The interpreting process | Stillman Translations
The interpreting process

*Constanza Herrero – Project Manager & Interpreter at Stillman Translations – Her experience interpreting Susan Dawson at Talent Tech.

The interpreting process begins from the very first #communication with the client and the speaker. The result of it can clearly be seen at the moment the job takes place, but there is a whole work carried out before, which is the key to #success.

In the first place, it is important –so long as possible– to open the dialogue with the speaker or client to get to know who they are, what is their job, where they live, and so on. In short, the goal is getting familiar with their sociocultural context because, in the end, the interpreter will embody such person. Secondly, it is crucial to study the material (if any provided at all) that will be the subject of the interpretation. If one does not do so, hardy will one be able to look up words (specific vocabulary, for instance) while interpreting.

Regarding the challenges, I can say one of the greatest challenges is “to be in the speaker’s mind,” to call it in some way. Many times, speakers make references to their everyday life, reason why it is very important to capture these statements immediately and transmit their meaning to the recipient. Also, speakers may take some things for granted which are not so for the public. Interpreting calls for shrewdness.

The most gratifying thing about this job is to see both sides (the speaker and the recipient) happy and satisfied to be able to understand each other. The most complex thing is to adapt to the speaker, to be so precise as possible regarding #terminology without changing the dynamics and rhythm of the talk, and to transmit emotions, feelings, not just the spoken words.

The keys to an accurate interpretation are:

  • A previous study of the work material
  • Being in contact (so long as possible) with the speaker before interpreting him/her.
  • Remaining calm; nerves are never good friends
  • Speaking with a loud and clear voice; the public will, in the end, get and understand what the interpreter says.
  • If necessary, making clarifying questions to the speaker during the interpreting; it is never wrong to ask, but do not use that resource in excess
  • Depending on the place, it is advisable to test the sound and/or make sure one can clearly listen to the speaker
  • Interpreting not only what the speaker says, but also their tone of voice, emphases, and movements.

The experience with Susan Dawson was excellent. Since the very moment we met, I asked her some questions and I made sure I correctly understood some points of the topic she would talk about. In fact, there were some last-minute changes, the reason why it was good meeting her before the talk. I, as an interpreter, could request her something: to try to make short statements so that I would not miss a word of her speaking. Very kindly, she agreed on that and made her best effort to do so. That speaks of her being flexible and open. For the second talk I interpreted for her, she told me some extra things she would say that were not in the notes sent to me. She knew I had to get ready for that and shared so with me. That is #CollaborativeWork.