I have always loved the irony in the name interpreter. For a group of people that strive to communicate clearly, we are called something that is pretty hard to define, and often confused. Surely, we have all had that conversation… “oh, you are an interpreter, what languages do you speak?” If not, I’m sure you will at some point.
There have been countless discussions and forums about the name we call ourselves. Purists have defined it, non-purists have blurred the lines and the merry-go-round of this discussion has continued and will continue, I’m sure.
I got an idea when I was reading my beloved Spoke Magazine, a mountain biking journal. My idea might help (or hinder) finding clarity. The magazine was describing the origins for the word peloton, and was also putting out there some collective noun suggestions for different groups of riders. For those not in the know, peloton is the main group of riders in a road bicycle race, but the origin of the word is the French word pelote, which means ‘a small ball’. I found it interesting that they chose to publish an article like this; I think it proves that mountain-bikers are not only physically fit and good-looking but we also have a high level of intelligence. I digress.
Why don’t we, interpreters, try to find our noun of assembly?! If we know what we are called as a group, maybe we will get to know ourselves better? (or it might not, and that’s okay too).
In my professional life at the zoo, I am surrounded by collective nouns. A pride of lions, a gaggle of geese, a sneak of weasels, a wake of vultures, a conspiracy of kea, a murder of crows, a parliament of owls, and so on and so on. As you have probably gathered, the collective noun has some kind of subtle link to its ‘host’.
So what would ours be? Here is some food for thought…
- As a nod to our core value of provoking thought: a ponder of interpreters
- Along the same lines as above: an inspiration
- Linking to the creative development process of interpretation: a studio
- As acknowledgement of our attention to detail and inability to visit another site without critiquing: an itch
Maybe there are sub-groups of interpreters…
- Interpreters that love to work with signage: a panel
- Those that enjoy new media: a screen
- The ones who love to develop presentations and tours: a babble
They are just my ideas, but I would love to hear if anyone else out there has more thoughts. If we can’t decide on one, please don’t disappear. We do already have one collective noun for interpreters that we can always use; INNZ.