In 2017 I spoke at the Third International Conference on Interpreting Quality in beautiful Granada, where I presented on media interpreting for the music industry (“A hybrid within a hybrid: the interpreter-journalist for the music industry”).
Media interpreting is actually an umbrella term covering many different settings, from TV and radio shows to press conferences and face-to-face interviews. As Professor Gabriele Mack noted,
“there seems to be an increasing tendency towards a hybridisation of roles, with leading journalists and showmen/women acting (also) as interpreters, and professional interpreters becoming (also) primary communications partners”.
This phenomenon is even more evident in my line of work. As an English<>Italian interpreter, I cater to the music industry, where translating in itself is only one part of the job. Indeed, my job is to:
- Facilitate a fruitful exchange between journalists/hosts and the artist, for instance by personally asking the artist further questions if the answers given are not exhaustive enough.
- Provide newsworthy material, for instance by mentioning explicit links between the artist’s utterances and implied information and meanings, even going so far as to add information which pertains to such utterances (especially when the artist is not very articulate).
- Act as a gatekeeper by refusing to translate certain questions for the artist that I have been told should not be raised (I cannot go into details here, but trust me, I do this within reason!).
- Act as a ‘show-woman’ of sorts, for instance by being ready to crack jokes with the media and the artists, as well as knowing how to be the butt of their jokes.
In other words, this hybridisation forces me to become so visible that I become invisible as an interpreter and end up becoming something else – almost a co-host when interpreting for radio shows and a journalist/moderator when interpreting for press conferences and round tables. While this standpoint may appear unorthodox or disconcerting to some, in my professional niche it definitely creates value for the audience and clients alike. I agree with Jonathan Downie that interpreters are far from neutral, invisible conduits – they are active, visible players essential to the success of an event.
Moreover, as a professional interpreter who is also a music journalist, I myself am a hybrid. This double expertise is particularly interesting because it subverts the usual dynamics that take place in media interpreting settings, and contributes to creating a friendlier, more informal and more interactive environment, with more role-blurring and grey zones associated with it. Delivering a service that goes beyond interpreting as we know it allows the interpreter to better serve the needs of the audience and thus ensure quality.