I recently came across a post on the “interpretersoapbox” featuring one of the most fascinating interpreters I’ve ever read about. Although the interview is from 2016, the life and stories of the “voyeuristic interrupter”, as Jan Krótki calls himself, are anything but outdated and well worth spending the 15 minutes or so it takes to read.
He not only talks about how he learned the many languages he works with and the interesting situations and people he has encountered, but also gives some excellent advice and insight when it comes to interpreting.
Here are some examples that struck me in particular:
Language is an identity. They are so intertwined. I like untranslatable jokes because I think they say something about what you can express in a given language and what you can’t.
Some of us interpreters think that meeting rooms should be provided with paper shredders. Anybody who comes to the lectern or the podium with a text gets it taken away and put in the paper shredder. Speak! Communicate! Don’t read! And especially, if you are going to read, make sure the interpreters – or interrupters, I like to call us interrupters – have a copy, otherwise it’s completely ridiculous if we don’t have the text.
Always be professional! Which means at least two things. First, prepare for your meetings. […] Second, never accept working conditions that could endanger quality of interpretation, such as long working hours with an insufficient number of interpreters.
[Being an interpreter is] very rewarding, when you see that you have contributed to better understanding among people of different stripes.
If you can spare the time, I really encourage you to read the whole interview, available here.