time for terminology preparation
Thread poster: Barbara Milano

Barbara Milano
Local time: 07:56
German to Italian
+ ...
Sep 1, 2009

I've recently been asked to work at technical conferences involving more that one specific field (such as medical AND marketing AND business) on a very short deadline, which sometimes doesn't leave time for an adequate terminology preparation.
How much time do you request for your preparation in case of technical conferences? Is there a sort of "standard" deadline that I could adopt for "educating" the customers beforehand?
Thank you!

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:56
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ideal vs. Practice Sep 1, 2009

Ideally you should be provided with plenty of material on the subjects to be covered with ample time ahead to prepare for interpreting assignments. This would allow you to make up glossaries, etc. Client education is a very important part of the process, and I would just say that you should try to get as much time as you need given your own circumstances. But in practice, do not expect that the client will come through, because quite often it just will not happen. Furthermore, the client contracting for your services may not even have any control at all over the presenters at an assignment.

Therefore, as an interpreter, you need to have various "hats" you can put on at a moment's notice depending on the subject. That is, you need to be ready for anything they can throw at you. Thus it is best to stick to assignments in fields that you are familiar with, and organizations you already know. If not, make sure you are working with someone who has such familiarity, and follow their lead.

That brings up another factor, having partners who are constantly working with you to collect written materials and help you to get the terminology down. You might as well face it, many times your preparation time will not begin until the interpreting starts, and help from other partners will be critical.

And finally, it never hurts to have pants of iron and nerves of steel.

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United States
Local time: 23:56
English to Arabic
+ ...
Get the presentations or briefing scripts into your hands immediately Sep 1, 2009

In view of your being requested to interpret sessions which cover a diverse range of distinctive technical subjects, I recommend that your first step of substantive preparation be to get the presentations or briefing scripts delivered into your hands immediately.

Screen them for the style of writing and clarity, then ask each source (customer) to clarify the intended meaning as expressed in the original English (beware of adjective strings and other convoluted constructions written in "tech-speak").

If the source is smart and prepared (and serious about having its message conveyed and understood in L2), the source should be able to provide you with a glossary or annotated word-list.

Hope this helps.


Stephen H. Franke
English - Arabic,
Persian and Kurdish
San Pedro, California

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