Interpreting for the first time: rates and advices
Thread poster: Raquel Bragança
Raquel Bragança
Local time: 18:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Mar 31, 2007

Hello,

I am a Portuguese currently living in Macau- China, and I was asked to serve as interpreter in Hong Kong for Angola's Embassy official opening. I am an English and German graduate but I just have experience in translation and teaching. However there is always a first time for everything. The problem is that I am clueless about the rates for this kind of job. The event will take place for 4 or 5 hours and I still don't know what they require from me.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:58
German to English
+ ...
Advice Mar 31, 2007

Read this:

www.proz.com/topic/69346

Marc


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just Hope Mar 31, 2007

Just hope it does not involve formal intepreting; consecutive or simultaneous before an audience.

If you've never done it before, it would be like falling into the water without a life preserver and not knowing how to swim, you'll drown in a minute.

Don't ask about rates, ask if you can do it.


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Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 12:58
German to Romanian
+ ...
edit Mar 31, 2007

I didn't read all the initial posting ... probably because the first thing I saw were Henry's words, which I see in many similar postings and I remember when I asked the same question several years ago ... and someone from the US told me I shouldn't do interpreting just because I asked about international rates ... at that point, it didn't matter to anyone I had a degree in interpreting ... the only thing people did care about was "if you don't know the rates, it means you can't do it".
I have edited my initial posting after re-opening the thread and realizing I hadn't read the initial posting.

[Edited at 2007-03-31 18:04]


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Christina Courtright  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Doing a disservice to the profession Mar 31, 2007

Sorry, I'm going to have to support Henry on this. It's not about the rates, it's about the skills. A person should not interpret for pay without any training whatsoever. Such training could include self-teaching tapes or CD's, if live teaching is not available, but it's also crucial to have some training on demeanor and protocol. I have seen a lot of people who claim to be interpreters merely because they are bilingual, and what they do constitutes a disservice to their clients, not to mention to the profession. Now maybe I'm extra-sensitive because I work in the courts, where people's lives and livelihoods are at stake, but no one should take this too lightly.

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xxxEmmanuelleAn  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:58
English to French
+ ...
I agree with Henry Mar 31, 2007

Henry Hinds wrote:

Just hope it does not involve formal intepreting; consecutive or simultaneous before an audience.

If you've never done it before, it would be like falling into the water without a life preserver and not knowing how to swim, you'll drown in a minute.

Don't ask about rates, ask if you can do it.


I fully agree with you especially if it is formal interpreting. Honestly, like for any other job you need a formal training before doing it. I'd say it would be ok if it was bilateral and not too formal. Let's be honest about it! It's as if you were pretending you could drive a truck when you only hold a licence for car driving. You really want to ask yourself if you CAN do it. Interpreting in an embassy is not about improvising things!

[Edited at 2007-03-31 17:17]


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Mireille K  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:58
French to English
+ ...
I agree with Henry Mar 31, 2007

Elvira Stoianov wrote:

Henry Hinds wrote:

If you've never done it before, it would be like falling into the water without a life preserver and not knowing how to swim, you'll drown in a minute.

Don't ask about rates, ask if you can do it.


Come on, guys. Give everybody a chance ... I am sure you all had a first job in your life. If someone, instead of encouraging you, would start telling you to drop it, none of us would make it.

I remember how a few years ago, someone treated me the same ... without knowing anything about my skills, many persons felt I should drop working just because I didn't know international rates ... On the other side, you say people work for rates that are too low, but then they ask you about international rates ... you tell them to drop work.

I will never understand this attitude, sorry.


I think Henry is being very honest and sincere here, he is not trying to discourage anyone, but to present the facts. There is a first time for everything, I do not believe interpreting for 5 hours at the opening of an Embassy is a good first time gig. But that is only my humble opinion.
Mireille


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xxxEmmanuelleAn  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:58
English to French
+ ...
Think professional Mar 31, 2007

Come on, guys. Give everybody a chance ... I am sure you all had a first job in your life.

That sounds like you are not taking the job of an interpreter very seriously. Of course we all had our "first times" but one(without any previous "training" whatsoever) before the audience of an Embassy is not a very sensible thing to do.

[Edited at 2007-03-31 17:32] I may sound a bit harsh but interpreting in an Embassy is the job of a Professional Interpreter.

[Edited at 2007-03-31 17:38]


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 05:58
English to Russian
+ ...
Marc, that link is not representative:-) Apr 1, 2007

Granted, the Embassy event is not a good place for experimenting, but let's cool down a bit.

The interpreter in question was a young person, an in-house translator with the military background, used to translating and interpreting whatever he was ordered to translate, and he ended up dealing with some very specific discussion between experts with tough accents of 3 remote participants on top of all. Yes, our poor guy was replaced with someone more experienced in that company but he is progressing quite a bit (we can see it from his questions). That was the whole story, and that is exactly why we supported our young colleage who was very upset, whose concsience was hurting and who was very serious about what happened. Let's be honest, many beginners with fat degrees were fished out of a deep hole only because a more experienced colleague was right there next to them in the first place. I have no interpretation degree but I have saved a couple of butts of Monterey graduates in the beginning of their careers in space. BTW, speaking of professionalism, the same poster suggested that a) if you didn't understand someting - skip it and keep going, and b) have generic sentence endings always in your pocket to fill in whenever your did not understand or hear what the speaker actually said... Won't the outcome sound smooth and perfect?:-)

Raquel, I have some practical questions before biting you too. You don't have to answer to me, answer honestly to yourself.

1. The whole thing sounds very, very strange - who actually did approach the teacher/translator without any interpreting experience with such assignment? Some agency? Does the Embassy know the entire story? Did they request your CV? Any embassy is a professional client, they do understand the importance of professional interpreting during diplomatic events, prep stuff including. They are used to certain level of quality. Remember, there will be a very spoiled crowd with many mastering several foreign languages themselves. Tough judges to face... It's beyond me why you are still in darkness regarding all the details. The introduction part alone will kill you in the first 3 minutes without the list of participants and speakers. Interpreting foreign names and titles hearing them for the first time when they are thrown at you at a light speed... May Lord have mercy on you!

2. What is your role? Official or social, so to speak? Are you supposed to be the only interpreter in your pair?

3. What other languages, if any, will be served with the interpretation support? If more than one, are you familliar with chuchotage equipment? I doubt there will be booths but who knows...

I'd say go for a social part, have fun and make connections but think twice of the official end, even though the teachers must be the last people in the world to suffer from speech deficiencies and fear of the crowd:-). This is a different crowd though and the effect can be quite the opposite - you can lose lots of potential connections...

Either don't leave home at all or leave it for no less than an absolute minimum of 450 USD for the fun part. You need to compensate your expensive outfit:-).

Irene


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LorraineN
Local time: 06:58
French to English
+ ...
Interpreting for the first time Apr 1, 2007

I have always heard that interpreters did stints of 25 minutes at a time, at which time another interpreter took over. Five hours seems hell to me.

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Amini Kamran
Local time: 15:28
English to Persian (Farsi)
interpretation Apr 1, 2007

Raquel Bragança wrote:

Hello,

I am a Portuguese currently living in Macau- China, and I was asked to serve as interpreter in Hong Kong for Angola's Embassy official opening. I am an English and German graduate but I just have experience in translation and teaching. However there is always a first time for everything. The problem is that I am clueless about the rates for this kind of job. The event will take place for 4 or 5 hours and I still don't know what they require from me.


Hello
Dear Raquel Bragança
It is not hard at all. Tell yourself that you are the only one who can do this job and use all what you know and do it and do it well. But as Henry has suggested let's forget about money. This is a good chance for you to experience interpretation. I hope it won't be a very long interpretation because interpretation more than three hours is a frustrating job.
Amini Kamran


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Raquel Bragança
Local time: 18:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 2, 2007

I received more info: it seems it will be only escort interpretation for someone coming from Angola. I won't even have to speak in public.

Thanks for the advices, even for the harsh ones! I'll try to do my best and I am SURE it will go just fine!


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Clara Duarte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Good luck, Raquel! Apr 9, 2007

Hi, Raquel

I wish you all the best for your debut. You'll do good, I'm sure. Just keep calm and don't studder!


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