Working with an Interpreter

If you want your message to be clear and everyone to understand what is being said, it is imperative to consider regional languages and usage. It is critical when engaging an interpreter. If a group of Americans is going to visit the city of Dalian, situated in the northern part of China, it would not be useful to have an interpreter who speaks primarily Cantonese, which is used primarily in the southern part of the country. Even if the person also speaks Mandarin, there may be some usage or comprehension problems. Similarly, if a group of Chinese are going to visit Boston, it would be more useful to have an interpreter who is familiar with the pronunciation of that region than one who is only familiar with English as spoken in Seattle.

Beyond choosing an interpreter who is familiar with the region, it is also useful to have one who is familiar with the vocabulary you will be using. In some formal situations, such as a presentation speech, you may be able to provide the interpreter with a script. But many times, the interpreter is serving as an escort for the business traveler. He or she must be able to handle unrehearsed material and must transfer the ideas to the other language immediately, without hesitation and certainly without a dictionary. Simultaneous interpreting is actually quite difficult, even though good interpreters will make it seem easy.

A professional interpreter should deliberately avoid directly participating in the exchange. He or she will concentrate on fostering the communication between those involved in the exchange. If you want things to go smoothly, you should try to make your interpreter’s job easier. You can easily do a number of things which will not only benefit your interpreter, but will also help promote good business relationships.