On the Job: What Is that Word?

Part of being a good interpreter is the continual expansion of your glossary and your knowledge in interpreting. Whether it’s through listening to industry talks, reading industry blogs, networking with other interpreters and learning from them,  as long as you’re learning and building on your skills, you’re doing your part on this front.

Here’s a quick tip for expanding your glossary:
When on an assignment, keep track of the words you stumbled upon or had to take a moment to remember, and add them to your glossary when you get home so you will remember them for the next time.

xdxs, micho, say what,

Say what? Photo courtesy: xdxs.tumblr.com

You might ask, “What do you mean ‘if you don’t know a word’?” Despite our title as interpreters and translators, we still aren’t all-knowing and may still encounter unfamiliar terms. This is a fact, and it’s alright. So what should we do when we get stuck on a phrase? Well, I have three tips here:

1. Remain calm. Don’t freak out! It’s going to be okay.

2. Remember your role. The default role of an interpreter is a conduit, which means that you are to keep the flow of communication without adding to, omitting from, or distorting the message.  With this in mind, do not try to omit the word by avoiding what you don’t know.

3. Just ask. If you don’t know a word, ask. Your clients need you there because they need your help in getting their intended message across. Just because you don’t know something doesn’t make you a failure. Instead of guessing the equivalent to the target language, ask the speaker for clarification of what she meant by the specific word: “The interpreter is unfamiliar with the phrase ‘xx,’ could you please define it or clarify what you mean by it?” Sometimes, you’ll know the translation after you hear the definition, and would be able to go back to interpreting the complete utterance. If you still don’t know the equivalent to the target language, interpret the definition instead. This will allow you to keep the flow of communication without construing the message.

At the end of the appointment, if the parties were able to successfully communicate and get what they need from the conversation, you will have fulfilled your purpose. Congrats!

It’s okay that we don’t know everything. The important thing is to learn from our experiences and to maintain the mentality of lifelong learning.

Just keep learning and happy interpreting!

What the Heck is a Stress Test? (Medical Interpreting)

Medical interpreting is exciting because it is often unpredictable. No one appointment is the same, and interpreters often walk into their assignments without much knowledge about the matter in discussion. Even so, as part of our professionalism, we must be as prepared as we can be to ensure we are providing the best service and fulfilling our job of enabling communication between the provider and patient.  As many of you may know, we’re not always given a lot of detailed information about the appointment at hand, so what I do is take any relevant information as clues for what is to come. These can include the hospital, the doctor’s name, the age of the patient, or basic information about the type of appointment, such as a consultation or a physical. As interpreters, we should be resourceful and use what we have as the basis for our research and preparation for the appointment.

Recently, the one clue I received was “cardiac imaging,” so I read about the different types of cardiac imaging and made sure I was up to speed on the procedure and technical terms. When I arrived to the assignment, I learned that the patient was taking a  Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram. Thankfully, I knew all about it by the time of the appointment so it went smoothly.

Below is a quick summary of what the exam is about and how it works, as well, a list of terms that came up during the appointment, which I hope will be helpful to you.

Basic overview of the Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram: 

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram is a type of stress test, which is used to evaluate the heart’s ability to respond to stress. During the test, the patient is connected to an electrocardiogram to monitor his heart rate and a blood pressure machine to monitor his blood pressure before, during, and after the heart rate reaches capacity. The goal is to see how the heart responds when it is working hard. Four sets of ultrasound images are taken throughout the process. One before the injection of the Dobutamine, two as the medication takes effect, and one after the heart rate goes back to normal when the medication loses effect. There are two ways to stimulate the heart rate: one by exercise, and one by medication. Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram the type of cardiac imaging used when the patient is unable to walk or run on the treadmill and when the medication, Dobutamine, is injected through an IV instead to simulate how the heart responds to exercise.

The difference between a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram and a regular Stress Echocardiogram:

The process for the two is pretty much the same, except that with a regular stress echocardiogram, patients are asked to walk/run on the treadmill to help increase the heart rate. Pictures are taken before the patient walks on the treadmill, right after the heart rate reaches capacity, and after the heart rate slows down.

Keywords during a stress test: 

  1. CARDIAC IMAGING / 心臟影像檢查 (xīnzàng yǐngxiàng jiǎnchá). Stress tests are one type of cardiac imaging.
  2. DOBUTAMINE STRESS ECHOCARDIOGRAM / 多巴酚丁胺負荷超聲心動圖 (fùhè chāoshēng xīndòngtú).
  3. DOBUTAMINE / 多巴酚丁胺  (duō bā fēn dīng àn). The medication used to stimulate the heart during the exam.
  4. INTRAVENOUS INJECTION (IV) / 靜脈注射 (jìngmài zhùshè). Medication is injected using an IV.
  5. INJECTION / 注射 (zhùshè). The medication, Dobutamine, will be injected into the bloodstream using an IV.
  6. STRESS TEST / 壓力測試 (yālì cèshì).
  7. SUPERVISE / 監都 (jiāndū). Sometimes the cardiologist will supervise the test along side the technicians
  8. BRA / 內衣(nèiyī) or 胸罩 (xiōngzhào). Patients are asked to remove everything from the waist up, including their bra.
  9. WAIST-UP / 腰部以上 (yāobù yǐshàng). Patients are asked to remove clothing from the waist up and put on a waist-length patient gown.
  10. CARDIOLOGIST / 心臟科醫師 (xīnzàngkē yīshī).
  11. ECHOCARDIOGRAM TECHNICIAN OR ECHO TECH/ 超聲心動圖技術員 (chāoshēng xīndòngtú jìshùyuán).
  12. SMALL BREATH / 吸小口氣 (xī xiǎokǒu qì). The echo tech may ask the patient to take in small breaths to help her get better pictures.
  13. HOLD BREATH / 屏住呼吸 (bǐng zhù hūxī). After asking the patient to take in a small breath, the echo tech will ask the patient to hold his breath for a bit.
  14. BREATHE, EXHALE / 吐氣 (tǔqì). The echo tech will instruct the patient to breathe out once they are done taking the pictures.
  15. LIE ON THE SIDE / 側躺 (cètǎng). Patients are asked to turn to their left side when images are taken with the ultrasound machine.
  16. LIE ON THE BACK / 平躺 (píngtǎng).
  17. WAITING ROOM / 候診室 (hòuzhěnshì).
  18. ULTRASOUND / 超聲波 (chāoshēngbō).
  19. GEL / 凝膠 (níngjiāo). A gel is applied to the transducer for easy navigation.
  20. COLD / 冰冰的 (bīng bīng de). The ultrasound gel is a little cold when it touches the skin.
  21. ECHOCARDIOGRAM (EKG) / 超聲心動圖 (chāoshēng xīndòngtú). Uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart.
  22. ELECTROCARDIOGRAM (ECG or EKG) / 心電圖. Traces the electrical activity of the heart.
  23. MONITOR / 螢幕 (yíngmù). The heart rate and pictures are shown on two different monitors.
  24. DOSE / 劑量 (jìliàng). During a Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram, a patient will receive a certain number of dosages of the medication to help the heart rate reach its capacity.
  25. SERIES / 系列 (xìliè). During the stress test, four sets of pictures are taken. One taken before medication is injected, two during when the medication is taking effect, and one after the medication has lost effect.
  26. EFFECT OF THE MEDICATION / 藥效 (yào xiào). The last series of pictures are taken when the effects of the medication are gone.
  27. TREADMILL / 跑步機 (pǎobù jī).
  28. RUN / 跑步 (pǎobù).
  29. JOG / 慢跑 (mànpǎo).
  30. WALK/ 走路 (zǒulù).
  31. BLANKET / 被子 (bèizi) or 毯子 (tǎnzi). Patients are often offered warm blankets during the test in case they feel chilly,
  32. WARMER / 暖箱 (nuǎn xiāng). Some places have warmers to heat up the blankets.
  33. RESULTS / 結果 (jiéguǒ). If the cardiologist is on site, he would give the patients the results right after completion of the echocardiogram. If not, the patient will receive a call with the results.

Good luck with your assignment and happy interpreting!

On the Job: Relay Interpreting in a Medical Appointment

Relay interpretation is a type of consecutive interpretation used when multiple languages are at play at the same time, where the source language is  interpreted into different languages, and at least two interpreters are present. We see this most commonly used in conference interpreting where the source language is rendered into a common target language and then further rendered into specific language groups. This type of interpretation is similar to the game “telephone,” where one message is whispered down a line of people, and the last person in line announces to the group what the message was. If you’ve played this game before, you’d know how easily it is for the original message to become distorted at the end of the line.

With this in mind, we can see the challenges of relay interpretation. Because multiple players are involved, the risk of distorting the message is high, where omission from or addition to the original message can occur; thus, it is important that all interpreters involved are professionals and are  familiar with the code of ethics and the  necessary means they need to take to ensure accurate interpretation of the message.

At a recent  medical appointment, a Mandarin interpreter was requested. I learned early on that while the patient spoke Mandarin, he also spoke a Chinese dialect that I am unfamiliar with. This was not a problem because he understood Mandarin, but his son was present as well, and my work complicated when the two of them communicated in their dialect, leaving both the provider and myself out of the conversation.

During the appointment, the patient and his relative would have side conversations in their dialect. I had to inform the provider that the side conversations were in a different dialect that I didn’t understand, so she knew I wasn’t keeping information from her. After the side conversations ended, I tried to find out what they were talking about, and the son would kindly summarize it for me, allowing me to interpret the summary to the provider.

Much of the appointment went like this: the provider spoke, I interpreted the English into Mandarin Chinese, after hearing my interpretation, the patient and the son would converse in their dialect, and then the son would respond in English or in Chinese–if in Chinese, I would interpret it into English for the provider. What worried me was that while the side conversations lasted for at least 30 seconds at a time, the summaries were only a few words long, such as, “he said okay.”

In this case, relay interpretation took place, from English to Mandarin to the separate dialect back to Chinese then to English again. As I mentioned earlier, to ensure that messages get transmitted without distortion, we need to make sure that the interpreters are professionals; however, since the son was a family member, he felt that as long as he understood the message, it was okay. This is partly why family members are highly discouraged to act as interpreters. As well, when messages are summarized, the interpreter, not the speaker, decides what was most important and less important in the message. Because of this, important information can be lost during the transmission of information.

As an interpreter, I always want to make sure that messages are being understood, so I worried about what the patient was saying to his son and whether they full understood the provider’s instructions. However, it seems like the  in situations like this, it’s hard to repeatedly instruct the family members to interpret everything, or ask that the patient speak for himself rather than through the family member.

Fellow interpreters, what would you have done in this situation?

Phone Interpretation: Could You Repeat that Again?

In the perfect world, an interpreter will relay every single message perfectly without interruption. However, sometimes even when everything is perfect–you have the perfect phone connection, you’re in a quiet environment, you’re following all protocols for phone interpreting–there are times when a new word comes up or when you didn’t get all the information the first time around. The first thing to do when this happens is remain calm. After that, you can take the steps below to remain professional and still complete the task of relaying the correct information.

What if I don’t know how to interpret a word?
If an unfamiliar term comes up and you’re unable to interpret it, the ideal solution should be to quickly look it up. One benefit of interpreting on the phone is that you can have your internet or glossary handy. If that doesn’t work, and you happen to know the meaning of the word, interpret that. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the word and what it means, it’s okay to ask the speaker for clarification or for an alternative word. Of course we all wish we could interpret everything without any mistakes or lapses, but when you’re on the call, it’s important to be on your toes and think fast.

When to ask for Repetition, Verification, and Clarification? 
When information received is unclear, the interpreter can ask for repetition, verification, or clarification of the information. It’s important to ensure accurate information before interpreting so the callers receive the intended information. Of course the ideal would be that the information is jogged down correctly on the first try, but we are human. When asking for such information, make sure to use third person, “This is the interpreter. May you please repeat what you said after ‘London’?” Or, “The interpreter would like to verify the phone number. Is it 543-210-3429?” Or “The interpreter would like you to clarify what you mean by ‘vital signs.'”

Repetition. Asking for repetition means you’re asking the person to repeat what was said.

Verification. Asking for verification  means you will read back what you think you heard and wait for affirmation that you got the correct information.

Clarification is used when you are asking for the definition of a word. An interpreter is sometimes confronted with words for which the equivalent to the target language is not off the tip of his tongue. The first way to deal with this is to figure out from the context what the word is. Once you’ve figured that out, you can verify with the speaker if that is the correct word. However, if you still can’t  interpret or describe the term, ask the speaker for further explanation or a definition so you can interpret their response instead.

One more tip about asking for clarification: always be specific about the information you need again. If you missed the zip code, ask for the zip code.

What if the speaker talks too much and I’m unable to retain the information?
In this case, gently interrupt the speaker and ask them to break the information into smaller segments, so details are not missed. “Ma’am, this is the interpreter, may you please break down the information into smaller segments so I can ensure accuracy of my interpretation? Thank you.” You’d be surprised, but people can be accommodating–they want the same thing you want, which is to pass on necessary information to the person on the other end of the phone.

Hope this is helpful. Happy interpreting!

Note Taking for Phone Interpretation Calls

In “How to Prepare for a Phone Interpretation Session,” I talked about the preparation needed before the call. Today, I’ll talk about the importance of your note-taking skills during an interpretation call.

The main difference between phone interpretation and in-person interpretation is the lack of non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and gestures. When interpreting in person, an interpreter can discern meaning from body language; the speaker can also take cues from the interpreter when he uses a hand gesture to indicate a need for a pause. Without these physical cues to help the speaker and interpreter during a phone call, excellent listening and note taking skills are especially important to ensure the transmission of accurate information between source and target languages.

The three basic skills needed for phone interpreters are good memory, attentive listening, and excellent note-taking skills. These probably sound familiar to seasoned interpreters as they are the same skills needed for in-person interpretation; however, because an interpreter is usually unable  to conduct the interpreters introduction as they would for in-person appointments, speakers aren’t always aware that they should give information in short segments. This can at times result in compact and lengthy segments of information.

While we need to depend on our short-term memory here, jogging down key words, such as nouns and verbs, as well as all numbers and proper nouns, are especially important. In fact, all numbers and proper nouns need to be written down because those are information that tend to escape our short-term memory fastest. One thing to avoid is writing out every single word. Instead, symbols and abbreviations will help make note taking more efficient. For example, if we’re talking about rising temperature, a simple upward arrow with a degree sign would work. Efficient note taking will also ensure that you are not focused more on note taking than listening. When you’re not listening carefully, it’ll become more difficult to recall the information later on when it’s time to render the message.

Fellow interpreters, what kind of information do you jog down when you’re taking notes? I’d love to hear your experiences with this.

Happy interpreting!

What Kind of Pain Do You Feel? (Chinese-English Medical Interpretation)

One of the big questions during medical appointments is the patient’s feeling of discomfort and pain. Below is a quick guide to the different types of pains that may come up during a medical interview, along with their Chinese translations. Hope you’ll find this helpful.

Type of Pain Symptoms Chinese Translation
Ache Continuous pain. 痛(tong) , 疼(téng), or疼痛 (téng tong)
Band-Like Pain A squeezing type of pain. 擠壓痛 (jǐ yā tòng)
Burning, searing Pain that feels like it was caused by heat or fire. 灼痛 (zhuó tòng) or燒灼感 (shāo zhuó gǎn, a burning sensation)
Cramps (menstrual) Menstrual pain. 經痛 (jīng tòng)
Cramping, grabbing pain Spasmodic muscular contraction. Quick pain that feels like spasms or a sudden snatch 绞痛 (jiǎo tong) or 痙攣 (jìng luán)
Cold Pain Pain that comes with cold sensations. Often seen around the lower back, abdomen, and joints. 冷痛 (lěng tong)
Dull pain Pain that exists persistently but without much intensity. Pain that’s bearable. 鈍痛 (dùn tòng), 悶痛 (mēn tòng), or 隱痛 (yǐn tòng)
Heavy Pain Pain with a feeling of being weighted down. Often seen in the head and limbs. 重痛 (zhòng tòng)
Moving pain A pain that moves continually to different body parts. 走窜痛 (zǒu chuàn tòng)
Needle-like A pain as if from being punctured with a needle. 刺痛 (cì tòng)
Pressing pain Feeling as if there’s a weight pushing against part of the body. 壓痛 (yā tòng)
Sharp pain Cutting or penetrating pain by a sharp or pointing instrument. 尖痛 (jiān tòng), 劇痛 (jù tòng)
Shooting, stabbing pain Intermittent flash of pain. 閃痛 (shǎn tong)
Splitting pain Sensation of being ripped apart. 撕裂痛 (sī liè tòng) or 撕裂般疼痛 (sī liè bān de  tòng)
Tingling pain Feelings of numbness as if being pricked by multiple needles. 麻刺痛 (má cì tòng)

What other types of pain have you encountered, or do you think I missed? Please share.

Happy interpreting!

6 Useful Phrases to Learn in a Foreign Language

I recently returned from a trip in Spain. I had such a great time in the historical country and immersed myself in its culture and devoured its delicious food. I’m pretty sure though, that if it weren’t for my sister-in-law’s fluency in Spanish, getting around would have proved difficult. While most of us English speakers may view English as the lingua franca and feel that everyone should speak it, that is not always the case.

Basic Phrases for Travelers to Learn_Language

It became clear to me half-way through my travels that knowing some basic phrases in the language used in the country would make life easier. The ability to communicate, even a little, with the locals in their own language, also makes me feel more adequate. I don’t think it’s fair to expect everyone to speak English when we are the visitors to someone else’s country.

The following are 6 phrases I found useful. I’ve also wrote them out in Chinese for travelers who are traveling to a Chinese-speaking country.

1. Where Are the Restrooms?
I learned before Spain how to ask for the restrooms in Spanish, and it probably is the Spanish sentence I used the most, since we were outside all day traveling and touring the various landmarks. Figuring out how to say “Where is” and “How do I get to” in the foreign language will definitely come in handy.

qǐngwèn (請問) = excuse me, or may I ask. 請: please.  問: ask.
xǐshǒujiān (洗手間) = restrooms. 洗: wash. 手: hand. 間:  room.
zài nǎlǐ (在哪裡) = where is. 在: at. 哪裡:  where

2. Directions: Straight, Left turn, Right turn
Knowing how to ask directions is one thing, but understanding the directions you get is another. In a museum in Spain, I asked a staff member for directions to the restrooms, and he was friendly enough to give me detailed instructions. Unfortunately, once he started speaking I knew I was in trouble–I couldn’t understand a word! All I could do was focus on his hand gestures and body language and hope that I will eventually find my way.

The ability to understand or recognize basic direction phrases will help you make sense of the friendly guidance you receive, and of course, get you where you need to go.

zhízǒu (直走) = to walk or go straight. 直: straight. 走: walk.
zuǒzhuǎn (左轉) = to turn left. 左: left. 轉: turn.
yòuzhuǎn (右轉) = to turn right. 右: right. 轉: turn.

3. Numbers. One to Ten.
Knowing your numbers will help you pay the right amount, get the right change, or get on the right bus.

On my flight back from Spain, the stewardess came up to me and asked me a question. While I couldn’t understand, I assumed that she was asking for my seat number or row number since she was directing others to their seats. 25F was my seat, but while I knew two (dos) and five (cinco), I didn’t know twenty-five, so instead of speaking I gestured two and five with my hands. Hand gestures work, but knowing how to say your numbers is important as well!

One to ten in Chinese:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
èr sān liù jiǔ shí

For numbers beyond ten, there is an easy formula, demonstrated below.
Two-digit numbers
11 = ten one = shí yī
25 = two ten five = èr shí wǔ
69 = six ten nine = liù shí jiǔ

3-digit numbers
Hundred = 百 bǎi
300 = three hundred = sān bǎi
350 = three hundred five ten = sān bǎi wǔ shí
356= three hundred five ten six = sān bǎi wǔ shí liù

4. I Don’t Understand Chinese
If you’re in a position where you can’t understand a single word, no matter what is said, just let the person know. If you are asking for help, maybe you can find a different way to communicate—-through pictures, hand gestures, body language, etc. If you’re lucky the stranger might be able to help you find someone else who can speak your language.

wǒ tīngbùdǒng (我聽不懂) = I don’t understand or I can’t comprehend.
zhōngwén (中文) = Chinese.

5. Sorry
Getting people’s attention in a polite way is important, especially if you want help.

In Chinese, you can say bùhǎoyìsi (不好意思), which literally means to be embarrassed. This is used in scenarios when you feel that you are inconveniencing someone, such as when you’re asking for directions from a stranger.

duìbuqǐ (對不起) is used when you are apologizing, usually for doing something wrong.

6.Thank you. 
謝謝 (xièxie)
We are polite travelers, so of course we need to say our thank yous.

What are some phrases you find useful when traveling? Leave a comment!

Safe travels and happy learning!

On the Job: How to Introduce Yourself as an Interpreter

At any interpreting job, it’s safe to assume the possibility that your clients have not worked with interpreters. Even if they have, the interpreters they’ve worked with may not have explained to them how it works. This is why it’s helpful when you introduce yourself, to also ask if they’ve worked with an interpreter, and if they haven’t, slip in your 20-second spiel to explain your role and how the session will go.

The introduction should be short, brief, and to the point. Your goal is to convey your role and to let the clients know how to communicate through an interpreter. Sometimes you’ll find it hard to explain your role because the service provider (doctor, lawyer, etc.) may be impatient, but try your best to get through it.

Your self-introduction should include four elements.
1. Confidentiality- Everything said will be kept confidential. This applies especially to legal and medical interpreting cases.

2. First person- Everything will be interpreted in first person. If the patient says, “my head hurts,” the interpreter will relay, “my head hurts,” for the provider.

3. Flow of Communication- To ensure the flow of communication, interpreters should ask all parties to speak directly to each other and keep sentences short to ensure accuracy of the message. Interpreters should also assign a hand motion to signal pauses (in case the speaker goes on too long) to allow time to complete the interpretation.

4. Everything- Everything that is said will be interpreted, even if it was not directed to the other party. For example: If the doctor has side conversations with the nurse and you and the patient can both hear it, interpret it. The patient has the right to hear everything spoken in the room.

Here’s an example of what you can say.
My name is [Name], hired by [Agency], and I will be interpreting for you and the patient/client today. I will repeat everything that is said today, and everything will be interpreted in first person. To ensure accuracy, please keep your sentences short. If i raise my hand like this [stop signal], please pause so I can catch up. Finally, I will keep everything said here confidential.

Note: When speaking to the provider, you’ll use your source language, and when speaking to the client, you’ll repeat the same information in the target language.

What if the Provider Says He’s Worked with Interpreters?
If the provider has worked with interpreters, they may not want to or need to spend the extra 20 seconds with you to learn about something they already know how to do. Don’t force it. But during the session, if you notice that the provider is speaking to you and not to the client, you can make gentle nudges to help them speak directly to the client. This is not just about following the “rules” of interpreting, it’s also about showing respect to the client. Even though our clients have limited fluency in English, some of them still understand a little bit of English, and hearing the provider say, “tell him this, tell him that,” would not feel good to them at all.

Our role as interpreters is to act as conduits and help make  communication possible between people who speak different languages. We care about our clients and want to make sure that everyone involved is kept in the loop, that’s why we should insist on interpreting everything and monitoring the flow of communication.

Interpreters care about helping their clients communicate. {photo courtesy of xdxs}

How do you introduce yourself at interpreting jobs? What are the challenges you find? I’d love to hear from you!

Good luck and happy interpreting.

Don’t Be A Choosy Language Learner

Translation is always in the back of my mind, so I’m always thinking: How would I say this in Chinese? or How would I say this in English? And sometimes the strangest things strike my interest. This time, they’re the phrases in an article on balding and hair loss.

Language is ever-changing, and a good linguist–translator or interpreter–always finds ways to expand her vocabulary. There are topics or occurrences in our daily lives that we don’t always think are important enough to further explore, when actually, anything can be a learning experience. Don’t discriminate against odd subjects!

Okay, so let’s get into the hair loss/ baldness vocabulary from the article I read on udn.com, a Taiwanese online news source.

Language Learning Odd Topics

  1. 頭髮 (tóufa)- hair (on the head). 頭: head; 髮: hair (on the head).
  2. 髮線 (fàxiàn)- hairline. 髮: hair (on the head). 線: line.
  3. 禿頭 tūtóu- baldness.
  4. 雄性禿 xióngxìng tū- male pattern baldness. 雄性: male. 禿: bald(ness).
  5. 額髮線後退 (é fàxiàn hòutuì)- receding hairline. 額: forehead. 額髮線: forelock. 後退: to go back.
  6. 促進生髮的藥物 (cùjìn shēngfà de yàowù)- medication that promotes hair growth. 促進: promote. 生: grow. 髮: hair. 藥物: drug, medicine.
  7. 電燈泡 (diàndēngpào) 電火球仔 dian hui chu ah>- lightbulb. Used to describe a completely bald head. Note: Another usage for 電燈泡 (diàndēngpào) is what American English terms “third wheel.”
  8. 植髮中心 (zhífà zhōngxīn)- center for hair transplants. 植: to plant. 髮: hair. 中心: center.
  9. 急性休止期落髮 (jíxìng xiūzhǐqī luòfà)- acute telogen effluvium. Hair loss caused by illnesses. 急性: acute.
  10. 圓禿 (yuántū) or 鬼剃頭 (guǐtìtóu)- alopecia areata, also known as spot baldness. 圓: round, circle. 禿: baldness. 鬼: ghost. 剃頭: to shave one’s head. 鬼剃頭 is the colloquial usage.
  11. 假髮 (jiǎfà)- wig. 假: fake; 髮: hair.
  12. 生髮水 (shēngfàshuǐ)- hair regrowth tonic. 生: grow. 髮: hair. 水: water, solution.

Side note, have you heard that washing your hair every day isn’t good for you and may lead to hair loss? That actually isn’t always the case. We should actually wash our hair and scalp regularly to avoid clogged hair follicles, which can lead to more hair loss.

Hope you learned something today!

What Makes a Prepared Interpreter

Interpreting is challenging and fun, but it’s also a profession and something to take seriously. Not only do we want to present ourselves as a professional, we also want others to see us as one.

A professional interpreter strives to be as prepared as he can be. When he receives an assignment, he tries to get as much information as he can about the assignment, and makes sure he prepares for it by reviewing his terminology. However, because access to appointment details isn’t always available, keeping up with terminology and language skills is a nonstop process for interpreters.

But wait, preparation isn’t just about the behind-the scene work of reviewing terminology and researching on the topic, it’s as important to prepare for the whole session, and I’ve put together some tips to help you prepare for your next gig. Share some of your tips and tricks if you think of anything else as well!

Map it. Make sure you plan your route and know where you’re going, where you’re meeting, and leave for the appointment with sufficient lead time so that traffic doesn’t become an issue for your arrival time.

Dress Professionally. Even though you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulders, business attire will show that you take your job seriously. When you’re dressed professionally, you feel more confident, people will also give you more credibility.

Arrive Early. Arriving at least 10 minutes before the appointment will allow you enough time to acquaint yourself to your surroundings. For appointments in large hospitals or courts, interpreters are often asked to check in to get a visitor’s badge, so make sure to account that into your commute as well.

Explain Your Role. Not every client will have experience working with an interpreter. While it may seem intrusive to give the client a short info session about who you are and what your role is, the 20-second explanation will benefit the communication between your clients and make your job easier. Explain that you will interpret everything that is said. Also ask the speakers to speak directly to each other, and kindly request that they use short sentences so that you can accurately convey the entire message.

Remember Your Code of Ethics. Stay true to the message and interpret everything that is said, without omissions, additions, or alterations of the message.

Ask for Clarification. We want to make sure that we are communicating everything that is said. It’s okay to not understand a phrase, and it’s okay to ask for clarification or rephrasing, particularly in a consecutive interpreting session (medical interpreting).

Be Confident and Have Fun with it. You’ve done your homework, did your training, and got that gig. Now be confident that you can do this and that you’re going to be amazing. Interpreting is work, but it should be fun, too. That’s why we’re doing it, right?

Good luck!