mr.cummings had me at the ‘e’

As you can tell from the title of this blog post, each word is in lower case. Don’t worry, it is a one-time thing in honor of one of my favorite poets: ee cummings.

The moment I read Four by him, I was instantly hooked. My amazement with him became even more profound when I learned he had gone against all the conventional and accepted forms of writing.

His poems aren’t made up of usual stanzas or strophes. Cummings adopted free verse in an unprecedented way: capitalizing words that didn’t need to be, starting each line with a lower case word, dividing whole words into different lines, etc.

Let’s just say that if you wrote like he did for a school paper, you would most likely fail.

Last year I came upon something I never thought possible: an anthology of poems by ee cummings in a book store in Guayaquil, Ecuador. To my surprise, each of the poems was written in the original English language with the Spanish translation next to it by Jose Casas.

I have enjoyed reading both the Spanish and English versions. To be able to read how the translator interpreted many things and compare them to my own opinion has contributed to my belief that literary translators have it even more difficult than you would think.

Remember, poems are so intricate that there can be a wide range of interpretations. Also, you could never again think or feel the same way as the original author while translating a piece of work in another language.

So, I give Mr. Casas props for his work and leave you with XLV, the original and the translation (Click on the image to see it large):



Not Quite “Write” Wednesday

Mistranslations, misspellings, grammatical errors, or just plain wrong! We’ve all seen them, we’ve all laughed at them, and some of us have even made them.

It’s amazing how many companies all over the world can’t seem to avoid making silly mistakes. This is what happens when you rely on anything but a real translator/interpreter. Just yesterday I was eating at a local mall, when I came upon the following Burger King ad. Spell check, anyone?

Oh, so very chessy!

Bilingualism and Biculturalism

Right now I am about to finish my Bachelor’s Degree!

To be able to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Ecuador you have to do a thesis. In my case, I chose a topic that hits close to home: bilingualism and biculturalism.
I’m researching how return migrants that are adolescents and young adults cope with self-identity issues after coming back from living years in the United States. Now this is where your help comes in. If any of you know an Ecuadorian living in his/her country between the ages of 15-25 and that has lived a couple of years in the United States, you can contact me through here or at

Thank you!

¡Estoy a punto de terminar mi Licenciatura!
En este país es necesario hacer una tesis para graduarte con una licenciatura. En mi caso, escogí un tema con el cual me identifico mucho: bilingualismo y biculturalismo.
Estoy investigando como adolescentes y jóvenes adultos que han retornado a su país de origen manejan sus problemas de identidad al haber vivido algunos años en Estados Unidos. Es precisamente por eso que necesito su ayuda. Si conocen a ecuatorianos que solían vivir en Estados Unidos y ahora tienen entre 15 y 25 años de edad, me pueden contactar por este medio o a
¡Muchas gracias!

Why You Shouldn’t Be Confusing Interpreter With Translator

If every T&I student at my school got a penny for each time they’ve heard an interpreter being mistakenly called a translator, I bet they could each set up their own company with no problem. This mistake has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. A translator converts only the written word while the interpreter converts orally, and I think you all should know.

The thing is, there are many people in the field who only do one of the two, and I’m sure that every time their role was mistaken, a bit of their pride was crushed.

It’s been such a common misconception that even the President of the United States got it wrong in the State of the Union speech he gave not too long ago. Here is the extract from the speech when he referred to the Bin Laden mission:

“One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job – the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs.”

Dear Mr. President, it’s interpreter not translator.

Nonetheless, just because he got it wrong doesn’t mean you should, too.

Remember:  Translator ≠ Interpreter

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Many people wonder how you “study” T&I. Some have asked me how I study for exams, and it is simply based on practice, practice, practice. These are the websites or podcasts that I use to learn new vocabulary or to practice simultaneous and consecutive interpreting.

1. Democracy Now!

Democracy Now is a news program hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. I especially like it because it is independent and not affiliated with any corporation, which explains why it has received awards in the past. Luckily, the Spanish version is released along with the original version everyday. You can listen to it from many radio frequencies, the main web page or download the podcast.

2. TED Talks

If you want to listen to a speech about anything, you should definitely check out TED. The topics range from humanitarian issues, new technology, religion, the economy and even the most unexpected topics you could imagine (How to Spot A Liar). You can download all the speeches you want as podcasts, as well.

Click on the following link for one of my favorite TED Talks (it’s actually a bit tough to interpret):

3. Oral Practice Exam (Spanish-English Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination)

You can practice some legal interpretation with this mock exam. MP3 recordings of judicial exams are hard to find, so make sure you take advantage of it.