Quality issues in conference interpreting

Interpreters are employed to ensure perfect communication across language barriers. Knowing a language is not enough. It is a job for which properly qualified and experienced professional interpreters are essential.

Membership of a professional body is itself indicative of the professional attitude adopted by the interpreter to his or her profession.

AIIC membership guarantees the required qualifications and professionalism and is widely recognised as a byword for excellence.

Members of AIIC have a commitment to providing a high-quality service and observe strict professional ethics.

AIIC is the only international association of conference interpreters and places particular emphasis on upholding high standards of performance.

Conference interpretation, whether consecutive or simultaneous, needs to be learned properly.

Education to university honours standard, with a post-graduate diploma in conference interpretation is desirable.

Conference interpreters meet a wide range of subjects and cultural references in their work. They need very broad general knowledge and the ability to grasp complex issues.

Professional interpreters research the subject of the conference and prepare glossaries of relevant and specialist terms. They invest in specialist dictionaries or textbooks where appropriate.

Professional interpreters pay regular visits to the countries where their working languages are spoken, and through the various media, keep up to date with changes in language and culture. They may also take refresher courses to widen their knowledge, more particularly of science and technology.

AIIC members are qualified in languages and in the techniques of conference interpreting; they have a wide general knowledge and the ability to absorb new information quickly and effectively, grasping the broader issues and the detail; they can work well in a team; have tact and discretion, in short, they are allround professionals.

A practical view at quality

In a multilingual conference, it is important to minimise the risk of misunderstandings by using interpreters who can understand the speakers directly rather than translating what is being interpreted by another interpreter (a relay). For the more commonly used European languages it is usually possible to avoid the systematic use of relay.

A poor interpreter may leave gaps, leave sentences unfinished, have a very strong accent so that the listeners are obliged to put considerable effort into understanding what is being said. In the worst cases, communication may break down completely.

A professional service ensures good liaison at the conference by appointing a team leader.

Recommended citation format:
AIIC. "Quality issues in conference interpreting". aiic.net March 11, 2004. Accessed July 12, 2020. <http://aiic.net/p/1405>.

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