The Case of the New Interpreter’s Sweats

This blog is dedicated to all of my fellow students that are currently going through the early stages of interpreting, in which the interpreter’s sweats are a bit intense. The dedication is also extended to all of those veteran interpreters that can give us some encouraging words, advise, and share their sweat experiences with us.

Place yourself on the following scenario: you are on a live online class, with 6 people logged in from around the world, being watched through a webcam. The speech starts…it is time to interpret from language A to language B. Let the sweats begin! You know you got this, you are doing great and you are capturing every word from the speaker. Suddenly, that one single word comes up, the one you completely forgot how to say in language B, and the world stops. All of the following thoughts run through your head in about 3 seconds: “I forgot how to say that word. How do I say that word? Oh no, I missed 5 more words as I was thinking about that stupid word. Did I just miss an entire sentence by now? They all know I missed it, I can feel it. I am a disappointment. How am I ever going to recover from this? This is the end of my interpreting career. Can they see the sweat drop on my forehead? I am going to faint now.” As you are thinking all of this, you are not realizing that you kept going even after you missed that single, scary and intimidating word. You did not miss anything else, and now you are catching up on your comfortable stage of décalage. You survived this! Your thoughts completely change now, approximately 10 seconds after missing the word: “I did it! Holy cow I kept going, I am a rock star! I am up to speed. I am so excited I want to scream! but, I cannot, I have to concentrate or I am going to miss another word. I am going to be the best interpreter there is!” However, the most fascinating thing of all is: you were interpreting the entire time these thoughts were going through your head, and no one even noticed you were sweating. How incredible is that? Isn’t it the most amazing rush you have felt? How accomplished do you feel when you are done with the interpretation, and you stand up and feel 15 feet tall?

I live for the interpreter’s sweats. Do you?

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