Practice makes perfect – but where do I find the speeches?

Readers of the Diaries will have noticed that I have not been very active on this blog lately. Yes, well, busy busy and all that… Still, I’m pleased to say that I have not given up writing altogether!

Just this week I produced my first piece for AIB’s new blog, Simultaneous Interpretation. It’s all about where you can go to find useful speech resources for practicing interpreting. If you’re interested in finding out more, go and check it out!

Practice makes perfect – but where do I find the speeches?

Image courtesy of winnond at

Image courtesy of winnond at

Interpreters Tell the Story

Over the past few posts on the Diaries, I have been telling readers about some of the blogs I enjoy reading. In today’s post, I will add one last blog to that list. This one is of particular significance to me, and I’ll tell you why in a moment.

The AIIC Blog was launched last spring as part of the revamp of the main website of AIIC, the International Association of Conference Interpreters, of which I am a proud member. The blog’s tagline, “Interpreters tell the story,” promises an inside look at a broad range of topics related to the life of a conference interpreter, and that is precisely what it delivers. Recent posts have included a discussion on how government cutbacks might affect language policy, reflections on how techniques for glossary management have changed over the years, an entertaining rant about poor lighting conditions in booths, and even some ideas on the possible link between interpreting and jazz.

The blog is a collaborative effort, publishing regular articles from a number of veteran interpreter-bloggers, including Luigi Luccarelli, Phil Smith and Mary Fons, as well as guest posts and the occasional contribution by our President, Linda Fitchett. The more eagle-eyed among my readers may have noticed a familiar byline among all these names. For the past few months, I have been making regular contributions to its pages, telling stories from my own life as an interpreter. So far, I’ve talked about how a chance encounter in Brussels airport got me thinking about my own (mildly neurotic) relationship with the languages I speak, and I shared with readers what I did over the summer – or didn’t do, actually. And I have plenty more ideas brewing for future posts, so please stay tuned!

Here’s the quick way to find out what they’re talking about over at the AIIC Blog

If you would like to keep up with what is published on the AIIC Blog, all you have to do is add it to your RSS feed. By the way, while I’m on the topic of RSS feeds, I can’t pass up this opportunity to tell you about an interesting feature of the new AIIC website. Not only can you add the blog to your RSS feed, you can sign up for RSS updates on any number of interpreting-related topics. Whenever an article is posted anywhere on the website (not just the blog) that is related to the RSS feed you’ve chosen, you will get news of it in your feed. You can choose to receive news on more than a dozen topics, including freelancing for international organizations, getting started in the profession, training and research, conference equipment and standards, and others (consult the full list here). Cool, isn’t it?

Another nifty feature of the new website is its page of site sections, which offers a tidy little selection of past AIIC articles, all organized by topic. Visitors can navigate between about 30 different compilations. Here you’ll find articles on interpreting in conflict zones, memoirs talking about the history of the interpreting profession, overviews of global conference markets, tips for voice management, research findings and guidelines on remote interpreting, and much more.

Happy reading! I’ll be back soon with something other than a blog review…

Meet the Best-Kept Secret on the Interpreting Internet

Maybe you’ve already stumbled across it. Maybe you’re one of the few people who have already been tipped off about it by a colleague or acquaintance. Or maybe today will be the day that you discover what is sure to become one of the most valuable resources for interpreters on the internet.

I’m referring of course to, the new Q&A website run by and for the global community of interpreters. Until just a few days ago, the site was in beta testing mode and had only been accessed by a few dozen interpreters: those who had been actively recruited to bootstrap it as well as their friends, colleagues, neighbors and the odd innocent bystander who got swept up in the effort. This week, the site has been opened up to Google – and therefore, to the world – and so it’s time to check out what it has to offer.

By interpreters, for interpreters

A quick look at the “About” page tells us this:

This is a free, community-driven Q&A website about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation.

The target community for this site is composed of professional or occasional interpreters, interpreting students, their trainers but also buyers and users of interpreting services and other stakeholders in the conference industry, such as event planners, convention centres, standardisers and equipment suppliers.

We invite each of them to contribute their questions and answers to the site.

The FAQ page goes on to explain:

There are many types of interpreting: business, community, conference, court & legal, escort, public service.

There are also many categories of interpreters from full-time freelance or staff conference interpreters doing simultaneous or consecutive interpreting at international events, to non-expert language brokers.

This Q&A site hopes to be of service to all of them.

For me, there are two fundamental aspects that make this new resource so interesting.

Firstly, is aimed at all types of interpreters. This means that it will hopefully contribute to breaking down some of those artificial, at times self-imposed barriers between different types of interpreting practitioners.

Secondly, the site (which is sponsored and hosted by AIIC) is 100% community-moderated. That means that all participants on this collaborative website can edit and moderate the questions and answers – yes, that means you, too! You don’t need to ask for anyone’s permission or have any sort of special status to join in the moderation.

Meet the enlightened guru pundit

If you take a look at the list of users, you’ll be sure to find a few familiar faces from around the social media. My own user profile shows that I have asked eight questions, given 19 answers, earned myself 910 karma points and been awarded 11 badges. Apparently, my fellow users have decided that I merit the titles of Enlightened, Guru and Pundit, among a few other choice epithets. The badge I really want to earn, however, is Necromancer, mostly because I think it sounds cool.

The karma point and badge systems, as I understand them, are meant to foster the sense of community amongst users as well as reward those who make an effort to offer valuable information to their peers by granting them extended moderation rights.

Now the fun starts

I have already learned a lot from just during the bootstrapping effort. I asked a few questions about training that got answered by fellow trainers, one about iPads apps for the booth that was answered by a techie interpreter colleague, plus a few others that were just niggling questions of mine, which garnered some insightful replies.

Even more interesting has been to see the type of questions that other users ask – and the wealth of information that is offered in response! Now that the website is open to the broader community, I look forward to checking in to see what new contributors have to offer.

In closing, let me just share with you the best bit I have found so far on The question “What are the best interpreter bloopers?” has received 16 answers so far. While some of the answers will be amusing only to interpreters (with our particular sense of humor), one of the answers is so funny that I still laugh out loud every time I read it. But I won’t give it away here: you’ll have to go explore yourself to find out what it said …