What is business interpreting?

Most businesses that have been operating in a global environment for some time have learned the hard way that they need interpreters on a regular basis when communicating with clients, business partners, government agencies and overseas staff.  A business interpreting service is therefore the specific category of interpreting services in an international business environment. Businesses that employ business interpreters may employ interpreting agencies or have their own in-house staff. Which alternative used depends mostly on the size of the business. Large corporations are much more likely to have their own interpreters employed on a full time basis, while smaller businesses are more li9kley to employ free lance interpreters or language interpreters who work for agencies on an ad-hoc or needs based basis.

What does a business interpreter do?

Business interpreters are more or less a necessity if doing business in any country where the local official or unofficial language is not the same as the language of the country where the business has its base or headquarters. Even when the business has local branches or agencies and employs local staff, there will be a need for live interpreting to communicate with headquarters.

Business interpreters carry out interpreting services in a range of different settings and it’s possible that some interpreters specialise in the field of interpreting service they offer. Again, size matters, at least in terms of the size of the business. Small businesses will tend to seek out generalised business interpreters who can provide interpreting services across a range of different settings, while larger businesses and corporations may employ a number of interpreters who specialise in different interpreting settings.

Business interpreters are needed to provide interpreting services in the following settings at the least:

  • communicating with, liaising with locally employed staff who work for the business;
  • communicating with a whole range of local services that the business may need to use from time to time as part of their overall running and ongoing maintenance. This could include cleaners, builders, electricians,
  • communicating with customers and potential customers as part of marketing campaigns (e.g. adverts run on radio and TV and social media);
  • communicating with government departments and officials as part of the legal side of running the business in a foreign country;
  • communicating at conferences and meetings between business representatives and other representatives from other businesses.

Why your global business may need a professional interpreter

Most sensible business managers will opt to use a professional interpreter or professional interpreting agency to do all their business interpreting work rather than relying on a member of their staff who is bilingual, but not trained in interpreting. Professional interpreters have gone through training in interpreting and will have already had experience in their profession. They may have certification in interpreting from a recognised educational institution. In Australia, just to mention one example of a country where official accreditation is not just useful but essential in many cases, professional interpreters must gain accreditation with the national accreditation body, NAATI. Other countries may have similar organisations that set high standards for interpreting services.

Business interpreters as has already been mentioned are a sub-set of the wider interpreting field and businesses would normally choose interpreters to work for them who have gained experience in business interpreting rather than say, interpreting in a health setting. This means that the sort of jargon or language typically used in a business environment would be familiar to a professional business interpreter.