In Interpreting

What motivates people to get up each day and go to work?

Some would say great pay, flexible hours, or excellent benefits. Others might express a deep interest in providing a service that impacts others’ lives positively and profoundly. Doctors, nurses, social workers, lawyers, and teachers might answer this way. What they do profoundly affects others’ lives every day, whether creating paths to wellness, protecting rights, or imparting knowledge. Interpreters are another example of those who impact others’ lives every day.  When language presents a barrier, interpreters empower those doctors, nurses, social workers, lawyers, and teachers to provide the service that impacts lives, while also ensuring the patient, client, or student is heard and understood.

The Famous “Intoxicado” Case

In a previous blog, “Intoxicado” Malpractice Case – Revisited, we explored how a single misinterpretation resulted in misdiagnosis and improper treatment for 18-year-old high school sports star, Willie Ramirez. Willie’s family used the word “intoxicado,” essentially meaning, food poisoned. The medical staff – with no interpreter present – presumed this meant “intoxicated,” and based all testing and treatment on this incorrect interpretation.  The use of an interpreter to get the correct information might have avoided the unfortunate outcome: Willie a quadriplegic and the hospital paying tens of millions of dollars in a malpractice suit.

While this is a drastic example of interpretation gone wrong, it’s rather important to consider the value interpreters bring to everyday communication. Interpreters working within the medical field have a value that extends beyond their title or credentials. Although their job involves interpreting communication from one language into another, the vast global community of interpreters continues to share the same belief and message: WE SAVE LIVES!Ramirez’s case is a perfect example of the danger posed by a lack of a qualified medical interpreter.

A Global Community

As a collective body, interpreters continue to work together to promote the value of their profession while helping those who want to join a fantastic career that involves helping others communicate clearly. Those who are actively involved in the interpreting community show each other support while also exchanging new and better ways to improve their skills and craft in the profession.

Over time, interpreting has gained better recognition for its place amongst professional career fields. Interpreting is both noble and honorable for the service that it provides to those who need it. Some may say that interpretation itself is a selfless act with purely good intentions for the wellbeing of the client – this has and always will continue to be true.

Interpreters achieve joy and satisfaction when they see that their goodwill and voice make a difference in someone’s life each day. Knowing this conveys a sense of achievement and accomplishment while adding value in what they’re set out to do in their role.

Why It Benefits You to Hire an Interpreter

Beyond the simple “because the law mandates it” truth in most healthcare and public education settings, there are many benefits in hiring a professional interpreter to help facilitate communication. A few examples include:

  • They Have Extensive Training – Interpreters go through extensive training and continuing education to ensure they’re up to speed on how to effectively interpret communication. Being bilingual doesn’t make someone an interpreter any more than speaking English makes someone an English teacher. Interpreters must train to learn proper interpreting techniques, protocols, and ethical obligations.  
  • They Understand Your Terminology – Interpreters specialize in certain industries. They learn the commonly used lingo and specific terminology unique to that industry, such as medical terminology, legalese, or the unique language and cadence of international diplomacy. 
  • They Add Emotion – Interpretation is more than just converting words from one language into another. Proper interpretation includes conveying emotion to aid in the overall understanding of a topic. Through mimicking tone, register, volume, and even facial expression and/or gestures, interpreters convey the full meaning of the words they interpret.  

The True Value

Professionally trained and qualified interpreters help provide peace of mind. When working with an interpreter, you will feel confident in knowing that the spoken language is interpreted correctly and without error. Ensuring understanding is an unspoken cost that is left unnoticed all too often. Interpreters help you bridge that gap and provide value to your organization.

Interpreter Appreciation

Every first Wednesday of May is known as National Interpreter Appreciation Day. Today, let’s show our support and appreciation to those interpreters who continue to dedicate themselves to helping foster proper and effective communication. Our world would be a different place without them.

Vocalink Global offers a full suite of interpreting services ready to meet your growing needs. Whether you’re looking for on-site, video-remote, or over-the-phone interpreting, we can accommodate your needs to make sure you have the right fit for proper communication with your Limited English Proficient or non-English speaking clients. Connect with us today to learn more!

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