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Trump’s Words Test the Boundaries of the Interpreting Profession
July 25, 2017 - By: - In: In the News / Awards - Comments Off on Trump’s Words Test the Boundaries of the Interpreting Profession

Detractors and supporters of President Trump can agree on at least one thing… he speaks a language all his own.

Interpreters are language professionals who orally translate from one language to another. They have worked hard over the years to maintain a code of neutrality and earn a reputation as unbiased partners in intercultural communication and understanding.

This works particularly well for more technical or fact-based conversations like scientific or medical speeches, where getting specific information to be accurately conveyed is crucial, as well as in international forums like the United Nations, where members typically wish to avoid diplomatic meltdowns.

Yet, more emotional, less fact-based messages, like the speeches of motivational speakers and a showman like Donald Trump, are giving rise to a new type of interpreting.

Every day, the language we use to communicate is full of subtle nuances, offering just as many opportunities to be understood as to be misunderstood. And it isn’t just the literal content of what a speaker says that conveys his or her message. Register, tone, feeling, intent and other elements all come into play, making almost any communication an extremely layered masterpiece.

When it comes to motivational speeches; however, the speaker is relying heavily on emotion to persuade the audience towards a particular point of view. All the other communicative elements become just as important as the words themselves, such as tone of voice, word choice and even accompanying gestures. As a result, such a speech in interpretation calls for interpreting skills as well as a dash of acting chops!

Other Perspectives

The challenges of interpreting have been in the limelight recently due to Donald Trump and his more unusual communication style. If you’d like to know more, here is some food for thought on the issue.

1. Of course, being the serious blog that we are, let’s start with this video from The Daily Show where the difficulty of interpreting for Trump, and finding the right words to express his uncommon vocabulary in another language, is explored for comic effect.

2. Next is Globally Speaking’s podcast on interpretainers. There guest Maria Paula Carvalho says that as an interpreter for motivational speakers she must dive into the character and feel as the speaker does to convey the same emotions as the speaker. This helps the audience not just understand the message, but to live it.

Professional Interpreting Services

No matter what type of message you need to convey, Responsive Translation knows the right interpreter to get the job done. We provide on-site simultaneous and consecutive interpreters for important meetings and events for a wide range of industries and speaking styles, in addition to our on-demand telephone interpreting services.

Certified for ISO 9001, Responsive Translation is a full-service translation agency with more than two decades of experience helping organizations reach global audiences in the right way.

For more information on our range of interpreting and international consulting services, please contact us at 212-355-4455 ext 208 or

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