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What do you do when you have an "urgent" mission?
Thread poster: RafaLee
Local time: 06:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 27, 2004

When you suddenly have an "urgent mission" (you know what I mean) while interpreting in a conference, what do you do?


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:11
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
wait till the break Mar 27, 2004

Hi Rafalee,
During simultaneous intepreting there are always two interpreters and we change every 30 minutes. If there is only one interpreter and is going consecutive, there are always breaks very 1,5 -1h. This helps to accomodate all "urgent" matters.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
In cases of extreme urgency Mar 27, 2004

One time I was all alone and they kept me going all day long, no breaks, even during lunch (no eats for me!). Sorry folks, but when the interpreter's gotta go, he's gotta GO!

The rest of them could just wander in and out, I was trapped. So if they weren't going to give me a break, then I would just get up and take one, Period.

They could prattle on for a few minutes without me. After all, nine and a half hours non-stop by yourself is a bit much, and that's what it turned into!

Aventuras del "Llanero Sanitario" como una vez lo dijo un colega...

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United States
Local time: 15:11
English to Russian
+ ...
Never go to the ethnic food restaurants on your working days:-) Mar 27, 2004

Well, I wouldn't know what to do if I were the only interpreter for an "inter-Presidential" event, maybe run and never come back:), but since most of the time our working environment is somewhat less burdening, here are some simple ideas, depending on the environment:

To make things easier, before you even start interpreting "work the crowd", make them like you, "get a feel" of them and in the vast majority of cases it will become clear that you are not such a hopeless prisoner and they are in fact normal people and not just the auditors of your interpretation skills. Ask for a break, that's all.

When working with colleagues, you may develop a sign showing that you need an urgent replacement and then either replace them back quietly or let them work till the scheduled break and then give them more break time when your turn comes.

If you are too shy to ask your clients for a break for "obvious reasons", or work alone with a "dumb-bell" crowd that treats an interpreter like he/she is just another piece of office equipment (very unfortunate but sometimes possible), don't ask - stage an attack of "coughing and tear-dropping" and in the process of getting up or stepping off apologize mumbling that you'll be back in 2 minutes. If they don't announce a 15-minute break they are not worth your talent! Don't forget to "degrade" your voice for 5-10 minutes after you return:):):).

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EdithK  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:11
Gaelic to German
+ ...
Train your bladder Mar 28, 2004

When I trained a long long time ago, we were told at the very first session:

Never forget three things:
a) An interpreter must be like the wall - never noticed
b) An interpreter must have a well-trained bladder
c) An interpreter may never be dressed better than the most important lady at dinner speeches.

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What do you do when you have an "urgent" mission?

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