Meet the Best-Kept Secret on the Interpreting Internet

Maybe you’ve already stumbled across it. Maybe you’re one of the few people who have already been tipped off about it by a colleague or acquaintance. Or maybe today will be the day that you discover what is sure to become one of the most valuable resources for interpreters on the internet.

I’m referring of course to, the new Q&A website run by and for the global community of interpreters. Until just a few days ago, the site was in beta testing mode and had only been accessed by a few dozen interpreters: those who had been actively recruited to bootstrap it as well as their friends, colleagues, neighbors and the odd innocent bystander who got swept up in the effort. This week, the site has been opened up to Google – and therefore, to the world – and so it’s time to check out what it has to offer.

By interpreters, for interpreters

A quick look at the “About” page tells us this:

This is a free, community-driven Q&A website about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation.

The target community for this site is composed of professional or occasional interpreters, interpreting students, their trainers but also buyers and users of interpreting services and other stakeholders in the conference industry, such as event planners, convention centres, standardisers and equipment suppliers.

We invite each of them to contribute their questions and answers to the site.

The FAQ page goes on to explain:

There are many types of interpreting: business, community, conference, court & legal, escort, public service.

There are also many categories of interpreters from full-time freelance or staff conference interpreters doing simultaneous or consecutive interpreting at international events, to non-expert language brokers.

This Q&A site hopes to be of service to all of them.

For me, there are two fundamental aspects that make this new resource so interesting.

Firstly, is aimed at all types of interpreters. This means that it will hopefully contribute to breaking down some of those artificial, at times self-imposed barriers between different types of interpreting practitioners.

Secondly, the site (which is sponsored and hosted by AIIC) is 100% community-moderated. That means that all participants on this collaborative website can edit and moderate the questions and answers – yes, that means you, too! You don’t need to ask for anyone’s permission or have any sort of special status to join in the moderation.

Meet the enlightened guru pundit

If you take a look at the list of users, you’ll be sure to find a few familiar faces from around the social media. My own user profile shows that I have asked eight questions, given 19 answers, earned myself 910 karma points and been awarded 11 badges. Apparently, my fellow users have decided that I merit the titles of Enlightened, Guru and Pundit, among a few other choice epithets. The badge I really want to earn, however, is Necromancer, mostly because I think it sounds cool.

The karma point and badge systems, as I understand them, are meant to foster the sense of community amongst users as well as reward those who make an effort to offer valuable information to their peers by granting them extended moderation rights.

Now the fun starts

I have already learned a lot from just during the bootstrapping effort. I asked a few questions about training that got answered by fellow trainers, one about iPads apps for the booth that was answered by a techie interpreter colleague, plus a few others that were just niggling questions of mine, which garnered some insightful replies.

Even more interesting has been to see the type of questions that other users ask – and the wealth of information that is offered in response! Now that the website is open to the broader community, I look forward to checking in to see what new contributors have to offer.

In closing, let me just share with you the best bit I have found so far on The question “What are the best interpreter bloopers?” has received 16 answers so far. While some of the answers will be amusing only to interpreters (with our particular sense of humor), one of the answers is so funny that I still laugh out loud every time I read it. But I won’t give it away here: you’ll have to go explore yourself to find out what it said …

Public Speaking for Interpreters

I was digging around the other day, looking for good material to use in my workshop on communication skills for interpreters. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I found myself (once again!) on the website of the National Network for Interpreting. The NNI site is a lot like the Interpreter Training Resources site and Lourdes de Rioja’s video blog, A Word in Your Ear: no matter how often you visit, you always seem to find something new. Aren’t we interpreters lucky that these people take the time to prepare and compile all of these resources for us!

Anyway, what I want to share with you briefly here today are two resources prepared by the people at NNI to help train interpreting students in public speaking skills.

She seems to have it all figured out - except for maybe the dress code

The first is a slide presentation called Good public speaking – specific skills that walks students through the skills required for good public speaking. The best part comes on the fourth slide, where we are shown two short videos – the first is a case study of how NOT to present a consecutive interpretation, and the second is, of course, an example of how to get it right. The whole exercise takes only about 15 minutes to run through, and it is great for new students who might not have thought about the importance of communication skills in interpreting before.

The second resource, called Good public speaking – register, is a series of slides looking at the use of register in speaking. Here, students are asked to listen to a few short speeches given in different registers, and then given a short quiz (well, two, actually) about what they’ve learned.  I won’t tell you how I did on the quiz part because it’s too embarrassing – maybe if I had actually listened to the speeches, instead of just skipping straight ahead to the questions, I might have done a bit better. Anyway, try it out for yourself and see how you do.

More interpreting fun next week! I’ve got a couple of great guest posts lined up for you, so please stay tuned…

Passing the Stress Test

Mid-term exams are coming up on many conference interpreting courses, and so it’s time for students to start preparing for the moment when they will be asked to show the examiners everything they’ve learned.

All that class time dedicated to honing note-taking technique, all those hours spent reading up on different fields, all that glossary preparation and work on their passive and active language skills … It’s time to pull it all together so that, in the space of a few short minutes, students can show that board of external examiners that yes, they have what it takes to become conference interpreters.

I think it’s fair to say that most students will have dutifully done their homework, diligently prepared their topics, learned their lessons, and even gone through that all-important List of Dos and Don’ts for Interpreting Exams. So, by all rights, they should make it through the upcoming exams in one piece. So why is it that so many are lying awake at night, worrying about the exams and wondering if they are going to survive the ordeal? To me, it can all be summed up in one word.

Even the best-prepared students will have an added factor to deal with on exam day. Call it stage fright, call it performance anxiety – the fact is that many people suffer from this performance-related stress, and interpreting students are no exception. I want to make sure that all students have a fair chance of dealing with this stress when the time comes, and so I’ve decided to share a few ideas with readers on what can be done to “pass the stress test”.

The three ideas I want to explore today are not new. Pretty much everyone will have heard about them at some point. Still, I think it’s useful to review them here, so that interpreting students can see how they apply to their situation in particular. So here goes:

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