Three Shades of Interpreting

01/03/2013 13:46

The 2nd Student Conference on Inter-American Studies took place on February 16 and 17, 2013. If you by any chance happened to miss the whole spectacle with 17 speakers coming from 13 countries, be sure that the Perspectives team was there and is now bringing you the exclusive scoop.

Speaking for myself, I attended the conference on both days, Friday and Saturday, as an interpreter. Therefore, for me the event was mostly stressful. Here are some harsh truths I learned for my future:


1. Speakers have their own show

I’m sure there are many wonderful lecturers out there, but if you interpret, it seems you somehow always end up listening to the most monotone and boring speaker in the world. But don’t despair. A good dose of adrenaline pumping in your veins will help you through that. The real trouble though is “The Speedy”:



Not this one, of course!

I mean any speaker talking or mostly reading very fast – in that case, just don’t panic! You miss every other sentence. So what? You interpret what you heard and make sure you use proper language and finish your sentences. If you are confident enough, nobody will ever notice (if they don’t speak the language of course, otherwise it might be awkward).


2. Be careful who and what you bring to the interpreter's booth

Firstly, let's talk about the who, i.e. your colleague. It should be someone you trust because when in a booth, you are a team. Preferably, choose a same-sex partner. Your audience will be less sensitive to a change of same-sex voices.  And they won’t be asking why is that woman japping so much...

Secondly, the what concerns mostly ladies. The booth is very small. Consequently, I felt claustrophobic even without all the equipment crammed inside. Nevertheless, I simply had to bring 2 notebooks, my phone, some paper, my notes, vocab sheets to get my hands on, a bottle of water, a lip balm, some sweets and an energy drink. You don’t need all this for mere 2 hours of interpreting! And also beware of jingle bells – most earrings, bracelets and watches picked up by a microphone sound like a Santa’s sledge!

No, sure! Bring even more stuff in!

by courtesy of Lucia Kopačiková and Eva Majerčiaková

3. You’re no God!

Sorry for crushing your ego, but seriously, you are not almighty. If the speaker didn’t inform you about the theme of his lecture beforehand, you cannot know every special term he uses. If he talks too quickly, you won’t interpret every word. And if he doesn’t use a microphone or is turned away from it, you just won’t hear him. Be prepared that interpreting is also about improvising and thinking on your feet. Just stay polite or use “the mute button” to exchange a few curse words with your trusted colleague.


That was a great speech!

 Photo: Katarína Koreňová

Exactly, well done!

 Photo: Katarína Koreňová

C’mon guys! Just wink and smile!

 by courtesy of Lucia Kopačiková and Zuzana Marková

School is important, but you learn so much more in real life. I hope you get lucky enough to try it next time!


Eva Majerčiaková



No comments found.

New comment