Remote interpreting: a chance for the internalization of SMEs


New normality is not here yet. For the last couple months, we all have started taking measures in urge to adapt to this never-ending shifting reality. Citizens follow guidelines from the experts, while companies from different industries face different challenges. Having all the options on the table, every single factor must be scrutinized in order to implement the right measures to continue being an active actor in the market.

The translation and interpretation industry which my company belongs to, has not been impacted as badly as the hospitality or the fashion industry. Although April was a rather sluggish month for most, right now translation is still alive and well. Since most freelance translators have been working remotely since the birth of the internet, not much has changed in this regard. Fields such as audiovisual and literature translation especially are in times of plenty, with streaming content or videogames being almost the only option of entertainment available.

On the other hand, it is not an overstatement to say that interpretation or oral translation is in a lean period. Interpreters are qualified professionals with not only a great understanding and fluency of the two or more languages that they work with, but also with an array of skills to pass a message and make communication between two or more parties possible, being a key tool in the global stage we are at. Although the practice of delivering the message after the intervention of the speaker for the participants to follow the discussion, which is known as consecutive interpretation, is more common and requires virtually no equipment, for high-level meetings, seminars with many participants where there is not enough time to exchange between the speakers and interpreters, simultaneous interpreting is necessary. When providing this service, the interpreter finds herself/himself listening actively to the speaker to understand the meaning in order to convey it to the listeners on the spot. Similar to professional athletes, surgeons or chemists, the highest-level interpreters might be seen by some as extraordinary people with superpowers.

However, we are in an age where even the more capable people’s job is in shambles. Here in Japan, we are seeing with our own eyes how many expats are being sent back to their home countries. All the hard work developing skills and know-how is suddenly not a guarantee for having a stable life. It seems like this situation will not get better anytime soon and at these trying times, it seems like there is not any hope left. Or is it really?

Not as expected, this viral crisis might actually bring some great business opportunities both for companies with presence in the international landscape and professionals involved. Remote teleconference platforms, such as Zoom or Interprefy, as well as a large number of apps that are available to the public now, provide a premium service that enables one or several designated persons to do simultaneous interpretation. A simple feature enables the participants in the videoconference to select a channel to listen to the interpreter in the language they understand, muting the speaker that is intervening in one language to select the interpreter’s channel. Despise the sometimes-imperfect quality of the sound and some basic technical difficulties that may arise, mainly due to the internet connection, this is indeed an experience not so different to a professional setting at an international meeting, conference or seminar, where sound-proof booths, microphones, headphones a PA system are required.

We do believe that with the new 5g network that is being implemented, new tech will be developed, bringing new business opportunities and ways of carrying out such. We can see great positive outcomes for companies whose activity crosses borders and for professionals involved in this field. With shorter notice, companies will be able to connect with a professional interpreter that, having a similar high-quality service for a significant lower price. Moreover, this will help small and medium-sized enterprises to have more chances to negotiate and build up a relationship with foreign companies and vendors. Likewise, interpreters can benefit from this new way of providing services by managing their schedules better and having a better work-life balance.

The role of a translation and interpretation agency remains the same: providing clients with the resources and solutions needed according to their needs whenever they need with the guarantee of having a great outcome, however agencies must continue to find out how to help and assist their clients in the most efficient and way in this new era we are entering.

Jorge Rubio
Franchir Co., Ltd.



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