Supplying materials to the translation booth: seeking your advice
Thread poster: Magda Dziadosz

Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:54
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Dec 5, 2002

Dear Fellow Conference Interpreters Worldwide,

I turn to you for your opinion and advice on the following issue:



I have this assignment of simultaneous interpreting during an intensive training program (30 days in 3 months). The problem is that the trainers are unable to provide us (the translation booth) any materials – they come to the room with their PowerPoint presentations and if we’re lucky we get them in paper just when they start talking, and some time we get nothing and the slides are shown in the source language.



The first day we had a discussion with the organisers trying to explain that this has significant impact on the quality of our interpreting, but both organisers and trainers seem to turn a deaf ear. Their attitude is “you’re interpreters, you should know” and probably as long as they don’t hear the participants roaring (which is the last thing I would like to happen...) they will expect us to interpret smoothly their presentations full of abbreviations and acronyms, part of which they actually try to READ OUT LOUD.



So far, my partners in the booth and I have managed somehow to avoid any major problems, partially because we ARE very familiar with the subject matter and also because we somehow managed to collect elsewhere some useful materials in advance, this however is very difficult if you receive just a vague programme of the day like: Financing under XXX scheme – 4 hours, Principles of YYY – 3 hours, etc.



I’m really scared to go blind like this for the next sessions.



So, here is my question to you: where in the net can I find some guidance or standards in this matter designed for interpreters or outsourcers? Do you know any national or international organisation site where this issue is discussed so perhaps I could find good arguments to talk to organisers? Did any of you had similar experience and want to share it? Normally, translation agencies are good with supplying reference materials, in my contracts with them there is usually a clause about it, but this is a direct client and thus needs some guidance.



All tips are much appreciated,



TIA

Magda



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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:54
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The AIIC Code of Professional Ethics Dec 5, 2002

defines, under Section III (Working Conditions):



f.) demand that the working documents and the texts to be read in the session be sent in advance;



g.) demand the organisation of a preparatory meeting (paid briefing).



This is not only acceptable practice, but a sine qua non, and you can refuse to work in the absence of such conditions. It\'s not you who has to present excuses, it\'s them if they can\'t provide these conditions.





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Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:54
Chinese to English
+ ...
I agree, but... Dec 6, 2002

I agree with what you\'re saying about the AIIC code of ethics, but I also realize that there are lots of clients who a) are not necessarily hiring AIIC interpreters, and so feel that it doesn\'t apply to their situations, and b) just don\'t really care, or realize.



One of the biggest problems we have as interpreters is the perception that \"it\'s just not that hard, you just listen and say it in another language\". I think that\'s part of what you\'re up again, and it\'s made worse by the fact that you know quite a lot about the subject, so you actually look good even though you\'re working under horrifyingly frightening conditions!



Do you think you could gently (but repeatedly) suggest that you would really, really find the slides useful at least one day in advance (and more if possible) EVEN IF there are changes (that\'s usually the line they give us, right? \"it\'s not the final form yet\")? I guess the only thing to do is to try to persuade them that the more information you have, the more effective their training will be, and that\'s it\'s terribly, super important that the communication be effective, otherwise they are wasting their money.



It would be great to live in a world where everyone actually followed the AIIC Code of Ethics (I\'m serious here), but a lot of clients just don\'t, and we still have to make a living, especially those of us who aren\'t playing at that level yet (like me! although I hope to be able to join one day). In one sense, I think if you give that organization fair warning, and do your best, maybe the only logical thing to do is just NOT WORRY ABOUT IT. It\'s kind of like telling a child not to touch the hot stove: most kids will figure it out, but there\'s always a couple who have to get burned to learn. I am all for a sense of responsibility among interpreters, and full preparation and all that, but this is a longish job for you and you\'ll rip yourself to pieces if you worry too much on their behalf. In the end, everyone has to take professional responsibility for their actions (or lack thereof), right?



Try to talk to them again, frequently, for a certain period of time, and ask for ANYTHING they can provide in advance; otherwise, you can\'t take responsibility for their lack of planning/organization/responsibility/common sense.



Seems to me that showing them the Code of Ethics might or might not help; I sense that this kind of problem is usually a logistical one, or a perceived logistical one on their end. Usually they can manage to supply files, at least, but they feel as though they can\'t, or \"that girl\" isn\'t here, or whatever.



Just my NT$0.66 (US$0.02 approx.), your results may vary.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
Welcome to the Club Dec 6, 2002

What you describe happnes all the time... insensitivity to the needs of the interpreter, no response or negative response.



From the start you just take it in stride and do what you can, and if the participants get upset then it is not your fault, it is THEIRS.



However, if this is such a long-term assignment, then you should be able to develop a good relationship with trainers, participants and event sponsors which will enable you to get them to realize that the help they give you is critical to their good performance, which is something they are getting paid to provide.



So Welcome to the Club, it\'s nothing unusual.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:54
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Point taken Dec 6, 2002

But I worked for a government PCO and we used the AIIC Code of Ethics as an industry standard, WHETHER OR NOT WE HIRED AIIC PEOPLE. If you want a failsafe package, you don\'t take risks. I understand your point about being diplomatic, heaven knows we live with this too (jumping from the white into the so-called grey market), but sometimes quality expectations do not correspond to givens, and I don\'t like having the buck passed to my colleagues.





[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-12-06 11:10 ]


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Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:54
Chinese to English
+ ...
I agree entirely. Dec 6, 2002

I think I\'ve had a different experience working on the Taiwan market. Many of the people hiring interpreters have no clue about the whole thing, and there aren\'t more than 2 or 3 AIIC members on the island (as far as I know). Some of the conditions I\'ve seen make lack of documents look like a minor issue (not that I\'m saying it is, but just that sometimes the situations that pop up here are so ludicrous as to make the \"normal\" questions about interpreting look, well, \"normal\". Of course, people drive that way here, too...

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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 08:54
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How to turn a poor customer into a good one Dec 6, 2002

Dear all,

Perhaps the above would be better title for this discussion.



While I fully agree with Parrot that materials are sine qua non and an interpreter has a full right to refuse a job, but...this for obvious reason should be used as a last resort, really.



In this particular case and many other (since indeed, this not a very unusual situation, unfortunately) I think it is really worth to put some effort in educating this people: it is a big job altogether, I have previous experience with them w/out problems and I believe they will stay in this business thus might provide me even more jobs.



I strongly believe that in such situation it is better for interpreters to discuss an issue and provide some good arguments. Terry is right: it is a logistical problem and because the organisers are busy with all sorts of issues which if unsolved will bring THEIR customers complaining, they tend to assign lowest priority to the interpreters: we pay them, so they should do their job. Dot.



People like trainers and even conference organisers not necessarily have an understanding of translation/interpretation process and it’s up to us to explain these things, we are language experts after all.



That’s why I think it is useful to have documents like AIIC Code or perhaps some other ready to show them. You know how it works – if the interpreting is done very well, nobody really notices, if however something goes wrong, it is always your fault and you simply do not have opportunity to explain. So to be on the safe side, it is better to discuss it upfront.



Magda



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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:54
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Educating the client Dec 7, 2002

Here\'s where your added value comes in: YOU know the industry, educate the client. Now, I admit there are clients who come to you because they don\'t know, and that much they DO know. The problem would probably be the client who doesn\'t know that he doesn\'t know. A nudge in the right direction would be in order.

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