The knowledge and experience of the booking agency are just as important as the skills of the interpreter. Some language service agencies have no idea how many interpreters and at what levels should be hired for a regular business meeting. If the person who answers your inquiry cannot answer your questions, look elsewhere.
Preparation is the key. If you have spent a considerable amount of time preparing for your business presentation, court appearance, or keynote speech, don’t expect your interpreter to completely understand your carefully developed ideas even before you complete your statement. If your speech is mechanically interpreted based strictly on dictionary definitions and grammatical rules, it may not be incorrect but it could sound awkward. In order to work successfully with your interpreter, it is crucial to provide sufficient background information at least three business days before the assigned date. Many of our clients schedule briefing sessions with our interpreters.
It should also be noted that prewritten speeches and prerecorded materials should be translated in advance for accurate reproduction. We will provide a separate quote for written translation.
You may need more than one interpreter. Based on your schedule and requirements, we will determine the number of interpreters you need. For assignments that allow frequent long breaks, one consecutive interpreter may be able to work alone for a day. However, any person who keeps talking for eight hours a day will damage his or her vocal chords. It must be noted that professional interpreting is a physically and mentally demanding task. As a general guideline, simultaneous interpreters must take turns every 15 minutes. (Listening, thinking, and talking nonstop, they experience workloads comparable to those of sprinters.) Consecutive interpreters should take turns every 30 minutes to two hours. (Research shows significant declines in accuracy after two hours.)
Don’t focus on numbers alone. When you compare quotes from several service providers, don’t focus on numbers alone. Ask questions to see if the company has a record of providing reliable Japanese interpreting services. (Many translation agencies have no previous experience, even though they would never admit it.) The standard rates of professional Japanese interpreters on the East Coast are generally consistent. Unless the agency you have contacted appears to be adding an exorbitant margin, bargain hunting is not recommended.
Book early. The pool of reliable professional interpreters is much smaller than most people think. An ability to simply speak two languages is different from an ability to listen, think, and talk to an audience in two languages on behalf of another person. In addition to language skills, professional interpreting requires confidentiality, professional ethics, proper business manner, and good general judgment based on common sense. People who possess all these qualities cannot be found easily in just any field.
© Ohnaka & Associates, Inc.