How to be an interpreter: Do You Have To Know Everything About Everything?

When it comes down to it if you don’t have a good knowledge of the subject, you don’t have the words to interpret it.

Interpreting is more than simply being able to communicate in two languages – expectations of interpreters include having a comprehension of the language, the culture and people who use it and, of course, anything relating to potential topics you may possibly interpret. You can’t ever be entirely sure what will be said during an interpreting session. You could go from interpreting medical ailments to discussing the religious concerns relating to treatments in a matter of seconds! Luckily there are a few ways you can approach this:


Expectations - book researchAlways study the provided materials– many times you will be given specific materials relating to the content you will be interpreting. Make sure you study these and know them backward and forward as they provide the main topics of discussion.

Do research on your own – don’t just rely on the provided materials to teach you everything, especially if you are interpreting a topic you have never encountered before. The more you know in regard to the topic in general, the better off you’ll be in case there are any deviations from the original materials.

Look into relating topics – it happens often that discussions go off topic. As an interpreter you are expected to be able to communicate everything the speaker says, regardless what it’s about. This doesn’t mean you have to know every fact about anything relating to your topic at hand, but a good broad knowledge will certainly help you.


Expectations - reading news

Keep up with current events – often in speeches and discussion key points are tied to relevant, global events. It is best to have a knowledge of these so you can seamlessly interpret (it is also good to just keep up with current events in general). Being an interpreter means you are always learning. Expectations of interpreters require that you are always looking up new information about topics you will be discussing and keeping up to date with world events. It is a continuous intake of information; however, it enables you to be the best interpreter you can be as well as allows you to be an informed global citizen.


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