Two weeks ago I was invited to the annual Keren Kayemet (KKL) Conference in the Orient Hotel, Jerusalem. I barely slept the night before, but this was not due to expectation, nor to excitement, but to anxiety, sheer nervousness and worry.
My attendance at this prestigious event was not of a common participant, but of an Interpreter.
Although I studied to be a simultaneous translator, you are never ready for what might come; few of the [terrifying] examples are speakers that talk with a foreign accent very difficult to understand, lecturers that read their part from a paper they prepare ahead, which results in an unbelievable speed; speakers that are insecure on their message, lacking structure nor logic. Personally, I found the last case the most annoying, if you don’t build your case convincingly from the beginning in ANY language, it won’t be possible to convey your message, lack of logic or clarity is lethal! Ideally, the best option, would be to receive in advance a kind of abstract with the names of main topics of the coming Conferences, but this is not the case. Although these international conventions are usually very well organized, the role of the simultaneous translators is consistently forgotten. The organizer must deal with the catering, hotel, location, number of participants, welfare of the lectures and a lot of additional infrastructure and logistical constrains, but somehow, the needs of the simultaneous translation team are seldom meet. Eventually we did well, no major incidents were registered, and we managed to convey the message from the organizers to the multi-lingual audience.