Erik Camayd-Freixas wins Inttranet Linguist of the Year Award

Erik Camayd-Freixas, one of the translators for the undocumented workers arrested at a Pottsville, Iowa meatpacking plant (see my blog “Immirgant Workers in Iowa Denied Interpreter Rights” from July 24, 2008 above), has been elected Inttranet Linguist of the Year for 2008 for his courage in testifying at the trial.

An Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of the Translation and Interpretation Program at Florida International University, Camayd-Freixas was summoned in his capacity as a federally certified interpreter to translate in the hearings for nearly 400 illegal immigrant workers arrested in a raid on May 12, 2008. The conditions for that assignment were such that he took the unusual step of breaking the code of confidentiality among legal interpreters about their work.

According to the Inttranet Website website, the Linguist of the Year Awards are citations recognizing the struggle – and sometimes the sacrifice – of interpreters and translators who have helped increase public awareness of the importance of linguists and languages. Nominees are selected in relation to the frequency and impact of their presence in the press worldwide in 2008, and the winner is elected by the members of the Inttranet network of professional interpreters, translators and subscribers.

Upon accepting the award, Erik Camayd-Freixas said,  “We live in changing times where the canons of ethics are being redefined in many professions. For translators and interpreters, the prime imperative is Accuracy, followed by Impartiality and Confidentiality. In cases of conflict, Accuracy governs. And today there are cases in which Accuracy must be regarded as something more than mere literal correctness. If we are to be more than translation machines, more than automatons, if we strive to have a conscience and a heart, we must go beyond the words, to the deeper structures of meaning. For long, linguists have taken refuge in the comfort of formal correctness, but our world has closed that loophole. That ethical shelter is no more. Our Oath of Accuracy – we now realize – means a commitment to Truth.”

Based in Bihoral, France, Inttranet is a multilingual Internet network and news organization for professional interpreters and translators from over 50 countries. For more information on the Iowa case, see the New York Times article from July 11 titled “An Interpreter Speaking up for Migrants.”

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