Timely Translation

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Professional interpreting, or not so professional

Posted 22/05/15

I’m so incensed by the behaviour of TheBigWord, one of our UK competitors, that I feel I have to publish their unsolicited email to one of our staff in full. Why am I so annoyed? Interpreting is a professional job, requiring training, normally to post graduate level. Look at the first line of their requirements (the full email appears at the end of this post, and has only the names and email addresses removed):

“You need to be working towards an interpreting qualification or studying towards a languages degree or equivalent.”

Would you want a trainee brain surgeon to operate on you? Worse, would you want a student studying a degree relevant to medicine such as a science? Then there is the consideration of students studying a language degree. I have a friend who studied Russian at University, and in his words, he did the degree, and then went to Russia to learn the language. In other words a degree in a language (let alone being in the course of studying one), does not guarantee that a person can speak the language studied, worse, even if fully fluent, speaking two languages doesn’t qualify you to interpret. Interpreting is a highly trained, and highly specialist skill. OK, so the person selected probably won’t be performing brain surgery, but they may have to relay patient symptoms which may inform a treatment plan, or interpret in court where expressing things wrongly could affect the outcome of a trial.

Here is the email:

Dear ****,

I hope you are well.

I’m contacting you as I currently have a number of freelance interpreting requirements within the Nottingham area. The requirement will involve working with a number of public sector clients.

For this requirement:

  • You need to be working towards an interpreting qualification or studying towards a languages degree or equivalent.
  • You will need to live around the Nottingham area.
  • You will need to have the right to work in the UK.

Languages required are Urdu, Punjabi, Arabic, Romanian, Farsi, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Mandarin, Kurdish (Sorani), Russian, Cantonese, Turkish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Portuguese, Gujarati, Spanish, Tigrinya, French, Italian, Somali, Mirpuri, Bulgarian, Bengali, Vietnamese, Hindi, Albanian, Pashto, Amharic, Farsi, Thai, Japanese, Lingala, Mandinka, Kurdish (Bahdini), Swahili, Persian, Dutch, Estonian, Macedonian, Malay, Algerian, Dari, Indonesian, Wolof, Nepalese, Swedish.

I would also be happy for you to refer any colleagues that can offer these languages.

If you are interested in this, please get in touch with me. (name and contact email address follow)

If you are looking for professional interpreting services, we probably won’t price match TheBigWord’s rates, but we will offer a professional service.

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