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Telephone Interpreting: an Art more than a Profession

I am sure that we have all felt that awkward feeling of being on the phone with someone and, even if we know him/her very well, we did not have a clue about what he/she was thinking or meant. I have a few friends who make sure I feel that on a weekly basis. So how does telephone interpreting work? Surely it’s too difficult without seeing people’s body language and facial expressions. Or is it?

The possibility of making calls in a foreign country, thus communicating in a foreign language, makes things much more challenging. I remember that the first few times I ever made phone calls in Germany. I was literally shaking.

So we can easily understand how challenging telephone interpreting can be.

Although interpreters can work from home, or at least from an environment they know and feel comfortable in. They are faced with emergencies, such as the sudden questioning of a criminal, an emergency medical procedure… and so on. In these cases, there is hardly ever time to call a face-to-face interpreter, so telephone interpreting is the best and least time-consuming option. The job of a telephone interpreter is highly complex. They need to be able to understand and convey the meaning of utterances, without being able to see their interlocutors. One of best and worst things about phone calls. As so much of language interpretation relies on body language. This can be a real obstacle for many people making calls to other countries.

Telephone interpreting services, such as Lingua Talk, are not the only avenues to go down in search of this. Some large bodies and organisations which deal with a high number of non-native speakers do actually set up their own services.

And finally, a bit of history… One of the first British companies specialised in telephone interpreting actually started as a charity. The activist Michael Young was in fact granted money to provide free telephone interpreters at the Royal London Hospital. He observed that services for ethnic minorities who did not speak English were not of a good standard.

If you have any questions or comments about telephone interpreting, or the processes involved. Please ask us about Lingua Talk. It’s easy, cheaper than traditional interpreting, and could help your business to provide a better service! Alternatively, visit the telephone interpreting page of our website.

La interpretación telefónica

Estoy segura de que todos hemos pasado por esa incómoda situación de estar hablando por teléfono con alguien y, aunque conocemos perfectamente a esa persona, no tenemos ni idea de lo que nos está intentando decir. A mí me pasa cada semana gracias a algunos amigos.

Si a esto le sumamos la posibilidad de que podríamos encontrarnos en un país extranjero, y por lo tanto comunicándonos en un idioma extranjero, el reto es mucho mayor. Recuerdo temblar literalmente al hacer las primeras llamadas cuando estaba en Alemania.

Si tenemos en cuenta estos factores, entonces es fácil imaginarnos lo desafiante y complicado que debe ser la interpretación telefónica.

Aunque los intérpretes pueden trabajar desde casa, o al menos desde un entorno que conocen y en el que se sienten cómodos, se enfrentan a situaciones de emergencia, tales como un repentino interrogatorio a un criminal o una cirugía, entre otros muchos casos. En estas situaciones, casi nunca hay tiempo para llamar a un intérprete presencial, de modo que la interpretación telefónica es la mejor y más rápida opción. El trabajo de un intérprete telefónico es muy complejo: tienen que ser capaces de entender y transmitir fielmente el mensaje, sin poder ver al interlocutor, y esta es una de las mejores, pero también de las peores cosas acerca de las llamadas telefónicas. Gran parte del lenguaje se basa en el lenguaje corporal por lo que esto puede resultar un verdadero obstáculo a la hora de hacer llamadas a otros países.

Las compañias de traducción, como Lingua Talk, no son los únicos proveedores de este tipo de servicios. Algunos grandes cuerpos u organizaciones que tratan con gran número de hablantes no nativos llegan a crear sus propios servicios. Un ejemplo es el gobierno australiano, si te apetece écha un vistazo.

Y por último, un poco de historia … una de las primeras empresas británicas especializadas en interpretación telefónica comenzó trabajando como organización benéfica. El activista Michael Young consiguió una subvención para ofrecer un servicio gratuito de interpretación telefónica en el Royal London Hospital (Londres), al observar que los servicios para las minorías étnicas no angloparlantes no cumplían con el nivel standard de calidad.

Si tienes alguna pregunta acerca de la interpretación telefónica y su funcionamiento, no dudes en contactar con Lingua Talk. Es un servicio fácil y más barato que los servicios de interpretación tradicionales. Además podría ayudar a su negocio a ofrecer un mejor servicio.

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Ian Chapman – Director of Holiday Experience –

“Lingua Translations provides instant multi-lingual options for TUI’s 24/7 Holidayline, so 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year TUI’s customers are connected to an interpreter instantaneously. This service is designed to help holidaymakers who find themselves in difficulty and require non-English language assistance.

The service offered by Lingua Translations provides us with instant translation for every destination we travel to, and has proved invaluable.”

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