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What should an interpreter study or do before interpreting?
Thread poster: Floriana Casciabanca

Floriana Casciabanca
Local time: 19:25
German to Italian
+ ...
Jul 11, 2006

Dear collegues, I would like to deeply understand what an interpreter should study or do before interpreting for instance in a lecture, in a meeting. I mean, interpreting is a very toil work (as well as translating), and it's quite hard being a "good interpreter".

Please let me know something about your experiences.

Vielen Dank/thank you so much/grazie mille!


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Local time: 19:25
English to Chinese
+ ...
Too many things to study Jul 11, 2006

Based on my experience, all documentations from the very beginning should be read, that would make the interpreter follow up this project and allow him to spend time exploring that specific field. And then, it is much better for the side who needs interpreting tell the interpreter what the two sides want to achieve, eps his side, and how far they have reached, etc.

That is just very gerneral idea. Anyway, hope that helps.

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Sybille  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:25
Member (2003)
English to German
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What should an interpreter study and do before interpreting Jul 11, 2006

It is not very often that I have to interpret, but I always try to get a summary/program/topic(s) etc. of what will discussed during interpretation. Then, if it is a company, for which you will have to interpret, try to get as much documents with the special words they use and learn them by heart. If you only get a program or name of a topic which will be dealt with, try to imagine what they c o u l d discuss then and look up words, which you do not use daily in your translation/interpretation work and which are connected with this topic, but which could be used in this topic - learn them by heart, too. You will feel much better before starting to interpret if you have done this.
Try not to be pressed by other work ( translations you have to finish urgently before doing the interpretation job, urgent housework or so).
Maybe other colleagues have other points they consider.


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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Actors without a script Jul 11, 2006

Someone once told me that being an interpreter was like being an actor in a play who doesn't get to see the script until he's on stage, in front of everyone.

I have felt a bit like that at times when I've interpreted in court, at a trial, and an expert witness shows up and starts using highly technical vocabulary -- a court interpreter's worst nightmare!

The only thing you can do is request any written materials that will be used in advance so that you can familiarize yourself with the subject matter. Sometimes, there's no literature, and even when there is some the client might not give it to you on time.

At the very least, you should be able to find out beforehand, what the topic will be. That way you can prepare yourself. The last time that I did conference interpreting -- I don't do it very often -- the client did not give me the documents he promised ahead of time, not even the schedule of speakers and topics. I knew that it was a gathering of customs officials, so I went on the internet and prepared a four page glossary of anything that I could find about the subject. It was a lifesaver.

Moral of the story. When the actor doesn't get the script, the actor writes his own! Learn as much as you can before you go to your assignment and hope for the best. Good luck to you!


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Floriana Casciabanca
Local time: 19:25
German to Italian
+ ...
ThANK you Jul 12, 2006

dear friends

thank you so much for having shared your experiences with me. It has been very useful, and moreover I also think that being an interpreter or a translator is quite difficult but at the same time satisfying. I deeply admire every translators and interpreters here and around the world.


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Mohammed Abu-Risha
Local time: 20:25
Arabic to English
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Some hints Aug 22, 2006


From my experience, what you need to do is to do your homewrok correctly. I mean you should repare before getting into the conference room. Example, if the conference is about Civil Defence, then you should prepare about: evacuation, fire brigades, radio-active materials, contamination and decontamination, rescue teams etc.

If your work is going to be on economics for instance, them perhaps you need to know beforehand someting about: microfinance, credit, debt, loans, banking procedures etc etc.

But, the most important point I want to mention to you is that all conferences have something in common, which we call: commonalities. Example:

- Stakeholders (all parties ocnerend with a project, donation etc.)

- logical framework
- logistics
- advocacy
- solidarity
- sustainability

There are some of the expressions that I remember. In order for you to get an idea about commonalities, you have to work hard to get these shared concepts and ideas from different organsiations. I will suggest that you check and read the website of the World bank, UN, UNHCR, Red cross, etc.....

You can quickly review articles written their and them underline the expressions or concepts which you feel are in common between all organsiations.

Hope this hint is useful


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Local time: 19:25
German to English
+ ...
how to prepare for a meeting Aug 30, 2006

try this wonderful set of ideas from a book by Claudia Monacelli


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