Conference Interpreter, Five Minutes with Silvia

Silvia, professional interpreter, talks about why she loves her job, why machines won’t be replacing her, and what it is like interpreting for a conference on Buddhism and Technology.

What do you love most about working as a Simultaneous Interpreter?

As a simultaneous interpreter, I can always learn new things in different fields, get to know new people with different skills and talents and visions. What’s more, coping with on-site information is thrilling, you never know what will happen. I like to be challenged.


What changes have you seen in the industry during the time you have been a Simultaneous Interpreter?

The biggest change is more and more people coming into the industry, whether with an interpreting background or not. It is still an occupation being hyper glorified after all. But I still hold the belief that at the end of the day, those with real proficiency would stay.  Another change, which might relate to the above is more and more companies or clients realize the value of Simultaneous Interpretation. Especially domestic enterprises, who previously were price sensitive, now come around to see that it’s better to have a professional Simultaneous Interpreter in terms of time and efficiency.


What are some challenges you face as a Simultaneous Interpreter?

The specific knowledge in a certain field, such as legal, IT, financial occasions. It’s not only the jargon and terms, but the whole knowledge structure behind it. After all, you have to know the essence through and through in order to interpret. That means as a simultaneous interpreter, I need to keep learning all the time, broaden my breadth and depth of accumulation as much as possible. Which by the way is also what I love about this job.  Another one is what’s heatedly debated nowadays that we could be replaced by machine. Personally, I don’t think machine has any chance to replace us at all, just because we are human, who has emotions and cognitive feelings. A same sentence could mean different things with different tones and intonations. Can a machine detect the nuance? I doubt it. But it could complement, that’s for sure.


Can you share with us one of your most memorable Simultaneous Interpretation missions?

The Buddhism and technology conference this June. It was hard. You really had to get to know various sutras, schools, theories and their English. But you can also discover the application of technology and science in the adoption of religion. I mean, they are opposite apparently aren’t they? Very interesting. But I have to admit that I was and am still a little confused about the interplay between these two. Worth exploring more.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a Simultaneous Interpreter?

Do the homework, improve skills, learn as much as possible before even thinking about getting to sit in the booth.


What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

About me? Maybe I sleep very early?…

If you could have dinner with any celebrity, who would it be?

I’m not a fan of any celebrity I guess, anyone who leads an interesting life, with aspiration and “do it” attitude, I would very much like to talk with. To tell the truth, I feel like a celebrity myself right now being interviewed by you! That’s one of my childhood dreams, being interviewed!

Thank you Silvia for your time!

Interested in finding out more about the life of an interpreter? Have some more questions for Silvia? Shoot us an email! We would love to hear from you.

Jennifer CALDERConference Interpreter, Five Minutes with Silvia

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