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Becoming an interpreter

March 11th, 2010

Several days ago I was contacted by a girl named Diana, who is studing to become an interpreter and translator. She asked me if I had a specific method of learning English and what I had done in order to become an interpreter. So instead of sending her back an email I decided to put my thoughts into an article, hoping that this might be somehow useful for other students.

So, Diana, here are my answers to your questions: first of all, I don’t have any specific methods of learning English, no secrets, trust me. But there are some things that I could recommend you.

Most important- read a lot. And not only in English. In order to become a really good interpreter, you should be in command of at least two languages: foreign and native one. So while studying English, don’t forget about Russian (or about Kazakh). You should be able of speaking very smoothly, without words such „well“, „errr..“, „you know.. “, you should know many synonyms, so if one word doesn’t come up easily to your mind, you have 3 or 5 others of the same meaning. Grammar and spelling should always be paid attention to, in both languages again. The easiest way, in my opinion, is to achieve it by reading. Read more »

English to Russian Translation at the Ministry of Agriculture

January 19th, 2010

Last week I worked with the representatives of the Inkoa and BCC companies which won the tender in Kazakhstan.


The topic was rather unusual for me: I was translating the presentation on the forest nursery. I have never worked in that sphere before, so the material that I received on the eve of the presentation was very helpful. Some words were familiar, like „greenhouse“, „irrigation“, „seeds“ and others, some concepts were new to me, such as „germination“ and „micoriza“. It was rather a technical translation since we discussed the process of seeding and planting.

As an interpreter I always learn many things when I work. You never know in what field of knowledge you will work tomorrow, this is why you can’t be 100% equipped with the specific vocabulary. An interpreter must have an excellent memory so that if a word is mentioned once, this word should be buried in one’s memory forever. During presentation several people might be talking at the same time, so an interpreter should be very attentive, so he or she does not miss out anything. Some people might also be talking for too long and it’s not always a good idea to inetrrupt and start translation. So there should be a notebook and a pen. And an excellent memory again!

The atmosphere at the Ministry was very friendly, the protocol was signed and a new meeting was scheduled for February. I am sure I will learn even more about bare-root seeding, dripping system of irrigation and seed hardening!

Translation in Astana for OSCE Adviser

October 27th, 2009

I did translation for OSCE Migration/Freedom of Movement Adviser who came in Astana in September. He is a representative of the Office for democratic institutions and human right in Warsaw. We worked closely with the Ministry of Justice of Republic of Kazakhstan and JSC “National Informational Technologies”.

On the first day of his stay in Astana we met at the hotel where we discussed topics that would be covered the next day. These topics mostly  touched the computarization of the data base system. Social  issues such as marriage, divorce, child adoption etc. were discussed with the head of the passport service.

Unfortunately I can’t go into more details regarding this translation because as a translator I should stick to one of the translator’s rules: “Interpreter should not reveal any information that he or she obtained during translation”. But what I  can definitely “reveal” and I guess it wasn’t  a state secret at all is that the adviser from OSCE told me that he really liked Kazakhstan and it was his 4th and certainly not last visit to Kazakhstan.

He didn’t have enough time to do any sightseeing, but on our way to the Ministry I explained a little bit the history of Astana, I showed the major sightseeings in Astana such as Baiterek, the Residence of the President, the building of Ministries, the Pyramide and so on. So on can say that a translator should be a good tour guide even if he or she is not doing the translation of an excursion :)

Interpreter’s Ethics

February 11th, 2008

These are ten really useful rules that every interpreter should know.

Rule № 1
Not to spread any information which you possess. Watch out for notes that were taken while translating.

Rule № 2

It is advisable to set up very trusting relations with the principle (the person you are interpreting for). Keep in mind that “trusting relations” does not mean “friends”.

Rule № 3

It is necessary to keep patience even in extreme situations in order to be always polite and tactful. Be ready to face some difficulties.

Rule № 4

Not to add any information from yourself to the translation and not to miss any information while translation. Not to distort any information and not to express your own point of view.

Rule № 5

If it necessary to explain peculiarities of the national character, cuisine, mentality, culture known to an interpreter and unknown to a partner, an interpreter should increase the usage of communication and mutual understanding.

Rule  № 6

It is necessary to help those people who need help in any situation especially abroad even after work and without extra payment.

Rule № 7

Constantly improve your qualification, professional skills, to expand and deepen your erudition in different spheres of knowledge specializing in only one direction (law, finance, ecology and on).

Rule № 8

To share your knowledge and experience with younger and fresh interpreters or from time to time give some advice to students studying interpreting.

Rule № 9

To keep solidarity and professional ethics, to increase the prestige of the profession. Keep in touch with other interpreters.

Rule № 10

Having broken one of these rules shouldn’t be caught :)