The Beauty and Craft of Conference Interpreting

I’m going to get a little philosophical here about what is artistic and beautiful. Both my daughter Lily and I like to bake. I like to claim that my desserts might not be pretty, but they are delicious. My daughter, on the other hand, not only makes them delicious, but also her desserts are aesthetically pleasing works of art.

I recently purchased an All-Clad frying pan. This is a high-quality product and, in my opinion, the perfect frying pan. Because of its perfection of quality and design, that frying pan to me is a work of art!

When I watch Jonas Gerard paint, I am in awe at the results. He quickly squirts, splatters, splotches and scrapes canvases with paints. The emotion my daughter and I feel when seeing and touching one of his paintings is an inexplicable emotional experience that elevates us. Yet, when I attempt to create a similar work of art, it frankly looks unbearably horrible. Jonas Gerard is a master who has polished his craft and makes it look so easy that anyone can do it.

In my mind, when a master executes something at the highest level, it is both art and exquisite. Handsome art can only be achieved when natural talent is honed by training and practice.

The same applies to conference interpreting. Many people are bilingual, but not all have the natural talent required to interpret. Even fewer people can simultaneously interpret into another language while at the same time attentively and continuously listening to what is said.

When I observe someone flawlessly interpret, that professional chooses eloquent words that reflect what is presented by a renowned public speaker. When they make it seem easy, so easy that the listeners forget that they are listening to a rendition. When it is naturally and delightfully generated, the listeners are moved in the same way that the speaker in the source language intended, well that my friends is a masterpiece performance.

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