Client talks in third person
Thread poster: Imlaufova

Imlaufova
Czech to English
Jul 15, 2008

Hello,
I just started working as a phone interpreter, interpreting for public sector in GB, and am wondering how persistent I should be in asking the client to talk in first person. I find it rather uncomfortable and distracting to tell them they should talk as though talking directly to the other person. Is it possible just to ignore the client's talking in third person? Obviously I speak in first person when interpreting. I would be gratefull for any advice,
Thanks a lot


 

Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:35
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
You're right, but... Jul 16, 2008

Imlaufova wrote:
I just started working as a phone interpreter, interpreting for public sector in GB, and am wondering how persistent I should be in asking the client to talk in first person. I find it rather uncomfortable and distracting to tell them they should talk as though talking directly to the other person. Is it possible just to ignore the client's talking in third person? Obviously I speak in first person when interpreting. I would be gratefull for any advice,
Thanks a lot


I know that people working with interpreters are supposed to talk in the first person, and that it drives interpreters crazy when people say "Tell him that..."

But I think interpreters sometimes forget that talking in the first person and ignoring the interpreter is completely counterintuitive for a lot people (in fact, probably for most people). So you may want to find a very concise, friendly way to remind people of how interpreting works at the start of each phone call.


 

liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:35
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Explain the role of the telephone interpreter briefly and politely Jul 16, 2008

I understand your comments. This happened to me on more than one occasion and it causes confusion and is unprofessional as the interpreter is to remain impartial at all times - in fact if the client does not use the first person and is constantly saying to the interpreter "tell him/her..." it causes confusion and lack of clarity all round and it takes far longer for the message to be relayed to either side! Also, it can often lead to the interpreter becoming a personal tool of the client, and being blamed for something that is not his/her fault" - it is never a good idea to become personal with anybody you are working for, and by not using the first person as if he//she were talking directly to the non-English speaker, this is what the client is doing. The interpreter is to be neutral and should only be involved in the two-way process between client and non-English speaker as a mediator.

In fact, I have noticed that if the client becomes too personal, it often comes across as being over-familiar, casual and sloppy.

Yes, it drives one mad, but you need to be persistent. Most people do not have a clue about the role of an interpreter and it is best to establish this, politely, right from the beginning. They will soon get the message and hopefully it will clarify the message all round. They may even tell their colleagues!

Liz Askew


 

Caryl Swift  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:35
Polish to English
+ ...
Forum on a similar topic Jul 16, 2008

Hi Imlaufova,

There was a forum thread here on ProZ not so long ago about this issue:

http://tinyurl.com/5c6ky6

Good luck!
Caryl


 

Agnieszka Hayward
Poland
Local time: 21:35
German to Polish
+ ...
Thanks! Oct 10, 2008

Caryl Swift wrote:

http://tinyurl.com/5c6ky6



Thanks Caryl for the link :-*


 


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Client talks in third person

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