From the editor

Confidential: Issue 73 of Communicate! –The AIIC Webzine

In July this year AIIC released a statement reaffirming a core professional principle: that a cornerstone of the profession is confidentiality. This statement by the Executive Committee, and supported by all past AIIC Presidents, was in response to the rare occurrence of a particular interpreter being thrust into the spotlight of media attention, when Ms Marina Gross was the sole US witness to a private conversation between Presidents Trump and Putin. American legislators and the global media wanted an account of what had been discussed, and, for a while, threats were made to subpoena the interpreter.

Confidentiality in the spotlight

This fracas not only raised public interest in the interpreter in question, but in the profession as a whole. There was even some debate on the differences between interpreters and translators; with some journalists using the two terms interchangeability —requiring quick but stern lessons in the differences between the two skill sets.

Eventually the noise died down, and the interpreter was not called to testify – at least in part as a result of the protests from AIIC and other professional representatives. Yesterday’s news became today’s fish and chips wrapper (or its digital equivalent), and the lenses and microphones pointed towards the next political outrage.

The interpreter community used the occasion to reflect on their ethical obligations, with broad consensus that, although many of the technologies have advanced, the professional duty of confidentiality remains absolute.

Several of the articles in this issue of Communicate! deal with confidentiality, as a central focus or in passing. “Utmost secrecy! The interpreters' professional duty”, by AIIC Honorary President Christopher Thiéry, is republished from the book Naissance d’une Profession and argues that professional secrecy serves to protect not only the interests of the clients, but the “priceless legacy” of the interpreters’ profession.   In “Interpreters and professional secrecy” Edgar Weiser considers a campaign – spearheaded by the peak international professional association – for an international convention to protect interpreters against actions that might jeopardize professional secrecy. Christiane Driesen, in “Trials and tribulations” discusses progress made by the AIIC  Legal Interpreting Committee, and comments that for legal interpreters confidentiality is indeed enshrined in the laws that protect confidentiality between lawyers and their clients.

Varied topics and regular columns

Other articles cover varied terrain: Kilian Seeber's “Interpreting from the sidelines” provides the results of a survey of interpreters working from a remote interpreting hub at the 2014 World Cup. “Reliving the nightmares of others”, by Martyn Swain, analyses the vicarious trauma experienced when interpreting accounts of atrocities – giving voice to both victims and perpetrators). Andy Gillies recommends the numerous benefits of keeping up-to-date with CPD programmes in “Continued professional development is a win-win”. And Linda Fitchett reports on progress made, and challenges ahead, for the campaign to support interpreters in conflict zones (“Still fighting for those interpreters left behind”). 

We also have new episodes in two regular columns in Communicate! Julia Poger, updating The Business of Interpreting, gives valuable advice on marketing one’s services in “What is the customer decision journey?" And Christine Adams continues with her historical investigation of the profession at “The Strasbourg Oaths of February 842: an early assembly” in the series Looking for Interpreter Zero.

On a personal note…

Finally, this is my first issue as editor of Communicate!, and so I would like to thank Luigi Luccarelli – my predecessor in this role – for his support. Luigi has played a key part in building up this online journal over two decades and seventy-two issues, and secured its strong reputation across the Association and profession. It will be a hard act to follow, but I hope that I will be able to follow his example and provide a lively menu of interesting and relevant topics. 

The last piece of this Issue, “A short history of Communicate! (1999-2018)",  is Luigi’s reflection on the webzine’s journey from Issue 1 in 1999. This commentary, originally published in Naissance d’une Profession, has been updated for an English language edition of the book, currently in preparation.

I hope you enjoy Communicate! Issue 73: Confidential

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your comments or suggestions for future issues.

Martin Field is the AIIC Communications Officer, and editor of Communicate!

Recommended citation format:
Communications officer. "From the editor". October 24, 2018. Accessed May 25, 2020. <>.