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Interpreters - FAQs
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Do I need an interpreter?
Firstly, an interpreter and translator are two different practitioners. An interpreter deals with spoken languages where as a translator only deals with the written word.
An interpreter can be booked for a number of reasons and situations. The basic reason an interpreter will be booked is because of a language barrier. Interpreters therefore work in settings involving business meetings, conferences, presentations, court hearings, police questioning and many other situations where one or more persons can not understand each other due to languages and culture barriers.
How much does an interpreter cost?
Costs vary and depend upon factors such as language combination, the length of the booking, the nature of the subject matter, the location and the number of people involved.
Consider booking an interpreter for a minimum of 90 minutes or half a day if court or business and conference bookings (as per established practices) and also allow for travel time and travel expenses.
How many interpreters do I need?
This really depends on the nature of the work. Interpreting is mentally exhausting work so an interpreter should never work for more than 45 minutes at a time without a break.
For simultaneous interpreting the guidelines are a lot stricter in that you should hire two interpreters for a whole day, with each interpreter taking turns of 20 to 30 minutes each.
For face to face/consecutive interpreting the requirements differ according to the nature of the booking request.
What type of interpreting modes do interpreters use?
There are three modes of interpreting:
1.Consecutive – this is when an interpreter listens to a segment of speech and then interprets it. This mode is commonly used in face to face meetings and speeches.
2. Simultaneous – this mode is used when an interpreter sits in a booth and relays the interpretation of what is being said through a microphone to the listeners. This type of specialised interpreting skill is used at conferences and large meetings.
3. Sight Translation - this mode is a skill which enables the interpreter to read a document in its source language and then interpret it to the clients chosen language by delivering it orally.
What information do I need to give the interpreter? Initially they will need the following information:
Nature of meeting:
Duration of appointment:
However, to ensure effective communication the interpreter would need prepare for the assignment . The preparation would involve you briefing the interpreter by giving them as much background information as possible about your case. For example, if the meeting involves some delicate issues they should be informed accordingly so as to prepare for them. If a presentation involves some specific terminology the interpreter must be given a copy of the presentation in order to prepare. In short, if the interpreter goes into a meeting ‘blind’ they may find it difficult to accommodate your needs.
Some advice for working with professional Interpreters