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Ron Wells CCE



If the Interpreter is provided by your host always bear in mind who is paying the Interpreter.

If you are the employer, allocate time to brief your Interpreter before a meeting. Describe the content of the planned discussion and the objectives of the meeting. Explain any ‘jargon’ peculiar to your type of business.

Allow your Interpreter to study - and to ask you questions about - any material which you intend to present to the person you will meet.

During the course of the meeting DO NOT ADDRESS THE INTERPRETER and DO NOT LOOK AT THE INTERPRETER when he or she speaks. The Interpreter is an aid - an echo - your meeting is with the other party. You must observe the body language of your host as he or she speaks and you must address your host directly, face to face, making appropriate eye contact while you speak. You must watch your host as he or she listens to the Interpreter translating what you say, sentence by sentence.

At the beginning of a meeting ask your Interpreter to introduce herself or himself and to explain her or his role during the meeting. The Interpreter’s role should be to impartially interpret what is said from or into English, to the best of his or her ability, without adding or subtracting his or her own thoughts or content. In addition she or he should ask a speaker to repeat or explain any point which she or he is unable to grasp sufficiently well to interpret initially.

After the meeting de-brief your Interpreter asking for his or her;
(i) understanding of the meaning of any body language which puzzled you,
(ii) for an interpretation of any interruptions which occurred (a telephone call or a visitor calling),
(iii) for feedback as to the impression you seemed to make on the host and
(iv) for any tips as to how you could improve your effectiveness in future.

When communicating with the aid of an Interpreter or directly with a counterpart whose first language is not English, observe the following rules:
(i) do not use jargon,
(ii) do not use ‘buzz words’,
(iii) never understate a point, rather ‘say what you mean and mean what you say’,
(vi) strictly limit humorous comments to those which cannot be misinterpreted and those which cannot confuse,
(v) keep what you say simple (use simple sentences and avoid sub-clauses) and
(vi) avoid using the word ‘GET’ - it gives non-native speakers of English great difficulty. Consider the following sentence.…………

"If you don’t get what I’m getting at, when you get home tonight, get settled down, get a pencil and get a piece of paper and get thinking of how impossible life gets if you get it on your mind to get away from GET. Get the point?" (Dr J. L. Kettle-Williams 1996)


NOTE: The basis of these guidelines is personal experience built on a foundation provided by a presentation and supporting notes/articles produced by Dr J. L. KETTLE-WILLIAMS (Polyglot Solutions) of Southsea, Hampshire, England, the United Kingdom.




"If you don’t ……………. what I’m …………… at, when you …………… home tonight, ……………. settled down, …………… a pencil and …………… a piece of paper and …………… thinking of how impossible life ………….. if you …………. it on your mind to ………….. away from GET. ………….. the point?"

(Dr J. L. Kettle-Williams 1996)

© Copyright 2017 R K Wells

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Last Updated:  June 28, 2018 18:32 +0100