We all make them— and we are quick to gloss over them. We are talking about the “m” word: “mistakes.” Interpretation mistakes, however, are difficult to gloss over when communication can be a one-way street. Once something is spoken... it’s out there to be heard! Today, we have listed the top 5 common interpretation mistakes as a frontline defense for both new and experienced interpreters!
1. Hot & Cold Potato – We all read the hilarious (or appalling) headlines of celebrities and politicians with a hot mic. Most interpreters though have the opposite problem— having the microphone ON. The solution is a simple one: be sure the microphone is on and ready to go. Although, the parallel is also true: be wary of hot mics!
2. Bonjour! Como estas? – Another common problem for interpreters: realizing you were speaking in the wrong language; this especially holds true for interpreters that are proficient in several languages. It happens to even the most experienced interpreters and the best defense is to remember your audience and listening to yourself.
3. A Phrase is Worth 1000 Words – Direct interpretations are not always… well, direct. Expressing that “it’s a beautiful day” as “it’s a beautiful day” may be technically correct, but it might not be the way the locals express it. It’ a lot of work, but be up to date on your jargon, phrases, and even historical use of words.
4. What You Say? – It’s going to happen: you’ll mishear something and say it as something else. For example, one interpreter heard “concrete welds” when the speaker was saying “concrete wells.”
5. Google It! – No, no, and just NO. The problem is that incidents of interpreters using Google Translate or similar browser-translated programs have actually happened. Certified, government and private contracted interpreters resorting to Google Translate. Just don’t do it!