Common Mistakes and Misconceptions About Interpreting and Interpreters No 6

Title 6

Never forget!

say what you can say what you want
While it is true that more and more people learn and have a reasonably good level of English – some are even fluent – it is worth bearing in mind the following:

  1. Delegates might do well for a few hours but start to struggle as they get tired in the course of the day. Don’t forget that following a whole conference and expressing yourself in a foreign language can be very tiring.
  2. Delegates may find it easy to understand other foreigners speaking English – as they speak more slowly and use a somewhat limited vocabulary – but they tend to find it far more challenging to understand English native speakers who speak faster, with their regional accents, cultural references, idioms, humour, etc.
  3. Conversely, English native speakers sometimes find it difficult to understand their own language spoken with a heavy foreign accent, not to mention the challenges related to a creative revisiting of the English grammar!
  4. Delegates who don’t speak their own language are at a disadvantage compared to native speakers. They spend more time and energy on understanding and formulating their ideas and might not be able to react quickly enough, or miss subtle points and may feel embarrassed.
  5. Delegates speaking their own language are free and able to express the whole range of nuances, knowing that an expert – the interpreter – is in charge of conveying their message accurately.

A good conference interpreter understands and reproduces delegates’ ideas faithfully, picks up and conveys details, and also picks up on changes in tone or emotion much better than delegates would do in a foreign language – after all, it is their job and expertise!