The Humans Behind Interpretation

Recently, I ramped up my Google Alerts to keep myself updated with latest whatnots about interpretation. Unfortunately, majority of what I read was heartbreaking and sad (If you’re an interpreter, I’m sure you know the news I’m talking about). As a person who loves to question the harshness of life outside of the box, I approached my colleague who had more experience in the industry. I asked with no holds barred, “What hurdles do interpreters encounter outside the actual technicalities of interpretation?” A good 30-minute chitchat was enough for me to not only know more about interpreters, but to better understand them. Here are my thoughts:

Interpretation is a tool for communication. It’s expected to be perfect. It’s expected to be absolute. While these expectations are valid, we have to remind ourselves that while it’s indeed a tool, the interpreter is human. And when humans are passionate about the things they do, they give their all to make beautiful minds collide and collaborate for the better.

While everyone is busy discussing the life-changing ideas of different cultures and races, the interpreters skip their meal to make sure the exchange of ideas becomes fruitful upon conclusion. An empty stomach for a concrete future.

While participants become furious about a particular discussion, the interpreters need to keep their emotions aligned and unbiased, albeit being humanely affected.

While the room is filled with laughter and joyful exchange of humorous banter, interpreters are the only persons in the room who don’t smile merely to convey and fuel the fun in words.

Interpretation isn’t just a job that brings home a loaf of bread to family dinners. It’s a profession that exceeds the notion of simply delivering a job. Interpreters prevent wars. They bring justice to victims who can’t defend allegations they don’t understand. They bring the voice to different nations that unite to build a brighter world. Interpreters are just like us. They’re human. And all they want is make everyone understand one another, all for the better.