The Role of the Interpreter

InterpreterAtWorkDefinition of interpreting and the role of the interpreter as defined in the National Occupational Standards

Interpreting is the process where on spoken or signed language is transferred into another spoken or signed language.

The professional interpreter interprets between two languages in such a way that effective communication takes place between the participating language speakers/signers.  The interpreter interprets one-way (e.g. from French into English during presentations and lectures) and /or two-way (e.g. during meetings, discussions and consultations).  S/he interprets consecutively, i.e. in chunks, or simultaneously, i.e. at the same time as the language is spoken or signed.  Most interpreters are bilingual and interpret between two languages but some conference interpreters interpret one-way from two or more languages into their first language.

The professional interpreter has full command of the spoken/signed languages in which s/he interprets.  S/he reflects accurately the information and ideas, cultural context and intention of the speaker/signer.  While s/he essentially interprets spoken or signed language, s/he may also support the interpreting assignment by producing a sight or written translation of written documents, such as correspondence or a medical case study.

The professional interpreter is impartial.  While s/he promotes effective communication and clarifies language and cultural misunderstandings where appropriate, s/he does not act as an advocate for clients.  The interpreter treats information exchanged during an interpreted session as confidential and has good knowledge of subject areas, e.g. health, business or law.  S/he declines to take on work if it is outside his/her professional expertise.  S/he engages regularly in continuous professional development.  S/he adheres to the common code of conduct, as stipulated by the organisation with which s/he is registered as a professional interpreter.