Question to actual interpreters!
Thread poster: Maksims Dobrovolskis

Maksims Dobrovolskis
Malta
Local time: 14:20
English to Russian
+ ...
Apr 27, 2007

Hello everyone! I'm writing a diploma paper on topic "Peculiarities and ambiguities of Telephone interpreting. Current situation and practice in Latvia". I have some question for you to aswer. I will appreciate every bit of information, thank you?

1) should over-the-phone interpreting be taught as separate subject? or it is enough being good sonsecutive or simulatneous interpreter to interpret via phone.

2) how much ir differs from cons. and sim. interpreting?

3) Should it be done in consecutive or simultaneous way? (have found different opinions concerning that).

Thank you,
You can also email me to - maxa300@gmail.com


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:20
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Telephonic interpreting Apr 27, 2007

1) It could be taught as a separate item within a subject as it is a different technique to liaison/community/face-to-face interpreting (I've been used to doing the latter); You couldn't possibly do it without waiting for the first speaker to finish and then interpreting, and then waiting for the second speaker to finish, and then interpreting.

You have to have VERY good hearing for telephone work and also be aware that there are often technical difficulties; poor phone link; one speaker may be using a mobile phone!, and speakers all have different accents and levels of confidence, and volume of speaking!

2) Big difference: you do not see the people for whom you are interpreting/there are accents from all over the place; in my job I interpret for Scottish people, Welsh people, people from Birmingham, UK, London, Newcastle, and English people who all have different ways of speaking!! I also interpret for the "other side" - French speakers from different parts of Africa, French native speakers from different parts of France, Mexican speakers of Spanish, Colombians, Chileans, and Spain!

There are no facial expressions to give any clues, nor can the interpreter give any clues by writing something down and showing it to either party!

You need to be VERY patient and not lose your cool! So it can be stressful, particularly if the interpreter is having an off day!

3) The only way to do telephone interpreting is as I said above. EVERYTHING has to be heard by all parties and it is never a good idea to talk over any of the parties involved.

It is not so well paid as face-to-face interpreting and is much more demanding!


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:20
Flemish to English
+ ...
Telephone interpreting: waste of time. Apr 27, 2007

It is very unlikely that a person training as a conference interpreter (consecutive, simultaneous) will offer his or her services for interpreting over the phone. For the latter, the rates are a lot lower and telephone-interpreting is a waste of time.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
Liz - Good Explanation Apr 27, 2007

Liz has given a good explanation of what phone interpreting involves.

I have tried some phone interpreting for the US Courts, they have a special setup that separates out the incoming and outgoing phone lines that helps a lot, something you do not get in most (if any) phone interpreting situations. This system was developed by some friends of mine. Their rates are also the same as for in-person interpreting.

One thing I would say is that I had a lot of control if I was not hearing someone well. The judge would get the problem corrected quickly, whereas in person the interpreter might be ignored.

I think it would be a very good subject for special training. And yes, GOOD HEARING (which I do not have) really is necessary.


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:20
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Assertiveness in telephonic/telephone interpreting Apr 28, 2007

Hello again,

Looking at the others' comments:

1) The interpreter has various roles to play in this situation.

One of the most important, is when the situation gets out of control, for technical or linguistic reasons.

The interpreter has to then be assertive and interrupt and say, in both languages "Please speak up, the interpreter cannot hear everyword"/"please speak slower/more clearly or whatever.

I am not afraid to be assertive and am not always the "conduit".

I forgot to mention that I have done a lot of "face-to-face" interpreting and only started telephone interpreting 6 months ago.

Telephonic interpreting may not be the way to earn a fortune, but it is a skilled and demanding job...and the non-English speakers are lucky to have this facility. How else would many people coming to the UK know how to get help and advice?

Also, if you want to be in the business of making lots of money as an interpreter, then you need to live in one of the major capitals of the world where most of the work is, especially as so much is centralised these days.

We all choose our destinies..and telephonic interpreting is not a waste of time.


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:20
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Telephonic interpreting - a waste of time? Apr 28, 2007

Williamson wrote:

It is very unlikely that a person training as a conference interpreter (consecutive, simultaneous) will offer his or her services for interpreting over the phone. For the latter, the rates are a lot lower and telephone-interpreting is a waste of time.




You haven't really answered the question, so this is not much help to the asker.

In reality, linguists who study to be an interpreter, will not necessarily be able to always be a consecutive or simultaneous interpreter.....as with all jobs, the more flexibility you have the better and telephonic interpreting should be part of any course that trains interpreters.

My own example:

I worked for the local City Council's Interpreting and Translation Service for nearly 7 years and ALL my work was face-to-face interpreting. However, they closed the Service down last October so I had to seek work elsewhere. Although I still do face-to-face interpreting for the Courts, the Home Office, the Department of Work & Pensions, and the Portsmouth Hospital National Health Service, economics have dictated that I seek work elsewhere, i.e. telephonic interpreting.

So please don't "slag" it off! Telephonic interpreting requires just as much skill, if not MORE, than consecutive interpreting.

We all have to look at the REAL situation in life, rather than what we ideally WANT. The latter is not always possible.


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:20
English to Hungarian
+ ...
It is good to know what you are talking about! May 3, 2007

Williamson wrote:
It is very unlikely that a person training as a conference interpreter (consecutive, simultaneous) will offer his or her services for interpreting over the phone. For the latter, the rates are a lot lower and telephone-interpreting is a waste of time.


I am taken aback by your overwhelming self-confidence in the subject matter.
First, there are conference interpreters, who are also telephone interpreters. I am one of them, with 17 years of experience.

The rates are generaly a bit lower, but sometimes you can do it even in you pyjamas.
For certain specific telephone interpreting jobs the rates are actually higher that the run-of-the-mill conference interpreting rates.

If telephone interpreting was a waste of time, it would disappear as a service. Instead it is steadily growing.

There are some circumstances, when it is a much more sensible, indeed perhaps the only option worth considering.

Example: big manufacturer of large and expensive appliance, used all over the world by millions, (four wheels...) offering instant, special support for their service engineers in every corner of the globe.

Of course, the interpreter has to know what he/she is doing, and special training is important. Also to have the knowledge of the subject, and the right skills to deal with more than one person on the telephone. By that I don't mean simultaneous interpreting. As Liz explained, it has to be consecutive interpreting, but the interpreter is more in charge, and because the visual element is not present, there is more scope for note taking.

I have been there, done it, it works, pays well, and it is actually thoroughly enjoyable to do.

Liz and Henry explained the rest.


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Сергей Лузан
Russian Federation
Local time: 15:20
German to Russian
+ ...
Telephonic & Skype interpreting May 3, 2007

liz askew wrote:
Telephonic interpreting requires just as much skill, if not MORE, than consecutive interpreting.

It can be done in simultaneous way. I used to perform it in pre-Skype era - my personal record was 1h40 min with 4 participants in conference mode in front of me & 2 persons on the other end involving 3 languages - German, English & Russian. It's quite a hard task, even if you know both the languages & the subject to be discussed. I presume now when Skype with a web-camera is available it becomes very close to conference interpreting with missing texts of reports. Rates are almost the same as under conference interpreting (sometimes higher). IMHO only a skilled simultaneous interpreter can cope with it. I guess telephonic & Skype with/ without a web-camera interpreting is becoming a growing segment in the market.
So over-the-phone & Skype interpreting should be taught as a separate subject at the end of the course as far as I can imagine.


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lingomania
Local time: 22:20
Italian to English
Quite stressful May 7, 2007

liz askew wrote:

1) It could be taught as a separate item within a subject as it is a different technique to liaison/community/face-to-face interpreting (I've been used to doing the latter); You couldn't possibly do it without waiting for the first speaker to finish and then interpreting, and then waiting for the second speaker to finish, and then interpreting.

You have to have VERY good hearing for telephone work and also be aware that there are often technical difficulties; poor phone link; one speaker may be using a mobile phone!, and speakers all have different accents and levels of confidence, and volume of speaking!

2) Big difference: you do not see the people for whom you are interpreting/there are accents from all over the place; in my job I interpret for Scottish people, Welsh people, people from Birmingham, UK, London, Newcastle, and English people who all have different ways of speaking!! I also interpret for the "other side" - French speakers from different parts of Africa, French native speakers from different parts of France, Mexican speakers of Spanish, Colombians, Chileans, and Spain!

There are no facial expressions to give any clues, nor can the interpreter give any clues by writing something down and showing it to either party!

You need to be VERY patient and not lose your cool! So it can be stressful, particularly if the interpreter is having an off day!

3) The only way to do telephone interpreting is as I said above. EVERYTHING has to be heard by all parties and it is never a good idea to talk over any of the parties involved.

It is not so well paid as face-to-face interpreting and is much more demanding!


Yes, it can be quite stressful. Once I did phone interpreting via a 4-way telephone system.......hectic to say the least.


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