How Do You Do That?


Ask any interpreter what question or comment she hears most often (outside the ones being translated at an event) and, without batting an eye, she’ll respond: “How do you that?” (or, if the person asking is under 30: “Oh my God! How do you that?”). By that, the astonished audience member actually means hearing one language while coherently and engagingly speaking another. And if you deign to ask that person after a long day at a taxing conference, she’ll likely give you the answer she’s pared down to elevator-pitch length, doing her best not to roll her eyes because you are the only thing standing between her and a glass of wine (hypothetical description, of course).

If you want the dirty details, though, you’d best ask on a day she’s not working, maybe even on a quiet holiday morning (just saying). And then you’ll hear not just about how we do that, but what you need to do to help us do that well, things you should never ever do if you want us to successfully do that, the way the goings on of different industries affect our doing that, and why it matters that we’re doing that for you.

This month’s Take It From A Translator is Tom Reaoch, host of Talk2Brazil, interviewing interpreter Melissa Mann about the ins and outs of THAT: hearing one language while coherently and engagingly speaking another. Here’s the listen

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