Case Study 5: Good chemistry

At a simultaneous interpreting assignment the other day, my boothmate and I received feedback from someone in the audience. The gentleman said that he saw good chemistry between the two of us. He became a client afterwards, requesting that we provide simultaneous interpreting for his workshops.

Since my boothmate and I only see each other once or twice a year on interpreting assignments and don’t meet each other on private occasions, we were surprised by his comment.

We asked him why he felt that way. Then he said that the transition from one interpreter to the other was quite smooth.

This gave me good food for thought as to what makes a good pair of interpreters from the audience’s perspective.

We interpreters work in a pair for simultaneous interpreting and for long-hour consecutive interpreting. In Japan, it is also common to arrange for a team of three interpreters for a simultaneous assignment that lasts for a whole day.

That means that the audience has to “bear” -for lack of better words- two or sometimes three interpreters taking turns every 10-15 minutes. If a successive interpreter has a totally different style of interpreting from the previous one, such as the tone of the voice, length of the output, choice of translated words and excitement/ composure of delivery, the audience may find it stressful.

It is ideal when the two interpreters can deliver the same level of output without making any extra effort. But if a boothmate has a totally different style from mine, I should work hard to align with my partner as much as possible.