METM11 presentation     Thread: Promising practices

“Impromptu” interpreting — tips for survival

Alison Turner – Málaga, Spain

Background: Conference interpreting is a well-established profession with recognised formal training and readily available guidance on professional code or the interpreter's role, as well as tried and tested means to assess performance. However, community, public service and liaison interpreting are less well defined and only enjoy limited professional standing even in the UK, US, Australia and Canada – all countries with large numbers of non-English speaking immigrants.

Many language facilitators (translators, editors, English teachers, bilingual secretaries), or even just an acquaintance, can be called upon to interpret in a wide range of situations, from emergency assistance at a hospital to in-house negotiations for international, multilateral projects. These professionals, while proficient in their own field, face a series of unexpected and unanticipated situations during the interpreting process.

Purpose: To provide guidance on the do's and don'ts for “impromptu” interpreters, on their role as a cultural mediator and on how to prepare efficiently for any assignment of this kind.

Session content: After a brief outline of where the boundaries lie between each of the distinct modalities of interpreting, the presentation will provide practical tips to cope with the challenges involved in interpreting oral communication between speakers of different languages (often non-native speakers) in a range of common scenarios. The differences between conference interpreting and liaison interpreting-”one of the major pitfalls for inexperienced or novel interpreters when accepting an assignment-”will also be highlighted.

 

Alison Turner has been a freelance conference interpreter since 1985 and is a full member of the Spanish Association of Conference Interpreters (AICE). Besides medical conference work, Alison also provides public-service interpreting for foreign government personnel on official business in Spain. She has a keen interest in professional development for interpreters and has given training on note-taking skills for consecutive interpreting and booth practice for trainee and novel simultaneous interpreters.

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