Ministerial Memos

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 by Dan Allen

How to work with an interpreter.
One of my friends, who is a retired missionary and has spoken in many countries, calls them interrupters. Indeed, those who are assigned to translate for us weak Americans who can only speak our native tongue and we’re not so hot at it, can be a blessing or a curse.
First, one never really knows if the guy is saying what you’re saying in his language or preaching his own message. Secondly, you’re never really sure they are connecting with the people. We make assumptions and hope and pray for the best. I’ve had some very good translators and some who I was glad were not reassigned to me. They are human like we are and prone to mistakes.
I have found, in my limited experience (just to India a half-dozen times), that it helps some interpreters to have my material ahead-of-time. When I am teaching ministers and Christian leaders at a conference, I print out my entire manuscript and give it to the interpreter in plenty of time for him to peruse. There are some, however, who would rather just go on the fly. God bless both of them.
The most common mistakes for newbies, in this regard, is to go too fast and have sentences that are too long. During my first experience I had an interpreter aside of me and several in booths speaking to guys wearing headphones. I think the message was translated into 6 or more languages. Half way through my first message, one of my handlers came up with a note on which was written two words: “slow down.” Remember this, they need to hear what you say, process it and then speak it into the verbiage of the people. That cannot be done if you going at rapid fire pace. This could be a maxim: the faster you go, the shorter the sentences or phrases should be.
Here’s a few more tips taken from a gal online: 
(Nancy Duarte –
1. Prepare half as much material. Since both of you are saying about the same thing, it doubles the presentation. Less is better.
2. Work through idioms and metaphors. Not only won’t they understand them, the interpreter might really struggle.
3. Either practices for pacing and pauses or actually put them into the manuscript. I do the later. 
4. Complete your thought. Don’t give 4/5th of a sentence and then hit them with the remaining 4 words. Shorten the sentence to say the entire thought.
5. Develop a good chemistry with your interpreter. Pray together before the meeting.
6. And if I can add one more, show appreciation to them. I do this verbally one-on-one and in front of the entire group, plus I always bring a gift (generally a book or Bible). This I give to them after the meeting(s) are over and I do so privately.
So, what’s your thoughts from your experiences?

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