Our second interview in this series of articles about the importance of languages in the internationalization of a company is with Eva Mª Díaz Puche, CEO of Málaga International Idiomas. As many of you know, this is our partner company providing language training and interpreting services. This time we wanted to learn more about the role of interpreters in the internationalization of a company.
Eva, how long have you been providing interpreting services?
I have been in this business for 10 years, but as I had to stop my activity for some years due to maternity, it could be said that I have been actively providing interpreting services for 6 years now.
What are the clients requiring interpreting services?
When I talk about interpreting, many people think about conference interpreting, but many companies also do need interpreting services outside the congress and conference industry. I have many different clients, both in the public and the private sectors. Congress centers, companies dealing with clients in foreign countries, hospitals, companies making small conferences, lawyers, etc. For congress centers most of the time they require simultaneous interpreting in the booth provided at conference rooms, while private companies use to need bilateral or consecutive interpreting.
What are the main working languages at Málaga International Idiomas?
We work mainly with European languages, Chinese and Arabic. In simultaneous interpreting we work mainly with English, French, German and sometimes Arabic. Last year we also did consecutive interpreting in Portuguese, and we are receiving many requests for Russian and Chinese for both consecutive and bilateral interpreting.
What are the main considerations when clients ask for interpreting services?
They are mainly concerned about the rates and the type of interpreting technique. They do not know if prices are per hour or per working day, they do not understand why sometimes two interpreters are needed and sometimes they are even confused about when they have to use translation or interpreting.
How should an interpreter do his/her job?
For conference interpreting, a booth needs to be provided with a headset to be able to listen to the speaker while talking (interpreting) to the others. It is important that the interpreter can see the speaker from the booth, as body language can also affect the meaning of words and, of course, if there is something that prevents the speaker from giving the speech (for example, a microphone not working properly), the interpreter needs to be able to see it so that he or she can inform the audience.
It is also important to mention that for long conferences (more than 1.5 h) a minimum of two interpreters is needed, so that they can work in turns.
Whenever possible, simultaneous interpreters should be provided with a copy of the speech or at least some notes about what the speaker will talk about, as well as any presentations that may be played during the conference. This will help the interpreter to prepare the terminology for the job.
For consecutive or bilateral interpreting, interpreters will take notes if pauses between each speaker allow for it.
What are the consequences of not using a professional interpreter?
As in the case of translation, very often people rely this type of tasks to friends or relatives who have a close relationship with the client’s business which easily could affect the interpretation according to their personal knowledge which could interfere in decisions. This can easily lead to bad or even incorrect conclusions and we have even seen in the news how people are being taken to prison because of interpreting errors.
In the Health Care industry, interpreting errors can lead to fatal consequences, so it is even more important to count with professional interpreters.
Professional interpreters are people who have the training and skills that allow them to transmit the message without missing information. Their impartial view of the situation enables them to have the cold blood needed to avoid personal interests interfere in the negotiation.
Both in private meetings as in conference interpreting, using a non-professional interpreter can affect your brand image. Your audience or counterpart will perceive that you are not giving the meeting or the conference enough importance as you are using amateurs to save money, or it may make you look as a weak company that lacks resources to conduct a successful meeting. If your company cannot spend money on an interpreter, how can you expect to open a branch in a new country, hire staff and manufacture your products there?
A company makes a big investment in technology and supplies to manufacture its products. It should also invest in the people who will enable them to make business with a foreign country, and interpreters are part of this team, together with translators, marketing and sales staff, to name a few. I always recommend people who are new to interpreting to read the guide called Interpreting: Getting it Right, published by the American Translators Association.
Thank you Eva for showing us how important interpreters are for companies!
Languages in Internationalization – Part 1. The internationalization of a company