Interpreting and stress

What? The last Friday of the month and no guest blogger? Well, the colleague who kindly offered to write this month’s entry had an unexpected rush job to attend to and will deliver his entry later than expected, so we’ll all have to be patient.
I thought I’d tell you instead about my week. It’s been manic; just under 9,000 words to translate (long days!) and two days out interpreting. I’m not sure why, but unusually enough, I was very concerned in the run-up to my interpreting assignment: I was worried that I hadn’t interpreted in a few months and was rusty. It was the beginning of a new project, on a topic that I was familiar with, but it was with people I didn’t know very well and so wondered what new things were going to be thrown at me. I know that I find it quite intimidating to have so many pairs of eyes constantly on me, and I feel some pressure knowing that they all are relying on me to understand each other and communicate efficiently. All of a sudden and for no apparent reason, I doubted my competence as an interpreter.
I shared my concern and lack of confidence with friends last weekend, one of whom (thank you Kathryn!) warmly recommended I used rescue remedy, which is meant to have a great calming effect. I tend to be sceptical of natural products and think that they mainly work thanks to the placebo effect, but I thought I’d give it a go if needed. On Tuesday morning, my nerves had transformed into full-blown anxiety, so I tried it. I don’t know whether it was due to the rescue remedy, but I felt very calm all day. My assignment went very well and I really enjoyed it as usual. So there. I have no idea whether I have rescue remedy to thank for it, or whether I regained confidence all by myself, but I had a great couple of days and feel confident in my interpreting skills again. For now at least!

By |2016-10-18T15:51:03+00:00June 24th, 2005|Interpreting|6 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Jemima June 24, 2005 at 1:21 pm

    I could be misremembering, but isn’t Rescue Remedy mostly alcohol? A shot of brandy may have been as useful 🙂

  2. céline June 24, 2005 at 1:25 pm

    Rock rose, Impatiens, Clematis, Star of Bethlehem and Cherry Plum. Not a drop of alcohol in sight! I agree Brandy might have had the same effect, but it might also have affected the accuracy of the information I had to convey.

  3. jean-paul June 24, 2005 at 1:57 pm

    Self-confidence is definitely the most “natural” of all remedies, although one needs a pretty good dose of it to do the trick! Definitely would not want to try brandy (Dutch courage?) before an interpreting assignment!! Slurred speech does not go down too well (even if brandy does!)
    However, they say that nerves usually affect very conscientious and competent people, and actually help them perform better. From your account, Celine, you certainly fall into that distinguished category, alongside actors, public speakers, etc… Well done!
    9 000 words? 3 days’ work, I’d say depending on subject and translating speed??

  4. Lesley June 24, 2005 at 10:19 pm

    On interpreting and alcohol. I’ve observed a good number of interpreters over long (French) lunchtimes and although most seem to limit themselves to a couple of glasses of wine others seem to be able to knock back bucketfuls without any ill effects on their interpreting skills in the afternoon. Perhaps it one of those cases where practice makes perfect.

  5. e June 25, 2005 at 6:57 am

    Rescue remedy is about 90% proof ethanol. Hence its calming and medicinal qualities. Think of it as souped-up flower brandy. Enjoy (but not a bottle at a time- that way lies cyrrhosis)

  6. céline June 27, 2005 at 10:06 am

    Well I’m a bit shocked to hear of interpreters doing a grand job while knocking back the wine. I know I would just start making bad jokes and hiccuping a lot, which wouldn’t be too good for communication in general. And although rescue remedy is 90% ethanol, I had 4 drops each day! I am a lightweight, but still, the alcohol can’t have been THAT powerful!

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