Monday, 20 April 2015

The Plurality of Complex Scenarios in Interpreting

Have you ever realized the complexity involved in all you do in Interpreting?

Sometimes the dramas are unbearable.

Coping with certain things, for those who are perfectionists, is a huge sacrifice: Imagine a person who has English as an L2 having another person who has English as an L2 as a main client and a NES as a secondary client. The main client, a medical doctor, says we will do both a gastroscopy and a colonoscopy, and one goes to the upper part, throat, then down, whilst the other goes through the back, lower part.

You then, perhaps forgetting what you had already overheard about colonoscopy, concentrating only on your task, simply repeat what you have understood.

You say that both exams are done through the throat, but one gets the upper and the other gets the lower part of the throat.

Too bad: If you had a computer in your hands and you had used the mock-around technique, you would have had the time to key in colonoscopy and find out that the main client actually meant rear or bottom or anus and not the back of the throat or the lower part of the throat.

You are a perfectionist and you will then unavoidably blame yourself for telling the secondary client that one of the exams was going to happen through his throat when he is actually going to get a really annoying thing inside of his anus.

First of all, he could easily protest and reject the exam because of that not-so-subtle difference.

It is definitely not your fault, you think: I am obliged to interpret the language, not to know Medicine in depth, since, otherwise, I would have to have graduated in each topic I work with, so IT, Medicine, and etc.

At the same time, you think: If I had a computer and ignored the doctor, had I browsed for the word… .

On another occasion, you are doing, once more, electricity provider X. Their script says terms, conditions, charges, and fees, but the employee forgot to mention charges and fees and you know it should be there.

Now you face the following problem: If you say what the employee did not say, the secondary client might not like it and might still think you are not doing your job well, especially if they understand a bit of English. If you do not say that part, the company might say you omitted something whilst you interpreted because it was on the script and the employee would not have skipped it whilst simply reading.

The dramas involved in Interpreting are not just a few.

It has to be one of the most complex professional activities a human being can choose to perform.