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I regularly post on the interpreters.freeforums and I already posted this question there. I'm thinking of becoming an interpreter. However, I'm wondering the following. I've heard some people say that if you know only the most popular European languages, such as English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian and Portuguese, then you won't be in demand at all. The reason for that is that these days there are a lot of multilingual people in any profession. They said that that's the case in N.A. and Europe. As a result, in order for native speakers of European languages to be in demand, they have to be fluent in at least one Asian or African language. Is this true? Thank you in advance.

asked 27 Apr '13, 23:06

Myra45's gravatar image


edited 30 Apr '13, 11:04

Delete's gravatar image

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...let me use this question to try and dispel a myth I increasingly feel is taking hold amongst candidates: there's no such thing as a miracle, sure-fire recipe for success, a wondrous combination of factors that, once pursued and achieved, guarantees fame and fortune :-).

Languages are of course a factor, so is location, so is talent, so is effort... and so is luck :-), ie impermanence and uncertainty are one of the sides of the multi-faceted coin that is free-lance interpreting; languages are, to a considerable extent, what they are, location one can more easily change during a certain phase in one's life, talent is what it is... no limits to effort, though :-) but there certainly are to what it can achieve, in light of all of the other factors.

In order to be able to address your point, one would first have to know what type of interpreting you have in mind: if dialogue/ad hoc/community you'd probably be closer to a more realistic assessment - in Europe, mind you, probably not in NA, Africa or Asia... and only if you take Russian out of your list, at that. Of course, an "exotic" language (inverted commas because what's exotic in one latitude is run-of-the-mill in another) will put an extra arrow in your bow... but you will need a bow to shoot it from... and targets are increasingly moving :-).

If however you're considering CI-conference interpreting, from the languages you mention many a brilliant career has been and continues to be made, all over the world... it would therefore come down to actives/passives, their level and eg non-language qualifications, other than of course location and specific markets.... plus one should remember that many an "exotic" language is hardly a conference language, namely in certain locations/markets, which for CI must be factored into the equation.

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answered 28 Apr '13, 04:27

msr's gravatar image


edited 29 Apr '13, 13:10

I'll answer in Spanish. I hope you understand Spanish. Please update your profile eventually.

Cuando era estudiante (hace como 20 años), tanto los profesores (que también eran intérpretes) como los intérpretes que fuimos conociendo, nos decían que la profesión de intérprete iba a desaparecer pronto. O sea: Los rumores que te han llegado no son nada nuevo.

Sólo conozco un poco el mercado de la interpretación de conferencias en Europa: Sigue habiendo demanda para los idiomas que mencionas, en particular si trabajas también hacia el inglés (como lengua A o B).

Creo que es cada vez más importante diversificar (contar con distintos tipos de clientes) y tener otras fuentes de ingresos (traducción, enseñanza, etc) para no depender sólo de la interpretación de conferencias. Pero sigue habiendo compañeros que viven exclusivamente de la interpretación (no es mi caso).

Si realmente sientes afición por los idiomas y la interpretación: Lánzate, estudia y no te dejes desanimar por especulaciones acerca de las perspectivas de mercado.

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answered 29 Apr '13, 14:13

Angela's gravatar image


"Cuando era estudiante (hace como 20 años), tanto los profesores (que también eran intérpretes) como los intérpretes que fuimos conociendo, nos decían que la profesión de intérprete iba a desaparecer pronto."

A cela il faut peut être ajouter une nuance : A savoir que les départs à la retraite tant annoncés du côté des OI et institutions et les nombreux postes à pourvoir ne le sont pas dans toutes les langues ni nécessairement dans l'immédiat, que nombreuses formations se font encore alors qu'il n'y a pas de débouché, et que les étudiants n'en prennent conscience que bien trop tard.

Donc sans évoquer les commentaires findumondistes de l'interprétation qui va disparaître, inquiétudes qu'on peut balayer du revers de la main, la question de "LA" bonne combinaison reste d'actualité. La réponse quant à elle, reste difficile.

(29 Apr '13, 14:28) Gaspar ♦♦

La "buena combinación" empieza por tu idioma materno. Y este no lo puedes cambiar ni adquirir más tarde.

Siempre ha habido pájaros de mal agüero. Lo importante es dominar tus idiomas a la perfección, más allá de que sean "populares" o no.

Añadir idiomas sólo teniendo en cuenta supuestos contratos futuros en alguna organización internacional, o la "buena combinación" del momento es peligroso porque en cualquier momento la política lingüística de dicha organización puede cambiar.

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answered 29 Apr '13, 17:57

Marta%20Piera%20Marin's gravatar image

Marta Piera ...

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question asked: 27 Apr '13, 23:06

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