Monthly Archives: January 2014

Ten Things You Must Not Do to Your Colleagues


  1. Do not give advice freely, even if you think it would be helpful, unless you are specifically asked for it.  It is far better to just lend an ear. Most people just need a sounding board to express their thoughts and come to a decision about events in their lives, professional or otherwise.
  2. Do not refuse to share resources.  If you can help to make an assignment come off better with the product of your research, don’t hold back. It will make you look better to your colleague and the team better to the audience.  Remember that if your partner is not up to par for some reason, you will be judged together, not necessarily separately.  I am not, however, by any means condoning interpreters who consciously fail to do their part.
  3. Do not increase on-site drama by making unnecessary comments about the assignment, players, conditions, etc. If it’s a tough gig, you have enough on your hands without revving up the emotions, which will not improve anything  and only serve to put everyone more on edge.  Strive to put everyone at ease, focusing on the positive.
  4. Do not give work recommendations unless you are fully in agreement with doing so. Do not cave-in out of embarrassment.  It is better to blush once, if necessary,  than to have a permanent red face over possible fallout.
  5. Do not show off, either by hogging the microphone, speaking of past assignments, dropping names, etc. You don’t need to forcefully demonstrate how good you are.  Others will form their opinion of you based on your unaffected performance.
  6. Do not be late. There are very few, if any excuses in my book for this, and it speaks volumes about you both professionally and personally. You may be the best interpreter in the world but if I can’t count on you when I need you, it doesn’t matter.
  7. Do not show up unprepared. Even if you don’t have specific direction as to how to study for an assignment, there is always some generic research that can be done to help you navigate more easily through a difficult job. If you have a reputation for prepping, it will precede you favorably with both clients and colleagues.
  8. Do not gossip. Either about colleagues, clients or assignments.  There is absolutely no upside to this and you will be classified by others accordingly.
  9. Do not share personal information regarding clients, fees, payment practices & conditions. The scales of justice are not balanced on your shoulders.  Each professional needs to sort this out and you are not the arbiter.
  10. Do not force yourself into the lives of others, be it clients, colleagues or otherwise.  If you are interested in a relationship, put your best foot forward and show it but don’t overdo it. The Universe is at least as smart as we are and will choose who we should be with at any particular time for our own good. Remember that everything happens for a reason.

I look forward to  hearing about your own list of Don’ts and experiences in this regard.



An Overview of Broadcast Interpreting

braodcastInterpreting for the media can be daunting, especially if you have not done it before, due to the size of the audience  depending on you to follow the proceedings. The amount of preparation for the actual show will depend on the importance of the show to the network and the latter’s experience in working with interpreters. Some outfits will expect you to do your own research.  They’ll bring the talent (you) in, sit you in front of a screen at the studio, do a mic check and you’re ready to go.

The Gold Standard:

If you do not live at the location where you will be working, you should be brought in the day before the show, and plan to spend a good part of the show date prepping for the event.  You may sometimes receive scripts in advance of the date but it is usually useless to devote much time to them because new versions come out every day.  Upon arrival at the studio, you will be given the latest copy and the numerous updates that come in during the day.  Bear in mind that scripts are no guarantee of what will actually be said.  They are a starting point for research as to facts and terminology that may be used.  You will also be supplied with a rundown. This is a timeline or cue-sheet for a live show that informs you when and how long different segments will be running, among which are packages or bumps. The former are pre-recorded segments relative to the show which are not scripted and the latter are brief announcements, usually 10-30 seconds that can contain a voiceover, placed between a pause in the program and a commercial break, stating the name of the program or promoting other events on the network.  They may vary from simple text to short films.  The information in the rundown allows you to know how long you have to speak your bump translations, which you will prepare in advance, according to instructions, and have vetted by the director. Packages may or may not be interpreted depending on content.

Your Responsibilities:

Always come prepared with your own laptop unless you are assured access to one on site.  Also bring any pertinent glossaries or dictionaries, so you can build a case-specific playbook. Be prepared with pertinent filler info in case a satellite goes down temporarily. You will spend several hours annotating the script and meeting with the other interpreters, depending on the format.  If there are different languages involved, this is the time to reach a consensus on terminology, and to establish the order to be followed with your colleague, as to who interprets what.  Usually this is determined on a gender-specific basis but when interventions are very long or several men or women speak for a stretch, this will have to be modified. You should also plan your introductions as interpreters, depending on network policy, which you should inquire about. Remember to take breaks during the day as these programs tend to be aired in prime time so you have a long day ahead of you. The client should provide snacks, beverages and meals throughout the day.  I would not encourage eating very much the later it gets, so you will be alert.


As you get closer to show time, you will be taken to your cubicle to run voice/mic levels and establish your preferences as to what you want to hear.  You may elect to hear the program feed in both ears or choose another option such as hearing yourself at a lower volume on one side so you can better modulate your voice, or hearing your partner to make a smoother transition.  I like to hear myself, in addition to the program, as it gives me more control. The director/producer, always has the option to cut in to cue you and/or give you instructions. You will have your own monitor to follow the event live.

Content That is Not Interpreted:

Do not become overly zealous in wanting to interpret everything that you hear.  Remember that most of these programs are in the entertainment genre so the translation, in addition to being accurate, must be tempered by common sense and general appeal.  Do not try to interpret lyrics or poetry or jokes that don’t make sense or may be deemed offensive in another cultural context, unless you happen to know an equivalent.  You have to tread a very fine line because your audience will certainly be providing feedback on your interpretation via Twitter and that is one of the ways the networks determine your effectiveness.

I trust I have dispelled some of the myths surrounding this exciting and demanding aspect of simultaneous interpreting and encourage you to try it if it interests you. I also invite you to share your comments and questions with me.

Value of Yoga Poses to Interpreters

According to the Center for Disease Control, the leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease (24%) and cancer (23%), on account of improper breathing and faulty oxygenation that unbalances the blood so that toxins are not eliminated and the endocrine glands cease to function adequately. Interpreters in the U.S.A.  are within this population.

The chief endocrine glands are the adrenals, pineal, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, coccygeal, thymus, carotid, gonads, pancreas, liver and spleen.  Yoga exercises all of these glands, at a difference from standard western fitness regimens that affect muscle groups only. Many endocrine glands are also ductless glands, as they secrete the hormones they produce directly into the blood or lymph system so it will be circulated to the entire body. These hormones affect every physiological and psychological function of our bodies.  They control our growth, the structure of our body, height, weight and personality, determining our physical and mental activities, hence our jobs as interpreters, not to mention our personal lives.  They are the chief dynamos for brain power, vitality and youthfulness, and keep us fit to make a living and enjoy life fully. Furthermore, the manufacture and distribution of these hormones can be greatly affected by the mental state of the individuals concerned.  Since our work often causes a lot of stress because we deal in technical subjects and have to anticipate the words of specialists, among others,  in both simultaneous and consecutive modes, this stress  is bound to affect our mental state especially as we are often not able to prepare for these interventions.

Many of the poses tone up the nerve force in the spine to preserve flexibility which is often impaired when we sit in a booth all day or stand in a courtroom, or other environments  to work.  According to yoga, a man is never old if his spine is flexible.  Exercising for even 10 minutes a day helps to improve flexibility.

Much of the reference material on the effects of yoga cited herein was taken from the classic, Yoga and Long Life, by Yogi Gupta, available on Amazon Kindle.

For poses that act on specific parts of our anatomy, go here, and click on the part of your body that interests you.

Make learning these poses with a qualified teacher, one of your resolutions for the New Year.  It will be a positive life-changer!

Watch the following very short video (1:31) I put together, about The Lion Pose, which is specifically tailored for interpreters:

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