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Ever since I was a child, I've tended to get tonsillitis or a cold a few times every year. I wonder how professional interpreters proceed when they get sick or catch a cold just before an assignment.

I guess one option is to make an extra effort and work, but... wouldn't this brave attitude put at risk our own health, our boothmate's or even our clients' (in the case of whisper or liaison interpreting)?

Thanks in advance and feel free to answer also in French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese.

asked 26 Aug '12, 18:57

David's gravatar image


edited 27 Aug '12, 04:03

Delete's gravatar image

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If you find your hearing or speaking abilities affected by illness repeatedly, it's probably your body telling you to do something else professionally.

(27 Aug '12, 05:01) Vincent Buck

Wow! Disheartening, but thank you anyway! ;)

(27 Aug '12, 05:35) David

Les interprètes free-lance sont connus pour aller au travail quoiqu'il arrive. En 30 ans, j'ai personnellement pris UNE journée de congé maladie, alors que j'avais une grosse grippe et 40º de fièvre, mais probablement parce que j’étais interprète permanente à l’époque et que je savais qu’on pouvait me remplacer sans trop de difficultés.

En tant que FL, on ne peut simplement pas se le permettre (à moins qu’on ne travaille ce jour-là au siège d’une grosse organisation qui recrute toujours un petit nombre d’interprètes en plus pour pallier à ces éventualités). Pour plusieurs raisons :

  • La principale est que, si vous ne vous présentez pas, surtout si c’est en déplacement, vous laissez seul/e votre collègue en cabine ; or, lui-même ne pourra pas travailler sans relève et donc c’est toute la conférence que vous mettez en péril ; ceci est inacceptable et peu professionnel;

  • Si vous n’allez pas travailler, vous ne touchez pas vos honoraires et vous ne serez même pas compensée pour toute la préparation de la conférence. Même les assurances « manque à gagner », qui existent, prévoient une franchise de quelques jours ;

  • Si votre journée de travail était en dehors de votre domicile, votre billet ne vous sera pas forcément remboursé et vous aurez peut-être même à payer l’hôtel ;

  • Si vous êtes sujet à des maux de gorge et que vous vous faites remplacer régulièrement, vous aurez vite la réputation de ne pas être fiable et on vous recrutera de moins en moins.

  • Si vous arrivez à vous faire remplacer, il vaut mieux que ce ne soit pas à la dernière minute pour que votre remplaçant puisse aussi avoir le temps de préparer le sujet de la conférence, aspect très important.

Je suis convaincue que tant votre collègue que le client préfèreront un interprète enrhumé à pas d’interprète du tout. Donc, protégez votre gorge, évitez de faire la fête la veille d’une conférence, et prenez un bon grog si la gorge picote malgré tout ;-)

Bonne chance !

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answered 27 Aug '12, 04:34

Danielle's gravatar image


Merci de cette réponse complète et détaillée ! :)

(27 Aug '12, 04:54) David

It is a strange thing - but most of the time freelancers survive the cold season rather well - probably the adrenaline helps - and the minute you have finished your last conference for the season your body takes time off....

Well, you rightly said that going to work although you are suffering from a severe cold or something more serious also puts your colleagues at risk. That's why I call my colleagues beforehand, tell them I have a cold and discuss the situation with them. Most of the time, if we are talking about a bad cold or so, nobody would ask me to stay away and lose the assignmnet, but with this approach the colleagues can better brace themselves, take some precautionary medicine or vitamins and we all make sure not to hug or kiss each other as we meet and indeed, I bring along aome disinfeting tissues for the conference equipment and try not to touch my colleagues' buttons, air the booth whenever possible and try not to sneeze. We also then try to always use the same seat and headphone/headset to avoid spreading the germs.

Last year for the very first time in 20 years, I had a situation where I was too afraid I could not recover in time for a very technical conference - so three days before the conference I found a colleague to step in for me. I gave her all my glossary and all the texts I had prepared by then and was extremely grateful that she accepted the difficult assignment at such short notice and even ended up not charging me more than what the client had agreed to pay me although her travel expenses were a little higher than mine would have been.

The minute I had decided not to interpret that particular confernece, I felt better, more relaxed and could recover much better. Yes, it was annoying financially but I still believe it was the right decision in this case. I also learned who of the colleagues I asked was prepared to help me - and who was not although he could have stepped in....

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answered 30 Aug '12, 18:44

AlmuteL's gravatar image


edited 02 Sep '12, 12:04

Interesting! Thank you again, AlmuteL! ;)

(31 Aug '12, 02:18) David
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question asked: 26 Aug '12, 18:57

question was seen: 9,813 times

last updated: 02 Sep '12, 12:04

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