Help with college research study about escort interpreters
Thread poster: Alejandra Miret
Nov 25, 2010

Hello, my name is Alejandra Miretti, I am from Argentina and I would appreciate if trained and experienced interpreters in escort interpreting could tell me their experience and provide useful advise. This information will be analized in a research project that I need to complete to graduate. I would be really thankful if you could answer this questios for me.
Thank you very much.
Best regards.

What are the main advantages/disadvantages of escort interpreting?
Do you need any equipment such as microphones or headphones?
Can you give novice interpreters any piece of advise?
How important is previous cultural knowledge?
Can you tell me any anecdote that happened to you?

[Edited at 2010-11-25 20:33 GMT]


Stephen Franke
United States
Local time: 18:52
English to Arabic
+ ...
Escort/Interpreters (EI) - details of your research project, please? Nov 26, 2010


Kindly provide more details about your research project on escort/interpreters (EI), especially its purpose, scope, and fields to be discussed and assessed.

The questions posted in your initial query are very general.

One key to success as an EI is prior research and preparation -- including bringing bilingual specialized / technical dictionaries and similar references -- about the subject matters to be discussed while escorting a group around various, and each with differences, locations.

If you will be interpreting during a corporate briefing, meeting, or presentation at a visited site, it is very helpful to ask [and ask for delivery early, preferably a day or two before your group's arrival] for an advance copy of the text / agenda / "talking points" in the source language. With that in hand, you can extract the main points and translate those highlights into a hand-out summary you can provide to your escorted party after the presentation.

Insist on clarification by a specialist at the hosting organization of the intended meanings of jargon, acronyms, and industry/technology-specific abbreviations and terms used by and inside the hosting organization.

If the receiving/hosting organization requires you to use a booth and headset for the presentation, then insist that the firm have a technician there earlier to familiarize you and rehearse your using that equipment. (Use of a network very rarely happened in my experience except for a presentation to a large delegation; working with rendition of the tortured and foggy style of written English in the original text into Arabic equivalent text which made sense was the much-larger problem then.)

Hope this helps.


Stephen H. Franke
Escort/Interpreter and
Tour Guide/Facilitator
(US Department of Defense, 1972-1993)
San Pedro, California


Alejandra Miret
Research project Nov 28, 2010

Hi, thank you for answering. Let me tell you a little more about my research project. Its main objective is to provide young interpreters with useful information specifically about escort interpreters, particularly the ones that go to expositions, tours to factories, business meetings, etc. That is why I want to recollect personal experiences, anechdotes or pieces of advice for example wearing comfortable shoes, etc. I hope you understood me. Thank you very much.


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Shoes Nov 30, 2010

Well, that's an important item you mentioned. I used to work in a convention centre with a thing about image. To begin with, we had unisex uniforms, except when it came to footwear. Girls invariably had to wear some really dizzy stiletto heels.

Since we were kind of regular staff, knew each other well, and even had a kind of athletics club on the premises (running today, swimming tomorrow, etc. - it was recommended by our employers as a part of the health program on the job, along with our breaks), everybody came with a comfortable set of clothes and footwear in which to change. But that was because we sometimes practically had to live on the premises, availed of shower facilities, and sometimes even had hotel rooms assigned to us.

Still, I can't stress enough the importance of the right footwear. Stiletto heels may be good for one establishment, but not quite the thing for another assignment. (Not if you have to run through long airport corridors to catch a plane, anyway -- a colleague nearly missed hers in Frankfurt). In addition, they call attention. If you have to stand beside a person giving a speech, they may detract attention (along with any other quirky clothing -- like heavy metal or Gothic looks -- that you may decide to wear).

I still remember the story of one job recruiter who interviewed a young aspirant -- a very proper fellow from Leeds. "Last question: you wouldn't mind working without the nose ring?"

What is acceptable depends on your employers, the job or the environment.

The documentary preparation Stephen refers to is very important. As for any possible technical implications, it is always well to arrive on site ahead of time -- knowing what to do with one set of equipment does not guarantee you will be familiar with the next. It is also helpful in determining the volume settings you will be comfortable with, and if the speaker is present, his/her pace and pitch. But that kind of job no longer falls under escort interpreting.


Alejandra Miret
To Parrot Nov 30, 2010

Thanks a lot parrot! your post was very useful and funny!


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Escort interpreting Dec 3, 2010

One final word about escort interpreting in case it didn't strike you yet: it's the best way of meeting people and acquiring experience with accents, which is indispensable to more complicated types of interpreting. That way, you won't have to invent exotic Japanese urban tribes at the snap of a finger when you hear words like brukarawaka and wakarawaka (admittedly one of the harder conundrums of the trade), and be able to logically spot that this would be the end result of "blue collar worker" and "white collar worker" in the mouth of someone who can't pronounce an "l".


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