Research seminar

Wednesday 13th November, 15.15-16.00

Room MBG.33


Simultaneous interpreting in the private market in 2019: 

Towards a more complete understanding of the skillset

Heather Adams

University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria


The benchmark for the study of conference interpreting tends to be the institutional market, in which interpreters will typically enjoy permanent employee status and a notable degree of recurrence of communicative situation, context and terminology, despite the vast range of topics. By contrast, interpreters working in the private sector face a range of ever- changing circumstances, with the contractual terms of each job requiring thorough negotiation, not only in terms of remuneration, but also of all aspects of working conditions. They will also be required to work both into and from their mother tongue and B language(s), in order to be competitive. The variables they have to deal with on a daily basis require an increased capacity to adapt on many levels, constituting an additional stress factor.

This paper will present the pilot study that we have carried out, as part of a larger project that aims to give an up-to-date vision of what interpreters working in the private market actually do, before, during and after their interpreting assignment, as well as actually interpreting. After a brief contextualization based on both academic and professional literature, I shall describe the questionnaire we used to obtain the data, explaining the significance of each of the questions, how and why we chose our participants, and an overview of the results obtained to date.

The conclusions we can draw from the results obtained are of particular relevance for practitioners and those looking to start their interpreting career in the near future, as well as interpreting trainers whose students may not necessarily opt for a career in the major international organizations such as the EU or the UN, or who may well have to gain experience in the private market before applying to any such organization.