An Octopus, a Hologram, or Hepburn: hat Kind of Interpreter Are You? (I-3) – Roberta Barroca
Review by Silvia Helena Gonçalves
If you are not an interpreter, chances are you missed Roberta Barroca’s talk at #ATA58.
So, let me give you a brief description of what you missed…
Roberta was very comfortable for a first-time speaker at an ATA Conference, addressing a group of seasoned and new interpreters. Her rendering of the different types of interpreters we may run into when sharing a booth was spot on.
Roberta started out by introducing herself and sharing her background and experience as an interpreter and translator, which captivated everyone’s attention from the very start. She then involved everyone who was there by saying it would be a very interactive session and that people should feel free to comment and interrupt. She also asked the shy ones to come closer and take the empty seats closer to her.
The talk was meant to entertain (and oh, did it!) and raise some self-awareness about our own practices when sharing such a tiny space with people we are meeting for the first time, which is often the case for conference interpreters who work for multiple agencies.
From the Power Napper to the Formula 1 Pilot to the Mic Hog, Roberta nailed them all!
Her extensive interpreting experience came through when she explained, one by one, what these interpreter types are like and how it feels to work next to them.
Take the Power Nappers, for instance. These guys literally nap in the booth, either hunched over their computer or (gasp!) even lying down on the booth floor if space allows, while it is the other boothmate’s turn to interpret. And, yes, snoring does happen sometimes!
The Mic Hogs, on the other hand, are always very alert. So much so that they are often so eager to work that they don’t even wait for the boothmate’s time to be up before literally grabbing the mic for themselves, sometimes cutting the colleague off mid-sentence. It is still unclear to me why people do this.
It was also very interesting to see and hear most of the attendees pitching in to provide their own personal stories and confirm Roberta’s take on the types of interpreters we all are. Some even admitted to being one or another kind of interpreter.
It felt as though, by having a laugh at some quirks and/or mistakes people (ourselves included) make in these settings, we could take a long, hard look at ourselves as interpreters to improve our craft and our booth manners.
If you want to know more about the different types of interpreters that Roberta described, check out her Linked In article here. Let’s hope we get to hear more of her clever insights at ATA59!
Silvia has been a translator for over twenty years and has a degree in Business Administration, Tourism, and Hospitality. Since earning a Certificate from the Extended Learning Series in Conference Interpreting at Glendon College, University of Toronto, she has been a frequent participant in domestic and international congresses and conferences. Silvia also has experience as a chief interpreter and interpreter coordinator for large interpreting teams during international events. Her main areas of expertise are medical pharma and medical devices, retail, marketing, green building, and sustainability, among others.