There are a lot of great things about being a terp. You get exposed to things that many people don’t. You get to learn about peoples and cultures, and current affairs. It expands your horizons in many, many ways.
But I’m here to tell you about one of the hardest things about the profession.
According to the code of conduct, an interpreter is supposed to give the information as clearly as possible, adding and subtracting nothing except for the sake of conveying the meaning as it is expressed by the speaker/signer.
Why is that hard?
As an interpreter for the Deaf, I have been in situations in which the setting itself is quite audist (oppressive to Deaf people) and audist things are being said. Yet, I have to bite my tongue, and just interpret. I’m not supposed to say, “Hey, that’s not right!” I’m not supposed to show in my language or body language that I disagree with what is going on. I’m just supposed to interpret… And hope that the Deaf people there have the presence of mind to stand up for themselves.
No matter if it’s sexist, racist, homophobic, if they say an expletive, whatever it is that may go against your morals/ethics… as interpreter, you’re supposed to represent what is said as accurately as possible.
And sometimes, that’s hard. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep composure.
Sometimes I want to just walk out of the room, or shout out, “NO!” But… I’m ethically bound by my duty to express the information so the Deaf person understands, and is understood.
I’m learning. I intend to get better with time. But this is part of why interpreting isn’t for everyone.
But, for me, the benefits far outweigh this “negative”. When I’m interpreting, and I know I’m helping bridge the gap between the hearing and Deaf culture, it makes it all worthwhile.
So, I’ll keep at it.
Are you a terp? Can you relate? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you.