September 2, 2015
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7 Questions for Israel de Souza

Israel de Souza durante palestra no Congresso Internacional da ABRATES, realizado em junho de 2015. Photo Credit: ABRATES

Israel de Souza durante palestra no Congresso Internacional da ABRATES, realizado em junho de 2015. Photo Credit: ABRATES

 

Brazilian Army Captain Israel de Souza received a standing ovation in 2014 following his first presentation at a major industry event: the 5th ABRATES Annual Conference in Rio. His description of interpreting with his team under the extreme conditions faced by the peacekeeping forces in Haiti during the infamous earthquake had a profound effect on the audience. He is the coordinator of ETIMIL (Internship for Military Translators and Interpreters) in Rio de Janeiro. A teacher, translator and military interpreter since 2003, Captain Souza has 10 years of translation/interpreting experience and 21 years of teaching experience. He will be the PLD Distinguished Speaker at the 56th ATA Annual Conference in Miami.

Interview by Tereza Braga

 

1) Israel, como foi que você apareceu de repente no palco do congresso da ABRATES no Rio no ano passado?

Bem, não foi tão de repente assim. Fora do palco, venho participando dos congressos da ABRATES desde 2007. Participo de grupos de mídia social desde a época do falecido Orkut. Quando o grupo “Tradutores e Intérpretes BR” se mudou para o Facebook, acompanhei a transição. Nele conheci muitos colegas tradutores e foi um deles (Daniel Estill) que me deu a ideia de apresentar algo sobre o que eu faço em operações de paz. Propus aquela palestra para o IV Congresso em Belo Horizonte, mas por algum motivo, ela não chegou a se confirmar. Em 2014, a presidente da ABRATES (Liane Lazoski) me convidou para palestrar no V Congresso, no Rio. É verdade, creio essa ter sido a primeiríssima vez que um militar palestra em evento de grande porte da nossa área. Repeti a dose no VI, em São Paulo, e agora estou bem feliz com o convite para falar para vocês na ATA.

2) Você já morou ou trabalhou nos EUA? Como vê as Forças Armadas americanas em termos de idiomas?

Nunca morei ou trabalhei fora do Brasil, exceto quando estive por um ano como chefe da seção de tradutores e intérpretes na missão do Haiti (MINUSTAH). As Forças Armadas (FFAA) americanas têm seus centros de preparo linguístico para tropas. A base aérea de Lackland (DLI) é bastante conhecida por seus cursos em idiomas, assim como pelos exames de proficiência linguística, muitos deles adotados por várias FFAA no mundo inteiro. Cabe aqui ressaltar que os EUA preparam seus intérpretes militares com um curso de inteligência que atualmente é realizado em um centro de inteligência militar dedicado.

3) Com que idade você começou a se interessar por tradução/interpretação?

Fiz um caminho muito comum entre alguns tradutores. Comecei pelo magistério e depois parti para a tradução e interpretação ao mesmo tempo. Desde os meus áureos 25 anos, tenho buscado saber mais sobre a tradução/interpretação e, aos poucos, fui me aproximando mais e mais destes ofícios. A partir de 2007, tenho me dedicado única e exclusivamente à tradução/interpretação no âmbito das FFAA e no meio civil.

4) Como vai indo a sua pós na Universidade Estácio de Sá? Tem opinião sobre a qualidade da formação acadêmica em tradução e interpretação no Brasil?

O curso é bom. É mais uma oportunidade de reciclagem e troca de experiências com outros colegas de profissão. Embora o curso da UNESA conte com bons profissionais, ele poderia ser melhor estruturado em conteúdo e na gestão das atividades propostas. Para quem é iniciante, o curso é bom, para quem já tem um pouco de conhecimento, há que se pensar.

No Brasil, temos bons cursos em nossa área, mas ainda limitados a determinadas regiões do país; se concentram basicamente na região Sudeste, no eixo Rio – São Paulo, dificultando, assim, o acesso das pessoas que não vivem nessa região do país. Os cursos online nessa área ainda deixam muito a desejar.

5) Como surgiu o seu amor pelos idiomas?

Meus pais falam somente o português. Nunca puderam ou tiveram oportunidades para estudar muito, menos ainda idiomas. Entretanto, fizeram questão de pagar meu curso de inglês. Comecei a estudar quando tinha 15 anos, pois havia sido aprovado em um concurso público para estudar na Escola Técnica Federal de Química do Rio de Janeiro. Na época, a escola dizia que era muitíssimo desejável que seus alunos conhecessem bem o idioma inglês para poderem prosseguir de forma adequada com seus estudos na instituição.

6) Qual a maior alegria de ser militar?

A maior alegria é poder me sentir útil e ter a certeza que há valores como comprometimento, responsabilidade, disciplina, camaradagem, honra e dignidade sendo cultuados e deixados como um legado para a sociedade como um todo. Em especial, para nós intérpretes e tradutores militares empregados em missão, a alegria de saber que fazemos a diferença para um povo e uma nação.

7) Por motivos históricos, a maioria de nós brasileiros crescemos com uma visão um tanto negativa das Forças Armadas e até da Polícia. De que maneiras a coisa vem mudando?

Muito do que se diz das FFAA brasileiras vem de uma visão deturpada e corrompida dos fatos. Nossa história sempre foi muito manipulada para atender interesses de alguns. Se analisarmos as ações passadas em seu cerne, veremos que as FFAA ajudaram muito na construção e desenvolvimento do nosso país, e continuam fazendo isso até os dias de hoje. Somos o braço forte e a mão amiga para ajudar a sociedade e prestar apoio sempre que nos solicitam.

Israel de Souza durante o Congresso internacional da ABRATES realizado em junho de 2015, ao lado de (esq. para dir.) Iara Regina Brazil (organizadora de eventos da ABRATES), Ines Bojlesen (colunista da PLD), Tereza Braga (PLD Administrator) e Liane Lazoski (diretora da ABRATES) Photo Credit: Tereza Braga

ISRAEL DE SOUZA durante o Congresso internacional da ABRATES realizado em junho de 2015, ao lado de (esq. para dir.) Iara Regina Brazil (organizadora de eventos da ABRATES), Ines Bojlesen (colunista da PLD), Tereza Braga (PLD Administrator) e Liane Lazoski (diretora da ABRATES) Photo Credit: Tereza Braga

 

August 26, 2015
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Shall We Dance? Step Along With Modal Verbs

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Amanda Morris

Consistency is key; it’s called the Golden Rule of contract drafting for a reason. Writers, drafters and translators alike do their best to keep a pattern when it comes to word choice in technical texts. This is why, like every other professional translator I’ve ever met, I am very devoted to glossaries and terminology databases. They are some of the tools we use to assure quality, precision and readability.

Okay, we’ve heard this before. Repeatedly. But it’s not always that simple, because, after all, we work with writing, not math. We (and the writers we’re translating) use synonyms, homonyms, figures of speech and what not. Furthermore, often enough each word has more than one meaning. Of course, context is our friend and we usually figure it out. But not always, especially when a word is in constant, yet inconsistent, use.

One of the most troublesome issues legal drafters and, consequently, translators face is the inconsistent use of modal verbs. It’s tricky, but I hope this piece, along with your own instincts, experience and knowledge, will help.

 

  1. Auxiliary Modal Verbs

There’s no need to go into details here, as the focus is not grammar, but, specifically, modal verbs in legal translation. However, a brief introduction to modal verbs will set the framework.

Modals are auxiliary verbs, that is, they can’t stand alone: they exist to give additional meaning to principal verbs, helping to set the voice, tense and mood. Together, principal and modal verbs form verb phrases, such as “could be” or “may have.”

 

  1. Modal Verbs and Legal Drafting

The most commonly used modal verbs in legal drafting are shall, must, may and should, including their negative forms (+ not). These words establish duties, rights, prohibitions and entitlements and are also known as “words of authority” (Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage, 952).

“May” is an option; “should,” a recommendation; “can,” an authorization. “Shall” and “must” will be discussed ahead in detail.

Remember that, although “must” and “may” have opposite meanings, “must not” and “may not” are almost synonyms.

 

  1. Inconsistencies in the Use of “Shall,” With Possible Solutions

The main problem with the use of “shall” in legal documents is that it has several different possible meanings, and all are still in use. According to the American Rule (which we will discuss further along), it should always mean an imposition of duty on a specific party, as in “the lessee shall pay.”

But it can also impose a general, nonspecific duty; give permission; establish a conditional duty that depends on voluntary action; act as a future-tense modal verb; express an entitlement; and make a suggestion or even a promise.

Indeed, the use of modal verbs, especially “shall,” can be so fraught with mistakes that some legal drafters prefer to avoid them altogether, choosing “the parties are required to” instead of “the parties shall,” or “the parties are free to” instead of “the parties may.” If it is possible to use these alternatives without any loss of meaning, they are good options.

Most legal writers, however, understand that, while modal verbs might sometimes be expendable in sentences, this is not always the case. There are two main theories of usage, each named after its country of origin: the American Rule and the ABC Rule (Australian, British and Canadian).

 

  • The American Rule

The American Rule states that “shall” always means, “has a duty to.” This rule may be a good idea, but its advocates are possibly too optimistic, since they believe that it is enough to impose the consistent use of the word through a mere guideline. As we have seen, it is not always so.

Actually, the first time I heard the verb “shall,” as far as I can remember, was in Disney’s “Cinderella”: “You shall go to the ball,” said the fairy godmother. It’s very clear that our heroine wasn’t forced to go to the ball. It wasn’t her duty; it wasn’t an order. She was finally free and she could go. If we follow the American Rule, however, this saccharine, sanitized version of the fairy tale turns as dark as Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Red Shoes,” in which the selfish protagonist is forced to dance and never stop. Going along with the metaphor of bibbidy-bobbidy-boo, we have transformed an invitation into a command: remove those pretty glass shoes, put on the red ones, and start dancing until you beg to have your feet chopped off. In the real world, no extremities will be severed because of the misuse of the verb “shall” in legal documents, but it will have consequences, including possible litigation.

So, as we can see, there is an inherent difficulty in equating “shall” with only one specific meaning. In both legal and everyday contexts, it is often used in several different ways, so it’s not particularly recommended or safe. However, if you (or your client) insist on the American Rule, be consistent, and all should go well; remember that, as a translator, the accuracy of the source text is not your responsibility.

Here are Bryan Garner’s guidelines for the meaning of each modal verb under the American Rule (Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage, 954):

shall
has a duty to

must
is required to [used for all requirements that are not duties imposed on the subject of the clause]

may not
is not permitted to; is disallowed from

must not
is required not to; is disallowed from; is not permitted to

may
has discretion to; is permitted to

is entitled to
has a right to

will
(expresses a future contingency)

should
(denotes a directory provision)”

 

  • The ABC Rule

The ABC Rule gets its name because it became popular among Australian, British and Canadian legal drafters in the 1980s. It is a more reasonable approach, allowing for the human factor, namely, that people will not use the term consistently, as it has too many meanings, so it’s best to just not use the verb “shall” at all. Bryan Garner, a fantastic writer on legal drafting and widely quoted in this piece, adopts this rule, and so do I.

One word of advice, though: the alternative to “shall,” in this case, is “must.” But many American drafters believe that “must” has an unpleasant, imperious connotation that only fits in statutes, regulations, laws or adhesion contracts, and avoid its use in contracts. After all, contracts are, by nature, an agreement and not an imposition.

That said, the ABC rule states that “must” is unequivocal. It might be perceived as harsh, but it’s simply uncompromising, as well it should be, since it is supposed to impose a duty, whether in a contract or any other sort of legal document.

Incidentally, don’t assume that these rules are confined to certain regions of the world. Despite its name and origin, American legal drafters have been adopting the ABC Rule more and more often these days (Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage, 955).

Here are Garner’s guidelines for the use of modal verbs according to the ABC Rule:

must
is required to

must not
is required not to; is disallowed from; is not permitted to

may
has discretion to; is permitted to

may not
is not permitted to; is disallowed from

is entitled to
has a right to

will
[one of the following:] a.(expresses a future contingency) b.(in an adhesion contract, expresses one’s own client’s obligations) c.(where the relationship is more or less between equals, expresses both parties’ obligations)

should
(denotes a directory provision)”

 

  1. Suggestions for Translators
  • Translating into English ― unless your clients insist (and in some cases they might, if it’s the custom in their law firms or agencies)―follow the ABC Rule and avoid “shall.” If you want to convey a duty, use “must.” If possible, eschew modal verbs altogether.
  • Translating from Englishask your client if they follow a specific rule. Otherwise, acknowledge that, most likely, modal verbs will be in the document and will have been used inconsistently. Trust your knowledge and instincts, and translate according to context.

 

Good luck!

 


References

  • GARNER, Bryan A. 2011. Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • GARNER, Bryan A. 2008. Garner on Language and Writing. Chicago: National Book Network. Kindle Edition.

Websites

(accessed in August, 2015)

For a defense of the use of “shall,” see:

August 19, 2015
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The three top behaviors that surprised me as a newbie interpreter

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

Elena Langdon

No matter how much one prepares to work as an interpreter, each assignment brings its own idiosyncrasies and surprises. Community or dialogue interpreting in particular is a type of performance with so many varying factors and agents that, even though some speech is highly predictable (a straightforward arraignment for a driving violation, for example, or a six-month wellness visit with a baby), a lot of it is not; meaning and therefore its transmission are negotiated on the spot. For interpreters, this is the thrilling part and par for the course. In a solid training program, a novice will learn about active listening, translating meaning instead of words, flow, and other dynamics of dialogue interpreting. Still, there is no way to cover every facet of the job. Below are three common occurrences (at least in my world) that no one told me about before I first stepped into an exam room as an interpreter.

Code-mixing ― This is slightly different from code-switching, according to some linguists at least.  I am using the term to describe the language used especially by immigrants with little grasp of the language spoken in their new home (code-switching, on the other hand, is usually used to describe the mix of languages that bilinguals or multilinguals use when talking amongst themselves, knowing that they don’t need to stick to one language; it can also be used to describe what children first do when they are learning two languages simultaneously). Of course, everyone is familiar with Spanglish, and what I encountered with Portuguese and Brazilians in Massachusetts is similar. The Portuguese they speak has several words that are borrowed from English and have replaced the original Portuguese term. I don’t necessarily mean the false cognates–these are easier to spot and handle because of their auditory similarity, such as aplicar for applying for a job, corte for court, and countless other examples. The tricky ones are the words that are simply lifted from English and pronounced with a Portuguese accent. In Massachusetts it’s been terms like estoua, draiva, and bimba (*). When I encountered each for the first time my brain temporarily shut down and I couldn’t figure out what the person was trying to say. The analogy for me is like looking for a sock in a sock drawer when in fact it’s in the pajama drawer (or, more likely in my case, on the floor). A similar minor panic overtakes me when I hear the name of an unfamiliar street, town, or business, but at least then I know it’s a foreign word being pronounced by a Portuguese-speaker. In the case of bimba or rufu, it’s trickier.

Brazilians identifying as Spanish speakers ― I was prepared for Portuguese immigrants to complain about my Brazilian variant, but I didn’t know how many Brazilians would think it’s easier and quicker to ask for a Spanish interpreter at a hospital. It’s a small matter but it was initially quite baffling, and it always adds a layer of confusion to the encounter. It can be difficult to convince providers that Spanish and Portuguese are separate languages, and to see patients unraveling this delicate net was frustrating. (Recently a Spanish speaker did the same in courthe wanted me to interpret in Portuguese for him. Is it more about ease and quick access than meaning? One would hope not.)

Boundary violations by providers ― I knew to watch out for patients violating boundaries, but providers who were experts in their field? The worst was a mental health provider at a locked behavioral health unit who asked me to go into the room where all the patients were having lunch, by myself, and talk to the patient. It was his regular daily check-in with the patient. I had been there two or three times that week and I guess the doctor felt comfortable asking me to conduct his interview alone: “Go in there and ask him how he is doing, if he is hearing voices, if he wants to harm himself or someone else, and then come find me and let me know what he said.” Another startling request came from a nurse as she reached across a semi-conscious patient while she was changing his bed linen: “So do you think he’s demented?” she asked me, earnestly seeking my opinion based on a short exchange between her and the patient. The first example is a bit extreme, but the second one has continued to happen throughout the last twelve years. Providers still do not understand our role, and we need to do more work to help them understand the boundaries.

If you are a practicing community interpreter in the United States, I doubt these stories surprise you. What behavior baffled you when you first started?

(*) Have you figured out what bimba means yet? What were some anglicisms that caught you off guard? Drop us a line and let us know!


 

A Brazilian at heart, Elena Langdon has worked as an interpreter and translator for over 14 years. She is certified by the ATA as a translator (PT>EN) and by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters as an interpreter. She holds an MA in Translation Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has been teaching interpreting and translation since 2005. In addition to being part of the PLD Leadership Council and one of the copy editors of our blog, Elena volunteers on committees for the National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare and the New England Translators Association. She is a past administrator and treasurer of the PLD, and was the second chair of the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters. Raised in Brazil by an American parent, Elena now resides in Massachusetts. She is also a dedicated triathlete and mother to three adorable children.