I often hear people call interpreters ‘translators’, but they are very different activities. Translating involves a written document, hours of research and crafting a text which will be as faithful to the original as possible. No silence and painstaking work during interpreting, which means concentrating intently on what someone is saying and reacting immediately to convey their message in the other language.

I mainly do consecutive interpreting: a speaker says a few sentences, then stops to allow me to convey the message in the other language. As I’m more often than not working on my own on an interpreting job, I go from English to French and from French to English. Unlike translation, where the form is as important as the content, what matters most is the message conveyed: small mistakes, which are unavoidable when speaking one’s second language, are acceptable as long as they don’t detract from oral communication. I love interpreting and serving as a go-between between people from two cultures I know and love, and although this gives me a certain power, I mainly use it for good.

Interpreting can be embarrassing, stressful, exciting, challenging and funny.

These are some of the interpreting jobs I’ve undertaken over the years:

  • Workshops on waste management for Vivendi Environment (consecutive)
  • One-day conference on environmental preservation (consecutive)
  • One-day conference on chalk grasslands preservation (whispered/simultaneous)
  • Two-day meeting on protected sites interpretation (consecutive)
  • Two-day meeting on tourism development (consecutive)
  • Presentation for a marketing pitch on mobile libraries (consecutive)
  • Quarterly steering committee meetings on environmental management (Interreg III, over 5 years) (consecutive and whispered/simultaneous)
  • Regular visits to landfill sites, Material Recovery Facilities, recycling centres and incinerators for a transfrontier project on waste management in East Sussex and the Rouen region (Interreg III, over 3 years) (consecutive and whispered/simultaneous)
  • Training day for Unilever training managers (consecutive)
  • Training day for Calvin Klein marketing directors (whispered/simultaneous)
  • Day of negotiations between commercial partners (consecutive)
  • Phone conference with lawyer and plaintiff for a child abduction case (consecutive)
  • Three interviews between a psychiatrist and a client for a psychiatric report (consecutive)
  • One-day meeting on the protection of coasts in the Channel region (simultaneous, whispered)
  • Half-day meeting on church renovation/enhancement project (consecutive)
  • One-day visit by a group of French farmers on the theme of farm diversification (consecutive)
  • Business meeting a product manufacturer and a distributor (consecutive)
  • Visit of a landfill site and a leachate treatment plant for landfill site managers (consecutive)
  • Visit of an offshore windfarm (consecutive)
  • Interreg IV launch event (consecutive)
  • Week of training on waste management (consecutive)
  • Youth Summit on climate change (simultaneous)
  • Workshop on branding for a cycling routes (simultaneous)