How Interpretation (and Interpreters) Work!

How Interpretation Works

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a professional interpreter? WIRED will show you!

Barry Olsen
and two other members of the International Association of Conference Interpreters, Katty Kauffman, and Adnane Ettayebi go behind the scenes on a series of videos that explore real-life scenarios as interpreters.

The video spells out what simultaneous interpretation, consecutive interpretation, bilateral interpreting, chuchotage, and décalage mean and allows viewers to take a peek at what it takes to be a professional interpreter.

I appreciate the light-hearted tone to explore the skills used in note-taking or the difficulty (or impossibility) of translating humor. And, due to the educational nature of the video, I find it brilliant to say that interpretation’s “real-time translation.”
New York-based Marie Iida, consecutive interpreter for Netflix's Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Why Marie Kondo’s interpreter is the true star

7 reasons why Marie Iida’s interpretation sparks joy

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard about Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. The 2019 reality TV series on Netflix is about Japanese organization consultant, Marie Kondo, as she transforms untidy homes into order. But there’s another Marie you may or may not have noticed in the cluttered sets: Marie Iida, Marie Kondo’s interpreter.

1. Born in Japan and having moved to the United States at the age of 6, Iida is bilingually flawless in English and Japanese. In Japanese, she hears the verb only at the end of the sentence, so she needs to be good at predicting what is coming when she’s interpreting from Japanese into English. This is a given for professional interpreters, and yet Iida’s English persona gives Kondo a voice without bringing undue attention to the interpreter or the interpretation.

2. Iida understands that the interpretation is not about her, or her linguistic prowess, and never upstages Marie Kondo. Rather, she makes the difficult task of mirroring Kondo’s intention, energy, and feelings easy while making the nuances in Japanese seem idiomatic.

3. And although she is not a trained interpreter, Iida recommends in an interview that those interested in a career in interpreting do get the proper training. Having learned consecutive interpretation by shadowing interpreters and having worked as a translator, she earns the public’s respect by understanding that both translation, simultaneous and consecutive interpretation all require different skills.

4. Marie Iida credits shadowing as a good practice exercise for interpretation: while listening to a recording, an interpreter should repeat what the speaker or the recording says, word for word, in the same language as the recording. She also suggests reading extensively in both languages as a way to expand one’s active vocabulary beyond the basic 700 words.

5. This star interpreter invests at least 2 weeks researching clients and topics she’ll be interpreting. Not only has she searched for any videos of Marie Kondo’s lectures to get a sense of diction and style, but she has also read Kondo’s books:

6. The audience will often see her quickly jotting down notes on a notepad, which aid her memory to give Kondo a voice in English. She also understands that these notes are not particularly helpful after the interpretation.

7. (And my FAVORITE reason!) Her Vocabulary Notebook of Shame: as an interpreter, she has enough self-awareness/down-to-earthness to keep a list of every term that she couldn’t interpret at all or well enough and creates a better translation for next time. Though she may cringe every time she looks at it, the list serves as excellent preparation for future assignments.

Check out this fun interview of Marie Iida talking shop about translation and interpretation:

ATA Conference in Chicago, THE annual event for translators and interpreters

The American Translators Association Annual Conference is THE can’t-miss-it event for translators and interpreters in the United States and all over the world. This year, the Association celebrates its 55th Conference and 1800 attendees are expected in Chicago.

Please join me and attend my presentation on tools and technology for interpreters.

I-1 Tools and Toys for ‘Terps
Cristina Silva
(Thursday, 11:00am-12:00pm; Intermediate; Presented in: English) Tools for translators have long taken center stage on translation lists and discussion groups as the Holy Grails of productivity. As technology arrives on the interpreting scene, new tools, apps, and toys are also being developed for interpreters. Want to organize your glossaries? There is a tool for that! Want to record yourself and measure your voice pitch? We have got you covered! Want to take notes and record speakers? You are in luck! This session will explore tools, toys, tips, and tricks for today’s interpreters. Participants are encouraged to bring smart phones and/or tablets to this interactive technology demonstration.

AIIC Workshop for Portuguese C interpreters

The International Association of Conference Interpreters, AIIC, categorizes interpreters according to their A, B, or C languages. Interpreters work into their ‘A’ language or  their mother tongue in both consecutive and simultaneous modes.  Interpreters may also work into a  ‘B’ language because they are perfectly fluent in that language, but it is not their native language. Interpreters can work from a ‘C’ language, that is, one that they understand perfectly but into which they do not work.

Interpreters with Portuguese C or who would like to strengthen their Portuguese have a great opportunity to work with seasoned interpreters Raquel Schaitza and Richard Laver

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(No) Interpreting on Days 6 and 7 of 28: Rest Time!

I’m taking a well-deserved break and resting my throat, voice and brains. This down time allows me recover my creativity, stamina and coping as an interpreter and gives me a chance to “breathe” outside of the conference – yes, there’s life outside of the event :).

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Interpreting on Day 5 of 28: The Fine Art of Interpreting Small Talk

In many events where interpretation services are needed, interpreters are called to become specialists on the main topic of the conference: government and narcotics, defense and national security, agriculture, aviation, medicine, business, etc.  These are just some of the events where I’ve interpreted, but that’s what I’m going to call the hard side of the interpreting. Not that the conference topic is difficult, because the topic could truly be very mundane. And then, there’s the soft side of interpreting.

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Interpreting on Day 4 of 28: Field Trip Day

We took a break from our classroom and went into a field visit today. We’ve talked and walked the whole day. After many hours walking and talking, there are 5 things that I’ve learned to make my life easier:

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Interpreting on Day 3 of 28: Voices from the Invisible Booth

We have spent and probably will spend most of the day at our tabletop booth, which sits on a table. Unfortunately, this is an open, uncovered, “invisible” booth. I was hoping for at least a semi-enclosed booth, which would both isolate us and allow for a better working space. The good thing about it is that it’s very portable and it can be set up and operated by one person.

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