What makes you an expert interpreter

If you are looking for interpreting services, please contact us. If you want to learn more about interpreting, read on.

While in a past article we discussed experts in written translations, this time we will also discuss what an interpreting expert is and the methods they use to hone their interpreting skills.

At the start of the interpreting career

The beginning of an interpreting career is tough. Given how tiring the process of translating a speech on the spot is, the first interpreting sessions should be as short as possible. At the Faculty of Foreign Languages, students first learn how to translate a 1-minute speech. Only then do they move on to 2 minutes and finally to 5 minutes. By doing this, the interpreter gradually gets used to keeping up with the speaker. They must remain self-possessed and must accept corrections of specialized terms with serenity. Eventually, the young interpreter gets used to their role and then they can start taking on longer and longer speeches in various domains.

The interpreters’ practice

To become as proficient as possible, interpreters listen to TV and radio news programmes in the language they specialize on. Often the presenters of these programmes are not native speakers themselves, either. So to train their ears to understand a variety of accents, interpreters are challenged in various ways. For example, they listen to and simultaneously translate short news items spoken at a very fast pace. Or they record themselves translating a speech. Then they listen to the recording to check their pronunciation and see if they have understood and rephrased the message correctly. Over time, and especially as a result of these exercises, the ear becomes accustomed to speakers who do not pronounce very well, to those with a strong accent and to those who speak quickly or who talk too casually on subjects that require in-depth knowledge of a specialist area.

Conditions interpreters must meet

Interpreters must also meet certain criteria in terms of voice quality and pronunciation. The voice suitable for interpreting is similar to that suitable for radio. The vocal pitch must be pleasant and the tone and rhythm of speech must be perfectly coordinated. In addition, the interpreter uses the headphones to pay attention to everything that may be heard from their side. They turn off the microphone when coughing or pouring water into their glass and they avoid breathing directly into the microphone.

The interpreters’ emotions

From a psychological point of view, interpreting is also stage fright. Just like the theatre! It’s hard to keep your composure every time the audience is waiting to hear the translation, with their eyes fixed on the interpreters’ booth. As well as the natural emotions that everyone who works in front of an audience has, interpreters also have to deal with speakers who give excessively long speeches. In this case, the interpreter has to intervene. They take the risk that the person he interrupts from speaking will not react in a professional manner. Sometimes these speakers may get upset if they are interrupted. So do the event organisers.

Beyond the technical knowledge that comes with speaking, interpreting is learned through practice.

But you’re never really prepared to be at an important event, translating expert speeches on the spot, which you first have to memorise as you hear them for the first time in your life, then translate them in your head and deliver them in another language, with perfect clarity, in front of dozens or even hundreds of people.

However, experience speaks volumes. An expert interpreter will always find a way to cope brilliantly with the event that depends on them.

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