An interpreter works as a mediator between the speaker and the receiver of the information. Now, what is interpretation? It is a process of decoding the spoken content from one language, encoding it, and then converting the same in the language that the audience understands.
So the process goes like this, The speaker speaks, The interpreter receives the information and converts it into the language considering the audience’s understanding. This language interpretation can also be in sign language for the audience with hearing disabilities.
While doing interpretations the interpreter has to make sure that the gist of the content is maintained. In short, the content has to be in adherence to the original speech.
The interpreter is needed when the receiver and the speaker come from two different cultural backgrounds. The interpreter has to maintain the original intention of the message and the tone of the same.
Do not get confused with the translations and interpretations. The basic difference between them is that the translator translates the text content and the interpreter translates the spoken word.
The common thing between them is that they both have a thorough knowledge of the source and the target language. Also, the main motive behind both is to help the receiver understand the context of the spoken or the written content.
It is a tough job to be a professional interpreter. They face enormous challenges while performing their job. The situations that they have to go through are unpredictable. Also, they have to be very prompt and reactive to the live events and last-minute assignments.
Similarly, they have to face the other external and internal elements which impact their work. Agreed that interpreting is a great job, with multiple challenges that make it a little stressful.
It is very difficult for them to focus on the speeches for a longer period. Then process that information and convey the speech as fast as they can while the speaker is still speaking. The interpreter has to be in the speaker’s shoes. This way they can interpret, predict, and translate the speech, make apt decisions, and have sharp memories too.
Let us see the challenges that the interpreter has to go through.
Interpreting in Public Events- Practicing in public speaking events is a part of the interpreter’s job. They know that you are choosing interpretations over translation because you want to convey the message promptly. Sometimes the interpreters have been in the eyesight of the audience.
They do not get separate booths to interpret the public speeches. Simply because it has to be for the public. The interpreter has to stand or sit in front of the audience for better clarity. Let us take an example of a conference interpreter. They are trained to work in various scenarios. They work for events such as press conferences, briefings, seminars, or depositions.
Political and diplomatic speeches are another most demanded field for interpreters. They work as a mediator when there is a meeting held between the two countries. Beauty pageants, awards, or other entertainment events also need interpreters. For instance the academy awards. Various personas come for these kinds of awards from across the globe. That is when the interpreter plays a vital role.
No matter what friend the interpreter has to work for when it is about speaking in public, interpretations are interrupted several times. It is a huge task to render and present the speeches in front of a huge audience while maintaining the accuracy and the context as much as possible.
The major challenge lies that the translator has to overcome their shyness, stage fear, and do not have an option of being introverted. At the same time maintain the tone and be correct on the grammatical terms of the target language. Plus they have the pressure of performing best and effectively managing the time in these situations.
They have to render the speech in the same order that the speaker is speaking. Now the other thing is that sometimes they also interpret the meaning of the words said between the lines.
Interferences Distract the Attention of the Interpreter- Almost all the interpreters faced various interferences while interpreting. The interpreter faces issues such as the accent of the speaker, audio failures and interruptions, or any problem in the sound system. The limitation is that the interpreter cannot render the content that he or she cannot hear.
In such cases, they have to ask the speaker to repeat that particular point of the sentence. Or the interpreter has to stop the speaker while delivering the speech or be a little louder and also speak slowly. Yet another problem is when the interpreter is performing a simultaneous or consecutive interpretation they are not allowed to intrude on the speaker and ask to repeat or to slow down the peach.
Another challenge that the interpreter faces is the technical challenge. For example the handheld microphone. The speaker may move around the microphone, muffle, or sometimes the microphone may create a distorting sound. This is not just about the handheld microphone, the distractions also happen due to maple microphones.
Technological errors never alarm us. So that is another challenge that the interpreter faces. Things such as equipment malfunctioning or the badly located interpretation booth can also disturb the interpreter. In such scenarios, the interpreter cannot follow the speech and may miss out on important information.
Understanding of the Unknown Subject- One of the best qualities of the interpreter is that they have to be prompt and quick thinkers. However, the interpreter doesn’t need to be prepared for the subject all the time. Sometimes the interpreters have to face various technical and complex terms.
It is very difficult to be quick to find the best suitable word in the target language and be prompt with it at the same time. Interpreters understand that they have very little chance of looking for the words during live interpreting.
To avoid this the interpreters request to have a meeting with the speaker before the actual event. It helps them to understand the subject, the type of interpretation required if there is a dedicated booth, the language requirements, and many other things.
The interpreter’s interaction with the speaker can give a lot of clarification to the former. He/she can know the nature of the meeting, the demography of the audience, the subject involved, technicalities if any. he/she also takes some documents or the texts that they can refer to while interpreting the speech or the conversations. It helps them to be faster and accurate too.
However, there can be scenarios when the meeting of the speaker and the interpreter is not possible. The interpreter will have to face a lot of pressure and won’t be highly confident. Highly professional interpreters take about one or two days to prepare themselves and have discussions about the content with the speaker. This smoothens the delivery of the interpretation.
Interpreters Have to Keep the Personal Opinions Aside- One of the most difficult tasks for the interpreter is to interpret the topic that they do not like. It is difficult to keep aside personal options and speak the words that the speaker is saying. This happens mostly in the case of political or diplomatic interpretation. The interpreter has to say what the speaker is saying, irrespective of whether he/she agrees with the ideology of the spokesperson of the party or not.
Imagine yourself in the shoes of the interpreter where you have to translate and interpret the words that you disagree with. Repeating the words that you do not like is stressful right? However, the interpreters have to be neutral while doing their job. They should not show any sign that they do not agree with the speaker.
In such cases, they have to keep their opinions only to themselves, at least till they are performing their job. They also have to render the emotions such as confusion, sadness, aggression, or if the speaker is experiencing fear. The challenge is that they have to interpret those emotions even if they are not feeling those themselves.
Challenge of Cultural Differences- What makes the interpretation good is the understanding of the cultural differences. Interpretation is more than just about translating the language of the spoken word, it is also about adhering to the cultural differences of both. The interpreters can only deliver the best quality of interpretation when they are thorough about the cultural differences.
It does not matter which is the source and the target language is, the interpreter should be able to break both the language and the cultural barrier as well. They help bridge these gaps and make the communication better between the speaker and the audience. To be prompt in that too, they have to have detailed knowledge about both.
Now how do they have it? They do not have enough time to run through the books and directories to understand the terms from multiple cultures. This is the reason that they have to have the interest in knowing everything that comes under the circle of the language that they interpret from and into. They must be highly knowledgeable of regional slang and idioms, but also the main cultural differences.
Sometimes they also have to understand the non-verbal cues from various cultures. For instance, a Namaskar from India represents Hello or greetings. Another example is the value of bowing down in Japanese rituals.
In Japan, it shows gratitude, reverence, or salutation in the religious or the conditions. In such situations, the interpreters have to be aware of all these cultural differences. Simply because they build a bridge across these issues.
Interpreting Figures of Speeches-
Let us take an example of humor or idioms. Converting the jokes is one of the most difficult tasks that the interpreter has to do. Because he/she has to maintain the flow and engage the audience too. Some translators even say that it is just not possible to translate the humor.
It takes a huge task on the interpreter when it comes to translating the humor. Jokes are not universal, it changes from person to person, region to region and country to country. Other than this, jokes in one culture might not be understandable or acceptable in another culture.
That is why interpreting figures of speeches such as idioms, similes, sarcasm, humor, or hyperbole is difficult and sometimes impossible. This is when the preparatory material can be helpful. They can take time to understand the context of the joke or how to render the same in the target language.
The challenge that the interpreter faces is that the interpretation of the joke should not be offensive. It should secure the integrity and the meaning of the message. For the better conversion of the message through various figures of speech, the interpreter needs to provide accurate background information. The interpreter cannot translate it literally.
Now that we have seen all the interpreter’s challenges, we at least know what they go through and still give a better performance.
We at PEC have talented and experienced interpreters who know how to come over all these challenges. See How PEC can help you in quality interpreting?
A Clear and Accurate Interpretation- We at PEC translation have interpreters who are known to provide a clear and accurate interpretation. Many of our interpreters are not just experts in languages but also have industry knowledge in various fortes. Our interpreters try their best to provide the interpreted content correctly and accurately to the target audience.
Fluent in Both the Source and Target Languages- Our interpreters are not just good translators but hold a translation certificate. They are affluent in both source and target languages.
Experienced and Professional Interpreters- We only coordinate with experience and professional interpreters. We know that your audience relies on our interpreters for providing authentic conversations with the speakers.
Reliable and Quality Assured Interpretation Services- PEC holds an ISO certification. It assures our clients that we provide reliable and quality assured interpretation services only.
Let us learn the lesson and let us not underestimate the job done by the interpreters. They too face a lot of pressure and stress while performing their duty. Rather let us try and support them as much as we can when we are experiencing their interpretation services.