Jamie Spurway

Jamie Spurway

I am a diversity trainer and currently work with Glasgow University. I specialise in delivering courses about refugees, human trafficking, equality, gender and religious & cultural diversity.

Location Glasgow, UK

Activity

  • Thanks Naqeebullah. Such experiences are bound to leave a profound impression on us.

  • Very much agree Karin!

  • Good question Elizabeth. The times that I have heard of this happening is when the interpreter and the client/ refugee are from the same country. So the interpreter has a sense that they would know if the refugee's experience is true. But as many other learners have commented, coming from the same country is not the same as knowing someone else's life!

  • Good summary - 'be an interpreter, not judge'!

  • Thanks Yumiao. I'm interested to hear you say that you never think of what you have interpreted again! You really don't think of it at all?

  • Thanks Sherine

  • Interesting suggestion Gentiana.

  • I agree, all parties fully understanding the role of an interpreter prevents many problems from arising.

  • Thanks Sherine, the question asked whether you have heard of such unethical practice by interpreters?

  • Thanks Elizabeth. The debrief after an interpreting session is considered good practice by many, but is not required or even (I believe) particularly common.

  • Thanks Roberto, a comprehensive answer.

  • In your answers, if you have time please consider all three questions. Thanks.

  • Thanks all for this important discussion. I agree with the sense that an interpreter can share the emotional quality and impact of an interpreting session. The key for me is that they would not name the client they were referring to, or name any identifying features like nationality, religion etc. So something like 'I was interpreting for someone who had...

  • Thanks Sally, comprehensive answer.

  • Thanks Madelaine. Can you clarify what you mean by 'sensible information'?

  • Thanks Sherine, what do you feel about the issue of whether interpreters should be held legally accountable?

  • In your answers please address the question of whether interpreters should be legally accountable if they breach a code of conduct. Thanks all.

  • Detailed analysis Boris, thanks.

  • Helpful inputs Elizabeth, thank you.

  • Thanks Sally, helpful points. Yes the absence of any mention of wellbeing is very telling! I wonder how often it occurs in other codes of conduct.
    And your query of the phrase 'good standing in the community' is very valid. That might mean quite different things to different people! And I wonder why they feel it is important at all. Someone who is new to...

  • Thanks Karin, yes I think often the authors of these documents find it easier to say what behaviour is prohibited than what is the ideal they wish people to adhere to.

  • Thanks Yumiao, your point about respect being understood differently is an important one I think. It can be understood differently between individuals and especially between different cultures. Eye contact is an example that comes to mind. In some cultures respect is shown by lowering your eyes, in the UK avoiding eye contact is generally seen as...

  • Thanks Gema, it hadn't occurred to me that the Capita one could be applied to other professions.

  • Hi Sofia. No I would not say that there are true/ false, right/ wrong answers to these three questions. We ask them because they open up discussion and illustrate some of the complexities around the role of an interpreter. In relation to the first question around expressing emotion, I remember working with interpreters who did this very well. Their...

  • I appreciate you making the effort to respond in English then. It will ensure that we can all understand and respond to your comments.

  • You are right Karolina, there is no national code in the UK. Different organisations will often have their own code.

  • Thanks Sally. Do you find that the various codes are broadly similar? Or are there significant, and potentially problematic, differences between them?

  • Thanks Boris, I appreciate your reference to inaccuracy turning another context into a legal one.
    In relation to confidentiality, the main reason other learners are providing for this is when there could be a risk of harm from abiding by confidentiality.

  • Thanks Yumiao. I think you are absolutely right not to sign the 'support person form'. But I can imagine those who do not understand the role of an interpreter might argue with you about it. Has it been difficult to persuade some police officers about this?

  • Thanks Mihaela. Are there any examples you feel able to provide? Of when you were asked to take sides I mean.

  • Thanks Elizabeth. Here in the UK (and I suspect in other countries of asylum too) there is sadly a great deal of skepticism among immigration authorities to the narratives of those seeking asylum. The people responsible for deciding whether or not to grant refugee protection often approach the task with a mindset that many people lie in their claims and they...

  • Thanks Karolina. What were your thoughts on the questions about accuracy and impartiality?

  • Thanks Sally, comprehensive answer. I appreciate your reference to the natural and inevitable affinity that interpreters will feel towards some more than other. As you say, it would be the expression of that feeling that would be inappropriate, not the feeling itself.

  • If you have time, please try to answer all three questions that are posed. They are:
    1. Does the level of ‘accuracy’ depend on the context: e.g. is the level of accuracy needed in the legal context different from that in the medical context?
    2. Have you ever been implicitly asked ‘to take sides’? How did you react?
    3. Can you think of an example in which...

  • Welcome to our third and final week together everyone. Here we start to dig into some of the more subtle, complex and challenging elements of humanitarian interpreting.

  • Others might argue there is a subtle difference between the two Yumiao but my feeling is that they essentially mean the same, yes.

  • Really glad to hear it Yaw! Thanks for the feedback

  • Thanks for all your engagement over week 2 folks. I've enjoyed reading your comments and discussion. See you in week 3!

  • Thanks Anastasiia. Yes it is very important that interpreters admit when they do not speak the same dialect as the client. Because of the power imbalance, we cannot assume that the client will feel able to say that they are struggling to understand the interpreter. Many people would feel that it would be disrespectful to the interpreter to say so.

  • Important points all. And glad to see you responding to each other's input. Thanks for this.

  • Good point Ibtihal

  • Very true Karolina

  • Thanks all. Yes these differences between languages (such as some languages not having gendered pronouns like he or she) is something that many service providers do not understand. This is especially true here in the UK where the vast majority of people only speak English!

  • Thanks all. I think it is very important for interpreters to be mindful of dialect differences and not to say that they will be able to interpret when the dialects are quite different. I know some Arabic and as you say, the differences between Morrocan/ Algerian Arabic and that spoken in Iraq or Lebanon or Syria are great enough that an interpreter and...

  • Thanks both, yes that is my sense too.

  • Oh wow, that is certainly a potentially insulting source of confusion! Do you have any sense of how it came to mean such different things? I know that Egyptian Arabic has a number of differences from Syrian/ Lebanese. But I've not heard of such a dramatic difference in meaning.

  • Thanks Mihaela. Can you think of any problems that might be caused by an interpreter offering their cultural perspective?

  • Who do you mean by 'the speaker' Yuanwen?

  • Please answer in English Sergio. It is our shared language in this course. Many thanks

  • Yes I think it can be helpful to say that rules or policy prevent you from eating (or doing something else that might compromise your role). When we place the source of decision external to ourselves it often removes any further argument or discussion about it.

  • Thanks Ramzi. My sense is that offering just something to drink would be common regardless of the profession in question. Certainly here in the UK it would be unusual to offer food to a professional who is visiting a workplace for an hour or so.
    Your observation about the 'you understand me well' comment is interesting. I know many refugees, especially...

  • Thanks Yumiao. We do not explore the issue of pay in this course, but I could well imagine that a potential drop would a source of stress.

  • Thanks Boris. Do you think it is possible for humanitarian interpreters to avoid assignments that might cause them distress?

  • Yes, sadly I think a lack of support is the norm in most countries. Especially as you say, for those who are self-employed.

  • Thanks Yuliia, do you know if interpreters do get supervision where you work?

  • Thanks Ramzi. That sounds frightening, and in my opinion you should not have been asked to perform that task - certainly not to perform it alone. An official of the court might read the charges and you would then interpret them, but you should not have been asked to read them yourself.
    Regarding supervision, what benefit do you think it provides?

  • I'd recommend comparing your answers to those of other learner's in this step. There are a number of different ways of looking at these issues.

  • Interesting thoughts Boris. I share your sense that if the interpreter's attempt at echoing tone and emotional expression go to far then it may be perceived as mocking the client. There is a balance to be found here I think.

  • Sergio can you translate this comment into English please? It is our shared language as a group and I would not wish others to miss your input.

  • Thanks Sarah, have a look at what others have said in answer to these questions. Can you appreciate why other learners have responded differently?

  • Thanks both. Yes Karin I think you make a good point about the interpreter not leading the patient to a particular question, but instead ensuring that he has the opportunity to say what is on his mind.

  • In answering the questions to this step I would particularly encourage you to write your own answers and then compare to what others have written. Perhaps respond to other learners. It can be helpful to consider the value of other people's perceptions of these issues.

  • Interesting example Yumiao. We do use the phrase 'that was soul-destroying' in English, as you know. But my feeling is that it would be understood to mean that someone is depressed. I think most recently I have heard people use it to describe boredom!

  • Shukran Ibtihal

  • Interesting example Gema. It makes me think of the English idiom 'I was beside myself with grief'. It is not very common these days though. Your suggestion of explaining literally what an idiom translates as and then giving its overall meaning, is a good approach.

  • Really striking images from these idioms Sally. The sense of blood leaving the heart is particularly evocative.

  • Thanks for this Danielle - I smiled at having the cockroach!
    And yes you are right about the need to avoid comparing different people's 'right' to feel as they do.

  • Thanks Yuanwen, yes we will be exploring the role of the interpreter's cultural knowledge in later steps. As you say, they are not cultural experts.

  • Thanks Anastasiia. Just in case it is helpful for you to know, most people in this context use the term 'interpreter' to refer to those who communicate spoken languages and sign language. The term 'translator' is usually reserved for those who work with the written form.

  • Interesting insights Boris thanks. I'm disappointed (but not very surprised) to hear that courts have some of the worst practice in your experience. Accurate interpretation is supremely important in that setting and yet often the practice does nothing to support interpreters.

  • Thanks Gema, yes knowledge of the asylum process can be very valuable.

  • Thanks Sarah. Yes I've heard from many interpreters that speaking in the first person is not always what they encounter in service providers.

  • Useful advice Sally, thanks for sharing it. I've not thought about that challenge before but I could certainly imagine the difficulty it would create if the service provider appears brusque or uncaring.

  • Thanks Sally, some very important points.

  • Good examples Mihaela, thanks. Yes I'm sure the spoken language of Roma people is often very hard to place in terms of national origin.

  • Good example Karolina, thanks for sharing it. I think your case shows us one of the many problems with assuming that language can be a reliable determinant of nationality. You and I both have equal British citizenship but judging by language (and accent) a language analyst might come to the wrong conclusion that only I am British. A similar thing has...

  • Hi Iman. Could you translate your comment into English please? English is our common language on this course and want to ensure that I and the other learners can benefit from your input. Many thanks.

  • Thanks Sarah. Has this happened to you a number of times? Are you able to tell us how you responded?

  • Yes Benita, essentially all Scots speak English - with a Scottish accent as you say. The schools teach in English, the media is almost all English etc. There are Gaelic speakers, and people who speak other dialects in their homes, but essentially everyone speaks English too.

  • Thanks Victoria. Yes this perception that a certain version of a language is the proper one (or more sophisticated one) can form a pressure on others to adopt it, even when it is not the dialect they are most comfortable in.

  • Ha thanks for this example Boris. I didn't know that was a common practice but can imagine the problems it would cause.

  • Thanks Elizabeth, you are right to consider impact on the Scots speaker too.

  • Hi Sergio. Could you translate your comment into English please? English is our common language on this course and want to ensure that I and the other learners can benefit from your input. Many thanks.

  • Thanks Karolina. Arabic very much does have different dialects. Moroccan Arabic for example is quite different from Syrian. The differences have caused problems in interpretation many, many times!

  • Hi Iman. Could you translate your comment into English please? English is our common language on this course and want to ensure that I and the other learners can benefit from your input. Many thanks.

  • Thanks Sally. Yes the example of French speaking Africans is a good one to compare to. Someone from DRC for example will not speak the same French as a Parisian but may (consciously or unconsciously) try to change their speech to fit the interpreter.

  • Thanks Sarah. Can you think of any impact that the difficulty may have on the Scots speaker? Especially if English is the more dominant language in the culture and therefore the one more associated with being educated and sophisticated?
    I ask because a similar thing sometimes happens with refugees. In Afghanistan for example a common language is Dari. ...

  • Many thanks for providing your translation Julia. I'm not sure if there are other Portuguese speakers on the course, if so, it would be interesting to compare translations with them.