The Linguist

The Linguist 56,5 – October/November 2017

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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Page 14 of 35 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER The Linguist 15 FEATURES vain for dedicated counselling services which simply don't exist. Even if they did, there is the issue of client confidentiality, which also militates against providing too much detail informally to colleagues, friends and family. Small steps forward Improvements have been made in the form of trailblazing joint police/interpreter CPD (continuing professional development) activities. Recent initiatives by Cambridgeshire Police have included joint training days whereby both sides can learn about each others' respective roles and duties. Zakon offers highly specialised training to PSIs from retired and serving police officers. Joined-up training, and training from people with first- hand experience in the field, is still virtually unknown in public service interpreting. However, in my opinion, PSIs benefit far more from training with relevant professionals – lawyers, doctors, police – than from those without such experience. As a new interpreter on the block, I did not have the option of such specialised training. Nor was I aware that I could have withdrawn from the assignment at any time. The detectives working on the case emphasised how important it was to have the same interpreter throughout to ensure consistency, so I simply kept turning up. At that stage, I did not have sufficient knowledge of the professional codes of conduct that outline best practice standards and could have helped me. The CIOL's Code, for example, recommends that members use their professional judgment to ensure that they remain competent to carry out their assignments. Trafficking is big business. The anti- trafficking charity Unseen estimates that 3,805 potential trafficking victims entered the UK in 2016, representing a 17% increase on 2015. More than a third (1,278) were children. The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) estimates that there has been a 245% increase in potential victims since 2012. I have interpreted in numerous Home Office and police interviews where clients (usually young women) claim to have been trafficked into the UK by (usually older men) in return for sexual favours. Sometimes they have been trafficked for jobs but they are more likely to end up as modern-day slaves. Sessions can be challenging for interpreters because the traumatised clients can alternate between anger, sobbing, silence and assertions of embarrassment and shame. Sometimes several breaks are required as clients are temporarily unable to continue. Traffickers continue to wield enormous power long after these women have escaped or been discarded – the women are simply too frightened to disclose their identities, if they ever knew them in the first place. Interpreters have to deal with one-word answers, verbal diarrhoea, completely contradictory statements, as well as defensive and even aggressive body language and speech, which can be directed as much at the interpreter as the interviewer. The other side of trafficking is where gangs are paid by 'customers' to transfer them to the UK, usually by lorry, car and boat. Trafficking gangs' phone calls are increasingly being intercepted and taped by the authorities, so there is a lot of work, too, for transcribers and translators. Transcripts make for disturbing reading – pages of conversations involving multinational gang members talking about human cargo. Transcription involves intense listening to phone conversations, with various accents and languages spoken (sometimes simultaneously), accompanied by varying degrees of noise in the background and/or foreground. Discussions range from 'demain 20 petits yeux' ('tomorrow 20 Vietnamese') to the names of 'people carriers' (i.e. gangs, not cars). The transcriber has to take on the mindset of the speakers to make sense of it all. Trafficking, like everything else, has its very own language. slavery IMAGES © SHUTTERSTOCK

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