A promise is a promise, so here we are telling you about the second part of last week post: interpreting. Interpreting isn’t related to theatre; it isn’t playing a role. Rather, it is the interaction a person knowing languages (and more) between two or more people. Interpreters facilitate communication among people: they know languages as well as cultural facts from the countries implied in the act of communication. But let’s analyze it step by step.
What’s the point of an interpreter? Well, have you ever thought about what happens if a person goes to hospital and doesn’t speak the same language doctors do? You may be thinking that a kin will solve the problem. But, how do you think multilingual meetings in the international context work? In these cases everything implies a professional level, so they don’t count on amateurs. These are a few situations where an interpreter is needed.
You may think that a translator can be an interpreter and vice versa. But that’s not always true. Personal skills –as well as other acquired skills– are rather different. Translators tend to be autonomous people working alone in one project which will have to be submitted at a specific deadline. They have the time to look up every single difficulty they find, think, rethink, and make decisions that can be changed in the very last moment. A translation can be reviewed by another translator, so that it can be perfect.
However, interpreters perform their work at a precise moment. Their translation decisions of a phrase or word must be instantaneous; there is no time to think too much, or get a second opinion. Moreover, interpreters must posse some skills that translators may not have: communicating skills in front of an audience. It is not about the accurate translation of a word it is about interpreting the message that is being expressed by one speaker into the second speaker’s language. Let’s see how it works into the different types of interpreting.
There is consecutive interpreting. In this kind of interpreting one speaker starts to talk for a while and then it is the interpreter who communicates with the other speaker reproducing the ideas expressed by the first one. The interpreter uses a technique of taking notes so that all the information can be transmitted. Interpreters write ideas down on pads; they are structured, linked and represented into a code (symbols help to keep as much information as possible in a short period of time).
Consecutive interpreting can be performed in front of an audience or in a meeting between two or more people. In the first case, in spite of not being anything established as a rule, it is advisable to perform and modulate one’s voice according with what one is saying. Here the first person singular can be used. However, in a meeting where there are many interactions between two people, the third person singular is more frequent. This kind of interpreting is also called bilateral interpreting. As an example, let’s imaging a meeting between Obama and Rajoy, where Obama says to Rajoy: “It’s a pleasure to be here”. The interpreter would say: “El señor Obama dice que es un placer estar aquí”. That’s the way “reported speech” works.
Simultaneous interpreting tends to be more popular among people. Interpreters here are invisible, this means they are in booths, from where they translate as the same time as they hear. It is possible thanks to a headphones mechanism. Interpreting skills here are different from consecutive interpreting skills. Interpreters are not seen, so they don’t face an audience and they don’t have to behave in front of it. A disadvantage of this is that they must express all the ideas just with words, gestures won’t help them. Moreover, they tend to work in team, with a booth partner, who usually writes down the specific data that the speaker is saying in order that his or her partner can incorporate them to his or her speech.
It is fair to say that interpreting is always easier into your mother tongue, because one speaks it better that any other learnt language. A thing that interpreting shares with translation is that being bilingual is not the only requirement to perform this kind of work. This can also be learnt. Culture also plays an important role here. And it is even more difficult to transfer cultural aspects here because of the simultaneity of the job. The research part plays also an important role among interpreters, because it is not only about the moment of interpreting itself, it is also about the work of researching at home. Interpreters must explore all possible areas that might be mentioned in a specific meeting.
What do you think now about this job? Isn’t it interesting?