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I seem to have large misconceptions about the interpreting market. I'm more familiar with translation - Perry Link (who is also a great teacher and academic) translates for Liu XB, Howard Goldblatt for Mo Yan, and most UN languages are B-into-A interpretations from what I understand, so I assumed that there would be a parallel phenomenon in the world of Chinese interpretation.

In that case, how would you characterize the quality of interpretation given across the various levels (between high-end and low-end) of the "serious" conference/meeting interpretation market? High end interpretation is easy to find on the internet (i.e. the UN), but I don't get to attend many conferences myself despite auditing/investigating them quite frequently. By "serious", I mean to exclude those cases where conference organizers use untrained staff from the company, hire some influential person's child (i.e SOE managers), or hire a woefully unqualified and inexpensive translator, none of which are serious attempts to provide comprehensible output.

Would it be correct to assume that all of the "real" professionals are kept busy during the conference seasons and that the conference organizers getting burned are basically that way because they aren't willing to compete on price for the pool of qualified interpreters, so they turn to the pool of unqualified ones?

asked 01 Mar '15, 11:08

Adrian%20Lee%20Dunbar's gravatar image

Adrian Lee D...

converted to question 28 Mar '15, 08:00

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck ♦♦

...not knowing the first thing about the Chinese market or language/s (to my bitter regret, I might add) your final assumption is to a considerable extent non-market/language specific: despite some colleagues feeling uneasy when not all 30 of most month's days are booked solid :-), regretably not all "real professionals", as you put it, are kept busy during "conference season", some are indeed "losing" jobs to the "unqualified ones" :-(.

This has been the case since time immemorial, across all markets and languages, IMHO because there will always be "one-off" organisers unaware, unwilling or incapable of understanding the cost-benefit equation underlying professional CI and, because of their "one-off" nature, exempt from the learning curve which they would otherwise be exposed to.

Furthermore - in some markets/language combinations more than in others, of course - a growing percentage of CI (not to say the very conferences themselves) is no longer there to serve communication but for other, more mundane, reasons... and therefore the cost to be incurred by a "thing" that no longer is supposed to serve its avowed purpose is understandably seen as an obvious candidate for compression...

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answered 28 Mar '15, 10:19

msr's gravatar image


edited 28 Mar '15, 12:28

Howard Goldblatt is prolific, you will find his name inside English-language versions of many Chinese authors' works.

Your question seems partly to answer itself. Yes, there is a lot of high-quality Chinese interpretation out there. Besides at the UN, it's used regularly at the World Economic Forum, both in Davos every January and in Dalian/Tianjin every September. Not all smart conferences use good interpreters, but you have to remember the market is still a fairly young one and many clients come to the professionals only after they've been 'burned' once or twice by a poor-quality job. Finding conferences to listen to depends a bit where you're based, of course. In Europe (Geneva, Vienna) and in New York there are often chances to get a visitor's pass to the UN. In Beijing, interpretation is also often provided at UCCA (art centre). Apart from that, you just have to hunt around, maybe for conferences with "China" or "Taiwan" in the title.

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answered 26 Mar '15, 08:40

William%20White's gravatar image

William White

edited 28 Mar '15, 08:01

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck ♦♦

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question asked: 01 Mar '15, 11:08

question was seen: 4,663 times

last updated: 28 Mar '15, 12:28 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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