needed to be an effective interpreter, such as understanding inflections, simultaneous speakers, cultural differences, slang and more. You’ll also learn how to advance your own cognitive and technical skills.

3. Obtain a National Interpreter Certification (NIC). The essential certification to seek is the one provided jointly by the National Association of the Deaf and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. In order to earn this certification, you must pass a test that consists of performance, written and interview components. Advanced and master certifications are also available.

Note: Your respective state may require you to also obtain a state-issued certification in addition to a National Interpreter Certification if you wish to work as an interpreter.

American Sign Language interpreters make communication possible. There are a variety of situations in which ASL interpreting is necessary, and you can help become an invaluable asset in bridging communication gaps.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Call for Papers

Reading the Target: Translation as Translation University of East Anglia School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing School of Language and Communication Studies 23rd and 24th March 2013 The fifth Postgraduate Translation Symposium at the University of East Anglia aims to examine translation as a form of literature in its own right: since Lawrence Venuti’s influential work on the translator’s visibility (1995), much progress has been made in the academic study of translation in this regard, but many critics and publishers remain reluctant to acknowledge the translator’s involvement in the creation of a new text or the status of these texts as anything more than a duplicate in another language. The symposium aims to explore the following questions: what are the effects of cultural contexts, literary systems and philosophical and ideological cues on the appreciation of translated literature? What are the power structures and hierarchies that translated literature must negotiate in order to achieve acceptance? What are the benefits to a culture that acknowledges the presence of translations within its literary canon? We invite submissions for presentations by postgraduate research students and academics across a wide range of disciplines. Fields of particular interest include, but are not limited to, the following: - Performance and adaptations - Cross-genre translation - The diversity of overt forms of translation - Concepts of authorship in translation - The translation of poetry - The role of translation in religious texts - Pseudo-translation - Ethical and political considerations in translation - The visibility of translation in modern forms of text and media (Subtitling, Films, Games) Please send proposals of no more than 250 words (with bibliographical references and a short biographical note) for 20-minute papers to by Friday 7 December 2012. Please address all correspondence to: Lina Fisher University of East Anglia School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing Norwich NR4 7TJ The Organising Committee: Nozomi Abe, Moira Eagling, Lina Fisher, James Hadley

Saturday, November 17, 2012

British Sign Language

My partner and I are taking a British Sign Language course together and we’re really enjoying it (although my partner is much better at it than I am!). Here’s a very useful website if you want to learn or refresh your skills in BSL.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Café Conversations

If you live in or near Norfolk, you might be interested in this free series of discussions that I've organized. Each conversation is hosted by an academic or a graduate student from the University of East Anglia and they are all free to attend.

Café Conversations on Literature, Culture, and Language
November 2012 to May 2013
Run by staff and students in LDC, AMS, and LCS at UEA

All cafés take place at 2 pm in the White Lion Café at 19-21 White Lion Street in Norwich.

19 November
Can Writing be Taught?
Professor Andrew Cowan
UEA pioneered the teaching of creative writing as a university subject in 1970, and for the next 25 years it remained almost the only university to offer an MA in creative writing, despite the enormous success of some of its alumni, such as Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro.  In the last 15 years, however, the subject has really caught on, until there is barely a university anywhere that doesn't offer creative writing in some form.  And yet still the question is asked, Can writing be taught?  Andrew Cowan is a graduate of the UEA MA, where he was taught by Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter.  He is now the Director of the UEA programme.  And he is asking the same question.

28 November
Through the Looking-Glass: The Origins and Afterlife of Nonsense Literature
Dr Thomas Karshan
What is a snark? what is a boojum? must they be something, or nothing? where do they come from? and do we need to know, if we are to enjoy and appreciate nonsense literature? This café conversation will explore nonsense literature, especially through Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”, saying a little about its origins, and exploring the philosophical issues around sense and nonsense with which Carroll was concerned. We’ll think together about why all great literature, and not just nonsense, needs to invent its own words, and we’ll look a little at a passage of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, much influenced by Carroll’s Alice, which is only invented words. And then we’ll have a go at inventing our own words - and ask if in doing so we have invented, if only for a moment, our own new world.

5 December
God Loveth Adverbs
Philip Wilson
Why does God love adverbs? And why does Stephen King hate them? And what does this tell us about literature? This session explores the contention that literature is about showing, not telling, and investigates ways that writers approach their task and the difference between literature and genre fiction.

14 December
Alex Valente
Just how political can comics be? Can they (or have they) be used for propaganda purposes? We will discuss the ideological messages that the comics medium can convey. The texts we will look at range from the most explicit (e.g. Palestine, by Joe Sacco, or V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd) to those that hide their political agendas a little deeper.

16 January
American Ghost Towns
Dr Malcolm McLaughlin
All across the United States there are eerily abandoned towns - where tumbleweeds roll along empty Main Streets, where only the shells of buildings remain. These so-called ghost towns are familiar cultural references and seem to say something about the other side of the American Dream. Some are former mining settlements, which boomed and declined with  equal rapidity. Some are towns that were left stranded when interstate highways cut through the land in the 1950s, and passed them by. But, since the 1970s, some of America's once-famous cities have been equally stricken by depopulation: when factories packed up and left town, so did the people. Even "Motor City" Detroit has been shrinking. What can we learn about America from looking at its historical ghost towns and modern-day shrinking cities? And how have the people who remain been working to reinvent their cities and make them liveable for the twenty-first century?

30 January
“Bearing Witness”: Seen but not Witnessed
Dr Rachael Mclennan and Dr Rebecca Fraser
This cafe will reflect on how we talk about and understand traumatic experiences that we have not borne direct witness to. It will consider to what extent representations, both visual and scholarly, of traumatic events distort or assist in understanding such experiences. Dr Rachael Mclennan and Dr Rebecca Fraser will be drawing on their own research concerning the Holocaust in American literature and culture and slavery in the United States respectively as case studies for further exploration of these issues.

6 February
The Pleasures and Politics of Historical Fiction
Dr Hilary Emmett
This café will engage the problem of how to balance our pleasure in reading historical fiction with some of the ethical issues that arise in rewriting the past to entertain audiences of the present.  Possible novels for consideration include historical fictions that are closely aligned to verifiable historical events (such as Hilary Mantel’s recent Booker Prize-winning blockbusters in comparison with more controversial re-imaginings of history like Kathryn Stockett’s The Help) as well as novels that seek to tell forgotten, repressed or traumatic stories such as Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Beloved or Caryl Philips’ The Nature of Blood.

18 February
Meet the Pastons: An Introduction to Norwich’s Best Known Medieval Family
Elizabeth McDonald
Norwich’s medieval past can simultaneously seem a palpable and enigmatic part of our city’s history: we are surrounded by stunning examples of medieval architecture but imagining or understanding who used these buildings can be challenging. Thankfully the Paston family left us numerous letters, written between 1425-1495, in which we get a vibrant glimpse of what life in Norwich was like for a wealthy (but socially insecure) family. These letters provide a rich tapestry of personalities: surprisingly strong, willful, female characters; respectable men of the Law; feckless sons and problematic daughters.  We find the family concerned with castle defenses, “keeping up with the joneses,” life at court, and poorly made love matches. We will look at some of these letters and come face-to-face with life in Medieval Norwich.

27 February
Telling it Well? Mourning Autobiography
Dr Rachael McLennan
This cafe attempts to account for the popularity of autobiographies of illness and grief. These might be understood as a subgenre of the ‘misery memoir’, which has been especially successful since the 1990s. With reference to Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking (2005) and Blue Nights (2011), Dr Rachael McLennan will consider the following questions: what pleasures and risks do such autobiographical projects present for writers and readers? How might autobiographies of grief, in particular, challenge traditional definitions and understandings of autobiography?

6 March
Introduction to Translation
Dr B.J. Epstein
What is involved in translating a piece of writing from one language to another? Why is translation one of the most fascinating and important careers? Why does translation matter?  After a general background to what translation is, we will practice a short translation/adaptation exercise together, either into another language or from English to English. Then we will discuss the joys and challenges of translation.

13 March
Who Do You Think You Are and Should You Care? Genealogy and the Pitfalls of Family History
Dr Rebecca Fraser
With the explosion of accessible material tracing one’s own family history through genealogical sites such as everybody can be an amateur historian. Yet, what is we dig back into our own histories and discover things about our ancestors that we find uncomfortable, disturbing, or even damaging to our own sense of self and who we are? This cafe will reflect on the very real value of genealogical research but also consider the limitations of the resources available and the possibility that we might not always like what we find. Dr Rebecca Fraser will be drawing on her own research concerning tracing the life story of Sarah Hicks Williams, a relatively unknown woman, living in nineteenth century America.

21 March
Norfolk Noir
Henry Sutton
I'll be talking about my new novel My Criminal World, which is being published by Harvill Secker on 2 April 2013.  The novel addresses issues of violence and entertainment, genre writing and so-called literary writing and what makes popular fiction work. It is also effectively set in Norwich/Norfolk, and it/my talk will look at aspects of provincialism, and what I'd like to call Norfolk Noir.

2 April
Proving Beauty
Dr Ross Wilson
We can prove that the chemical properties of water are H2O; we can prove that the earth orbits the sun; but can we prove that an object is beautiful? This conversation will discussion this question by working, in particular, with a number of poems that may or may not be 'beautiful'.

17 April
Writers, Interviews and Journalism, with Henry James
Dr Kate Campbell
It’s easy to take interviews for granted although they are central to modern life. Most of us will have had job interviews and we will at times have read interviews with famous writers and other celebrities. The kind of interviews that we know in journalism have been around for considerably less than two hundred years. After glancing at their history, this conversation explores some of the issues that interviews by writers and with writers raise, with discussion of two or three interviews, including the response of a famous writer, Henry James, in a rare interview that might have been a hoax.

26 April
What’s the Point of Holocaust Poetry?
Professor Jean Boase-Beier
We will look at a poem about the Holocaust by Rose Auslaender and ask why she and others chose to put their experiences of the Holocaust into poetry. How does it make us feel? Can we relate to things that happened so long ago and in another place?

1 May
Here Be Monsters
Dr Jacob Huntley
Vampires and zombies stalk the contemporary cultural landscape, more prevalent and popular than ever before. What is it that makes these modern representations of monstrosity such a pervasive force – and what do they mean? Monstrosity has always provided a valuable way of expressing fears or taboos, providing symbolic representation for what is unknown or misunderstood, or as a way of designating Otherness. Whether they are social metaphors – such as Romero’s shopping mall zombies – or figurations of unconscious forces – such as, incubi, Lamia or Mr Hyde – these demonstrative presences are all around us.      

8 May
Can Machines Translate?
Dr Jo Drugan
This cafe builds on BJ Epstein's event on 6 March (but attendance at that session is not a prerequisite). How far can machines carry out the ‘fascinating and important’ task of translation? Even before modern computers were invented, authors such as H.G. Wells and popular science fiction such as Star Trek had imagined ‘Universal Translators’, enabling communication across all languages. Do recent advances such as Google Translate and smartphones bring these technologies within our grasp? What are their uses and limits? Feel free to try out free translation apps online or on your phone before the cafe.

15 May
The Writing of Disaster
Dr Wendy McMahon
It has been said that disaster shuts down language, renders words meaningless and art inadequate, for how can we describe or depict the indescribable, put words to suffering and trauma when it is so total? This café considers the role of the writer and writing in a decade marked in America by 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. The café will pose questions such as, what kind of cultural representation of disaster is possible, or, indeed, necessary? What role do ethics play in the writing of disaster? What can words really achieve in light of such trauma? It is hoped, by the end of the café, that we will have worked some way towards answering these types of questions, and considered the place of culture in national healing narratives.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Most Popular Languages on the Internet: Guest Post by Today Translations

For people who run online businesses, knowing what the most popular languages on the internet are, is extremely important. Sociologists can also benefit a lot from this, as they can analyse how people’s thoughts and perspectives have changed in just several years.  Gathering accurate data is not that easy, and it is only specialist language related services that have access to it. Today Translations, a London based translation agency, has looked at the data collected by Internet World Stats and has noticed that Internet usage has grown nearly 500% in the last 11 years. This is absolutely amazing.

Some of the data that is available in this infographic is not just interesting, but also surprising. For instance, although Japan represents just 10% of Asia’s internet population, it has one of the highest rates of internet penetration – 78% (the percentage of the population who uses the internet). Germany’s percentage is of 79, while that of Russia’s is of 43.

English remains one of the most used languages on the Internet, followed by Chinese and Spanish, while on Facebook, English is the first, and Spanish is the second. Knowing this data is very useful for all those involved in social media campaigns aimed at targeting traffic to certain businesses.

Perhaps one of the most interesting details of this infographic is that Arabic has increased in popularity a lot, as a direct consequence of the increased number of internet users.

It is common sense to recognise that in the very near future the data will change. Some of the languages will rank higher in the hierarchy, making room for others, maybe less common.

From the perspective of the internet, no language is to be ignored. It can become the language of a very successful business, that is why more specialised translation services like software translation and localisation will increase in popularity and demand.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Archipelago Books

I’ve recently had a chance to read some books published by Archipelago Books, a “not-for-profit literary press dedicated to promoting cross-cultural exchange through international literature in translation”, and I can definitely recommend them.

It’s wonderful to see a publisher dedicated to translation, so do read their books. And who knows? Maybe it’s a place to send those books you’d love to see translated to English.