Things to think about when looking for an interpreting service
The main aspects to consider when choosing an interpreter are experience of the interpreter or organisation offering the service, the notice required and what type of interpretation you are after (face to face or on the telephone).
It can be hard to know where to start when you need an interpreting service. Perhaps the first question to ask would be do they offer the interpretation service in the language you require? Newcastle interpreting service, for example, offers up to 60 languages in translation or interpretation, whereas other firms may specialise in just a handful of languages – say European languages, or Asian languages, or a very narrow field.
How does the booking system work? And how much notice is required for a booking? Some companies can cope with very short notice, whereas others need a minimum of 48 hours, or more. Do they have national reach, or do they just operate locally – and what coverage do you require for your interpretation?
It’s worth asking for a company’s references – who else have they worked for? This will give you a good idea of their capabilities, breadth and scope.
Another important aspect to consider is whether the interpreter is going to do face to face work, or are they just required to provide interpretation over the telephone – sitting with a headset on in a booth, for example, providing instant interpretation of a foreign dignitary’s speech at a conference say – or standing next to the speaker. If face to face is required, presentation and social skills move higher up the list of requirements. It’s important for the interpreter to emulate the emphasis, delivery and authority of the speaker, to render the full meaning through the interpretation and ensure there is no ambiguity.
Consider too that interpretation is not just a matter of substituting words in one language for words in another. The interpreter needs to understand the thought expressed in one language and then be able to explain it using the resources and cultural nuances of another language.
This skill is even more relevant if translation, rather than interpreting, is required – say in the translation of a book. It is not enough to be able to literally translate the words; the translator must be able to write well and express themselves clearly, picking up on local dialects, idioms and be fully embedded themselves in the culture of the translated language.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ruth Lunn is Lead Editor at Consilience Media, a digital publishing company which specialises in book publishing and web development.