Remote interpreter – Tips for effective telephone interpreting

Suggerimenti per un’interpretazione telefonica efficace

Of all the methods of interpreting, perhaps the most difficult for an interpreter is the telephone one.

I know the difference between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting it could be difficult for those who have recently entered this world, telephone interpreting is instead a rather eloquent and self-explanatory type of interpreting.

When two parties do not speak the same language and wish to converse without meeting in person, they call a remote interpreter by telephone. They take turns delivering messages to the interpreter in their native language. The interpreter, in turn, listens carefully and then translates, acting as a remote intermediary to break down the communication barrier between these two parties.

Remote interpreter: the difficulties of telephone interpreting

Interpretation is a rather complex activity in itself. The interpreter must understand, process and convert a large amount of information in real time, without interrupting the flow of the conversation; she must possess a broad lexicon, know the culture of the languages to be interpreted and possess a quick mind and memory to perform all these actions simultaneously, minimizing imperfections.

In telephone interpreting the degree of complexity increases further. A study, conducted by UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian in the 1960s, revealed that communication between individuals occurs 7% verbally, 38% vocally and the remaining 55% visually.

Therefore, in telephone interpreting, the interpreter loses as much as 55% of the information. A big problem if you have to translate for work. To compensate for this huge information loss and ensure that errors do not occur during the interpretation, the remote interpreter should pay close attention to what is being said and quickly identify the key points of the speech. Let's see how to do it. Here are some suggestions for making a telephone interpreting session effective.

Prepare yourself for topics of conversation

Preparation is not something that can be improvised. If you are entrusted with a legal consultancy interpreting job, for example, it is assumed that you have specific preparation on the subject, i.e. that you are a certified interpreter in that given sector, with years of training and experience behind you .

In general, before a telephone interpreting session, it is assumed that you have all the contextual information and knowledge necessary to easily recognize and correctly translate a speech, even in the face of small unexpected events of a technical nature.

Noise-free environments and a good connection

Make sure you are in an environment free from background noise. Excessive background noise disturbs speech and risks making you lose track of the conversation.

Also make sure you have a good connection. The advice is to use a fixed line rather than a mobile connection, as it is usually more reliable.

Dictate the guidelines to your client

For the telephone interpreting session to go well, train your client to optimize efforts and maximize the result. Ask him for a small contribution in the presentation so that it is simple, concise and aimed at eliminating the superfluous. Short sentences and a direct lexicon are very useful to achieve the goal.

Also, especially in the case of more technical translations, you may feel the need to ensure that the parties have correctly understood the messages you have translated. When you feel this need, don't be afraid to ask: clients usually appreciate this quality in an interpreter, who will appear attentive and thorough to them.

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