By Siobahn GONZALES
She Is Not Alone In Wanting The Job. There Are Probably More Interpreters Per Head In Brussels Than Any Other City In The World. Even New York Can't Compete. The Big Apple's UN Permanent Staff Of 119 Interpreters For Example, seems Paltry In Comparison To The 951 Permanent Interpreters At The Commission, parliament And Other EU Institutions. And That's Not Counting The Brussels Pool Of About 1500 Freelance Interpreters Available On Tap. With That High Number And Demand From Other Places Such As NATO And Other Internationals And Multinationals, you Would Think That Interpreter's Life In Brussels Should Be An Easy Ride. But It Is Not. And It Is Not Getting Easier.
Brian Huebner Has Worked As An Interpreter For Over 18 Years. Currently Working With Seven Languages He Is Now Learning An Eighth. Despite Having Studied Spanish And Russian At School, he Says He Is Only At A "professional Standard" With His Mother Tongue English And French, german, dutch, italian, danish And Swedish. He's Learning Polish, he Says, because He Loves The Intellectual Challenge. Though His Career Has Been Very Successful, he Believes The Interpreting World Is Harder Now Then When He First Began.
Corinne Imhauser Knows The Strains. Tes (ISTI) Because "I Am A Perfectionist" She Says And of è of Rieur De Traducteurs Et Interpr of é of She Gave Up Her Career As A Full-time Interpreter Fifteen Years Ago To Become A Lecturer In Interpreting At The Institut Sup, "It Would Get Me Down When You Are Judged As Doing A Bad Job, when You Are Not Given The Conditions To Do So. Interpreters Can Seem Aggressive, bitter, but In Order To Survive You Have To Be Able To Say I Am Not Going To Have Sleepless Night, when The Conditions Made It Impossible. When The Conditions Made It Impossible..
The Qualifications Are Tough. You Not Only Need Fluency In Several Languages, but A Stint At Interpreter School Too. For Interpreting Is A Skill, most Admit, that Needs To Be Taught, it Is Rarely Innate. At ISTI In Brussels, (One Of Three Interpreting Schools In Belgium) For Example, there Is A Four-year Undergraduate And A One-year Postgraduate Course. You Need A Minimum Of Fluency In Three Languages Even To Get In. What's Taught Instead, are The Politics, news, culture And Linguistics Of The Languages As Well As Techniques Such As Working With A Microphone, note Taking, preparation Of Technical Vocabulary And Researching Background Details Of An Assignment Beforehand. It's Not An Easy Task. In 1999 Only A Dozen Out Of The Original 400 Who Started The Undergraduate Course, passed The Interpreting Exams.
So What Makes It So Tough? Well It Is Not Just Techniques-it's Your Personality Too. Imhauser Admits That Some Candidates Fail The Selection Process If They Don't Have The Personality "to Listen" And Instead Want To Convey Their Own Interpretation Of Events. Selim Earls, a Freelancer Who Works With English, greek, spanish, german And French Remembers The Advice He Was Given At An Interpreters School In Greece Where He Was Told, to Forget The Image Of An Interpreter As Playing Centre Stage, instead, "To Prepare To Play The Role Of A Potted Plant In The Corner. "To Prepare To Play The Role Of A Potted Plant In The Corner.. Silke Gebhard, vice-President Of The Union, rence) Who Also Interprets With German of é of Tes De Conf of è of AIIC (Association Internationale Des Intepr, dutch, english, french And Spanish, sees The Role Like A Piano Accompanist To A Musician, but Says "an Interpreter Must Never Forget You Are In The Back Row, while The Star, the Performer Is In The Front. The Performer Is In The Front..