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chuchotage
Thread poster: Sara Molinari
Sara Molinari  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:18
English to Italian
+ ...
Mar 10, 2008

Hello everybody,

I need your advice, please. I have been offered a work as interpreter for a 3 hours meeting and I will work from English vs Italian and viceversa. I am going to be the only interpreter. They require chuchotage. Is this a normal situation? I mean, having just one interpreter for 3 hours from and into Italian, is it normal during meetings? if so, what do you suggest I should ask as rate?

Thank you very much for your help.

Sara


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:18
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
It is not normal, but it is usual. Mar 10, 2008

I had once a chucotage session about 8 hours.

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Sara Molinari  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:18
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What do you suggest? Mar 10, 2008

So, what would you suggest I should ask as rate?

thank you very much for your reply
Sara


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Déesse
Local time: 10:18
French to Dutch
+ ...
Too long Mar 10, 2008

An interpreter should not exceed 45' in a row (absolute maximum). You should ask for a collegue to back you. Chuchotage is very demanding for your voice!

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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:18
English to Polish
+ ...
Time Mar 10, 2008

The time is not unusual. I've had longer "whispered" interpreting sessions as well (with breaks, however). Just make sure you can last that long.

As to interpreting both ways, usually you sit by one person or small group of people for the whole meeting. So maybe that one person leaves and the language of the meeting changes and somebody else comes in that doesn't speak the other language.

I don't recall a situation like that, but I imagine it's possible.

In any case, I don't think it's outrageous, as long as you think you can handle it.

Many jobs I have involve chucotage into English/ Polish and then consecutive interpreting into the other language when that person wishes to say something "in public".

HTH
Pawel Skalinski

[Edited at 2008-03-10 10:49]


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Sara Molinari  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:18
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree Mar 10, 2008

I agree- it is very demanding both for the voice and also for the brain.. As I understand from my friend that passed this work on to me, they are not used to work calling interpreters. They don't understand really the effort and the concentration you need to do the job well.

I will try to ask if I am the only interpreter and if so (I already know it) , I will try to tell them that these are not the proper working conditions to do a job well. Because they don't have a clue. The person who accepted the work before, she accepted it without telling them that it was too much for an interpreter alone. And probably if I ask for a collegue, they probably would think "but the other interpreter did it alone, and she didn't ask us anything". I should stress on the fact that the other person has not a qualification as interpreter, but she has a degree in Foreign languages. And I am sorry about it. Even if it is true, she accepted risking a lot, really a lot.

The question remains, in the event I am working alone 3 hours, how much do you suggest I should get?

Thank you again.

Regards,

Sara


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Pat Jenner
Local time: 09:18
German to English
+ ...
Your daily rate plus a surcharge for working alone Mar 10, 2008

It's hard for me to suggest a figure as I don't know the market in Italy, but I would say that you should charge whatever you would normally earn in a full day (after all, you can't take any other work that day and would not be able to do so after this tiring job). Another couple of things I would advise you to check (if the client won't be persuaded that it's really a two-person assignment) is how many people you will be working for (three is in my view the limit for chuchotage, any more and you have to speak too loud), and whether you will be required to work in the other direction if the people who are listening to you want to say something. Hope that helps.

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The Misha
Local time: 04:18
Russian to English
+ ...
Boy, are you guys in Europe spoiled! Mar 10, 2008

Three hours too much? How about 10 hours? Like, say, a few hours of meetings in the morning, followed by maybe a couple of hours' worth of a factory visit, then a business lunch (and yeah, you have to eat at the same time too, to be a team player), then more meetings, and then, possibly, dinner - with a lot of alcohol involved, too. I have done it before countless times, and I will do it again in a heartbeat. Tiresome? You bet - but that's what we get paid for.

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LP Schumacher  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:18
Member
German to English
Check other interpreters' profiles Mar 10, 2008

sara100 wrote:

The question remains, in the event I am working alone 3 hours, how much do you suggest I should get?

Thank you again.

Regards,

Sara



Hi Sara,

In the directory of interpreters on this site, I found over 300 site users offering interpreting services in your language pair and in your country. You might want to check out these profiles to see if they have entered their hourly rates, just to give you an idea of what you could consider charging for your services.

Hope this helps!

Liesl


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Javier Wasserzug  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:18
English to Spanish
+ ...
Three hours Mar 10, 2008

YES, although is not everyday, three hours is not unusual at all.
In the Seattle area they pay U$25 - $30 / hour.


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Jonathan Sanders  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:18
Dead wrong Mar 10, 2008

The Misha wrote:

Three hours too much? How about 10 hours? Like, say, a few hours of meetings in the morning, followed by maybe a couple of hours' worth of a factory visit, then a business lunch (and yeah, you have to eat at the same time too, to be a team player), then more meetings, and then, possibly, dinner - with a lot of alcohol involved, too. I have done it before countless times, and I will do it again in a heartbeat. Tiresome? You bet - but that's what we get paid for.


I'm sorry, but I really must say that working in cuchotage alone, for that amount of time, in those conditions, is not professional. It's not a European thing, because I am from the Midwest--not exactly the Mecca of Interpreters in North America. Even there, when a company asked me to do chuchotage all day alone, I refused and negociated to have a partner, because it's not possible to do a good job in those conditions. Even local state court assignments lasting longer than 30 minutes require two interpreters. If anything, with the extra demands of working without a booth, chuchotage is more stressful than booth simultaneous and requires at least two people.

I would reference the study carried out by Barbara Moser-Mercer from the University of Geneva. (Moser-Mercer, B., Kunzli, B., and Korac, M. 1998.
“Prolonged turns in interpreting: Effects on quality,
physiological and psychological stress.” University
of Geneva, École de Traduction et d’Interprétation.
Interpreting Vol. 3 (1), p. 47-64. John Benjamins Publishing
Co.)

Her findings indicated that after 30 minutes approximately, interpreter stress as marked by cortisol levels progressively increased and quality was affected accordingly. But what was interesting was that the interpreters after 30 minutes, had lost their ability to self-monitor because their brains had "run out of steam". Meaning that interpreters who think they can go on for hours on end with no decrease in quality are not so-much "interpreting machines", but rather they just don't realize what they're saying anymore. NAJIT's position paper on team interpreting makes some of the same points. http://www.najit.org/documents/Team%20Interpreting_052007.pdf.

Certain aspects in interpreting are negotiable, and others are not. Simultaneous in chuchotage should not be done for hours on end alone. Period.

[Edited at 2008-03-10 18:33]


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Paola Dossan
Italy
Local time: 10:18
English to Italian
+ ...
The Italian market... Mar 10, 2008

Hey Sara,
I would suggest you not to ask for a second interpreter as far as the chuchotage assignment: it is absolutely common to work alone that long in the Italian standard!
As far as the rate you are trying to figure out, offer the half-day rate and that's it...
Cheers.
Paola


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Sara Molinari  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:18
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
To Misha. Mar 10, 2008

It is not I want to seem spoiled, not at all. I just want to do a good job. And I would like clients to be satisfied with the work I do. Since I have studied interpreting at University, I know the efforts it takes. And teachers always told us that we have to pay attention also to the conditions we are offered to work with. Because the outcome of our work could be compromised.
So it is not a question to be spoiled. It is a question of offering a good quality translation.

Thank you to everyone taking the time to answer me. It's interesting to hear different opinions and suggestions.

Sara


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The Misha
Local time: 04:18
Russian to English
+ ...
In the ideal world ... Mar 10, 2008

... it would all be as it should. We would take breaks every 30 minutes, and chances are we would not even have to do this odd whisper translation at all. We would also work strictly from 9 to 5 and would all have superior life insurance, paid vacations and warm donuts served in bed.

Reality, however, is different. I agree with Mr.Sanders, in a courtroom setting they would always have a spare interpreter - for an obvious reason that the taxpayers are footing the bill and so the person signing the checks does not care how much it costs. Of course, stakes in such proceedings may also be higher (someone's freedom), so the extra stress on quality may be justified. In the private sector though - and that's where all my clients are (poor me) - the client always has a tight budget, and he always bitches about it. When it comes down to cutting corners, it is always in the quality department. Big deal, they say, if they did not get it from the first try, or missed something, they can always ask you again, or ask the speaker for clarifications. In most cases it works, and it works fine. Like my mother used to say back in the old country, anyone can bake a decent cake with quality ingredients, the real skill is in baking it using all the crap offered for sale by the Big Brother.

By the way, I have just been contracted for two full days of one on one consecutive for a business meeting at a real big international financial institution, and I do not expect any wingmen for that. Nor do they expect me to even ask for one , and I won't. I'll just go and bake the best damn possible cake I can under the circumstances, and they will most likely leave no crumbs on their plates.


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Jonathan Sanders  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:18
A few words on interpreters, architects, and cakes Mar 11, 2008

The Misha wrote:

... it would all be as it should. We would take breaks every 30 minutes, and chances are we would not even have to do this odd whisper translation at all. We would also work strictly from 9 to 5 and would all have superior life insurance, paid vacations and warm donuts served in bed.

Reality, however, is different. I agree with Mr.Sanders, in a courtroom setting they would always have a spare interpreter - for an obvious reason that the taxpayers are footing the bill and so the person signing the checks does not care how much it costs. Of course, stakes in such proceedings may also be higher (someone's freedom), so the extra stress on quality may be justified. In the private sector though - and that's where all my clients are (poor me) - the client always has a tight budget, and he always bitches about it. When it comes down to cutting corners, it is always in the quality department. Big deal, they say, if they did not get it from the first try, or missed something, they can always ask you again, or ask the speaker for clarifications. In most cases it works, and it works fine. Like my mother used to say back in the old country, anyone can bake a decent cake with quality ingredients, the real skill is in baking it using all the crap offered for sale by the Big Brother.

By the way, I have just been contracted for two full days of one on one consecutive for a business meeting at a real big international financial institution, and I do not expect any wingmen for that. Nor do they expect me to even ask for one , and I won't. I'll just go and bake the best damn possible cake I can under the circumstances, and they will most likely leave no crumbs on their plates.



First of all, consecutive is not the same as chuchotage, and it is possible to do consecutive alone provided there are enough breaks and/or the meeting does not last for so long.

Secondly, I think your premise, namely that the clients pick certain parts of the interpreting process to cut out because of a lack of budgetary resources, is incorrect.
Even NGOs that I have worked for have been able to pay for proper booths and manning-strength. I have trouble believing that organizations such as a "big international financial institution" do not. The client may, as you say, "bitch about his or her tight budget", but regardless of funds, some things will never be cut out, no matter how tight the budget is. A projector for PowerPoint presentations comes to mind. This will never be cut out because it is recognized as essential. The problem is that clients do not realize or appreciate the importance of interpretation, and are ignorant of what it requires both for their quality and your well-being. This is what leads them to think they can cut budgetary corners with the interpretation.

If you in simultaneous or chuchotage do not say that more than one person is necessary, you are essentially agreeing with them and your quality, reputation, and personal health suffer as a result. You have to educate clients. Some aspects of the interpreting process are negotiable--chuchotage is already a makeshift, cheaper solution when it's not feasible to use a booth. But you still need some basic conditions to do your job well, and if not, then ethically, for yourself, the clients, and the profession, you should refuse the job if you cannot negotiate a minimum of proper conditions, which includes more than one person in the case of chuchotage.

Especially if you're interpreting a business deal negociation, millions of dollars could be resting on your interpretation. If you get to the point of saying non-sense or changing the meaning without even realizing, you could have a serious impact on the deal's success or not. Your client is paying you to be an added value in the communication, and if you work in conditions which knowingly prevent you from doing that, then you're not giving them what they paid for.

Imagine if architects went around designing buildings without doing all of the necessary legwork in examining whether the materials are safe, if it's an environmentally-friendly project, etc. and then when the buildings started tumbling down they just said "I made the best cake with the ingredients available". That's not good enough. If a client is not willing to pay enough for you to go through the necessary steps to design a safe building, then you don't do the job. If you do, then you compromise your professionalism and put other people in danger.

Also, a good thing happens when you do refuse the jobs. If real professionals who are recognized as such say "I don't work under these conditions because .... and I have the proof that this is this way at ....", eventually it sinks in that simultaneous interpreting requires two interpreters, the way that presentations require PowerPoint and a microphone. And that anyone who gladly will get into a booth alone for hours is probably not a professional interpreter. But if you compete by putting up with the worst possible conditions just to survive, then you are only rooting those practices even further and undermining your own ability to work in good conditions and thus provide a competent service.


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