The Linguist

The Linguist 57,4 - August/September 2018

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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20 The Linguist Vol/57 No/4 2018 FEATURES Jaquelina Guardamagna explores the challenges of interpreting at trade fairs, from managing client expectations to poor source material E very so often, interpreting may be compared to exploring unknown territories: your compass is your language and cultural knowledge, your map is the background information you receive from your client, but the adventure begins when you dive into an experience you have not faced before. This is certainly true at international trade fairs and exhibitions, where interpreting requirements may be changeable and unexpected. Many global businesses, manufacturers and sales representatives work with an interpreter during trading events, with the aim of building business relationships, showcasing products and services, studying the activities of competitors, or examining market trends and opportunities. I first ventured into this exciting world in 2010, when a Spanish gold jewellery company hired me to work at the International Jewellery Show (IJS) in London. This is a 'trade only' event, strictly for members of the jewellery, gift and fashion industry. The jewellery manufacturer was one of the exhibitors at the show. With the experience of interpreting in small business meetings, and the training I received at university, I welcomed the opportunity to embark on another – quite fascinating – professional journey. Negotiations and preparations Numerous emails and phone calls were required as part of the negotiation process. My rates were mainly based on the time I was hired to interpret. I did not consider then that the communication exchange with the client would demand so much time on top of the actual interpreting job. Before the event, the client had several questions and requests. They even asked if I could assist with their hotel reservation, and provide my address for delivery of products they were unable to carry on the flight. I knew I had to stick to my role as an interpreter, but also empathised with some of my client's concerns about visiting a different country, so I offered some advice about accommodation and explained that I was willing to help with all communication issues that would arise during the event. Preparation and planning are demanding stages, which should not be underestimated, especially when quoting. The time required to prepare for an assignment may depend on the complexity of the project, your experience in the field and your knowledge of specific terminology in your language pair. If the exhibition is taking place in another city, flights or train tickets need to be booked in advance, as well as airport transfers and accommodation. If your client offers to arrange your flights and hotel for you, finding out what options they are considering will save you from unwanted surprises. Staying at the same hotel as your client may mean that you do not get a break, even when having lunch. In order to get ready for the International Jewellery Show, I carefully studied the catalogues of jewellery designed by my client, prepared a bilingual glossary, and learnt about different jewellery manufacturing techniques and about the main purpose of the exhibitors coming to London. The client forwarded me a schedule of meetings that had been arranged with other businesses so I could research those companies as well. At the show For admission into the event, the Spanish company had registered my name as one of their team members. The glamorously decorated hall, sophisticated displays and lustrous pieces of jewellery immediately captured my attention. My client asked me to greet all visitors who approached the stand and to give them information about the company I was representing. My role seemed to have more aspects in common with a bilingual sales assistant than an interpreter. I noticed that prospective leads showed more interest if I approached them initially in the main language spoken at the show; visitors to our stand seemed to develop a quicker rapport and engagement if I talked to them directly in English. If they had All the fun of the fair

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