|Neon Boneyard, Las Vegas, NV|
Just when we thought we knew exactly what clients wanted, we get thrown for a loop and were a bit surprised by some of the unusual expectations. It's a great reminder that escort interpreting is probably the area of our business that's the least predictable, and thus perhaps also the most fun. In the conference interpreting booth and in the courtroom, the lines are clear: we are strictly interpreters and don't mix and mingle with our clients. Escort interpreting, however, can require interpreters to be partial business advisers, tour guides, language coaches, and everything in between. Here are some of our experiences from these past two weeks:
- Dagy was asked to pronounce some tricky German words, which her clients wanted to record with their smartphones. They could not get enough of "Zweigelt," an Austrian wine.
- Judy's client, who has extensive experience working with interpreters, decided it would be easier for Judy to do the initial presentation to the potential customer instead of interpreting everything. He thought this would make for a smoother presentation, and he was correct. However, it required Judy to learn everything she could about the customer's product in a short period of time. The Q&A session was interpreted simultaneously.
- Dagy acted as impromptu Vienna tour guide and vacation adviser, as she was asked everything from whether it's better to go to Budapest by train, air, car or boat to what time to see the famous Lippizaner stallions.
- Judy's client commented that he was very unhappy with another interpreter from a previous business trip to a European country because the interpreter was "all business." Judy pointed out that the interpreter was simply sticking to her role, but turns out the client had non-traditional expectations of the role of his escort interpreter. He felt that there was no personal connection, and for long-term escort interpreting assignments, it's certainly important to have a good connection, so he's got a point.
- Dagy had to adapt to a wide variety of interpreting situations, all without any equipment. They included PowerPoint presentations given to her trade group in two languages (German and English, and a third one: poorly spoken English), walking tours of conference venues and hotels, which are quite tricky with large groups, and sit-down lunches, during which Dagy served as menu interpreter and recommended meals to her clients, who were obviously unfamiliar with traditional Austrian cuisine.
- Judy's escort interpreting turned into an impromptu medical interpreting assignment when her client needed medical attention. It was a wholly unexpected turn of events, but as an escort interpreter, you have to roll with the punches.
We'd love to hear from you, dear readers. What's the most unusual situation you have encountered? We'd also very much like to hear your favorite story from the world of escort interpreting.