The world has been growing closer exponentially before our eyes thanks to globalization, cheaper flights, improved technology, and a number of other moving factors. With our ever-increasing webs of communications inevitably comes the need for interpreters. The question, then, is this: why can’t I just use google translate?
First, be aware of the distinction between translations and interpretations: translation is the changing of written word into a target language, while interpretation changes over spoken language. Second, consider a manager discussing his company’s recent financial performance:
I’m happy with the results this quarter; last quarter things got ugly — we had a tough break when the markets went south. We needed to cut corners to make ends meet. The accounting department’s hands were tied, while the marketing had their work cut out for them. Penetrating new markets wasn’t even an option since we hadn’t yet dealt with that red tape, but we found some loopholes. Luckily we didn’t go broke and made it out the other side.
A literal translation of this excerpt into another language is usually going to result in approximately 10 questions for the manager. For example, the other side of what? Why do you need tape? What southern markets? Was the accounting department arrested? Can we go back to that? The whole thing is riddled with, well, riddles – or better, idioms. There are plenty of reasons you might need an interpreter: to pitch sales to a visiting potential international client, to ensure clear communication between you and an international subsidiary or parent corporation, to facilitate a negotiation, or even as an informal cultural consultant for a quick briefing on “dos and don’ts” of interacting with someone from another culture before the interpretation event.
When you call up an interpretation service like CORE Languages, there are some pieces of information that the professional will need to know.
1. Location, date, and time.
This piece is clear – the interpreter needs to know where they need to be, what day, and at what time. It’s also important to give as much advance notice as possible: interpreters are busy people with schedules, and if you wait too long before making the request, they might not be able to fulfill. At least a week in advance is usually required, but even more time – two weeks to a month – is preferred. Remember that interpreters traditionally also charge for travel, so make sure you ask for a quote in advance. If they live far away from the event and the travel expense is outside your budget, inquiring in advance will also give you time to find someone closer if necessary.
2. Nature of interpretation.
Something a lot of interpreters want to know in advance is what you will be discussing. This is not always necessary, but when you go into any conversation, it’s always nice to be able to get your “head in the game.” Especially when there are technical discussions, it’s great to be prepped so that any extra research and reading can be done ahead of time. If there is a presentation or materials that will be discussed, giving these to the interpreter ahead of time will also be very helpful.
3. Simultaneous or Consecutive.
In most cases, you will be purchasing a consecutive interpretation. This is when an interpreter listens to each party, and interprets during a pause – thought by thought, or sentence by sentence. A simultaneous interpretation is usually for a presentation or other formal event, and requires a headset: while the interpreter hears the language spoken, they translate at the same time, or in the ears and out the mouth. Such interpretations require special training, and are much more taxing than consecutive ones. They are therefore more expensive and require two professionals to work in 15-minute increments, so that they can alternate and rest their brains during the breaks. For more information on the differences between these to forms of interpretation, check our our post on that.
Depending on the state and language, a court will require that an interpreter is court-certified. Certification for common languages such as Spanish is offered in most states, while more obscure ones such as Vietnamese will most often be at the court’s discretion. Medical interpreters are often certified as well, but not always. That said, many great professional interpreters with vast experience do not have a certification as the credentials are expensive to maintain, and the industry is not yet at the point where certifications are very common.
If you have any more questions about interpreters, a CORE Languages representative would be happy to answer your inquiries. Give us a call today to book one of our professional interpreters for your next event!