In a world of constant cultural flow via trade, travel, and online communication we are all regularly exposed to the elements of other cultures. Sometimes international opportunities even extend to in-person experiences in foreign countries or participation with multilingual events such as specialized conferences. Daily connections to foreign cultures are no longer rare for most of us.
Likewise, good language interpreters are not rare. When hired through professional language service agencies like Skrivanek they’re also vetted and prepared for special assignments. It’s worth remembering that they are available to individuals for personal, everyday events just as readily as they are for large organizations. Even if you need interpreting for an unusual language combination or a conversation including specialized terminology, it’s likely your needs can be filled by top-notch interpreters. Getting by without them – by gesturing and using phrases from language translation apps – is a questionable choice when the presence of a professional interpreter is likely to significantly upgrade the experience for everyone involved.
To be clear, “interpreters” provide oral translation between parties who speak two (or more) different languages. By contrast, the term “translator” refers to someone who provides written words in a new language. Interpreters are present to interpret not only the languages being spoken, but also tone, body language, and hand gestures, the meanings of which aren’t universal.
Another common choice that English speakers make instead of hiring trained interpreters is operating on the assumption that English will be an available language link, and that even if the foreign participants’ English is flawed it will suffice. While English is the lingua franca in business in some ways and in some circumstances, not every person in other countries understands it with functional fluency, communicates well through it, or appreciates having to use it. Even as a lone traveler in a foreign country you can benefit tremendously from professional interpreting, and you are much more likely to enjoy a greater degree of community with the people of your host country.
The presence of an interpreter in any situation involving more than one language is:
- A stress reducer – stress levels are very high for people who do not understand with confidence what is being said as well as for those who do not know how to get their meaning across.
- A cultural resource – whether touring a museum or discussing local business trends, native-level interpreters have a great deal to offer in terms of explaining cultural context and details.
- Protection against misunderstandings between people – parties who do not speak the same language and try to communicate without the aid of interpreting can leave a conversation with completely different conclusions about what went on and this can create long-term problems.
- A courtesy, and a gesture of respect and welcome to those who speak other languages – to create the most comfortable situation possible for those with different backgrounds is generous, sophisticated, and always appreciated.
- An educational link for you as either a student or a teacher – complex ideas can be successfully communicated between people who do not understand each other’s languages if they have the help of a trained interpreter.
- Legal protection and sometimes a legal requirement (as in some legal and healthcare systems) – clarity is essential in the courtroom, in hospitals, and in so many situations where the liability for choices made is an issue.
- Vital aid for people in transition in foreign countries, such as travelers, immigrants, and refugees – even in non-crisis situations the presence of good interpreters can help answer the questions and direct the actions of people in unfamiliar countries.
- Protection against fraud – it is difficult to deceive an interpreter who possesses native language fluency and understands cultural, physical, and linguistic cues.
- A force for peace building – a professional interpreter possesses the language knowledge and personal communication skills to facilitate true understanding, even in situations of conflict and confusion.
In short, inviting an interpreter to be part of your event, work, seminar, tour, or really any situation involving speakers who don’t understand each other’s languages is a choice that increases the depth of human connection that is possible. When you think about the nuances that we convey to people who speak our native language, you can see how much would be lost by trying to talk while referencing machine translation apps or dictionaries to pick out simplified translated phrases to share.
Many people are accustomed to thinking of professional interpreting services as something more suited to formal events than everyday occasions. But the fact is good interpreters have a way of participating even as they also recede into the background of an event or conversation. The inclusion of interpreting is an easy, accessible way to enrich every experience that involves people who speak languages other than your own. Skrivanek’s interpreters are some of the best in the world – contact us for a quick call to discuss your needs.
J. V. McShulskis