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The "terp moments" that follow are anecdotal; they really happened.  Terp moments are included only for the purpose of new or prospective interpreter enlightenment.  Baby-terps (as within the profession new interpreters are sometimes referred) often learn a great deal from the experiences of other professionals.  

In keeping with the NAD-RID Code of Professional Conduct, great care has been taken to ensure the Moments that follow are not in conflict with the seven tenets, their spirit or intent.  

We hope the new interpreter will find terp moments to be instructive and enlightening.

 


"Is my heartbeat too loud?"

The final bell had rung and the middle-school social studies class was well underway.  The interpreter was in-place but the consumer (student) had not yet arrived, so the interpreter sat still, waiting.  Suddenly, the student in question burst into the classroom doorway, then slowed to a walk to take his place at the front corner desk.  The interpreter began his work as the teacher continued the lesson.

A few moments later, the student signed to the interpreter, "Is my heartbeat too loud?  Is it bothering the other students?"

 


"Why isn't she laughing?"

In response to an odd and unexpected remark from a hearing student during math class, the teacher raised her eyebrows dramatically, took in a deep breath, and said, "Okey-dokey, artichokey!"  The room of 15-year-olds erupted with giggles and laughter.  The interpreter fingerspelled the teacher's remark, along with a brief explanation for purposes of cultural mediation, and conveyed the fact of the laughter.  The DHH student, unamused herself, acknowledged understanding with a nod.

The teacher, who had noticed that the DHH student was not laughing, said to the interpreter, "Why isn't she laughing?" and then insisted that the interpreter explain to the deaf consumer why the teacher's remark had been funny.  In response, the deaf student told the teacher, "It's a deaf-thing, you wouldn't understand - just like I don't understand why you think it was funny."

 


"I don't think I knew you were gay."

A deaf nephew was telling his dear hearing uncle all about the wonderful new person he had recently met and begun dating.  The uncle was delighted by the news and, naturally, asked many questions about his nephew's new love-interest, the answers to which the nephew was pleased to give.  

This was a lengthy and detailed chat toward the end of which the uncle said, "That's all very wonderful news, and I am delighted to know you have apparently met someone very special.  But ... I don't think I knew you were gay."

Turns out the nephew is not gay; the interpreter had misunderstood, so had been saying "he" and "him" while the signer had intended "she" and "her."  Of course, the interpreter immediately undertook the unenviable task of repair.  The situation was quickly righted and, happily, the uncle and the nephew enjoyed a good laugh.  The interpreter, on the other hand, was chagrined.

 


"My sex-friend and I are taking ASL."

While enjoying an evening of BINGO at a local Deaf Club, an interpreter was called over to assist a group of seniors who were perplexed by the signed communication of an ASL student, who had shown up that evening at the behest of her ASL-101 teacher.

The ASL student had been trying to explain that she and her friend (a female) had decided to take ASL class together because they thought it might be fun.  Unfortunately, the novice signer used the wrong handshape for GIRL, thereby signing SEX instead.

The interpreter was quickly able to clarify the communication and allay the fears of the seniors that the young lady was telling tales out of school.  The ASL student; however, was unduly embarrassed.

 


"Ummm ... who's speaking?"

The substitute classroom interpreter was relatively new to the field but felt comfortable because she was acquainted with the subject and the consumers, having worked with them previously.  Today's assignment was going well; she, the student, and the teacher had gotten off to a good start.

When the teacher concluded a quick review of the previous day's lesson, he strode leisurely toward his desk.  The students took this to mean that they might have a minute -- to tie a shoe, organize themselves, or sharpen a pencil -- before returning their attention to the lesson.  One of the students, a deaf consumer, followed the interpreter's gaze to observe the teacher's saunter, and noticed that the other students had relaxed for a minute.  This looked like a good opportunity to get something from her bag, and then quickly adjust her sweater and necklace.

Just before reaching his desk, the teacher proclaimed, "Okay, everybody!  Page 397 and listen-up!  Guided reading!  Chapter 8!"  The swift click of a mouse launched an audio-recording of Chapter 8.  Students quickly flipped books to page 397and began silently following along.  The interpreter's hands flew in response to the prerecorded text.  

A moment later, the deaf consumer, now satisfied with her sweater, looked up.  The interpretation was underway; the interpreter briskly signing in pace with the recorded voice.  The student's face registered a look of confusion as she found the teacher, who was not speaking but was seated at his desk and looking downward.  The student looked again at the interpreter, who was fast at work, and then glanced backward over a shoulder to see which student was speaking.  It seemed that no one in the room was speaking, yet the interpreter was apparently interpreting something.  The perplexed student looked at the busy interpreter and with a puzzled grin said, "Who's talking?"  

Finally, it occurred to the wet-behind-the-ears-interpreter that, while she was indeed interpreting, she had failed to keep the consumer informed.  The students were not the only ones who "learned a lesson" that day.  

Naturally, when class had concluded, the interpreter was prompt in making a clearly owed apology, and in assuring the consumer that it would not happen again.  The student smiled graciously and generously accepted the interpreter's sincere apology.

 

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... to be continued.

This page was edited: 09/15/2009
This page has been visited Hit Counter times since: July 17, 2008.
TerpTopics is the trademark and service mark of TerpTopics, LLC. 2008; 2009. All rights reserved.

TerpTopics TM SM is an independent entity; as such does not claim or attempt to claim, represent, or imply by any means whatsoever that it is associated with any other entity that may or may not offer services, goods, or information of interest to interpreter, Deaf, or student communities.  The opinions expressed here those of TerpTopics unless otherwise stated.  Please keep in mind that, while every effort is made to present correct, appropriate, and reasonable information that is based on our experience, anecdotal experiences of others, or developed during the general course of study and professional development, we do not represent TerpTopics as having cornered the market on wisdom (heck, no!) or experience; one reason why links to several other good and reliable resources are made available throughout this site, and we hope that earnest seekers of knowledge will take advantage of them.

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Gifts, goodies, and prezzies!  Shop 'til you drop!!  =)

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