New Era – New Skills

The Covid-19 pandemic has been paralyzing our lives for about a year. We are learning how to cope with it however challenging it has been. It is not about overcoming difficulties here and there – it is the cumulation of the entire world’s struggles: that of seven billion people!

Some already see the light at the end of tunnel, others struggle more than we can imagine. I’d like to believe that my fellow interpreters and translators have been able to keep working at least partially. This hope stems from my experiences and the fact that during economic crises and financial collapses of the past decades: the businesses of language service providers have remained stable, or even increased especially in the private sector (here). One can read many captivating writings about this phenomenon (here). Nonetheless, Covid-19 is a huge barrier to satisfying our communicative needs; we cannot visit friends and family, we cannot go to seminars and conferences, and travel restrictions are even worse than what we had in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. 

What is the response of the language service providing industry to all of this? It turns out that all communication can be done from home! International conferences with thousands of participants? No problem! Done from home. Remote interpreting platforms and brand-new technologies to mimic in-person professional and private meetings have been developed with surprising speed.

So, we interpreters have to acquire skills needed for quite different professions. We are encouraged to take webinars to learn how to make high-quality recordings of our voices in real-time, to use special headsets and mics, to reorganize our apartments to attain the best possible sound quality during live interpreting sessions, block street noise by closing the windows or shutting down noisy heaters… and then there we are Zooming into conferences, courtrooms, witnesses’ homes, hospitals, lawyers’ offices, and just about anywhere else.

While learning new skills we desperately miss in-person work environments, meetings, and hanging out with our fellow interpreters, but it is what it is for now!

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