Conflict of interest or no?

I recently interpreted for a person who applied for a civil stalking and sexually oriented offense protection order. The victim advocate helped prepare the petition for an upcoming court hearing. Once completed, a question arose: ”Can you serve as the table interpreter for this hearing?” My interpreter ethics alarm went off. I mentioned that IContinue reading “Conflict of interest or no?”

Do you have any questions?

I interpret at Akron Childrens Hospital. At the end of sessions the provider asks “Do you have any questions?” The other day during a pulmonology appointment a mom asked a question that broke me up. I lost all sense of decorum and laughed aloud. Here is the scene. A nurse practitioner took great pains toContinue reading “Do you have any questions?”

Collegiality Counts

NO INTERNET CONNECTION? Years ago when studying for my Masters in Translation, a professor advised “You need to have friends and colleagues to contact when in a pinch.” Those words rang true today when I couldn’t reach an internet connection on the trusty iPhone. I needed a term stat. A mother mentioned in the waitingContinue reading “Collegiality Counts”


Confession. I love me my cartoons. On Christmas morning the bestest present from Pixar arrived on Apple TV. The animated movie Soul features mentors   who “guide fresh souls so that they can discover a ‘spark’ that will drive them to a happy and productive life down on earth.” Mentors who dedicate their lives toContinue reading ONE MUST BE A SERVANT BEFORE ONE CAN BE A MASTER/QUIEN SUPO SERVIR, SABRÁ REGIR


I prepare to this day for assignments with term lists and a good breakfast under my belt. Yet, what I expect to happen can quickly change course without a moment’s notice. That happened the other day at a pediatric cardiology appointment. I researched at MedlinePlus, a trusted source of health information in English and Spanish.Continue reading “PREPARE TO TURN ON A DIME”

Peter and the Interpreter

SIMULTANEOUS COMES OF AGE According to Mark’s Almanac of WKSU November 20, 1945, commemorates when the first of thirteen Nuremberg trials began to bring Nazi war criminals to justice. The criminal proceedings required interpretation for defendants and judges in English, Russian, French, and German. Hence, the birth of simultaneous interpretation with team interpreting. US ArmyContinue reading “Peter and the Interpreter”


WHATEVER COMES DOWN THE PIKE In spite of careful preparation and certification, we health care interpreters can’t know what turn an appointment will take or what topics will surface. Tension inherent in over-the-telephone interpretation increases the difficulty (at least for me). The other day a simple one-month checkup turned into a lengthy discussion of breastContinue reading “Readiness”

Caught off guard

BEST TO PREPARE As of late I became lax and didn’t prepare properly for once-a-week hearings. Years ago I regularly researched terms, prepared a list with parties to appear with charges and case numbers. Discipline paid off and the hearings ran smoothly. Not for this assignment. The kindly court clerk had sent the findings thatContinue reading “Caught off guard”

A single red thread

COLORS AND CULTURE What does red signify in your culture? Red stones such as garnets and rubies were believed to have health-giving and disease preventing properties. In Rome, children wore red coral as a talisman to protect them from diseases, and in China, for similar reasons, children always wore a piece of red clothing. MyContinue reading “A single red thread”

A day in the life of a remote interpreter

OPI VS. LIVE I switched suddenly from live to over-the-telephone interpreting due to COVID-19. Local courts and hospitals cancelled in-house assignments for the short term. The change presents struggles not encountered on live assignments: adapting to speaker phones, multiple voices on a call and increased concentration to visualize the phases of a doctor’s visit. LuckilyContinue reading “A day in the life of a remote interpreter”


thoughts on interpreting

Liam O'Dell

Freelance Journalist and Campaigner News

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