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How long can an interpreter go?
Thread poster: Muna khleifat
Muna khleifat  Identity Verified
Jordan
Local time: 18:15
Arabic to English
+ ...
Oct 5, 2006

Hi,

I've been working as an interpreter for a year now. I would like to know your opnion regarding whether the interpreter who can't work on his own in a function is less professional than others who can. Should I start trying taking days on my own? Sometimes organizers promise to pay more if the interpreter would take the whole function on his own. What do you think ? In psycholinguistics we studied how interpretation is about the two hemisphere of the brain working together.I wonder if this excessive exhaustion of the brain might lead to any serious results.

Thanks
Muna Khleifat

[Edited at 2006-10-05 10:52]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:15
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends on what "function" Oct 5, 2006

khleifat wrote:

I would like to know your opnion regarding whether the interpreter who can't work on his own in a function is less professional than others who can.


If you're referring to conference interpreting, the standard is to have two interpreters in a cabin. The difference in rate between a single interpreter doing all the work for 6 hours and 2 interpreters sharing it by alternating is usually not that great to warrant the risks involved. It certainly is not seen as "less professional" for an interpreter to refuse this condition. (See Article 7 b in this link: http://www.aiic.net/ViewPage.cfm/article24.htm )

An informal meeting lasting a shorter time in which the interpreter is requested to do direct and inverse and the client declares himself willing to accept the consequences may be more flexible. There would be many variations to this sort of situation, as well as court set-ups.


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xxxEmmanuelleAn  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:15
English to French
+ ...
Schizophrenic after a few years... Oct 5, 2006

[quote]khleifat wrote:

In psycholinguistics we studied how interpretation is about the two hemisphere of the brain working together.I wonder if this excessive exhaustion of the brain might lead to any serious results.

Most interpreters become schizophrenic after a few years...
Just joking...BUT once a colleague of mine told me that some conference interpreters had accepted to be guinea pigs for an experiment carried out by scientists/neurologists. They had electrodes "stuck" on the head and performed simultaneous interpreting. The "image of their brains" that appeared on the doctors' "screens" was more or less similar to the one of a schizophrene's brain going through a crisis.
Scary...but I find it hard to believe.


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Muna khleifat  Identity Verified
Jordan
Local time: 18:15
Arabic to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
interesting research Oct 5, 2006

OK. This is really scary. What I know is that language is localized in the left hemisphere of the brain. Using CAT to study what happens in the interpreters' brains , researchers found out the following .This device "CAT" determines which part(s) of the brain is operating. This test was made to a women who could speak two languages (English and Italian) and results showed that the left hemisphere of the brain was operating. Now after she has received simultaneous translation training for about a year; it turned out that both her left and right hemisphere were operating when she was interpreting. Her second language was localized in the right hemisphere... Quite scary like you said, however it wouldn;t be a problem if this would be the only change taking place in our brains.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Double up, always Oct 5, 2006

khleifat wrote:
Should I start trying taking days on my own? Sometimes organizers promise to pay more if the interpreter would take the whole function on his own.


I don't do interpreting myself, but I've just asked a colleague of mine who is an ex-interpreter, and he said what I had always known to be true: on your own, you can go up to an hour or even longer if the topic is very interesting and you have the vocabulary, but the ideal is two interpreters doing half an hour each (when doubling up you can do an entire day without stopping).

A family member of mine once attended a week long conference during which a single interpreter was responsible for interpreting without equipment to a group of foreign delegates. The conference included an exam at the end, and some form of accreditation, and the interpreter ended up getting accredited because he was able to pass the exam.


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Ara Mkrtchyan  Identity Verified
Armenia
Local time: 20:15
English to Armenian
+ ...
I ought to see a doctor Oct 5, 2006

A couple of months ago I had to make day-long interpretations, somewhere around 6-8 hours with three 15 minute brakes. I've been feeling all right since then, but after reading the postings here, I think I have to consult a doctor:)
AFAIK, professional interpreters at government summits/meetings usually give a maximum output of up to 30 mins, after that their productivity decreases.
By the way, I hear such high-level interpreters charge sth about $40 a min, is that right?

Rgrds,
Ara

[Edited at 2006-10-05 15:42]


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:15
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Only interpret one -way Oct 5, 2006

I've been an interpreter for 7 years - liaison interpreting.

Personally, I think I would go "bonkers" (mad) were I to interpret for both sides, rather than one.

As it is, interpreting is very tiring, so I think you would be asking for trouble taking on too much.

I find that one hour's work doing liaison interpreting is long enough before I need to "escape" and have a cup of coffee/glass of water.

We have to protect our brains in our profession! and keep sane!


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
People Vary Oct 6, 2006

That said, several people here mention a team of two trading off every 30 minutes; that is ideal.

How long can we really go? I've gone back and forth both ways between two languages for as long as 9 1/2 hours with no breaks at all except a few quick runs for physical needs.

That I don't recommend. If you're asking how long you can go, all you can do is try it and see how long you last.


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Muna khleifat  Identity Verified
Jordan
Local time: 18:15
Arabic to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
no extra chargeS? Oct 6, 2006

[quote]Henry Hinds wrote:

That said, several people here mention a team of two trading off every 30 minutes; that is ideal.

How long can we really go? I've gone back and forth both ways between two languages for as long as 9 1/2 hours with no breaks at all except a few quick runs for physical needs.



Thanks for the advice. But I would like to know whether you charge the organizer more when you do two men's job.


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Stephanie Diaz
English to Spanish
remember that interpreting is communicating Oct 12, 2006

and not a test of physical/neurologic resistance of a bilingual person.

if it takes two highly qualified interpreters to do the job, that is, to maintain the communication of a group of people, then that's it.

the only reason why a client would require only one interpreter to do the job is to lower the costs of the conference and exploit one person's brain.

i have always said no to such proposals as i consider them unprofessional and harms the business for us in a way.

interpreting is team work and communication, don't forget that!

regards,

stephanie


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Muna khleifat  Identity Verified
Jordan
Local time: 18:15
Arabic to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Oct 12, 2006

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experience, and thanks for the useful pieces of advice.

Best Regards,
Muna Khleifat


[Edited at 2006-10-12 22:20]


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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 17:15
simultaneous interpreting requires at least 2... Oct 13, 2006

Henry Hinds wrote:
... a team of two trading off every 30 minutes; that is ideal.

Thanks for the advice. But I would like to know whether you charge the organizer more when you do two men's job.


1. A team of 2 is NOT "ideal"...
...it is absolutely NECESSARY and the only professional practice acceptable. In some cases of longer than "normal" days and/or difficult conferences, a team of THREE is required.

2. You don' t charge more "when you do two men's job": you just DO NOT do "two men's job" (or two women's job either for that matter).

3. You want to be a real PROFESSIONAL interpreter? then, NEVER work alone for simultaneous conferences... that's how the "non-pro" are destroying our market that many have been working so hard for so long to develop with acceptable and reliable working conditions to ensure top performance and top service to the client.

df


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Muna khleifat  Identity Verified
Jordan
Local time: 18:15
Arabic to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Can't agree more! Oct 13, 2006

df49f wrote:


(3. You want to be a real PROFESSIONAL interpreter? then, NEVER work alone for simultaneous conferences... that's how the "non-pro" are destroying our market that many have been working so hard for so long to develop with acceptable and reliable working conditions to ensure top performance and top service to the client.

df
)

Exactly, I do agree. I once did consecutive translation for 6 days on my own. When I told the workshop trainer that I needed a full one-hour break , which was the lunch hour we agreed on in the contract, they complained to the translation agency that I was "uncooperative". It was terrible!!!

However , I was thinking to my self that simultaneous translation might be different in this regard. I do enjoy doing simultaneous translation way more than consecutive , and I did interpret for 3 hours (on my own). But I guess interpreting for three hours is so different from doing 9 hours solo.

I thought I should take other people's opinions. You know I will be able to make a stronger argument knowing that I am defending a professional well-established trend when requests of this sort are made.


[Edited at 2006-10-13 19:35]


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