Day 19 Something I regret

English: Hemulen in Muumimaailma, Naantali.

English: Hemulen (the reseracher in the Moomin world) in Muumimaailma, Naantali. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I don’t regret much actually. I have a positive mind and I don’t like to dwell too much on “if only”. My basic philosophy is that everything that happens adds experience (good or bad) to your backpack, and that experience makes up the person you are. I don’t consider myself fatalistic, but believe things that happen shape who you are which in turn shapes your future.

But if I try hard I can probably come up with a few things I regret. Not staying in Finland where I was an Au Pair girl a thousand years ago. I left after only three months because of a boy, and my knowledge of Finnish is still non-existent. How great it would have been to have Finnish in my combination. Not too late you may argue, true, it’s never too late, but I don’t think I’ll take up Finnish now.

A few assignments when I did not prepare enough. Rule number one, you can never prepare too much! But yes, I too went into the trap and thought that I knew enough, which ended up in some rather embarrassing situations. There’s actually a difference between not knowing because you didn’t prepare, and not knowing because something completely unknown came up that you could not have prepared for.

That time when I, for some incredible reason, did not ask for my colleague’s name. Needless, to say there was a reason that I did not get it. I ended up working with somebody who was not an interpreter. Never again! It was such an utterly unpleasant situation. The person was so sweet, but completely incompetent and it was just awkward.

No, I don’t have too many regrets, luckily. How about you?

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. The whole list is here.

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Day 18 My favourite type of interpreting

Interpreter Patricia Stöcklin note taking duri...

Interpreter Patricia Stöcklin note taking during consecutive interpreting, Garry Kasparov and Klaus Bednarz on the lit.Cologne 2007. Français : L’interpréteur Patricia Stöcklin prend note durant des traductions en série, Garry Kasparov et Klaus Bednarz au lit.Cologne 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regular readers of the blog, interpreting amateurs and colleagues will know that there are different types or modes of interpreting – simultaneous, consecutive and dialogue. But which type to we prefer? Well, I don’t know about you, but for me it depends a little.

I really like simultaneous, you get such a kick out of doing it. I’m sure endorphin levels are sky-high when you’ve finished a simultaneous spell. But one of the disadvantages with simultaneous interpretation is that you are often secluded from your client or listener. You’re put out of the communicative context.

This is the reason I really like consecutive. In consecutive you are part of the context to a higher degree. The interpreter becomes part of the team in a very tangible way. In many ways it’s nerve wrecking, imagine you’re doing a consecutive interpreting in front of TV cameras, and you know that it is not unlikely your interpreting will end up on YouTube, because you’re interpreting for a star, like Patricia Stöcklin above.

Then it’s much calmer, but also much more challenging when you’re dialogue interpreting for a patient and a doctor. It is a wonderful reward when, thanks to you, the patient gets the right treatment and the participants finally understand each other. You’re in direct contact with your users and it’s immediately obvious whether you make a difference or not.

So, I guess my conclusion is that I really like interpreting – all sorts of them.

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can see the whole list here.

Day 12 In my suitcase

Conference interpreters travel a lot. Community interpreters also have their fair share of travelling. I have worked outside the country I live for most of my professional career. The past 15 years I have commuted to work more often with airplane than with commuters trains. Yes I know, my carbon footprint is horrible. Anyhow, I consider myself a professional packer. I pack very quickly, I know what to bring and I always manage to squeeze in the necessary stuff.
So, what are the most important things in my suitcase? Well, I always bring my bed of nails, very popular Swedish mattress with plastic nails on it, you use it to relax, perfect after an intensive day. It also works very well on my bad back.
I have already mentioned how important my computer and my little black book are.
Then, a part from my clothes of course, my suitcase is filled with books. Books to read, books on interpreting, books on int

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can view the whole list here.

Day 11 My colleagues

In a comment to my post on my best colleague, Translatology wrote: “In my experience, not enough emphasis is placed on teamwork in interpreter training”. I very much agree with him on this. I would once again like to put forward my colleagues. I am blessed with working in a very open and welcoming environment.

When I studied to take the court interpreting certification for the second time (which I embarrassingly enough have failed twice and still not passed), one of my colleagues suggested that we study together, and for several months we met regularly to discuss terminology and the topic.

Your colleagues are also the ones you can debrief to. They are under the same secrecy as you are, they have most likely been in more or less similar situations. They may even know the agency or the client in particular.

Usually, when I come to the booth my colleagues share word lists and knowledge with me. And they write notes when I’m not sure of the terminology. For me as a freelance often working with staff interpreters it’s worth a fortune. I do prepare, but I will never (at least not with my current level of working-days) get up to their terminological ease. I cannot compare to them who work every day in the same environment and regularly at the same meetings. I do not aim to be compared with them either of course, but I am truly grateful that they share their knowledge so generously.

Another golden rule among freelancers is the referral. I refer jobs to you and you refer jobs to me. It’s very discouraging to refer lots of missions to a colleague and you never get anything back. On a more professional level I find it more correct to answer a potential client that “I’m unfortunately already booked on the date in question, but please contact my colleague so and so”, rather than just a plain no.

So, as a colleague: Share your knowledge, be supportive, take some time to listen, remember to distribute jobs, make sure the work runs smoothly on the team, and remember: What goes around comes around.

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can view the whole list here.

Day 09 I really believe that

All interpreters are entitled to good training and that all interpreting clients are entitled to trained interpreters. I also believe that interpreting should be properly paid. Interpreting is a profession and should be treated as such.

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can view the whole list here.

Day 08 A moment in the booth

There are many memorable moments in the booth. Some moments you would prefer to forget, but sadly they seem engraved in you memory. Other moments you cherish, either because of a brilliant and interesting speaker or, because you felt that you really made a difference.
I remember interpreting a woman who told her story about being trafficked, sold and abused. She cried as she told her story, I almost cried too. I have interpreted for union representatives who would not have been able to express their opinion to the management had it not been for the interpreters.
I have also interpreted great speakers, when everything is just flow, and you feel like an excellent interpreter just because your speaker is so good.
If I have to pick one moment… It’s probably the moment just before you enter the room, or just before ju put on the microphone, when your body is full of adrenaline and anything can happen.

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can see the whole list here.

Day 07 My best colleague

First of all you have to define best. The one who is the best interpreter or the one who is the best supporter?
There are some really awesome conference interpreters out there. Interpreters who interpret so that you have the impression to listen directly to the speaker. And on top of that every single nuance or word is there. But if you are a splendid interpreter and does not help your colleagues your excellence is reduced to half. When you work in a booth, you are a team, and the team is not stronger than its weakest links as the defence guys like to put it. The listeners get the impression from one booth, not from individual interpreters. Therefore you need to act as part of the team, help your colleagues with terminology, be attentive to figures, help to find the right power point page and so on.

In community interpreting, you are not surrounded by colleagues. But your best colleagues are those who keep in touch, who are there to debrief, who supports you against interpreting agencies and so forth. As I have said earlier, interestingly enough the community interpreting client seems to be more interested in an interpreter who is personal rather than neutral. Although that may not be desirable for other reasons (the interpreters social health among other things).

I have not met Erik Camayd-Freixas, but from what I have read about him it is a colleague I admire very much.

So, my best colleague is not a definition of how well somebody interprets (every professional interpreter have to live up to a certain standard of course), but rather how the interpreter acts as a colleague and a fellow human being. I have a colleague who is an excellent interpreter, a very warm person, extremely professional as a team member, and on top of that has energy left to be a committed teacher and mentor. I think that is my best colleague.

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can see the whole list here.