Three ways to avoid interpretation embarrassment!

Anyone can interpret…well not really. Knowing how to speak two languages is not the same as knowing how to interpret. The importance of having an excellent interpreter is most obvious when things go wrong. Sometimes, interpretation errors can lead to a catastrophe.

A mistake that happened during a speech made by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, clearly proved this point.

During his address to the people of Thrissur, the Prime Minister apologized for not coming to the state sooner. His interpreter omitted the apology and only said that he was happy to be there. After several other key points were lost in translation, the interpreter was replaced.

Here are 3 ways to avoid an embarrassing interpreting situation.

  1. Interpreters need to be vetted for bias. It is important that interpreters do not have any conflicting opinions, are professional enough to deliver the message exactly as spoken, and will stay within the intended context.  Matching the most appropriate interpreter to each event is critical.
  2. Interpreters also need to be vetted for competence. Making sure that references have been thoroughly checked and reviewed could prevent mishaps. Has the interpreter had professional training? Is the interpreter certified? Also, is the target language one that the interpreter is a native speaker of themselves?
  3. Always have a backup plan. When navigating between two languages, mistakes are known to happen. This may be a rare occurrence for professionals, but being prepared for any problem that could arise will help diffuse a bad situation. In the example with Prime Minister Modi, having a secondary interpreter replace the primary interpreter quickly solved the problem.

Wouldn’t it be ideal if an interpreter would be a native speaker of the target language with excellent knowledge of the source language? This would certainly help eliminate a majority of the issues that are caused by non-qualified interpreters.

Consider using a professional interpreting agency that hires only native, certified, and trained linguist interpreters. This type of agency, such as International Translating Company, takes care of the vetting of interpreters for you. They provide interpreting on-site or over the phone, so can meet all your language interpreting needs.