The Minute of Silence is a Minute of Liberation and Revolution

The minute of silence is as important as any other minute in an RC workshop or class. It is valuable and irreplaceable. It equalizes opportunities and resources; it places all of us in our rightful places.

It is intended to give respite to those who enable important life-changing ideas to fly over oppressive linguistic barriers and reach all of our minds.

It allows the interpreter to look over and understand what she has been interpreting and what those who need no interpretating have already understood.

It allows the interpreter to detect any error or omission in the interpreting and think about how and when to correct it.

It allows the interpreter to rest for a moment and to participate in the workshop with the same information that other people have already assimilated.

It helps the people who are receiving interpreting to rest and think. It allows their minds to move forward at the same speed as those who are not in need of interpreting (usually people who speak the dominant languages).

It offers the leader an opportunity to clarify and reflect and think about what has been said and what will happen next.

It helps people who are typing on the big screen to rest their muscles and minds and to breathe and think about what has just been translated.

The interpreters do not stop working during the twenty minutes of their interpreting time. In the minute of silence they can notice if they are maintaining the same pace as those who don’t need interpreting and the pace and content of the workshop in general. If they are not, they can prepare to tell the interpreting system leader that they are not keeping up.

The minute of silence gives the interpreters an opportunity to think if they want to ask a question. (Those who do not need interpreting are able to formulate their questions while the interpreters are focusing on interpreting.)

We may think that taking a break after the class or having a mini-session can replace this minute. However, the interpreters—and those receiving interpreting—do not get the same amount of resource and opportunity if they can't stop and catch up with the rest of the group, which is always ahead of them. For example, the interpreters and typists are usually the last to choose partners for a session, choose a topic group, or join in a game. We are often last to participate in decisions that need to be made quickly, because we have been interpreting for our group. Without that minute of silence everything is ahead of our own participation and we have to accept others’ choices and decisions.

We should not forget that many interpreters belong to dominated languages and cultures and that we, part of the time, are also interpreting from our own language into dominant languages—it is not fair that we be the last to participate in making choices. A great contradiction would be to allow us to choose options from the beginning. 

For these reasons, and more, the minute of silence decisively interrupts distresses that prevent us from seeing that everything must go forward at a rate that benefits all people, not only those who do not need interpreting. We can look forward to all minds being included, at every moment, in what we are doing.

I define the minute of silence as a total absence of noise. That means it is not the time to go to the bathroom, to move to another chair, to change the batteries in one’s recorder, or to get a drink of water. It is time to be silent, respecting the minds of all the workers who are an integral part of this RC event.

It is a revolutionary minute. It interrupts the pull of the capitalist system to be continuously producing without really thinking about what we are doing and how it affects everyone in the group.

Xabi Odriozola

International Liberation Reference Person
for Languages and Oral Interpreting

Translated into English by Marcy Morgan

 


Last modified: 2016-04-18 05:49:15-07