16 fairies and 16 skills of an interpreter - No.1 Listening


この記事は通訳のスキル16 - その1 聞くの英語版記事です。


<<Basic Info of the fairy>>

Skill: Listening to what a speaker says

Personality: Confident

Facial expression: Relaxed and concentrated

Item: Megaphone on her ear


Hi, this is Erika. I’m a Japanese-English interpreter/translator based in Tokyo.


In my previous English article, I introduced my 16 translation fairies who help my interpretation. Today I’d like to talk about my first fairy in detail.


The first translation fairy is, of course, in charge of “listening.”


The interpreter’s job at a site begins with listening to what a speaker says. Without a message, there will be nothing for the interpreter to translate.


So, this little fairy puts all her energy to listening to the speaker.


As mentioned above, she is confident of what she does and her face shows that she is relaxed and concentrated in the task. This is because I was so confident of my English listening ability back when I asked Yuka to draw the pictures of the fairies. However as my interpreting training proceeded, I changed my attitude. I realized that the required listening skill as an interpreter meant far more than being able to listen and understand English as one of those ordinary English speakers as a second language. 


Having said that, I have to listen to the speaker with confidence as a professional interpreter. In addition, one of my interpretation instructors told the class that a tip to successful interpretation is to relax a little, while listening to the message even if it is difficult to do so. He also said “when you can’t be sure whether you heard the speaker right or not, I guarantee that your ears have 80% of chances to get it correct. In a case you hit the other 20% and hear it wrong, just forget about it.”


Of course I just can’t “forget about it” during the assignments. I will ask the person to repeat the part when it’s possible and I’ll do everything I can to deliver correct translation.


After all, an interpreter can’t do her job without being confident of her ears. This is why I don’t make changes on this girl’s personality and her facial expression even after all these years of my interpreting career. 


“Listening to the speaker with confidence.”


This is where the interpretation starts.





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