What do interpreters do?
Whilst translators render a message into another language in writing, interpreters express it verbally. Interpreting professionals deal with the spoken word or signed languages. They interpret what each speaker is saying or signing into the other person’s language.
Whilst translators often only translate into one language direction, an interpreter has to interpret into both directions. They do this without resources or reference material and rely completely on their knowledge and expertise. The challenge for an interpreter is to find linguistic solutions to problems in real time, so additionally to linguistic and thematic competence, an interpreter has to be able to deal with pressure. The interpreter also acts as a bridge between people, relaying tone, intentions and emotions. Cross-cultural knowledge is crucial, as is a strict adherence to the AUSIT Code of Ethics. Where an interpreter is caught between cross fire they need to demonstrate objectivity, professionalism and diplomacy. Their role is complex as they are dealing with both language and people.
There are many forms of interpretation including bilateral, court, community, business and conference interpreting.
Whilst many people have an image of an interpreter as someone at the United Nations or G20, a lot of interpretations are carried out at hospitals and in courtrooms, government agencies, law firms and on community level. Interpreting is done either face to face but also via video conferencing, over the phone or through other technology platforms designed for virtual meetings.
Interpreters go on trade missions and technical site visits (bilateral), interpret keynote speeches at gala dinners (consecutive) or sit in a booth at conferences (simultaneous). Court interpretation is bilateral and might be at times consecutive. Hospital and doctor visits, legal appointments and community interpretations are bilateral.