Thursday, 31 March 2011

How to perform well as an Interpreter

Interpreting can be a very stressful job. It comes with a huge responsibility as the gravity of communication lies on the interpreter’s shoulders.

Very often at stake is someone’s health, job, freedom or housing and financial situation. Therefore, being aware of the significance of my role as an interpreter, I am always 100% focused on communicating exactly the same ideas that have been uttered by the speakers. Concentration during the interpreting itself is one thing but equally important is the preparation process – no matter how focused you are, you can always forget one or two crucial words. This may lead then to either mistranslating them or finding yourself in an embarrassing situation of describing the thing that is meant. Mind you, there is no time to flip through the pages of your dictionary and forget about googling anything!

In order not to allow for any underperformance, I have developed an efficient method of preparation for each interpreting assignment. This method is called GLOSSARY. Yes, glossaries have become my best friends recently and they have never let me down. With a plethora of glossaries existing in the internet, how do I pick the right one? First of all, I do not copy any ready-made lists of thousands of words and cram them overnight. What I do is prepare my own glossary for each specialisation and list there any words that I have encountered during the interpreting assignment or picked up anywhere else. My glossaries then feature all the new or easily forgotten words that I have come across, and I can effortlessly remember them by associating each word with a particular experience or situation.

Going to an interpreting assignment often feels like going to an exam as it’s all about how well you will perform. In order to make sure I excel at my job, on the day of the assignment (but not 10 minutes before I set off), I browse through my glossary and make sure I remember the terms. Again, it’s not about cramming but simply scanning the words and quickly repeating them. Obviously, interpreting is not only about knowing the appropriate terms but you have to agree that it’s in the top three of the most important aspects of the job. Smooth operation of terminology not only will give you the confidence we desperately need but it will also make an impression on the client. Over time the list becomes longer, so as you browse through your glossary knowing that you actually remember most or all of the terms you feel you are making progress.
Some interpreters believe that lucky underwear, pens or other talismans will bring them luck and confidence. For me, solid preparation and a quick repetition of key terms on the day of the assignment allows me to perform well. Ok, I also like to look impeccable and occasionally wear red lipstick for that extra boost of confidence ;-)

Ewa before her interpreting assignment in Wareham

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a great post, Ewa! You're right, glossaries are really helpful!