Practical Stories

As an interpreter, I work at many different places. One of the prettiest places I visited as an interpreter was the Tuschinski Theatre in Amsterdam. One of my colleagues and I were asked to interpret during a symposium about the maintenance and conservation of antique interiors. Tuschinki has a really magnificent interior!

Notarial deeds sometimes contain words I have never seen or heard before. For example: ‘liernurbuis’ [liernur pipe].This word and its meaning could not be found in any of my dictionaries. The Internet provided the answer! A liernur pipe is part of the first major sewage system implemented in Amsterdam around the 1870’s. So, during the execution of the deeds at the civil-law notary’s office, I was not only able to translate this word, but I could also explain this term.

Unanticipated experiences
As interpreter, I am often very dependent on the technology and this is sometimes a challenge. During an international annual general meeting of shareholders, the people on the stage forgot to switch on the microphone after the round of questions. In the interpreter’s booth, we could not hear anything through our headsets and so could not interpret what was being said. Unfortunately, the technicians were not nearby; we started waving our arms and the people on the stage understood that the microphone needed to be switched on again. After a little while we could resume our task.

Another incident happened while I was interpreting for a group of medical specialists. One of the listeners suddenly informed the moderator that he was not receiving the translation anymore. The batteries of my transmitter were dead! I asked one of the Dutch listeners to inform the technician, and within a few seconds, I received new batteries.
When something unforeseen happens, I stay focused on the speaker. As soon as I can resume my work, I provide a brief summary of what was said and continue with my job.