When you don’t speak their language – A bit about interpreting

Interpretation is the verbal translation of a conversation or presentation. An interpreter’s role is to ensure communication between parties is as clear as possible and misunderstandings are minimised. Having an interpreter allows you to express yourself in your native language. An interpreter can help you bide time to formulate responses in negotiations and assist you in understanding cultural differences.

There are several modes of interpreting, including whispered interpreting, consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting. Whispered interpreting is mainly performed during court proceedings and involves the interpreter sitting next to the listener and whispering the words into his or her ear. In consecutive interpreting, the interpreter listens and waits for the speaker to deliver part of a speech and then translates it into another language.Simultaneous interpretation involves orally translating a speech as it is delivered, in real time.

Interpreters work in situations where there is a language barrier, for example in business meetings, court hearings, conferences, presentations and other situations where one or more people cannot understand each other The cost depends on the language combination, as well as the length, nature and location of the assignment. Interpreting bookings are charged on an hourly basis but half day or full day block booking can also be made. In some situations, you may also be asked to cover the mileage and travel expenses but we do try to book local interpreters to minimise the cost.

Finding an interpreter at short notice can be difficult, especially in rarer languages, so it’s best to give us as much notice as possible. Initially, you should provide some basic details, such as language, location, nature and date of the assignment. In order to prepare, the interpreter will need as much background information as possible on the subject matter, participants and specific terminology they may need to familiarise themselves with.

Asking someone who is not a professional interpreter to interpret can be risky and uncomfortable for all parties involved. Interpreting is a complex process that requires a high level of linguistic, cognitive and technical skills; it requires physical endurance, the ability to handle challenging situations, portray the emotions of participants, remain impartial, and adhere to confidentiality.

Actually, most interpreting situations are challenging. They require a lot of patience, diplomacy and sometimes nerves of steel.