INTERPRETING: A THANKLESS JOB

By Peter Chamberlain

Being an interpreter is difficult. When done professionally and properly, it not only can it be arduous work, but it is often an unnoticed and thankless job. I don’t see anything wrong with it “going unnoticed,” however I think a job that requires this sort of skill set should not be thankless.

Since I have been with Dialog One as an operations and project manager, I have gotten to work with interpreters from all over the world. Although each place in the world has their different cultures, viewpoints, and way of doing things, as interpreters I’ve noticed they all share one common trait; they love helping their community. That doesn’t just mean their native land, but here in the United States as well. The LEP (Limited English Proficient) community has the same wants and needs that the rest of us have but these things that we take for granted are not so easy for them. From legal representation to working environment to health care, making sure things are clearly understood can be in extreme cases literally a matter of life and death.

Interpreters are often in pressure filled environments, where the accuracy of their performance is detrimental. Whether the job is consecutive (one person talks, then you interpret) or simultaneous (interpreting what is being said while it is being said) it is a test of focus, and endurance, and requires your brain to be able to perform a sort of mental gymnastics to move smoothly and effortlessly between the languages. But what to us in the business know to be difficult, many times seems goes unnoticed to the general public. It is like being a referee in sports. If you do a great job, and the game goes smoothly, nobody acknowledges how well you did. It is only when there is a mistake made, when you are the center of attention. And so it is that while interpreters might be doing a great job when they are unnoticed, I would rather is not be a thankless job, knowing what I know of the dedication, skill, and love it takes to be one. So please, if you ever require and interpreter or even are in the presents of one who does a wonderful job, try to remember to let them know that they are appreciated!