The Linguist

The Linguist 52,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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INSTITUTE MATTERS DIVISIONS & SOCIETIES Raising cultural awareness INTERPRETING DIVISION MEMBERS IMPROVED THEIR ABILITY TO WORK ACROSS CULTURES, WITH TWO INSIGHTFUL SEMINARS AT THE AGM, SAYS CHRISTINE POCOCK With a view to demonstrating how a better cultural awareness can improve both your interpreting and life skills, the Interpreting Division AGM on 8 June included two seminars that looked at 'Effective Intercultural Awareness'. Our first speaker, Dougal Lammond, has a journalistic and training background, and has lived in both the US and Brazil. He has already logged more than 10 years of cultural awareness training with a range of multinational companies. His talk, entitled 'What Does Cultural Awareness Really Mean?', began by asking participants to give their view of culture, based on what people in a series of pictures were wearing. He went on to look at what culture really is, touching on some of Hofstede's work, including 'software of the mind and collective programming of the mind'. He also looked at the important aspects of what constitutes visible and invisible cultural differences, and at why it is dangerous to try to interpret invisible aspects of culture (eg values and beliefs) by looking only at the visible ones (education, history, tradition, dress, behaviour, customs, etc). In the last part of his talk, Dougal initiated a lively debate by asking the audience to look at a list of cultural symbols, heroes and rituals, and to consider what makes up the 'British Onion'. Delegates then reflected on the most commonly declared values of British culture, such as politeness, compromise, humour, tolerance, modesty and tradition. Our second speaker, Robert Johnson, is a trainer, consultant and lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London and at the University of Surrey. Specialising in intercultural communication, he has worked with a wide range of institutions and companies in both public and private sectors. He has extensive experience of living and working as a language and communication trainer and consultant in France, Germany, Japan and China. GAINING INSIGHTS At the AGM (l-r), former CIOL Chief Executive John Hammond, student Tatiana Wates and speaker Robert Johnson; and (inset) Kate Fox's 'Watching the English' 32 The Linguist AUGUST/SEPTEMBER In his very interactive talk, 'Interpreting as the Art of Cultural Mediation', Robert explored how culture impacts on business. Participants were invited to reflect on the role of the interpreter as a cultural mediator, requiring complex intercultural skills, specific local knowledge and a high degree of flexibility. Cultural competence is the ability to interact effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations, based on specific attitudes, intercultural knowledge, skills and reflection. How that competence is applied can vary considerably from one interpreting setting to another. The public service or business liaison interpreter can ask for clarification if they realise there has been a cultural misunderstanding; conference interpreters have to develop other strategies. Robert also looked at how an interpreter might build on existing skills to offer cultural mediation as a separate strand to their career profile. In addition to their existing skills set, they would need to develop an ability to encourage other people to explore what cultural differences are. To become an intercultural communication trainer, it would be advisable to acquire greater theoretical knowledge (for example by doing an MA in business, psychology or applied linguistics); in-depth experience of living in the target culture; knowledge of the culture of potential trainees; extensive experience of working in international business environments; training skills; and the persistence to build a new area of one's own freelance business. It is not a well established profession and there is no established body of qualifications. As a closing tip, Robert recommended reading Kate Fox's book Watching the English – a brilliant, accurate and often very funny book. September STUDY WEEKEND 6-8 September Coburg, Bavaria GER This year's topic is Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (aka the Prince Consort). For details, email BUCKINGHAM PALACE: EXCLUSIVE EVENING TOUR Saturday 14 BPG September London, 5.30pm An expert guide will describe furniture, sculpture and paintings, including masterpieces from the Royal Collection, in the State Rooms. Price £35, includes glass of champagne. To attend, contact 'HINDI' Saturday 21 September Perth, 2pm SCOT A modern perspective of Hindi by Anju Okhandiar. Sandeman Room, A K Bell Library, Perth. KEY DIVISIONS Business, Professions & Government: BPG EDU Education: ID Interpreting: TD Translating: SOCIETIES CAM Cambridge: GER German: HK Hong Kong: LINC Lincolnshire: LON London: NW North West: SCOT Scottish: SP Spanish:

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