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What Do You Call THAT? Increased Demand for Hybrid Skills

Published June 2, 2015


For today's InterpretAmerica blog post, we welcome guest blogger Gio Lester. A well-known figure in interpreting who has held many leadership positions during her career, Gio explores one of the many new hybrid forms of interpreting gaining a foothold in the market. Her discussion reflects exactly the kind of issues we will be addressing at this month's 5th InterpretAmerica Summit on June 12-13, 2015. There's still time to register for both onsite and live webstream attendance!

Read and enjoy, and then let us know...What Do You Call It?

What Do You Call THAT? Increased Demand for Hybrid Skills

What do you call an animal with the body of an equine, a horn and a fish tail? It is an interesting hybrid but it is not a horse, it is not a unicorn and it is not a fish. The funny thing about names, nouns, is that they define a common point of reference, and by doing so, they facilitate communication on many different levels.

So, when I was called to work on another remote interpreting project, I was excited.

I had already done a few – once in a studio (great experience), several conferences, a few times over the telephone (over the phone interpreting (OPI) can be very convenient). But my worst experience ever was using two telephone lines while juggling a presentation and a chat session with my interpreting partner, on my computer, for the hand-overs. We survived.

None of that prepared me for the last two “remote interpreting” requests. First of all, there was no interpreting as it is defined: facilitating communication between a speaker and an immediate audience. For this project, I would be recording my voice after the presentation was over, without breaks or a partner, and no visual prompts.

That sounded more like a voice-over project to me. The main differences were the expectation of having someone speak for a whole hour without stopping, the lack of visual prompts, and do it while listening in on one telephone and speaking into another for remote recording.

This practice has been taking place for a few years, it seems, without regard for the target-language audience, how it reflects on the speaker's performance, or the voice talent's well-being. I say voice-talent because you don’t really need an interpreter to do this job, except for the fact that they expect the professional to provide the target-language version simultaneously with listening, without a script.

A few decades ago, it became acceptable to provide the translation of audio files without the transcription. This is the next step: voice-overs without the script.

Here we run into interpreter-related issues that providers who offer these services may not be privy to: mental and physical stress. Interpreting without visual stimuli is more stressful, speaking for stretches longer than 45 minutes compromises accuracy, which creates more stress, vocal chords need to relax, the interpreter needs to unwind… And then comes the two telephones bit, and the quality of the recording itself – both in content and sound. There is new technology available that can make this new business practice more efficient and still financially viable. 

Is there room for dialogue? Remote simultaneous voice-over seems to be in its infancy and professional interpreters have to work together with those who offer that service to educate them on the other aspects of an interpreter's work. There is much to be shared from both sides and gained by all, including clients.

© Giovanna Lester 2015

Brazilian born Giovanna “Gio” Lester has worked in the translation and interpreting fields since 1980.  She is a co-founder of ATA’s Florida Chapter, Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida (ATIF) for which she has served as its first elected president, director and now interim board president. As a writer, Gio has contributed to various industry-related publications both in print and online. She frequently gives presentations in the US and abroad on the subject of translation and interpreting, and has taught legal translation online for Brasillis Idiomas (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Gio calls Pinecrest, FL home. You can find her on Twitter @cariobana.


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