General Topic


In language career Interpretation (通訳) is always more challenging than translation (翻訳). Interpretation is verbal and translation is in writing. In my earlier blog, I explained about translation techniques, challenges etc. Now let’s understand what Interpretation mean and qualities required?

Interpretation is more challenging than translation because in case of translation you have source language document in writing and you can refer dictionary, have time to think on the document etc.; whereas in case of interpretation it is face to face on table. There is no time to refer dictionary and think on much. Interpretation is an act of explaining to a person who doesn’t understand source language.

Following qualities are required for interpretation:

1)      Be a good listener

Simultaneous interpretation is one type of interpretation. It means interpret what is said in real time while the speaker is still speaking. Interpreter needs to listen with full concentration. I have experienced English à Japanese simultaneous interpretation many times in my previous organization. It’s quite stressful type of interpretation. It is generally preferred in large scale meetings and important thing is pause in conversation is not allowed. Though it is stressful I have gained amazing experiences in this type.

Consecutive interpretation is another type which is comparatively easier.

2)      Vast vocabulary of source language and target language as well as domain knowledge;

Generally knowing meaning of words in other language does not suffice. One should be aware of the mechanism, function etc.; it really helps while interpreting in other language.

Due to environmental norms getting stringent product A of my previous organization was in verge of getting change to product B. We interpreters had knowledge of product A as it was manufactured for few years, but while changing to product B, that knowledge was not with us. I remember one incident, once R&D engineers from Japan had visited us for training our Engineers on product B. But the technology was new for all of us, we interpreters also had limited vocabulary (frankly speaking Japanese to English dictionary words we had by hearted which did not fully work). That was a hurdle in interpretation and I was not able to convey exact mechanism of product explained by Japanese to Indian Engineers. Seniors were aware about this and end result, management decided to send 1 interpreter along with Engineers to Japan for getting trained on product B. I traveled to Japan for 2 weeks, had hard training and after returning had to percolate information gained to other interpreters on new product.

3)      Cope with stress and self-control;

Example of stress and self-control, in my previous organization once a meeting started at 4:45pm (being manufacturing company our office hours were 8:00am to 5:00pm fix). As I was heading interpreter department I was immediately called in meeting room. I was aware about the seriousness of the topic for which meeting was called. Quickly I called my mom and told her “आई आज 7:30च्या शीफ्टच्या बसनी येते, कारण आता एक मिटींग सुरू होती आहे L”. The supposedly short meeting lasted till 10:15pm. As an Interpreter you have to be continuously on toes in such type of meetings, have patience, and be attentive… no snacks in between, no natural call break … havoc

After meeting my Director said, “so Amruta, looking tired…”

I just asked him “सर मी घरी फोन करून आई -बाबांशी मराठीत बोलू का?”. He laughed loud and permitted me…. Husssh. But end result, I got to travel to Sri Lanka for 10 days along with technical team (Japanese and Indian). In Sri Lanka we had hired Sri Lankan language (Sinhala) interpreter. He was interpreting Sinhala  à English and I was interpreting English à Japanese and vice versa. Though the meetings were lasting for hours for single topic, it was good learning experience for me too. The same experience I gained in Italy (Italian à English à Japanese).

In my previous organization I have experienced such meeting many times.

4)      Cultural awareness

<<I will give example of this in blog “My Experiences”>>

An Interpreter bridges the gap between two people speaking different language. The role of Interpreter is to convey information accurately from one language to another. While doing so, he/she should be as a neutral party, not add his/her personal or emotional feelings, not omit key words or summarize the message, should be aware of professional and ethical responsibilities. The role of the interpreter is to not only convey the words between the participants in the communication process, but also need to make sure that the goal of the topic is clear and that all-important aspects are properly conveyed and understood. Hence, Interpreters play a very vital role. Due to globalization, interpreters and translators are in high demand now 😃.

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6 replies on “Interpretation”

Really a wonderful read, Amruta. I had never thought of its difficulty level. You have enlightened me. Thanks

Though Interpretation profession is fantasy, there are many hurdles.

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