Ground rules of Interpreting

The following is taken from p.108 of the excellent…

Conference Interpreting – A Complete Course by

Robin Setton and Andrew Dawrant

Dos and don’ts: ground rules of interpreting

These first realistic exercises with afford an opportunity to get across some very basic dos and don’ts of interpreting for beginners:

  1. DO NOT react overtly when listening to the speaker. Don’t nod enthusiastically (at most an initial neutral nod of acknowledgement is acceptable). Don’t mumble “uh huh” in agreement, shake your head, frown in amazement or disagreement, or laugh out loud at the speaker’s jokes.
  2. DO speak in the first person, as if you were the speaker.
  3. Do project the speaker’s tone and energy, but at an appropriate level of intensity; DO NOT “ham it up”, or mimic, upstage or outshine the speaker.
  4. DO NOT embellish or over-interpret; if uncertain, be cautious and wait for more context (or ask the speaker to clarify).
  5. DO state ideas clearly for your audience – “make sense”; DO NOT blindly “translate” what you have not understood.
  6. DO finish your sentences, and avoid backtracking
  7. DO follow the basic rules of good delivery: project your voice, make eye contact, eliminate fillers.