Interpreting Tips

Even though I’m relatively new to the field of interpreting, I’ve gathered a few tips over the past few years: some from school, some from real life. Here are a few things that I like to focus on when I’m interpreting:

-Before any conference, I still get pretty nervous. What helps me the most in calming my nerves, is preparation. The more I know about the conference, the speakers, their bios, their presentations, handouts… the more I feel in control of the situation. As soon as you book a job, always ask the organizers for an agenda, speaker bios, and their presentations. It might take them a while to get back to you, which is why it is essential to ask for these as soon as possible. Clients need to know that preparation is a huge part of our job and that it can greatly affect the quality of our interpretation.

-I always prepare a glossary, either using the materials provided by the client or if no materials are provided, I just do my own research to create one. If the conference is on tractors for instance, I will open Google and type “tractors + glossary”. This will give me a monolingual glossary which I can then translate and enter into my own document. Continue reading

How to Create a Glossary

So you booked your first interpreting job but you are not very familiar with the vocabulary related to the subject-matter…

1- Open word, go to table and create a table with three columns (see below): the first one should be for your source language, the second one for your target language and the final one for your notes/comments.

On the top of the page, in bold, write the name of the conference, the date of the event and which language direction you will be working in.

Continue reading

The Twenty-Minute Rule

I just finished working for the CDC where I was on assignment doing simultaneous interpreting for the Stop Transmission to Polio program. It was fascinating. I learned so much, not only about Polio but also about interpreting. During the two-week period, I met and worked with some very nice interpreters who talked to me about some of our colleagues. I found out that apparently, some interpreters have a 20 mn rule, meaning that they refuse to interpret any more or any less than 20mn.

I understand the need for us to work the same amount, but geez, I’d hate to be stopped if I feel really good about a speaker, or about a particular topic. I don’t mind working a little more if it feels good.

Also, if we know that the presentation is almost done, then why hand over the mic? Why not just finish it off, for the benefit of the listener?

And what about Q&A sessions? I think it makes sense to have one person interpret the questions and the other one interpret the answers, again for the benefit of the listener. It’s just nicer to listen to. Well, often times the questions will be shorter. Should that interpreter work more afterwards?

It’s only normal that booth partners split up the amount of time they work equitably, I am not saying the contrary, but do we really need to set a chronometer?

As interpreters we must be supportive of one another, offer to take over if the other person is struggling, offer to write down numbers, bring water, and be flexible. In my opinion looking at one’s watch in this way only sets us apart from one another, adds unnecessary stress, and demonstrates an inability, or unwillingness, to adapt to situations.

Do you agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts? Experiences?