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…no, this is not when the interpreter’s late and is put on loudspeaker until they arrive

The translation industry is developing at breakneck pace and, obviously, this also impacts interpreting. Initially, what we saw was that themes, subjects and clients were changing, but one thing was always for certain: where interpreting was needed, the interpreter was on site.

This was something that we ourselves also saw as set in stone, but five years ago we attended an international conference, where we met a lady who manages a mammoth agency out of Texas, offering a single service, namely over-the-phone interpreting. This opened up fantastic perspectives in my mind and I decided on bringing the technology home with me.

Fast forward one year, and Edimart was the first to introduce professional video remote interpreting in Hungary. Although the introduction of the service turned out to be a considerably lengthier process than we planned, we believe that it has an equally important role in Hungary as it does in Western Europe, or overseas for that matter.

Video remote interpreting brings a profound reform to language intermediation as the interpreter is no longer required to be on location. All that’s needed is to open a laptop, click a tablet, subscribe to Internet with adequate bandwidth, turn on the mic and the camera and the interpreter is ready to virtually join any situation that needs interpreting.

Video remote interpreting is a field of interpreting that is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in the United States or in Sweden among European countries, on account of its convenience and its financial aspects, of course.

In situations that urgently require the services of an interpreter, such as the provision of medical treatment, at police stations, in emergencies, in refugee-related cases or even in a business environment, video remote interpreting offers a solution that is able to easily cover any given interpreting events with short deadlines.

Remote interpreting is also highly useful in the case of rare languages, as the interpreters for such languages are typically less flexible in terms of scheduling and are unable to visit as many locations in single day as they would need to.

As far as costs are concerned, it’s important to mention that the client need not pay travel expenses, accommodation costs or provide meals to the interpreter. Given that this allows interpretation to be accessible to more people, it makes sense to request an interpreter even for short, 10-15 minute meetings. But what about the interpreters themselves? Many feel that minute-rates are as bad for interpreters as power outages are for translators. But if we think about it, this allows interpreters greater room for manoeuvring and can take on several shorter assignments on any given day.

Visiting the offices of our Dutch partner firm, we saw that they are able to complete up to 1,500 assignments a day, using remote interpreters exclusively working from home.  This indicates that once the culture of remote interpreting becomes wide-spread in a country and language intermediation can be performed by means of remote work, opportunities also open up for interpreters living with disabilities and having children will not stand in the way of this beautiful profession either.

Without mentioning negative aspects, this would be nothing more than a marketing post, so let’s now see the arguments against remote interpreting. Some are concerned about the varying quality of Internet connections. Today, when the numerous Internet-based applications have replaced traditional phone calls, it should be noted that the quality of web-based calls depends greatly on the operator, the given season, Murphy’s Laws or whether it’s Monday or Thursday.

Stable Internet service is essential if you want remote interpreting, but systems are becoming more stable year after year, and Edimart’s remote interpreting system is accessed through a closed system operating from an external server, meaning that this is no Skype-based service.

Many interpreters also having problems with the new fee system as the aforementioned countries apply minute-rates to both the client and the interpreter. Once remote interpreting becomes widely used in Hungary, we’re certain that it will become profitable for interpreters as well as they will be able to have hours of consecutive work, and make as much as they would through other on-site assignments, but will not need to bother with travelling.

The next milestone for remote interpreting is reliable-quality remote machine interpreting or a virtual interpreter present as a hologram. Edimart is very much interested in such projects, but for the time being rest assured that all our interpreters are flesh and blood.

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Authors: Vanda Kopányi and Márta Balázs



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