Client's Guide To Professional Language Interpreting Services | Language Interpreter

Interpreter, Professional Language Interpreting Services |

Professional Language Interpreting Services

What is a language interpreter?

A professional language interpreter is an experienced native speaker of two or more languages who assists with communication between two or more people who speak different languages, allowing for a natural paced dialogue between the parties.

Interpretation is often mistakenly called translation when in reality it is interpretation.  Translation refers to written texts, while interpretation refers to oral communication.  

For example, if you speak English (referred to as the source language) and need to communicate with someone who speaks Cambodian (referred to as the target language).  The interpreter will act as a communication bridge, if you will, delivering your English messages into Cambodian, and the Cambodian speaker's messages into English.   

This, in a nutshell is interpreting.  Of course there are different specialties, types, modes, and styles which will be explained in more detail below.

What makes a language interpreter professional and more than just another bilingual person?

Being bilingual is only the tip of the iceberg for professional interpreters.  Professional interpreters understand their languages beyond native speaker level, are highly fluent and qualified in moving from one language to another.

Professional interpreters facilitate effective communication because they are experts, fluent, and knowledgeable of their source language, target language(s) and specialized field(s).  They convey the intent and meaning of the original language into the target language.  They maintain proper pronunciation, grammatical accuracy, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Professional interpreters are culturally sensitive, maintain neutrality, understand foreign politics, government, customs, history, economics, current events, and international affairs.  They are able to explain cultural differences when appropriate.

Professional interpreters obtain a formal and/or informal education for their profession.  Interpreter academic qualifications vary from work, practical experience, from school degrees, credentials to technical program certifications.   Interpreters can be deemed qualified or certified by a state department, interpretation associations, federal courts, state courts, national and internationally known organizations and programs.

Professional interpreters follow good business practices, abide by a strict code of ethics, privacy laws and standards.

What is the code of conduct for professional interpreters?

Professional Interpreters' Code of Conduct

  • The interpreter conducts himself/herself in a professional manner, following fair, ethical, and good business practices.  
  • The interpreter abides by the terms of all business transactions and agreements.
  • The interpreter possess the professional skills, knowledge, resources, time, credentials, experience, expertise, qualifications, abilities, specialties, and certifications required for the specific interpreting job.
  • The interpreter will maintain impartiality and show no bias, preference or give the appearance toward either party while interpreting.  
  • The interpreter shall not allow personal opinions to interfere with his or her duties 
  • The interpreter shall render, to the best of his/her ability, a complete, faithful, and accurate interpretation without adding, altering or omitting anything that is spoken. 
  • The interpreter shall not provide unsolicited explanation, comments or make recommendations except to assist communication (for example: when clarification is required, informing both parties).  
  • The interpreter keeps and protects privileged and confidential information always.
  • The interpreter respects fellow colleagues and clients.
  • The interpreter respects personal boundaries and space.
  • The interpreter engages in continued professional development to improve his/her interpreting skills.

Professional Language Interpreter Services

Do you really need the services of a professional language interpreter?

Let's say you need an interpreter for a doctor appointment.  

Would you let your bilingual neighbor, family member, or close friend interpret for you?  
Would you want them to know personal, confidential, and intimate details about yourself and your health? Would you trust their interpretation?  Would you trust your life in their hands?  

What if they did not know how to interpret a particular medical term or phrase? What if they interpret something the doctor says incorrectly?  Or what if they interpret something you say incorrectly to the doctor?  How would that effect your health?  Obviously this can have life altering implications and effects.

Or what if you needed an interpreter for a trial.  

Would you ask a bilingual neighbor, family member, or close friend to interpret for you?  
Would you want them to know your personal and sometimes confidential information?  Would you trust their interpretation?  Would you trust your life, trial, future, judgement in their hands?  

What if they did not know how to interpret a particular legal term or phrase?  What if they interpret something the judge, witness, lawyer, or yourself incorrectly?  How would that affect your case?  Of course this too can have life altering implications and effects.

For instance, from the examples above, a professional medical interpreter would:

1) keep all communication from doctor and patient confidential, 

2) be qualified to interpret in a medical setting, and 
3) would be knowledgeable of the medical terms and language used by the medical personnel.  

The same could be said of a professional court interpreter, a legal interpreter would: 

1) keep all court room communication confidential, 

2) be qualified to interpret in a court room or legal setting, and 
3) would be knowledgeable of the legalese used in the court room.

Using only these two examples above you can notice the seriousness of certain circumstances where you don't want to simply rely on a free or low cost solution which most likely is a bilingual person claiming to be a qualified interpreter, bilingual neighbor, family member or friend who is trying to help.  

In fact, they might cause more harm than good.  And that harm would go directly to you, your pocket, and/or your life.  

Why take the risk?  

Why risk your life, health, and your money?  If you owned a business the risks could be your profits, brand message, marketing efforts, reputation, and your public image, just to name a few.

Is being bilingual enough?


Accurate communication of information and ideas between two languages requires more than fluency in both languages.

In what settings can you use professional language interpreting services?

The short answer is: anywhere they are required.  

Professional interpreters can be found and used in various settings.  The following are just a few ideas where you can use interpreters for individuals and companies alike.
  • Formal meetings
  • Informal meetings
  • Business meetings 
  • Conferences
  • Corporate events
  • Special events
  • Legal proceedings 
  • Corporate events
  • Health appointments
  • Press conferences
  • Private events
  • Public events

What does a professional language interpreter do?

Now that you understand what a unqualified interpreter, bilingual neighbor, family member, and friend can and can't do, now learn about the professional interpreter difference.

Professional interpreters are neutral, impartial and interpret faithfully to the original message, not adding, removing or exaggerating.  They capture and convey attitudes and cultural nuances to the listening audience.  They have the ability to work under pressure and speak in clear, accurate, and concise grammatically correct statements.

For example, take a very simple doctor visit, typically people think that an interpretation sounds like this:

Doctor: "What do you feel?" (language 1)
Interpreter: "The doctor asked, "What do you feel?"" (language 2)
Patient: "My stomach hurts." (language 2)
Interpreter: "The patient said his/her stomach hurts." (language 1)

The above example is not the way a typical professional interpreter interprets.

A professional interpretation looks similar to this:

Doctor: "What do you feel?" (language 1)
Interpreter: "What do you feel?" (language 2)
Patient: "My stomach hurts." (language 2)
Interpreter: "My stomach hurts." (language 1)

Notice in the example above how the interpreter says the exact same thing the parties say?  Nothing is lost, added or modified in the process. 

"Professional interpreters convey the meaning faithfully, accurately and impartially from one language into another.  A successful interpretation is one in which the target language fully and accurately reflects the style, register and cultural content of the source language, without additions, omissions and embellishments." [1]

This is the correct way to interpret.  Of course this is a simplified example.

What are the different types of professional language interpreters?

Simply because an interpreter is a professional does not mean they are know-it-alls or jacks-of-all-trades; in fact within interpreting there are numerous fields of expertise or fields.  Just as you would not seek a foot doctor for a back problem, in a similar fashion, you would not hire an academic interpreter for a legal proceeding.

A Few Professional Interpreting Services Specialties Include:

  • Medical
  • Business
  • Academic
  • Legal/Court/Government
  • Technical
  • Media/Entertainment

What type of language interpretation services do you need, consecutive interpreting or simultaneous interpreting?

Since not all situations, jobs, settings, and events are the same, interpreters adjust their interpreting modes to adapt to the circumstances and needs.  For this professional interpreters can interpret in one or more of the three different modes, all of which require mental dexterity due to the highly strenuous and highly complex nature of interpreting.  

Consecutive interpreting occurs in intervals, with the speaker pausing at intervals to allow the interpreter time to render the interpretation.  

Simultaneous interpreting is interpreting at the same time the speaker is talking. 

Sight Translation is when the interpreter gives the rendering of a source text directly into a target language for informational purposes, not for a translation.

Consecutive and Simultaneous Interpreting Services Include:

  • Conference Interpreting / UN Style Interpreting
  • Escort Interpreting
  • Liaison Interpreting
  • Whispered Interpreting
  • On-Site Interpreting
  • One-on-One Interpreting
  • Over-the-Phone Interpreting
  • Video Remote Interpreting
  • Escort or Liaison Interpreting
  • Certified Interpreting
  • Qualified Interpreting
  • Online Interpreting

What to expect when working with a professional language interpreter?

A few tips when working with professional language interpretation services

If you ever are in need of interpretation services use these helpful tips to get the most out of your interpreter's services.
  1. Speak directly to your audience, do not look at the interpreter, this will distract your intended audience and will distract the interpreter.
  2. Speak in short phrases/sentences or pause often.  Remember that you have a professional interpreter working with you.  Many times people forget and continue talking and expect the interpreter to remember a short speech, which is impossible.
  3. Speak clearly.  In order for an interpreter not to interrupt and ask for clarification it is crucial to speak clearly and correctly.
  4. Speak at a normal pace and pause if the interpreter makes a signal.  If you speak too fast or slow, the interpreter might miss something and ask you to repeat yourself.
  5. Whatever you share will be kept private.  Interpreters may take notes to help them interpret accurately, which will destroyed before leaving.
  6. The interpreter will say everything you say and what is said to you in the language pair(s) known to the interpreter.
  7. If you don't understand anything please ask.

Where can you find a professional language interpreter?

Are you looking for a professional language interpreter?

How do you find that perfect qualified or certified interpreter who will communicate your message correctly?  eLingual.Net is a great place to start.

Unlike traditional interpretation job marketplaces where jobs are auctioned off or given to a middleman, eLingual.Net work to find you the most qualified professional interpreters in our network. 

Here’s how it works:

1.       You provide what's important to you in your job description.
2.       We'll recommend your job to members with the right skills and experience based on their profile.
3.       You get a qualified applicant pool to choose from.

We’re happy to help you find that next great professional interpreter.

Feel free to connect or email me, Carmen Arismendy.  I'm a professional Spanish interpreter-translator and founder of eLingual.Net.  I started the eLingual Network because I could not find a fair, no middleman, no job bidding, ethical and transparent meeting place for translators, interpreters and clients online.  The website is in beta phase and by no means perfect but it's a step in the right direction.
eLingual.Net's mission is to spread happiness worldwide through happy translators, interpreters and clients.
For the professional translator and interpreter, this means no middleman, no job bidding, the freedom of setting their own fees, having control over their services, and who they choose to work with.
For the clients, this means working directly with ethical and professional translators and interpreters committed to quality and value.
Join our happy community, let's work together!

1. Interagency Language Roundtable, ILR Skill Level Descriptions for Translation Performance

Updated 12.8.16


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