Yesterday I had my first interpreting assignment at a press conference, doing a mixture of simultaneous and consecutive interpreting.
It was at the organic trade fair “Biofach” in Nuremberg, and my colleague and I were told beforehand that we would be interpreting for two ladies from Mexico and the Philippines respectively. Since most of the press conference happened in German, we were to whisper into our charge’s ear simultaneously, and when they spoke, we were to interpret consecutively.
We were given plenty of material to prepare, including the written statements of the two guests, so I was ready to roll.
However, when we got there, we were told to sit up front on the podium the entire time, not just when the consecutive part came up. They even had signs with our names and “interpreter” underneath on the table?! THAT I was not prepared for.
It’s not that it bothered me to sit in plain view of everyone (as a musician, I am a bit of a spotlight hog anyway), and I am always in favor of making the work of interpreters more visible, but I was worried that my colleague and I would distract the journalists because we were constantly whispering to the persons next to us. And indeed, I did catch several people looking at me, fascinated, rather than listening to what was being said by the managers.
I don’t know whether this is standard procedure when interpreters are involved and as little equipment as possible is to be used. Maybe the people in question were just not accustomed to seeing simultaneous interpretation in action. Whatever the case may be, however, I found it a bit strange and almost distracting to be stared at like that, and I know the person I interpreted for felt uncomfortable, because she told me so and I could tell by her nervous movements.
But the client was happy, so I guess I’ll just chalk it up to experience.