A Journey into the World of European Language Interpreting

Ludejo offers interpreting services in almost any European language. We work with qualified and experienced interpreters and like to find the most suitable option, based on your specific needs.

Whether it’s a world summit, an international lawsuit or a doctor’s appointment where doctor and patient don’t speak each other’s language: where cultures meet, interpreters are needed. They ensure that people from different backgrounds can communicate with each other without misunderstandings.

But how do they do it? How do these interpreters prepare for a gig? And what happens when they can’t find the words they’re looking for, or they didn’t understand the speaker in the first place? Ludejo’s in-house interpreter and translator Britt talks you through it.

Interpreting School

Britt graduated from the Maastricht School of Translation and Interpreting and in addition to her work as a translator, she also serves as an interpreter between Dutch and English. Her education turned out to be the perfect preparation. Apart from adequate knowledge of the languages, she also learnt how to behave during an interpreting job and how to deal with difficulties, and of course there was lots of practise.

“We had special classrooms with interpreting booths,” Britt says, “and during class we learnt what it would feel like in the real world. They gave us a topic to explore beforehand, and subsequently we would interpret our conversations in class. We did it simultaneously and consecutively.”

Simultaneously? Consecutively? Say what?

Simultaneous interpreting means that the speaker and interpreter speak at the same time. In a case like that, the interpreter would be in a booth using a headset. In this way, they won’t be bothered by each other whil they are both speaking at the same time.

Simultaneous interpreting takes place during long interviews that are broadcasted live on TV, for example. You can hear the speaker vaguely, but more clearly you hear the interpreter translating what is being said directly on air.

With consecutive interpreting, however, the speaker speaks for some time, while the interpreter takes notes. After a while, the speaker pauses for a bit, to let the interpreter explain to the listener what was said.

“It’s important to make sure that your notes cover the message,” Britt says. “You want all the information in there, but there isn’t enough time to write it all down word for word. That’s why I taught myself to jot down chunks of information very quickly. If someone opens with ‘welcome ladies and gentlemen’, I simply draw a little waving hand. I have lots of these time-saving symbols and abbreviations.”

Not Covid Proof

There is this specific form of consecutive interpreting called conversational interpreting. Two persons are in conversation with each other and the interpreter translates both ways. After each turn, the interpreter tells the listener what was said and asks them what should be said back.

“And then there is whisper-interpreting,” Britt explains, “a simultaneous form without any equipment. Not entirely in line with the Covid-19 guidelines though, as whisper interpreters sit right next to the listener in order to literally whisper the message into their ear.”

Ready Knowledge and Good Preparation

Simultaneous interpreting is Britt’s favourite, because it’s the most challenging. But how to make sure you always know the meaning of a word, or how to translate something?

Britt: “Good preparation is essential. Fortunately, most of the time you know what the setting is going to be. This gives you the opportunity to prepare relevant words beforehand. When doing a doctor’s appointment job for instance, you could check out the terminology related to the diagnosis.”

And what if you still struggle?

“There’s always the option to describe something in your own words. With consecutive interpreting you could ask the speaker for some extra explanation. Do make sure you let the listener know what you’re doing, as it might look like you’re excluding them from the conversation, which isn’t the nicest thing to do.”

“With simultaneous interpreting it’s always difficult to ask for more information. Make sure you’ve come prepared, and just keep going. If you’ve missed any bits that might have been important, there’s always the chance to discuss them afterwards.”

Swearing-in and Further Growth in the Profession

Soon, Britt will be sworn in as interpreter. At official organisations or occasions, such as the police or a notary, usually a sworn-in interpreter is deployed.

“A lot of people think a sworn-in interpreter is better at their job, but this isn’t what swearing-in implies. It’s about a certain amount of promises that you must keep. For example, you have a duty of confidentiality. Furthermore, you can never pick a side and you should always speak the truth.”

As an interpreter, it is a good thing to keep improving yourself. You can spend time looking into the topics you’re working on. Britt is thinking of taking a course on legal affairs, to have a better basic knowledge during a job at a lawsuit.

Her favourite interpreting situation? “I really like the medical jobs. I spent a lot of time doing these during my study.” Furthermore, Britt would be interested in interpreting for refugees. “Sadly, the languages involved aren’t the ones I speak. But the fact that an interpreter has to keep culture and background in mind is very interesting.”

Need an interpreter?
Ludejo offers interpreting services in almost any European language. We work with qualified and experienced interpreters and like to find the most suitable option, based on your specific needs.

Feel free to contact us for more information. In whatever language you prefer.

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