(Note, 20/11/2015: this post has been updated here.)
As part of a bigger project I’m hoping to get stuck into later in the year, I updated my tabular comparison of different interpreting Codes of Conduct/Ethics from the fields of both conference and public service interpreting in both spoken and signed languages.
First, updates: I added in the 2011 version of NRPSI’s code – nothing very exciting, mostly just housekeeping after the separation from CIOL and a new directive to actually respond to the complaints process. ITI also has a new 2013 version, which lost nothing from before but added several new things: they are now the only organisation to explicitly forbid price fixing, bribery and poaching work from other members.
But then I left the UK for the first time and went into the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct for ASL/English interpreters, which was somewhat surprising and threw up quite a few isolated things that no British terp has ever thought needed spelling out. On the plus side though, they don’t have any of that guff about “adding” and “taking away” from the “spirit of meaning”, which still sounds to me like conducting a séance with a dead accountant.
As a sign language terp I find it wonderful and amazing that in other slices of the interpreting/translation professions we can find strange and unnerving things, which can make you question whether your own field is completely sane:
- Simultaneous interpreting is very bad and pretty much a last-ditch resort (AIIC)
- In case there was any doubt, national law is a bit more important than a voluntary regulator’s code (NRPSI, NAD-RID)
- Terps with failing physical or mental health must “withdraw from the profession”, Eskimo style (NAD-RID)
- BSL/English terps used to have to “afford their colleagues assistance” and “strive to do good”, but don’t strictly need to bother any more (NRCPD)
- American terps can’t take mind-altering drugs during an assignment, but it may be a necessity elsewhere (NAD-RID)
- International spoken language conference terps are the only ones who have an explicit problem with being in two places at the same time (AIIC)
- In America, everyone within a 1,000 mile radius needs warning and consultation before you show up with a trainee interpreter in tow (NAD-RID)
I exaggerate somewhat for comic effect. But the overall picture remains the same as before – the values that all professional interpreters agree on, and the behaviours they abjure, are without exception extrinsic to the profession, ie. represent “professionalism” in and of itself, and are not really about interpreting at all.