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In our monthly ‘In the Spotlight’ column over the last few years we’ve interviewed DA interpreters and translators from all over Europe. We’ve looked at their motivations for entering the language services area, what they like about the role, hints and tips, and we also ask for advice to fellow and budding linguists.

What things should interpreters and translators be doing now to boost their career prospects? or what things can future linguists do to best prepare themselves for the industry? How to focus as a translator for long periods of time and what do our most successful interpreters suggest?

In today’s blog we condense all this worldly advice from our linguists, into one blog post, to help experienced and new linguists alike improve and reflect.

‘Interpret word for word’

Carmen Benson, one of our longest standing interpreters (with over 1,100 bookings!) advises. – ‘Be as accurate as possible

‘Try and put yourself in the other parties’ shoes: you’d personally want everything to be interpreted as accurately as possible so you’d have the best understanding, whatever the situation or the cultural differences. You wouldn’t want just a summary of what the professional has said, just as much as the professional doesn’t want the short version of a statement from their client. Accuracy is incredibly important!’

Arvind Chadda, another long serving DA interpreter, with over 1,700 bookings, reinforces this point.

Just make sure you translate word for word: you’re an important link between two parties and it’s key to always remain professional and [present] no opinions in your translations’.

Focusing when translating

Iwona, one of our Polish translators has advice on focus. –

‘Getting into the frame of mind to focus is one thing, but good visual skills and an ability to pick out errors, is another. I believe it has something to do with the ability of the eye to focus both on a whole text and its smaller chunks.  Some people may have developed this skill very well and in translation it really makes the work easier. It is like a tool that you cannot replace by a “machine”.

‘It gets easier, provided you work very systematically, which in the case of translation is not always easy. Sometimes you get a lot of work and you work like a spinning wheel. Then it all stops for a while and it is difficult to get back on the right track and get that positive frame of mind back. That is why it is so important not to get too emotional about how often and how much work you get’.

Impartiality when interpreting

This is one of the hardest things for new interpreters to grasp, and one of the main complaints we receive from clients about an interpreter. Sebastian Sek, who’s worked with DA for 3 years explains-

‘Interpreting in public, medical, or legal sectors is always charged with high emotional intensity and pressure. The key is to use your interpersonal skills without getting emotionally involved in the assignment. Empathy and understanding are always welcome, but voicing sympathy or making judgments is unacceptable.

‘Interpreting in public, medical, or legal sectors is always charged with high emotional intensity and pressure. The key is to use your interpersonal skills without getting emotionally involved in the assignment. Empathy and understanding are always welcome, but voicing sympathy or making judgments is unacceptable’.

Carve your niche, and avoid over confidence

Elisa, who translates Italian to English documents for us has this advice –

‘I believe that having excellent linguistic skills and to be fluent in two or more languages is not enough when it comes to translation. The first and foremost quality required to avoid common pitfalls is showing humility at all times. Too much confidence, too much over-reliance on one’s memory, is exactly what will lead any translator into the ditch of serious mistakes’.

‘Be determined, don’t give up and carve your niche of specialization’.

‘Ask for clarification’

Borbala Rieger, a Hungarian based in London who has completed over 200 telephone interpreting bookings for us advises –

‘Never be afraid of asking for clarification, it is best to be upfront and nip misunderstandings in the bud. If there is a communication breakdown or a difficult phrase, make note of it and revisit it after an assignment to think about how you would deal with it next time round. For example, initially I had difficulty remembering the phonetic alphabet, so I printed one off and had it by me whenever I was taking calls’.

Be honest and create your own resources

Helen Macauley, a French/English translator in Leicestershire offers the following advice.

‘My advice would be to prepare as much as you can before the work starts coming in. Research the subject, ask for examples of source and target texts (if available), create your own database of information, find websites that can help you if you are stuck (there are plenty out there). Most importantly, be honest with the translation agency. If you have encountered a translation problem and are unsure of your decision, tell the agency. Accuracy, reliability and trust are the key factors that nurture a good working relationship’.

Working for yourself

Paweł Miętkiewicz, from Kraków who has completed nearly 200 translations with us.

‘What I found helpful was using a time management app which tells me when I should take my breaks and get back to work. Good instrumental music also helps, which is why Spotify is a must-have’.

‘Register as a one-man business owner and settle your taxation matters yourself with the help of an online accounting service. Instead of listening to so-called experts on how you should deal with your paperwork (which can be a nightmare)’.

contact us

For all your need-to-know info, stay tuned to the DA Languages Blog and follow us on social media, including FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

We are recruiting for more interpreters and translators to support our growth, so feel free to contact our recruitment department if you’d like to come on board at this exciting time.

Finally, if you’re interested in our services, take a look here for more information: we’d be happy to assist with your own Interpreting or Translation needs!

Written by Andrew, DA Languages Marketing & Content Manager  |   Andrew.Tattersall@dalanguages.co.uk  |   Say  Hi! on Linkedin