Communication is an integral part of our everyday life. We communicate with our friends and family, with our colleagues at work, with strangers on the bus or shopkeepers. In the business world, however, communication is very important and determines the overall company policy and development.

Quite often, the people engaged in a business dialogue speak different languages and need professional business interpretation services. No doubt, the benefits of using professional interpreters are numerous as you will see below, however the challenges for the professionals should also be taken into account.  

Benefits of Professional Business Interpretation

The mere fact that a person can speak two or more different languages doesn’t mean that they can serve as an interpreter, especially at an official business meeting. Things may go horribly wrong if you choose a random employee to handle the interpretation of a negotiation. If you are aware of the benefits of business interpretation services you will understand how they outweigh the costs associated with them. Here are just a few:

  • Quality and consistency 

Working with the same language service provider for both the translation and interpretation services you need, is an excellent way to guarantee the high quality and consistency of all the work. In addition to that, the mere fact of working with certified interpreters is a sign that you are going to receive a service by a professional who was trained in the field. The years of experience are also a great plus contributing to ensuring high quality of interpretation.  

  • Intercultural knowledge 

Trained interpreters are well aware of the cultural differences of the languages they work with and thus can be helpful in many situations. If you would like some specific clarifications or further explanations throughout the business meeting, make sure to agree about that with the professionals prior to the actual meeting.  

  • Specialization  

Many interpreters have extensive knowledge and further specialization in a given industry or field. Some of the professionals even hold a degree in another subject, which is very useful when it comes to interpreting specific jargon or terminology. When you are contacting the agency or the freelancers you are working with, make sure to request interpreters who are experts in the sphere of your business. This will facilitate the negotiations and make the business meeting much more productive.  

It is important to note, that the company hiring the interpreters should also do its job in order to reap the above-mentioned benefits. As the user of the interpretation services, make sure to prepare all the equipment necessary for the interpreters to do their job. If the interpreter is not able to hear the speaker well, the quality of the interpretation will fall. Always give materials related to the event you are organizing to the interpreters well in advance or as a minimum a day prior to the meeting. Thus, they will have time to prepare properly and clarify any questions. At the very least leave some time prior to the meeting to brief the interpreters about what it will be about and give any specific terms or jargon.  

Challenges for Professional Interpreters

While there are numerous challenges that interpreters face, doing their job, we will dwell on three major ones.  

  • Professional ethics in business interpreting  

As Sylvia Kalina points out in Ethical Challenges in Different Interpreting Settings, ethics in interpreting was first discussed in the context of conference interpreting. The establishment of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) in the 1950s turned these principles in members’ codes of honor and ethical conduct. 

Every professional interpreter follows the code of ethics typical for the profession, even if they are not a member of AIIC. Quite often, professionals also sign a number of additional declarations for non-disclosure of information, etc.  

Commitment to quality is also part of the professionalism shown by accredited interpreters and this is a challenge they stand up to in each and every business meeting they are interpreting.  

  • Conflict of interests  

In a business meeting setting, where the interpreters are usually hired by one of the parties, accuracy and impartiality are very important. One of the main challenges for the professionals in the field is to convince all the participants that this is actually true. In given cases, the negotiations may not be finalized because of conflict of interest. This happens more often if the interpreter is not an external professional but an employee of one of the organizations. Hence, there might be concerns that he or she is playing in favor of their organization. In such cases it is extremely difficult for the interpreters to do their job and this is one of the major challenges they face.  

  • The role of the interpreter as perceived by the different parties 

Quite often there is a discrepancy on how the interpreters perceive their role and how the service users or even the general public sees their task. In line with the professional requirements, the interpreter shall stay impartial and render the conversation between the parties from one language into the other without taking part in it. Quite often, the interpretation service users, however, expect that there shall be some form of explanation in addition to the linguistic transfer. While, this is possible, it can happen only upon the prior agreement between the parties and the professional that such clarifications related to cultural specifications will be made. Otherwise, the job of the interpreter is to transfer the message as it is using the tone and register of the original uttering.  

Another common misconception is that the interpreter shall be “loyal” to the party hiring them and hence skip interpreting some offensive remarks or inconvenient questions. This, however, is absolutely unacceptable for a professional in the field. 

As a conclusion we shall point out that interpreting can be divided into a number of subtypes such as conference, business, legal and healthcare interpreting, interpreting in refugee camps, interpreting in zones of war or crisis with each sphere having its own specifics. The benefits and challenges listed above are typical for the business interpretation services but nevertheless can be viewed in a more general perspective. 

Sources used: Ethical Challenges in Different Interpreting Sittings by Sylvia Kalina

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