Professional interpreters, Or Not So Professional

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Professional interpreters are highly skilled.

It isn’t unusual for competitors to contact us because they are looking for interpreters. However, TheBigWord’s behaviour incensed me. So much so, that I feel I have to publish their unsolicited email to one of our staff in full.

So why am I so annoyed?

Interpreting is a professional job, and it requires considerable training. This is 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.”

Using trainees as professional interpreters

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. In his words, he did the degree, and then went to Russia to learn the language. In other words, a degree in a language is no guarantee that a person can speak the language studied. Worse, even if fully fluent, speaking two languages doesn’t qualify you to interpret.

Interpreters are highly trained specialists. OK, so the person selected probably won’t be performing brain surgery. However, they may have to relay patient symptoms which may inform a treatment plan. They may need to interpret in court, where expressing things wrongly could affect the outcome of a trial.

Here is the email in full:

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, then we probably won’t recommend you to contact TheBigWord.

We don’t normally offer interpreting ourselves. Our team focuses on written translation into a wide range of languages.

When booking an interpreter, we suggest you read the small print very carefully. Also ask for the interpreter’s credentials.