When in Doubt, Think Broad! (Tips for Interpreters)

As an interpreter, you need to retain a lot of vocabulary and have knowledge of a wide range of topics. While the endeavor to understand all the tiny details to every medical procedure and disease, every legal ruling, or financial technicality is admirable, it’s better to first retain the equivalent of the words in your target language than to focus on the details that go along with the specific terminology.

For example,  all medical interpreters should know the term “Hepatitis B.” The other thing to know about this is that it’s relating to the liver.  Everything else you know about it is a bonus and will be helpful to your work as an interpreter, but it is not critical. While you can always do research and learn about the causes, the symptoms, the treatments, and prevention, all that knowledge isn’t necessarily required for you to be able to interpret the phrase “Hepatitis B.” If the patient does not know what Hepatitis B is, he will ask the doctor, and the doctor will answer any of the patient’s questions. At this point, all you’d have to do is interpret. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t spend time to learn more about the phrases or procedures we are interpreting about, just that we should try to maximize our time and to ensure that we are retaining what will be most applicable to our work, which is a wide-ranging vocabulary.

Expanding your vocabulary is the first step to being able to render good interpretations, and learning more about each component relating to the terms is something you can build up overtime. Our understanding about the technicalities and details will benefit our work, but they aren’t necessarily critical to our performance, so when in doubt, go for more vocabulary than more details.

Fellow interpreters, do you agree? What are your thoughts on this general approach?

As always, happy interpreting!

Hold Your Tongue (the Role of an Interpreter)

Hold your tongue and stay within your role, fellow interpreters!Sometimes you think you know better. You hear and understand what’s going on, but when messages are transmitted between the source and target languages, the receiver doesn’t always understand the message. When questions are asked, you may want to answer them since you already know the answers, but guess what, you can’t. Whether the misunderstanding came from your rendition of the message, the speaker’s ambiguity, or the receiver’s own misunderstanding, an interpreter shall not respond on behalf of a speaker nor get involved in side conversations. We must stay within our role as conduits, and only interpret.

As an interpreter, you know that your role is simply to interpret. This means rendering what is said and not what isn’t said. Any omission, addition, or distortion of the original intention of the message should be avoided at all cost. But besides interpreting, an interpreter also has a challenging job, and that is to manage the flow of the conversation. The flow should look like this:

SOURCE LANG -> INTERPRETER -> TARGET LANG

and

SOURCE LANG <- INTERPRETER <- TARGET LANG

Any time  when dialogue occurs outside of this format, means the flow of communication is not well-managed. If clarification  of the source message must be made, the interpreter must first inform the receiver before asking for clarification: “I’m sorry, but the interpreter needs to clarify what was said.” Or if something was rendered correctly but the receiver still needs a repetition, the interpreter still must inform the  source-language speaker first before going ahead with the repetition. This is to avoid the flow of communication below, where the flow is broken and stuck between two parties.

SOURCE LANG <-> INTERPRETER -> TARGET LANG

or

SOURCE LANG <- INTERPRETER <-> TARGET LANG

For example, if the interpreter did not catch the complete message from the source language, he should first inform the target-language receiver, in third person, that the interpreter is going to ask for a repetition, before actually doing so. If a series of numbers was given to the target-language speaker, and the target-language speaker repeats it to make sure he jotted it down correctly, instead of saying yes or no to the target-language speaker (which can result in INTERPRETER <-> TARGET LANG), the interpreter should render the question back to the source-language speaker.  This will keep the flow of communication going.

In sum, as an interpreter, you do not have your own voice, and may not speak on behalf of any speaker. Your role is to act as a conduit and pass on whatever is said, while at the same time, ensuring that messages are flowing from one language to another. If something needs to be repeated or if clarification is needed, make sure to keep each party in the loop. It’s not easy, but we’ve gotta hold our tongue and keep ourselves from expressing our own opinions.  It takes practice, sometimes patience as well, but your clients and LEPs will benefit from your proper management of the flow.

Happy interpreting!

Thoughts on Interpreting: “Do Interpreters Practice?” (Video)

I’d like to share with you a worthwhile speech on interpreting and practice by Elisabet Tiselius, a conference and community interpreter and PhD student who also teaches interpreting. While the talk is mainly on whether interpreters practice, it reminds us of the importance of practice for interpreters and also the importance of incentives within the industry to encourage interpreters to strive for conscious and deliberate practice.

As we all know, interpreters learn from day one that practice is essential to becoming a better interpreter. Interpreters need to constantly work on their glossary and to  stay in touch with the target language and culture, with the intention to maintain and improve their skill set so they can better serve the community through enabling communication.

With this in mind, Tisleius conducted a research and asked interpreters if they practice. Interestingly, most of the interviewees are adamant about the fact that they do not practice, despite the fact that they deliberately read newspapers or listen to the radio in the target language in which they work. While the statement of not practicing is shocking, it could  be simply a difference in perception of what is considered “practice.”

The responses from the interviewees are interesting to me, as I consider all of those efforts to maintain and improve our language skills as practice. I do feel that I can be more deliberate in my practice, however, to make my efforts and preparation even more effective. If you need some ideas for how to improve or practice your language skills, here are some tricks I like to use. Let’s work together to improve our skills!

What do you think about Tisleius’s talk? Do you consider language building and glossary expansion as part of your practice in becoming a better interpreter, or do you only consider simulations or actual interpreting as practice? I’d love to hear from you.

As always, happy interpreting!

The Ups and Downs of Being an Interpreter

As with any vocation, being an interpreter has its ups and downs. When you begin to feel frustrated or begin to question the reason you’re on this path or in this position, it’s good to think about the pros and cons.

We all know the pros of being an interpreter. You get to help people using your hard-learned language skills, you get to see the relief on people’s faces when they are able to communicate in their native language in a foreign country. You feel like you are making a difference, that your skills and knowledge are depended upon. For most interpreters, you have the autonomy of setting your own schedule and taking on assignments on an as-needed basis. It is dynamic. No one job is the same and you get to live vicariously through the experiences and emotions of your clients and LEPs (limited English proficiency). You’re always in a learning environment, no matter what assignment you take on.

Of course, there are also cons. The job is highly technical; it isn’t creative. Every rendition you make that deviates from the original will construe the intention of the message. It is high-stress. You need to be able to think on your toes and react quickly in unanticipated situations. There is no point in which your skills will be “enough.” You need to keep on learning, to maintain, and to expand your glossary. You are a freelancer but you aren’t free. You are bound by the code of ethics and the different protocols set by different organizations and agencies you work with, and you must make every effort to stay within your role. It is lonely. Even  though you are interacting with people, you aren’t able to connect with them on a personal basis.

Sometimes it can feel rewarding after an assignment. But other times, it may feel frustrating, whether it’s because of the outcome of the assignment, your self-perceived performance, or because of the amount of effort it takes to get work. You’d start to wonder why you’re even doing this. Is this life of a freelancer, always hunting for the next job, worth it? Is it worth it to always be anticipating the unexpected?

Keep going and never give up.

Just keep going. Credit: xdxs.tumblr.com

As with any job, we need to remember why we started in the field or in the role in the first place. We must have chosen it because we thought it was our calling, that it was something we could be good at, that it was something we could enjoy doing while also helping make a difference. We must have thought it would make us happy, or that it could bring job satisfaction. All jobs come with challenges, so we should instead focus on solutions. If you’re an interpreter, remember to take every experience as a learning opportunity, also to continually improve on your skills. You’ll see the outcome soon enough. Also, if you feel like you need someone to talk to, look around for interpreter communities to find others who will understand what you’re going through. You are not alone!

Happy interpreting!

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: What if My Client Insists on Speaking English? (Interpretation)

As interpreters, we are called on when there is a perceived need for our language skills. Our job is to ensure effective communication by transferring the most accurate and clearest intent from one language speaker to another. With our help, we can help deliver services and satisfy needs. In my world (America), the target language more often than not is English. While many of our clients are people with limited English proficiency (LEP), they may still have some understanding of it, and in some cases, they may even opt to communicate directly to the provider–physicians in medical cases or attorneys in legal cases. What is an interpreter to do when this happens?

The “first line of defense” is your introduction. When you introduce yourself as an interpreter, you’re letting the client know that you are his voice and that he should trust that you are there to help him get what he needs. You will speak for him by interpreting everything that he says; you will also interpret everything the provider says, so your client will have full understanding of what is going on. Once this is put aside, the client may feel more at ease that his concerns will be met with your help, and may feel more comfortable using his native tongue. If not, the client may just feel he doesn’t need an interpreter.

If this happens in a medical case, I’d recommend being there to listen and to make sure the information is clearly delivered on both ends. If a client insists on using English, gently interrupt when needed–such as if you see that the messages aren’t getting through to either party.

In legal cases, however, this may be different. In depositions, for example, the attorneys may have communicated and agreed that the witness should speak only in his native tongue. And to make sure the accounts are accurately documented, the court reporter would record what the interpreter says, so it is crucial that the witness stays in his native tongue. This keeps things clear and less confusing for record keeping, it is also to the benefit of the witness as less will be lost in translation.

In a deposition I interpreted at last week, the witness had a tendency to jump between Mandarin Chinese and English, even though his attorney asked him to speak in Mandarin only. When the witness started to speak in English, I began to interpret from English to English by repeating what he said, or rephrased it in the way it was intended, such as by correcting the grammar. This prompted the attorneys to remind the witness to stick to his native tongue. Although I wanted to remind the witness on multiple occasions to speak in Mandarin only, I wasn’t sure it was my place to since I was there to interpret only. Under the code of ethics, I was there to say what was said and not what wasn’t.

However, even with that in mind, I asked the attorney a few times if the interpreter could remind the witness to speak in Mandarin, using third-person, of course. Once he approved, I turned around to remind the witness to speak in Mandarin, which is what everyone in the room wanted.

To answer the question in the subject line: when a client insists on speaking in his native tongue, an interpreter should remain alert and use her best judgement so that the client can get the service he needs and that all parties’ expectations are satisfactorily met.

Fellow interpreters, I’d love to hear from you! What would you have done in my situation? What do you do when a client doesn’t use his native tongue during an appointment?

What It Takes to Be an Interpreter

As you’re trying to decide where to go with your career and what you can do with the language skills you have, becoming a language interpreter may be a path that comes to mind. But what does it take to become an interpreter?

We probably all know the basics: You need to be fluent in at least two languages. You should be someone who has a desire to help bridge language gaps, to help people communicate their needs and point of view. You are someone who does not belittle another person because of his inability to communicate in the lingua franca, but treats that person with equality. You need to be okay with face-to-face interactions with clients, and you should be able to interact cordially and be personable with clients. Most importantly, you want to be passionate about the work.

Besides your personality and interest, traits you should possess or be able to obtain are:

Good command of the lingo.  Of course, the most basic prerequisite of becoming an interpreter is fluency of the language and the different registers.

Good public speaking skills.  Interpreters need to be able to speak clearly to deliver their messages. Even though we are not creating the content, your communication of the information between languages needs to be clear and understandable.

Ability to work in a fast-paced environment.  Interpreting is fast paced. You have to think on your feet and convert languages on the spot. There isn’t much time to think through or reconstruct sentences, and you need to be okay and ready for that.

Calm when it comes to stressful situations.  Because interpreters work in a fast-paced environment  it can become stressful. The ability to deal with that stress is important.

Reliable transportation.  Interpreting jobs are not often held in the same location, particularly if you are a freelancer.  Having reliable transportation, whether it’s public transit or a car, is important, so you can get to your destinations on time.

Lifelong learner.  Language is always changing and evolving.  Subject matters we  handle can differ on a case-to-case basis as well.  As part of interpreters’ professionalism, you must be willing to hone your language skills continually and keep up with the trends and literature, whether it’s legal or medical or in any field, to ensure you are providing top-notch and quality services to your clients. Some ideas of keeping up with your language skills can be found in one of my earlier posts.

What other qualities do you believe an interpreter should have? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy interpreting!

Crossing the Line: Is It Okay to Become Friends with My Clients? (Interpreting)

As interpreters, we run in a small circle of limited-English speakers. It’s possible that you would work with the same client over and over again; it’s also possible that you’ll work with a client once and never see him again. Regardless, it’s important to keep a professional relationship, not only through keeping up your skill set, arriving to appointments on time, and interpreting as faithfully as you can, but also through treating your clients as equals and not taking advantage of their vulnerability as limited-English speakers.

One question that interpreters run into revolves around whether it is okay to become friends with a client. Different interpreters have different opinions about this, but most would agree that it’s better to keep business separate from friendship. This is really hard though, especially when clients are always excited to find people who speak their language and want to know more about the person who’s helping them get the services they need.

From my point of view, the main risk of breaking the professional relationship is that the client may have different expectations of the interpreter during appointments. Also, once you become friends, the client may want to show his appreciation in different ways besides just saying “thank you,” such as with gifts. Accepting gifts, is a tricky one.

What can we do to make sure we maintain professionalism with our patients?

1. Keep Your distance. One way to avoid developing a close relationship with your client is through keeping your distance with the client. I know an interpreter who never allows herself to be alone with a client. After she introduces herself as the interpreter and explains how the process will work, she always finds an excuse to sit on the other side of the waiting room (“I need to prepare for a test” or “I need to work on some personal things while we wait”), and in medical interpreting cases, she stands outside the doctor’s office until the doctor walks in, simply to avoid conversation with the client. Without conversation outside of appointments, the interpreter and client won’t ever have a chance to build a personal relationship. And by explaining why she needs to be alone from the client, the client won’t feel like he is being ignored.

2. Clarify Your Role. It’s not always easy to create distance between you and your client. Some clients may feel offended if you’re not willing to socialize with them. If removing yourself from the client’s presence is not possible for you, it’s important to clarify your role as an interpreter early on when you introduce yourself and make reminders during your conversations as well. Make it clear to them that you are there to interpret everything that is said, and nothing that is not said, so if the client discloses information that he wishes to convey to the provider (doctor or lawyer, or whomever), you should remind him to bring it up at the appointment: “make sure to bring this up when you see the doctor (or lawyer), so I can interpret for you.” Personal dialogue between an interpreter and client can lead to expectations that the interpreter will convey everything that’s been said outside of an appointment. By clarifying and reminding the client of your role, you’ll help him remember that you are there to help him communicate, not there to communicate for him.“

3. Use a Higher Power. Clients are often very grateful to have someone who speaks their language to help them get the services they need. Sometimes, they’ll thank you repeatedly, other times, they might want to give you a gift or offer you services, such as a ride, to show their appreciation. Outright refusal of a gift you find inappropriate may hurt a client’s feelings, so it’s important to explain your position in such situations and let the client know that you appreciate the thought, but your agency or company does now allow you to accept gifts from clients. You can use this as an excuse for other uncomfortable situations that come up as well. Explaining your position while using a “higher authority” will make your refusal less personal.

Where should we draw the line?
It’s always difficult to figure out where to draw the line when it comes to building a friendship with a client, but the important thing to keep in mind is that all your actions have implications. In deciding whether to further a relationship or accept a gift from a client, interpreters should make sure that we are not in any way exploiting the patient. By doing so, an interpreter is doing her job to protect herself and also a client, and that’s a part of an interpreter’s professionalism as well.

For a summary of the code of ethics for a medical interpreter, click here.

Good luck!

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.