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How to handle a catch-22 in a contract?
Thread poster: Sara Senft

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 20, 2009

I am working on some paperwork for a new agency. One of their expectations of interpreters is that the interpreter does not allow anyone else to interpret for them. The problem is that it is inevitable that family members, other bilingual staff, etc., will sometimes butt in and "help."

Should I not work with this agency? That would be the easiest solution, but I realize there could be other options.


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
subcontracting the job? Feb 20, 2009

Sara,

I'm not an interpreter, but my first thought was that the company is asking that you not subcontract out the work to a third party. Clearly, if someone butts in, you should ask them politely not to do that, but I don't think that you would be held responsible -- it's not as if you paid them to do that.

Why don't you ask the person who prepared the contract?

Patricia


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I like that idea! Feb 20, 2009

Thank you for the idea. I will send an e-mail to the HR contact person and see what she says.

Patricia Rosas wrote:

Sara,

I'm not an interpreter, but my first thought was that the company is asking that you not subcontract out the work to a third party. Clearly, if someone butts in, you should ask them politely not to do that, but I don't think that you would be held responsible -- it's not as if you paid them to do that.

Why don't you ask the person who prepared the contract?

Patricia


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:43
German to English
+ ...
You may not have others do your work. Feb 20, 2009

Patricia is (almost certainly) correct: This clause merely states that you may not subcontract your work. It is not a catch-22, as far as I can tell, but rather extremely normal, especially as an interpreter.

I am not sure what you mean by family members "butting in." In most interpreting jobs I have done my family was nowhere near me (I was in an office or a courtroom somewhere).

That is, of course, a different story when it comes to translating... but, in that case, they usually aren't "butting in" to do my work for me.

P.S. You might want to be careful how you formulate the question, if you really do intend to contact the HR-person... this is pretty standard, after all.

[Edited at 2009-02-20 21:58 GMT]


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Getting clarification Feb 20, 2009

You and Patricia could be right. I posted this question because I assumed that statement referred to, for example, a family member stepping in to interpret for me.

In my message, I posed it as asking for clarification. I also gave what my understanding was.

Derek Gill Franßen wrote:

Patricia is (almost certainly) correct: This clause merely states that you may not subcontract your work. It is not a catch-22, as far as I can tell, but rather extremely normal, especially as an interpreter.

I am not sure what you mean by family members "butting in." In most interpreting jobs I have done my family was nowhere near me (I was in an office or a courtroom somewhere).

That is, of course, a different story when it comes to translating... but, in that case, they usually aren't "butting in" to do my work for me.

P.S. You might want to be careful how you formulate the question, if you really do intend to contact the HR-person... this is pretty standard, after all.

[Edited at 2009-02-20 21:58 GMT]


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:43
German to English
+ ...
I cannot even imagine that happening... Feb 20, 2009

When should something like that ever happen? Are your family members also interpreters?

Will you be interpreting at home? That is something I have never heard of... and that is why I expressed my astonishment. I have difficulties imagining an interpreting job like that.

Most interpreting jobs are done "on site," i.e., where the client (either the one who is speaking or the one who is listening) is located.

What kind of interpreting job will this be?


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Totally on-site Feb 20, 2009

No, my interpreting work is completely on-site.

By the way....it seems like you quoted your own post. I know I didn't write the message to which you are referring.

Derek Gill Franßen wrote:

When should something like that ever happen? Are your family members also interpreters?

Will you be interpreting at home? That is something I have never heard of... and that is why I expressed my astonishment. I have difficulties imagining an interpreting job like that.

Most interpreting jobs are done "on site," i.e., where the client (either the one who is speaking or the one who is listening) is located.

What kind of interpreting job will this be?


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:43
German to English
+ ...
No, Derek Feb 20, 2009

I think she means that family members of the person she's interpreting for may butt in, which happens often in hospital settings, for instance.

Trudy


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:43
German to English
+ ...
Oh, ok... Feb 20, 2009

Trudy Peters wrote:

I think she means that family members of the person she's interpreting for may butt in, which happens often in hospital settings, for instance.

Trudy


Ah, now I get it. In my defense, it has been a long week.

That clause does not refer to those situations, but rather the ones I was imagining.

Still, it is probably a good idea to do your work even if others "butt in" to (try and) do it, i.e., you may be repeating some things they, i.e., the family members, might say.

Have a nice weekend!


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You are right Feb 20, 2009

Trudy, you are right. I meant family members of, say, the patient.

Trudy Peters wrote:

I think she means that family members of the person she's interpreting for may butt in, which happens often in hospital settings, for instance.

Trudy


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:43
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
I think it is a good clause Feb 22, 2009

Sara,
It seems to me that this clause is actually aimed to protect you. I don't know about "family members" because in my 20 years interpreting never met any family members during the job, but it does happen that someone present during the meeting tries to interfere and take over usually with the aim of saying *something different* then what was actually said or trying to add things which have not be said but pretending that it was *interpreting error*. This clause in the contract allows you to react and prevent it, otherwise you could find yourself in a very uncomfortable position (especially if the meeting is recorded or minutes are taken). In that meaning I wouldn't hesitate to sign this contract.

Another situation is when there are 2 interpreters, contracted by two sides of the meeting. It is customary, where I work, that in this case each interpreter speaks only for the party she/he was contracted by, but you may like to clarify this with your agency.

HTH,
Magda


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