One of the more unpleasant tasks of an interpreter is to translate everything their clients say, and not just the good stuff.
Interpreting is an important, yet unusual career; one that’s often misunderstood. It’s certainly a position that requires years of training, practice, and hard work. In our highly connected world interpreting is a valuable and important position, providing a bridge for the language barriers that people experience.
In honour of the hard-working linguistic delegates and language translators of the world, this article is designed to provide an overview of interpreting, and to discuss problems and situations that only an interpreter could fully understand.
Oops! Wrong Language!
When you’re an interpreter this happens all the time! You’re in the middle of an engaging conversation with someone in one language, when you suddenly say the right word but in the wrong language – this can (and does) lead to much confusion. This problem comes with the territory of having to deal with different accents and dialects at any one time. The issue with being either a major or minor polyglot is that your brain knows the same item or adjective but attaches several different meanings to it: this makes it very difficult at times to say the right thing at the right time.
It may seem to the uninitiated that an interpreter’s job is an easy one: just a matter of listening to the language you’re versed in and translating it into another language – right? But what about all the accents and dialects? There’s no single way of speaking for every language from every country: everything differs from location to location, and it’s often very difficult dealing with people who speak in unusual dialects and accents, even though you may be fluent in the language they’re speaking. At any given time there are a million different regional accents and dialects to work with, so perhaps you might have some sympathy for the sometimes-frazzled interpreter.
Translating Absolutely ‘Everything’ Your Client Says
One of the more unpleasant tasks of an interpreter is to translate everything their clients say, and not just the good stuff. There will be many times when an interpreter finds themselves searching for a nicer way of translating that obvious insult, or smoothing away deliberate barbs, all on the spur of the moment. So, in addition to being an interpreter, they’re also peacekeepers.
You’re a Hit at Parties!
It’s true that one of best parts of being an interpreter is that a lot of people at parties are pretty impressed. Most people in the western world know only one language and because you can speak another language fluently, or even more than two, plus you get well paid for it, it’s pretty amazing to most people. Yes, there will always be the jealous types, but remember that you can do something they can’t: you can say what you like and they won’t have a clue what you just called them!
Enjoying World Cinema with Friends
Many people consider world cinema an amazing experience, but when you’re an interpreter and you have to sit through it with someone else it can be interesting, and really tiresome. You may be enjoying the film but incorrect subtitles can be very annoying and could cause you to comment, thus disrupting the experience of those around you. Alternatively, the person you’re with might query some un-translated moment of the film, badgering you into translating it for them right at a pivotal point in the movie.