Global Voices Blog

10 things only interpreters can understand (part 2)

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Last week we told you of the top 5 situations only interpreters can understand. Here is the next top 5, how many do you agree with?
  1. Forgetting the right word at the wrong time

It is important that an interpreter knows exactly the right words to use during an interpretation. But sometimes, depending on your working environment or personal reasons like illness or strain, your brain can react slower meaning that sometimes you forget the words you need.
  1. Using the right accent

While dealing with two completely different languages, it could become a real challenge to maintain the right accent for the different languages. Each language has their natural sound but when interpreting, it is not uncommon for them to get mixed up.
  1. Telling jokes in a foreign language

When it comes to telling jokes, well… the common problem is that the joke only works in the original language. Many jokes play on cultural backgrounds and environments so don’t work when translated and result in some blank looking faces.
  1. Translating idioms into other languages

Idioms are used in everyday language but cannot be translated easily into another language. For example “Tourner autour du pot” is literally translated to “To turn around the vase” but its true meaning in English is to “beat about the bush”. When translating idioms, it’s important to translate the meaning, as it is not always appropriate to translate the actual wording.
  1. Hearing people saying that being an interpreter is easy

It is always unpleasant to hear that what you do is "easy" but especially for interpreters. Many people seem to think that if you are fluent in any language that you can become a translator or an interpreter just by magic. But translation is not just about language, it is also about understanding the relevant society and cultural background. Any interpreter would recognise at least one of these challenges and confirm that being an interpreter is a tough job and requires a lot of time and dedication, but is a worthwhile and exciting career.

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