You have devoted sufficient attention to preparing your lawsuit, meeting or conference. You have also thought of interpreters. An interpreter’s successful performance depends not only on the interpreter himself or herself, but on a number of external factors as well; for this reason, we have included below a brief guide to working with interpreters.
An interpreter’s successful performance is closely related to his or her being well prepared, which requires that the interpreter receive sufficient information (see point 1). For a pleasant-sounding translation, the speaking tempo must be slow enough (see point 2); furthermore, optimum use of the equipment available is also required (see point 3).
1) INFORMATION AND DOCUMENTATION
Interpreters must receive adequate information promptly (no later than one week before the job is to begin) and preferably in both working languages if available, so that they can prepare for their interpreting duties. Such information may include the schedule, the agenda, a list of participants, the minutes of previous meetings, the presentations, court papers, technical reports, general information concerning the company and other documents.
Interpreters are accustomed – and, because they are sworn, bound – to strict confidentiality as regards the information with which they have come into contact while carrying out their professional duties.
2) SPEAKING SPEED
It is important that the interpreters’ presence be taken into account during the conference or meeting. The speaking speed should be slow enough; this is vital particularly when texts are read aloud. After all, a simultaneous interpreter must listen, comprehend, translate, speak and put thoughts into words all at once; this simply takes more time than putting thoughts into words and speaking alone do. Consequently, a moderate speaking speed is essential and will allow the message to be conveyed much better to those listening to the translation.
Interpreters must receive beforehand any texts to be read aloud. Additionally, it is advisable to inform the speaker(s) that the reading speed should not exceed 100 words per minute (three minutes per double-interlined typed page).
3) USE OF MICROPHONES
Simultaneous interpreters sit in a soundproof booth. For this reason, it is essential that speakers use microphones effectively.
The following is a list of general guidelines:
a) It is important that the speaker speaks directly into the microphone and not turn his or her head. If someone is to give a presentation, a clip-on microphone is often a good solution.
b) In general, no more than three microphones should be turned on at any one time; otherwise, they will interfere with one another.
c) If there are to be questions from the audience, a microphone must be used (e.g. a roving microphone). Sometimes people in the conference room can understand one another well without a microphone; but as the interpreters will be sitting in their booths, they will hear … nothing.