On 13 March, Maha El-Metwally will give an online talk for SENSE on remote interpreting and its implications for interpreters. Although remote interpreting has been around since the 1970s, the pandemic gave it a boost and it has now become an integral part of an interpreter’s work. In this blog post she will tell us more about her work and what you can expect from her talk. Maaike Meijer spoke to Maha about her life as an interpreter.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background as a language professional?
I grew up in Egypt, where I went to a bilingual school in which the languages of instruction were Arabic and English. Then French was added as a third language. My connection with languages continued at the university where I did a bachelor’s degree in English and comparative literature and economics.
After that, I started studying Dutch before moving to the Netherlands for my first master’s degree in international relations. Before becoming a freelancer, I spent ten years working for international organizations, which meant moving between different countries. I took this as an opportunity to work on my French and learn Bosnian.
How did you start remote interpreting?
In 2016, I concluded a master’s degree in training interpreters at the University of Geneva. The focus of my thesis was technology for interpreters. The same year, I attended my first American Translators Association conference and I learnt more about remote interpreting. As I was always interested in technology, I got in touch with some remote interpreting providers and I had the chance to test-drive their platforms. Between 2016 and 2020, I had already done some remote interpreting jobs. So, when the pandemic hit, and conference interpreters found themselves stuck at home with their contracts cancelled for the foreseeable future, I thought it would be a good idea to inform colleagues that an alternative existed. I started giving free webinars to colleagues in Italy, China and Egypt, and after that I started offering training dedicated to certain platforms: Interprefy, Interactio, VoiceBoxer and Zoom are some examples. The idea was that colleagues could start offering their services remotely after having had a hands-on training on different platforms.
What are some common issues interpreters run into when it comes to remote interpreting?
Any interpreter who has done remote interpreting would tell you that sound and video issues are a constant problem. Managing different devices at the same time can be stressful. Communicating with booth partners who are not with you in the same place is a challenge. Add to this the increase in recorded video messages instead of speakers attending live due to the difference in time zones, for instance. As video messages are often scripted and read out, the speed of the speaker in a video is usually much faster than normal speech. There is also the issue of the interpreting being recorded without the interpreters’ permission.
Are you interested in attending this talk and learning more about remote interpreting? Please go to our website to sign up.
|Blog post by: Maaike Meijer