I am going to work as a volunteer interpreter for a well-known French NGO during a 4-day forum this month. I will be doing whispered interpretation from French into Spanish for an audience of three people coming from South America.
I'm still a trainee, but I'd say I know what simultaneous and consecutive interpretation are about (at least in theory). However, I am really unaware of the etiquette to be respected while performing as a whisper interpreter.
Any advice will be highly appreciated.
...I hope you will not be doing it alone! :-) Sometimes organisers have difficulties in understanding that our manning strenght does not depend on the number of our clients... and make sure they get that whispered FR>SP and consec. SP>FR ( should your delegates want to speak up at some point) are two different things :-).
...right, if you're whispering for three, IMHO the single most important issue - just like in real estate! - is location :-), ie make sure you warn the organisers (and scout the room ahead of time!) that you'll need to have the 3 delegates you are interpreting for sitting in a triangle, ie you should sit two of them to your right and left and the third with his/her back to you... and empty chairs to his/her right and left, the otherwise occupants thereof would be disturbed (philistines!) by your sweet murmur; you should sit comfortably - as opposed to on the edge of your chair, remember you'll be there for 4 days! - and your two clients' chairs on either side of you should be - if possible - slightly further to the fore than yours : a fourth chair (or surface) between the third delegate and yourself, facing your way, would be a good way of both ensuring proper positioning and providing you with a work surface for water, paper, etc.
Alternatively, have all three sitting in the same row, yourself behind the middle one and nobody to both your right and left... other than your colleague, of course :-).
Make sure you've got a headset or are sitting close enough to a loudspeaker to get what's being said... but not so close that your voice will be drowned by it and you'll be forced to speak louder than you should for your delegates to hear you.
Needless to say, special care should go into avoiding heady perfumes and/or "noisy" accesssories...
Good luck! :-)
I am sorry, I only just read your question and would like to add a few comments.
I keep my fingers crossed that you may have another colleague joining you.
Be that as it may it will also be important for you to find out whether there will be screen which you would have to see as well from where you are going to sit.
It is also a good idea to let the chairperson explain to all participants why there will be a person whispering all the time - It has happened that people got very annoyed because they had no idea there were interpreters doing their job rather than gossiping participants.
At the same time the chairperson can explain the difficulty of the job and your need to hear well - therefore all participants should kindly be requested not to have any private conversations, to avoid noise as much as they can (e.g. putting down their coffee cups noisily) and to understand why the windows must remain shut whilst you are working. The need for fresh air might increase the number of breaks ;-)
It is also advisable to ask your listeners whether there are any parts of the programme they already know very well anyway or are less interested in - this might be your chance to ask them whether they think they can do without your interpretation during these speeches. It is no good if anyone tells you "you don't need ot interpret everything - just the important parts" because a) we interpreters cannot judge what the listener would deem interesting or not b) what would be interesting for one participant might be of no interest to another and c) we have to pay constant attention anyway and cannot rest our brain under such circumstances.
Although it is not the same as booth technology and should not be seen as a substitute for proper conference equipment, rather than whispering to three participants without equipment another great help would be if you could get the NGO to organise a mobile equipment (bidule). Your listeners would then be wearing headsets or earphones connected to receivers and you would be able to sit somewehere comfortably where you can hear and see well and would whisper into a microphone. Sharing the microphone with another colleague is aslo much easierthan having to change seats etc. Maybe the NGO knows a company normally using such equipment for guided tours and could borrow it from the company.
answered 30 Aug '12, 18:06