Author: Federica Bonapace

English Translation: Vera Scaccabarozzi

Traducción en español: Ilenia Montana

Holidays are over!

“What a pity” will moan students and people loving the sea and the long sunny days; “thank goodness” will say, instead, those who can’t stand mugginess and people loving roast chestnuts and heavy coats.

Even though the climate seems not to go hand in hand with the seasons, autumn has come and, together with it, the time to get back in the game has come as well.
Everyone knows that, in September, people start making new resolutions, seizing new opportunities, drawing up new plans but also going back to everyday life, after the summer break.

For interpreters, though, the arrival of autumn means something in particular: exhibitions. Yeah, for the uninitiated, during this time of the year, the exhibition centre in Rho, for instance, is full of companies and exhibitors coming not only from Italy, but from all over the world.


During exhibitions there are in particular two main roles standing up: hostesses and interpreters.

The first one, often associated with the interpreters’ role, is about welcoming and registering the clients or distributing gadgets.
On the one hand, hostesses are not required to have the same language level as interpreters, even if it is preferable that they can speak at least a few languages, well or at fairly good level.

On the other hand, professional interpreters handle negotiations and more technical translations because the success of the company they work for depends on them.
Companies ask for a professional interpreter when they need to describe their business in detail, try to establish a partnership and to prevent unpleasant situations as, for instance, misunderstandings between the parties involved.

In order to be able to communicate, showcase their products and try and sell them also in foreign markets, Italian companies need professionals that are able to describe a product in the best way and to communicate both with the visitors and with the client.
Interpreters help foreign companies to look for possible buyers on the Italian market too.


What do we mean with interpreting during an exhibition?

Interpreters follow their client day-to-day during the exhibition. They can also follow a buyer or a seller.
Interpreters are the trait d’union between the staff exhibiting at the stand and the client, they enable companies not only to conclude negotiations, but also to expand their commercial contacts.

To an interpreter, working during an exhibition means something more challenging than simply translating standard sentences from language A into language B and the other way round.
When interpreters get to know their client, they have to know how to be prepared in the best way. If they have not received brochures or files, the first step is gathering as much information as possible from the client’s website.

Starting from this files, they try to create a bilingual or trilingual glossary, which has to be as comprehensive as possible, thus enabling professionals to study or memorize the technical terms belonging to the field they are going to deal with.


Preparation is crucial!

Preparation enables us to branch off between various topics, always proving to be prepared for any eventuality. It is also a matter of reputation: in this way, interpreters prove to be responsible and reliable for their client.

Normally, on the first day of work, they are asked to arrive at the stand at least half an hour or an hour in advance, so that the exhibitor can brief them on the company and the products.
This enables them to allay the last doubts risen during the preparation and permits an utmost and quick terminological research before beginning their work.

However, it may happen that interpreters have to follow buyers and, together with them, visit the various sellers’ stands and facilitate negotiations thanks to liaison interpretation.
In this case, a comprehensive preparation, regarding the various fields involved in the exhibition, can definitely help.


It is crucial for interpreters to become part of the staff present on the stand and to be qualified, helpful and proactive.

In fact, a professional does not only need excellent knowledge and language skills, but good interpersonal skills as well.
Interpreters have to possess an excellent knowledge of the language needed and, in particular, they have to know the specific terminology of the field they will work in.

Knowing the culture of the requested language B is just as important. The interpreters’ task does not only consist in translating from a language into another, but in trying to translate from a culture into another: that is because interpreters have to be able to explain the cultural references that better clarify the conversation.

Normally, during a negotiation, professional interpreters can use their notebooks to ensure that no information is lost, performing hereby a sort of consecutive interpreting, that is taking notes and memorizing.
During notes taking, interpreters use symbols or abbreviations, which help them memorize the statement.
In this case, consecutive interpreting allows professionals to have a certain control, and a contact with the various speakers. Interpreters, in fact, sit among the speakers, who convey short messages.

In some instances, interpreters can use chuchotage, that is whispered interpreting.
In this case, no technological appliances or devices are required, and this technique is used when interpreters are working with a small group of people (normally no more than three or four speakers at once).

Exhibitions are a great way for interpreters to widen their network of contacts and establish new business networking which, who knows, could turn out to be crucial or useful for their future professional growth.


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