Esther M. Hermida: ¿Qué? ¿Quieres que interprete en la televisión?I was lucky to “attend” this webinar, organised by the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters, entitled: ¿Qué? ¿Quieres que interprete en la televisión? (What? You want me to interpret on television?).

Esther M. Hermida was in charge of narrating her experience as a simultaneous interpreter in California, where she made several appearances on television, at the Annual Latin Grammy Awards, the Daytime Emmy Awards and the Dr. Phil Show, among others. She is also a court interpreter with years of experience in the field.

And in spite of all this, one of the main things she highlighted during the webinar was the importance of going ahead whenever you make a mistake and learning from it to avoid it in the future. Esther came across as a very humble yet confident interpreter who enjoys her work, and encouraged us to be brave and give it a go if we ever have the opportunity to interpret on television.

I have long stopped criticising interpreters when I see them at work. As a young girl, I used to pick on their mistakes and couldn’t believe they were not perfect at what they did. Years later, older and with a little bit of experience in simultaneous interpreting, I realised the job is near-by impossible. Now, whenever I see a simultaneous interpreter at work, I’m generally in awe at their knowledge, their ability and their coping strategies.

Esther did point out one thing that caught my attention: the four professionals interpreting during the Grammy and Emmy Awards were told to summarise and simplify. It was one of the directions they were given, and one of the most important parts of their jobs. Well that explains a lot! I should have figured it out myself. Far from the concepts of accuracy drilled into court interpreters’ minds, this job required a completely different set of skills. Each interpreter had to complete their interpretation almost as soon as the piece of dialogue finished because their co-workers had to be able to listen to the dialogue they had to work with themselves. This was made even more important by the camera cuts and transitions. If we take into account that Spanish translations are generally between 15% to 30% longer than the English original, we can understand how these interpreters’ jobs was incredibly difficult.

Props to Esther and the rest of the team. My admiration is immense.

About the Author Agustina Marianacci

I’ve been actively studying the English language since the age of 5, when my mother decided that speaking English would be an asset for me in the future. I don’t think she anticipated how much of an asset and what an enormous part of my life it would turn into. I’m now a full time English-Spanish translator, editor and interpreter living in Wellington, New Zealand, blogging about languages, this beautiful profession and other such things at translationswitham.com.

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