If you hire a conference interpreter – whether simultaneous or consecutive – the problem of quality is of utmost importance. If you spend thousands of dollars on the conference and interpreters cannot deliver, the money is wasted, and even worse – your reputation may suffer as a result.
To be completely frank: only an interpreter or better an interpreter trainer may fully evaluate another interpreter: it is a highly specialized skill and you would not evaluate a heart surgeon either not being a professional surgeon yourself.
However, corporate responsibility and best practices require that clients do their best and here are a few tips:
– hire professionals and companies with established track record and good client referrals.
– big agencies are not necessarily better: large overhead costs may result in them not being able to hire top notch (= obviously expensive) interpreters and quality may suffer.
– collect resumes of interpreters in advance, approve your picks and resist last minute interpreter substitutions unless it is an absolute emergency.
– pay attention to membership in major international (and not just national) professional associations, such as the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) that have peer review and strict admission requirements.
Even though you may not be able to evaluate the provided interpretation fully, there are a few guidelines you can follow too:
– the goal of interpretation is to convey the message. An interpreter always balances between the structure of the original text and the message. If you understand both languages, do not assume that word for word translation is always the best though the general structure of the original must be followed.
– there are many cultural nuances an interpreter has to take into account including how the message may be received in the target language.
Concentrate instead on what you can evaluate: common sense, performance and meaning.
Researches of language interpretation agree that there is a certain hierarchy you may use to evaluate quality interpretation. The pioneering survey by Bühler (1986) and a recent replication among more than 700 members of the International Association of Conference Interpreters by Zwischenberger (2010) ranged them as follows:
Get feedback from your foreign counterparts too.
While there are no guarantees and substandard quality exists, you can minimize your chances of hiring companies and people who will not deliver.
Contact InterStar Translations to inquire about our services.