Dilemma: Interpreting from French into Spanish
Thread poster: picko924

Local time: 03:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 29, 2007

I am looking for advice from fellow interpreters. I have Spanish as my A language, English- B and French as language C but I have barely worked from French into Spanish in the 3 years I have been working in the private sector and I feel a little shakey about the prospect of doing so. I have recently been offered a job interpreting from French into Spanish for a very prestigious client and I have been assured by the agency that it is just a press conference/opening ceremony lasting half an hour or less which my more experienced booth partner will take of. I have been told that I will just be present as back up/support in case there are any problems or in the unlikely event that it overruns.
I am tempted to take on the job because it will give me the opportunity to practice with French again and I am also tempted because I will be paid a full day interpreting rate (whether I interpret on not) but on the other hand since my confidence is a little shakey regarding my French I am not sure if I should risk it. I would hate for my booth partner to be disappointed in my performance and give bad feedback to the agency despite the fact that it is very unlikely that I will be called on to interpret.
The job is in one week and I was thinking of swotting up all week on the subject matter (which is not at all technical) and listening to speeches in French to develop an ear for the language again but I am not sure if that will be sufficient preparation. I have looked on the website of the company involved and can easily do a sight translation the texts that I have found on there but of course, it is quite different when someone is speaking French.
Any comments/suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.


Beatriz Galiano (X)
Local time: 00:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hi Jun 29, 2007

The problem here, I guess is assessing your French level, because it's your third language but it could be placed in many levels all the same. Translating from a third to a first language is not easy, imagine interpreting. Besides you said it is a very prestigious company so I would not run the risk.

But its finally up to you. Good luck.


Local time: 05:11
French to English
+ ...
Dear Ricko Jun 29, 2007

First I don't think that you must take it as an opportunity to practice your french... it is not the right time... nor the right place to do it...
I will reassure you... if you had to translate from spanish into french.... I would tell you don't... but since you are interpreting INTO your mother tongue... so there is nothing to be afraid of...
it doesn't matter if you practice a language or not... what matters is that you learned it and used it for some time.... and then it's like swimming... you can never forget how to swim once you learned it... but in case of languages... I am sure it is easier for you to understand it than to speak it...

Relax and go make money



Yvette Neisser Moreno  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't risk it Jun 30, 2007

Hi. While it sounds like a good opportunity for you, I don't think it's worth taking the risk that you'd be called upon to interpret and might not be able to perform at the expected level--unless you make it very clear to the client what your abilities are and they still want you to do it. In this case--as it sounds like professional event--I suggest that you get that in writing.

I recently had a similar experience with an agency, where they called on me to interpret from English to Spanish--Spanish being my "B" language--for an appt in a field in which I do not specialize. I explained that I had no training in the subject and so forth, and they still needed me. After being completely honest, I then felt comfortable taking the assignment knowing that they weren't expecting a 100% perfect interpretation.

That said, I have found that interpreting in an informal setting, such as medical appts--as opposed to interpreting before an audience--is a good way to get on-the-job experience/practice in a given language pair.

Hope that helps a bit.



Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
You Jun 30, 2007

...sad to say, are the only judge here. We can't help you. You decide whether you are up to it or not. Personally I feel that I am not ready for something, then I don't do it.


Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:11
Dutch to English
+ ...
No dilemma Jun 30, 2007

General rule: don't learn at your client's (potential) expense.


liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:11
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Don't consider it.. Jun 30, 2007

Well, in your position I just wouldn't consider it.

If your level of French is not excellent and you are not at least 99% confident, then don't consider it!.. You could end up embarrassing yourself and your colleague interpreter.

It's a difficult job as it is, but don't take on more than you can chew!

There are other ways of improving your French which wouldn't put anybody in a compromising position..


Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:11
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's a tough call Jun 30, 2007

but I know in my case, after spending my first 17 years speaking French daily, fluently, and then doing a lot of French in university and later working at a university here in Canada where meetings, etc. in my department were held in French, NOW....after not speaking it more than once a month, if that, over the past 5 years, I would be nervous about translating or interpreting into French, although I do French into English or Spanishor Hebrew if asked....I agree with the earlier comment that unless it's your A language, maybe brush up a bit first...


Pat Jenner
Local time: 03:11
German to English
+ ...
Maybe not this time, but take it as an opportunity Jul 2, 2007

Tricky one, this. You say that French is your 'C' language, but you haven't used it for three years, so it must be quite rusty as the other respondents have said. I would see this as an incentive to start working on your French to bring it up to a true 'C' level for future events. This particular assignment has too much potential for going badly wrong, which would be highly detrimental to your professional reputation. Even if you were to stress your limitations and hesitations to the client, any problems would undoubtedly come to rest at your door.


juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:11
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Misunderstandings Jul 3, 2007

I think a number of answerers here seem to think that the assignment is to interpret into your C language, but it is not the case.

As Henry said, you are the only one to judge your ability and readiness. They seem to want you, and you told them that you are a bit rusty.
You are an experienced interpreter, and as you would be interpreting into your mother tongue, it will sound OK, just make sure your understanding of French is up to it.


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Dilemma: Interpreting from French into Spanish

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