Interpreting – what exactly is it and how is it done? Part 1

The first time I came across the job description ”Conference Interpreter” was as a young man when I worked in a travel agency in London in the late ’50s. Travel then was more complicated than it is today, with currency restrictions, detailed forms to be filled in, visa requirements in respect of many countries, etc. etc. And before I could hand over any tickets, I had to check all details against the relevant forms to make sure all was correct. That’s when I came across “Conference Interpreter” on the “What is your occupation?”-line.

“That sounds interesting”, I said to the gentleman who had come in to collect his tickets, for all I had no idea what he really did.  It just looked, well, intriguing. He said it was – which left me just as wise, so I dared to ask him what, exactly, conference interpreting was.

And he did tell me.  How he travelled all over Europe, sometimes to other parts of the world as well, interpreting at meetings of every kind – but it was his descirption of how he listnened to one language – and spoke into a microphone in front of him in another language, that made my mouth drop open.  I uttered something like “Good grief, you must be very, very clever and intelligent”, – he lauged and said “Not really – remember that everbody is damned good at something – and pretty hopeless at something else.  Ask me to hammer a nail – straight – into a wall…!” He shrugged his shoulders and smiled.

Little did I know then that abut ten years later I would be using the same job description.

Guest blogger: Tore Fauske

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