Language Show Live Scotland, which took place last weekend at the SECC in Glasgow, was, as they described it themselves on their website, “two inspirational days packed with free educational seminars, language classes, live forums and cultural performances in an incredible celebration of languages.”
Global Connects, naturally, were there in strength, and we were pleased to play an active part in one of the panel discussions about the perspectives of linguists and agencies on the interpreting and translation industries.
The room was full – there were even people sitting on the floor and standing against walls – and the session started with interpreter Miranda Stewart explaining the different options on the interpreting industry and the rise of remote interpreting through the use of a video link.
Norma Tait explained the in and outs of being a translator. I focused on answering the question “what makes a good interpreter?” Then I explained the type of interpreting jobs that we have, including the variety of interesting work we do for international football and rugby matches and also our role in working with refugees who have come to Scotland. I also mentioned that we are an agency that offers work to both interpreters and translators.
Sam Bennett followed up my presentation by explaining how to stand out once a translator joins an agency so that you become a ‘go-to’ person when a job comes in.
Our panel presentation was very well received with many people coming back to thank us and ask for more information.
I noticed that the majority of linguists at the event were translators or interpreters who also do translation. There were just a few that were just interpreters.
During the Q&A session on video links, interpreters explained that they do not like this option because you cannot have the same rapport with the client, which offers important clues for the message that is being communicated. However, video is definitely an improvement on telephone interpreting, which is already being used regularly in the public sector. Our interpreter Kuba Hiterski also contributed to this discussion and previously the NRPSI Director Eulilia Pessoa-White had spoken about it at her talk. She mentioned that there are issues at the moment with bandwidth and that IT systems do not yet talk to each other from different departments in England, but this will be a way to save money on travel costs.
This will not be just applied to interpreters but to other court officials as well. There are proposals to have a solicitor in one room in his or her own firm, the procurator fiscal in another location, the sheriff in another location and the interpreter also in a different place.
Many courts have been closed down and court staff numbers have already being reduced in England, Wales and Scotland as a cost-cutting exercise. Public sector decision-makers are trying to make the use of remote interpreting via video link more acceptable and we need to acknowledge that it is a matter of when rather than if this becomes the norm. The technology is good enough but improvements are still necessary.
Continuing pressures on the public purse will, whether the interpretation/translation industry likes it, make this inevitable. The key will be how we collectively as an industry – and more specifically in our case, Global Connects as a company – respond to this and seek to ensure that the delivery of high quality interpretation and translation is always the sine qua non.
Ricardo Mateus, Recruitment and Training Manager, Global Connects