After having just sporadic interpreting jobs, for some years mostly translating and teaching, I got myself sold to a month-long project where I was supposed to interpret quite a lot. The job setting was either official or semi-official, I did not have to do a lot of whispering, the clients were aware of and respected the job of interpreter. It would have been a job of my dream but for the fact that I was to make appointments alongside interpreting.
I should say right away that these two jobs are incompatible, as it is risky for the project where it is highly important to make all meetings actually happen. So when in the middle of the interpreting process your phone rings and you know it’s the very person you have been looking for the whole day, you feel as if you were in the last scene of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, with your phone ringing between your teeth and you trying to save from falling into the river two guns worth £3 ml.
These two roles would not have been possible to combine 20, and even 10 years ago when very few people could speak any English.
Where are we now? So many people speak English that during the month, of 5 meetings arranged for one day I had to interpret just 2 or 3 of them, and sometimes none. An interesting fact is that our English where we are (were) afraid to make a mistake in a complicated structure or use a wrong preposition, or have (had) other silly “nightmares” like that, this English is not needed at all, if instead of interpreting, which makes a conversation at least 2/3 longer, a person can somehow express his or her thoughts and provide information in English. The most amazing is the role of an offline dictionary you perform in this situation, reacting immediately, faster than Google translate on your smart phone, so you cannot relax, otherwise why are you sitting there at all? You shouldn’t of course open your FB for a second, as you can read how angrily your colleagues are discussing standards of interpreting, and the absurdity of this situation, makes you laugh out loud, and you can’t, as at this very moment the interviewee forgets the word “provision” in English and you need to switch yourself on and translate.