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Interpreting into a foreign language
In the European Union and other official organizations where interpretation services are required, it is compulsory to interpret from a foreign language into your mother tongue, as it is said that the produced interpretations are of the best quality and accuracy. However, there are many more domains in which interpretation is required, such as court interpretations, negotiation interpretations, interviews, etc. in which the services of an interpreter are extended to the limits.
One who interprets for private customers should be willing to work for more hours, with no breaks and no colleagues’ support as you really want to take that job. On the other hand, many times (not to say always) the interpreter will have to carry out his or her job in a foreign language. I will discuss the different problems an interpreter may face in these kinds of situations and how an interpretation into a foreign language can also be very useful. The lack of mastery of a language and the lack of professional training, for instance legal vocabulary for court interpretations, are not here discussed as these are not problems but stages that must be achieved before turning into a professional interpreter.
From my knowledge, an interpretation into a foreign language can be very advantageous as the language from which the oral translation is being carried out is perfectly mastered by the native speaker. Therefore, the possible doubts or misunderstandings are minimal considering this from the area of comprehension. However, we might outline this in the cases where only the "direct interpretation" is accepted, such as at the UE headquarters. The interpreters who work for the these organizations are widely prepared and their training engages a minimal possibility of misunderstanding or loss of information.
When dealing with bilateral interpretations or liaison interpretations, you will absolutely have to work from and into a foreign language. A very common and frequent issue (taking for granted the excellent mastery of the language that the person in question must have) is the excess of confidence on what I just commented: it is my mother tongue!
As you are taking the information, you may think everything is under control as the comprehension is perfect, so you cannot have any sense of awkwardness which could be felt when working with a foreign language. In fact, you may record all the information as well as the details included in it, thinking everything is being safely stored. This may cause an overload of information that can cause an obstruction in your mind. It is well-known that information selection is a basic skill when interpreting, but it has to be highly considered in the “reverse” interpretation because even though you have this selection skill, unconsciously you let that selection be more comprehensive, a fact that may create issues in these cases.
Of course, after years of training and work experience it is normal to understand this problem and manage to interpret without the overloading of information; however, there are many cases where this is taken to the edge and sometimes largely over-passed. We all have seen on TV those interview interpretations when the speaker talks for ten minutes and the interpreter reproduces a two minutes oral translation. There are three possible situations. First, the speaker repeated too much information and as a result the message produced contains only the non-repeated information. Second, too much information was selected and many important details were lost. Last, the interpreter just could not collect the entire message and is adding weird information and missing the true one. I won’t comment on this last one as it is a problem that can be caused by a lack of training or by a specific situation that may happen, like excessive noise, problem with the sound equipment, etc.
So where to find the right balance? Well, behold the one million dollars question. The thing is that this is a very ideal and utopistic point that can only be reached after many years of practice, and even worse, this cannot be done every single time a sentence is interpreted. This one is the essence that makes interpreting so fascinating. Interpreting is not something that can be learned with books and theories. Interpreting is composed by talent, vocation, tenacity, and lots of training and practice. In spite of all the stress and suffering it causes us, there are many of us who keep on with this. How can we explain this? Are we then cursed with any kind of spell? Maybe we will never know.