Do you know how to break the barriers of language in a globalized world? Read our interview with Mei Hu, a liaison interpreter, to find out.
We live in an era without borders, fast and globalized in which communicating is the most valuable and priority tool for many. Have you ever wondered how business is done between people of different nationalities? How do celebrities travel between countries without language complications? The answer is short, but nothing simple: thanks to a liaison interpreter.
It is a very specific profile of a Chinese interpreter who, in addition to perfectly knowing its source and target language, has excellent social skills, keeps abreast of international news and has a vast knowledge of general culture. To fully understand the routine of a liaison interpreter, we interviewed Mei Hu, who has 12 years of experience as an interpreter.
How do you define the work of a liaison interpreter?
It is a type of interpretation that I consider being very close with the person or people with whom we work. Generally, it ends up being an intensive coexistence during the time that the service is provided.
How is an average work day?
There are all kinds of liaisons; It can be to meetings, interviews, visits, social events … the truth is that there is no rule. It begins and ends according to the needs of the client. The first thing to do when requesting this service is to find out the details of the dynamics, where to go, how much time will be needed during each day, etc. In this way one is getting used to the idea of what he is going to do, what clothes to wear and what tools to work with. If the interpretation is going to be required for most of the time, it is necessary that two interpreters go to take turns, otherwise it is exhausting and may detract from the quality of the service. There are also dynamics in which it is advisable to carry portable equipment of interpretation, especially when several people will participate or when there will be tours with explanations or meetings with more than 3 people, among other cases. Usually, there is a meeting point to which you must go to meet with the client and from there one goes with him or them to the places where they have planned activities.
What is the profile of the people you usually accompany? What do you do?
I have worked for all kinds of clients: musicians, writers, actors, top executives of companies, politicians, people who carry out research on various topics … it can really be anybody and anything.
What are your golden etiquette rules with them?
Always act with prudence and discretion. Be professional at all times. Never be too friendly or too serious. Clearly establish the dynamics, ask how he feels more comfortable working and make these agreements before starting the day.
What are some of the challenges you have faced as an interpreter?
As an interpreter one must be informed of everything that happens in the world, have an excellent general culture sense and always study before attending any event. One of the difficulties that one can face is that they move from one topic to another, that they refer to things that happen in the world or to one or another topic and we must have a lot of knowledge at hand to be able to respond to it. A frequent challenge can also be to work with people who have a strong accent or who start working at the beginning, but always after a while you get used to it and get to understand it more and more.
What aspect of your work did you find difficult to get used to?
Something that I found difficult at the beginning was not knowing for sure what event would come or what topic I would have to work on or where or with whom. These are uncertain things for us until a few days before an event takes place. The uncertainty at the beginning is difficult, but over time one becomes very flexible before this and, in fact, one of the wonders of this profession is the possibility it offers to live a wide variety of experiences.
What is it that most customers appreciate having an interpreter?
Thanks to our work they are able to communicate properly with others, especially because it is always about wanting to communicate for something of great interest to them: their business, their work, their project … It is very common for the client to end up saying that he could not have done things without the interpreter and it is true, because we are his channel of communication.
What is the most enriching thing about being an interpreter? What privileges do you have?
As interpreters, we have the possibility to learn from many topics. Each event is an opportunity to increase that enormous wealth of knowledge that we are accumulating over the years. In addition, we often find ourselves in a context in which the most innovative or the most recent or the most advanced are presented in one or another area. We learned in detail about everything, we lived it up close, even many times they are confidential issues and having access to that type of information is very exciting. We also have to live with important figures and learn from them. It is a profession full of enriching moments and experiences.
In your opinion, what does it take to get it right?
It is very important to have an excellent command of working languages and to have some training as an interpreter. The language must never stop working and perfecting itself. The training gives one the necessary tools so that the interpreter’s work is not only the transfer of words from a different language, but a real communication in depth, and the technique and tools that one learns when studying this give it that touch of refinement that ensures a very high quality result.
How do you update?
Fortunately, the same job as an interpreter keeps me updated on a myriad of topics, but also, I am always researching and reading about trends in these services, the team, its uses, how it is evolving, etc. I would say that constant research and curiosity are basic to this.
What do you recommend to people who are dedicated to this or plan to do it?
Study, first of all. The technique is very, very important. That they constantly evaluate their working languages. Always prepare as much as possible for an event and never be afraid to ask as many details as possible about how it will be. Many times customers are not aware of the things that are very useful for us and if we ask all the possible details we can be better prepared and we will know how to respond to what is presented at the event.
Can you imagine the amount of things that would not have been achieved without a liaison interpreter? Would you like to be a liaison interpreter? It is time to help people around the world to create bonds with each other.