Top 10 Rules for Optimizing the Work of a Professional Interpreter

October 20, 2011

If you are in the business of engaging professional interpreters, whether in Houston or anywhere in the world, the following list will help you to better plan and optimize future consecutive and simultaneous interpretation assignments.

  1. Provide your interpreter with background material: Even the most qualified professional interpreter who is a subject matter expert improves his performance with reference material specific to the subject matter to be discussed.
  2. Allow the interpreter to perform a pre-session: A pre-session allows the interpreter and all parties to introduce themselves and discuss the flow of the meeting. It specifically allows the interpreter to introduce himself as an unbiased party to the proceeding.
  3. Announce that all communication will be interpreted: Announcing that all communication will be interpreted reduces the margin for error in the interpreted session and allows all parties to know that whatever is said will be heard by the other party.
  4. Eliminate cross talk and side bar conversations: Multiple conversations during an interpreted session lead to confusion and are difficult to follow. Side conversations in a language not understood by the other party are often considered rude.
  5. Speak as if all parties understand your language: It is not uncommon for participants in a multilingual meeting to understand the languages being spoken, but to prefer the use of an interpreter to ensure proper understanding.
  6. Allow the interpreter to take notes: Note taking is an important interpreter skill set that improves retention and ensures an accurate rendering in the target language.
  7. Speak directly to the other party and not the interpreter: The interpreter is present to facilitate communication between all parties. The interpreter should not be a distraction to a normal flow of communication between parties.
  8. Speak clearly and at a normal pace and tone, pausing during normal break s in speech: In Houston, for instance, most interpretation is done consecutively. This means that the interpreter interprets after normal pauses and during breaks in speech. Pausing during normal breaks in speech allows the interpreter to process information and provides the most accurate rendering in the target language. Simultaneous interpretation is done as the speaker is speaking and requires a simultaneous conversion between languages. It is important to note that simultaneous interpreting is both physically and mentally exhausting for the interpreter and requires either a team of interpreters or frequent breaks in communication. Even with frequent breaks, use of one interpreter performing simultaneous interpreting can result in a significant loss of communication and is not recommended.
  9. Avoid the use of idioms and slang: Idioms and slang are language specific expressions that have a figurative meaning and cannot be accurately interpreted or translated into a target language.  For example ‘He kicked the bucket’ figuratively means that the individual in question passed away, literally it can be interpreted as the individual physically kicked a bucket. Eliminating idioms and slang reduces the margin for error.
  10. Allow the interpreter to perform a post session: A post session is a client focused review of the interpreted session and allows for parties to discuss lessons learned and how best to adjust processes to ensure effective communication in future interpreted sessions.

Note: Picture provided by WordRidden.

If you would like additional information on this topic or have questions on planning and executing your next translation or multilingual initiative, contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation or call us at (800) 413-7838.

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