- Posted by VoiceBoxer Team
- On 19 January 2016
Everybody understands English nowadays, right?
No. Not nearly as well as you might think. In fact, only 7% of non-native English employees say they can communicate well at work . You know that you can deal with that issue in written formats by having documents translated. Yet how can you make sure your audience fully understands the message you are conveying when you are speaking live?
Besides the technical hurdles of having another person speaking at the same time as you do, the question as to whether a bilingual friend or coworker, in this instance Eva, can do the job of a professional interpreter will invariably come up. Wouldn’t your friend Eva, who grew up with Spanish and English, be able to interpret your presentation, training, or webinar from English to Spanish, too?
The honest answer:
Eva wouldn’t be a good choice for interpreting your content. Though she may be skilled with languages and likely able to converse informally with a Spanish-speaking audience, but a lot of the information you put into the content you deliver will likely be “lost in translation”.
An interpreter is much more than a person who perfected two languages: interpreters are trained to really understand the messages and concepts you want to get across and convey them as accurately and truthfully as humanly possible in another language. They will extract the meaning out of what you are saying and rebuild the whole message with the linguistic and cultural “building blocks” given by the target language and do so in a staggeringly short amount of time.
Interpreters know all the nooks and crannies, subtleties and oddities of the languages they interpret into and out of. They know how different the syntax and structure of Spanish sentences are from the English, and they know how to express elegantly the odd idioms that do not even exist in English.
Additionally, interpreters will spend a LOT of time on preparation. They’ll work their way through the content you provide and scout for additional resources to help them understand the context. They do so to be prepared for anything you throw at them, so when you finally do make that reference to the latest developments on your topic, they’ll understand why and what you want to illustrate.
On top of concerning themselves with WHAT you say, they also concern themselves with HOW you say it. Interpreters are very attentive listeners and well-trained public speakers. They’ll hone in to your tone and style, as well as the emphasis and stress you put on points, allowing you to sound like yourself in a language you do not speak. They’ll even make your jokes work in another language!
In sum, asking Eva, your bilingual friend, to interpret for you will most likely result in two significantly different versions of your material. An interpreter, on the other hand, allows you to be accurate, be authentic, and stay yourself in multiple languages at the same time.