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Good morning, I would like to know if there are any materials dealing with business meetings. I am particularly interested in terminology, strategies and tips. Thank you very much. Filip

asked 01 Oct '12, 05:37

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edited 01 Oct '12, 05:42

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Hello Phil, I cannot give you any book title, but I found the following tips for business people who want to work with interpreters. Most of them are actually quite useful and could serve as hints for interpreters and/or - from the interpreter's perspective - as guidelines for a briefing of the client before interpreting business meetings or negotiations. I don't know whether I fully agree with point No.8, but for sure interpreting emotions in a business negotiation setting must be handled with much more care than conveying the speaker's emotions when interpreting simultaneously from a booth.

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Top Interpreter Tips By way of offering some tips on working with interpreters the following guidelines may be of some use:

1 - Establish and agree ground rules with an interpreter. For example, try and communicate how you want a meeting run, the number of sentences to be translated at a time, the confirmation of jargon or idioms before they are translated, when breaks will be taken and seemingly trivial matters like seating arrangements.

2 - Try and brief an interpreter prior to any face to face meetings. Familiarise them with the whos, whats and whys. If there is any specific terminology to be used ask them if they understand it. If you foresee any tricky issues or tense topics, prepare them for it.

3 - If you plan to give a speech or read from a script, give the interpreter a copy. The more familiar they are with the subject matter, the better a job they will do.

4 - While speaking through an interpreter always engage with your counterpart directly. Even though you cannot understand what is being said, show interest, keep eye contact and remain focused. If you start to converse through an interpreter you lose any chance of building trust, rapport or confidence.

5 - Try and avoid humour. Most interpreters will agree that jokes do not translate well. If you are giving a speech and plan to start it off with a joke, it is advisable to consult the interpreter first to see if they think it will work.

6 - Plan your time carefully. Conversing through an interpreter makes conversations twice as long. For example, if you are making a presentation remember that anything you say will first be translated, so the likelihood is that a one hour presentation will take two. Compensate for this by either cutting down your presentation or speaking in shorter, sharper sentences.

7 - Do not rush. Interpreting is a taxing job and is mentally exhausting. To alleviate the pressure as much as possible, speak slowly and clearly. If you rush the interpreter is more likely to become stressed and the quality of the translation may drop.

8 - Interpersonal communication, by its nature, involves emotion. An interpreter should never translate emotions. If the speaker is annoyed this will be obvious in their body language and tone. Never involve the interpreter at a personal level in any discussions and if you see an interpreter translating your emotions, ask them to stop. The interpreter is there to purely translate what is being said.

9 - Make sure the interpreter is clear that they are never to answer questions on your behalf. Even if the answer is simple, the interpreter should still convey this to you. If an interpreter starts to speak on your behalf, this can have numerous negative consequences such as undermining your position or even losing face.

10 - Ask interpreters not to change or alter what you say even if they think it may cause offense. If you plan to talk about a controversial issue let the interpreter know. Before discussing it with an audience announce that what will be said is not the opinion of the interpreter but your own. This then frees the interpreter of feeling uncomfortable and nervous.

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answered 01 Oct '12, 14:49

AlmuteL's gravatar image


edited 01 Oct '12, 15:09

This book , 'Interpretazione di trattativa, la mediazione linguistico-culturale nel contesto formativo e professionale', by Russo and Mack (two professors of the MA in Conference Interpreting in Forlì, University of Bologna), deals with liaison interpreting and contains a chapter about interpreting in a business context as well. The only problem could be that it was only published in Italian.

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answered 02 Oct '12, 03:08

Stefano's gravatar image



Penny Karanasiou at Heriot-Watt University is doing her PhD in Business Interpreting and may be able to answer your question.

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answered 05 Oct '12, 08:57

nkthorne's gravatar image


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question asked: 01 Oct '12, 05:37

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