Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I become an interpreter or translator?
    You need special aptitude to train as an interpreter or translator. The basic requirements are of course an excellent command of languages and broad general knowledge. Interpreters must be able to handle stress and be inquisitive by nature. In the Netherlands the only full-time interpretation course is taught at polytechnic or junior-college level at the Hogeschool van Maastricht. The other interpretation and translation courses are part-time. Programmes in conference interpretation are offered at universities in a number of countries, though not in the Netherlands.
  • What is a liaison interpreter?
    Liaison interpreters enable two individuals to communicate, usually translating one sentence at a time. They know two languages and are mostly used on guided tours and site visits and at trade fairs and presentations of legal documents.
  • What is a court interpreter?
    Court interpreters are specialised in criminal and aliens' law and usually work for judicial institutions, such as criminal courts, the police and asylum centres. Many have undergone legal and language training and are familiar with the legal systems of the Netherlands and the other country involved. They know at least two languages and provide consecutive or whispered interpretation.
  • When do I need a sworn translation?
    Translations for criminal and aliens cases must always be sworn. Sworn translations may be used in other circumstances, but all a sworn translation means is that it has been done by a court- certified translator, who affirms that the translation is accurate and complete.
  • When do I need a sworn interpreter?
    The Dutch Sworn Interpreters and Translators Act (in Dutch, the Wbtv, 11 October 2007, article 28) stipulates that interpreters need be sworn only if working for judicial services and institutions dealing with criminal law and aliens law, as follows:
    a. Administrative Jurisdiction Division of the Dutch Council of State
    b. courts of law in the criminal justice system
    c. Public Prosecution Service
    d. Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service
    e. police
    f. Royal Netherlands Military Constabulary
    Other legal proceedings do not require a sworn interpreter or translator. For example, simultaneous interpreters at civil cases such as patent disputes need not be sworn or listed on the national register of interpreters.
  • Does Congrestolken charge commission?
    Congrestolken is a not-for-profit organisation. All we charge is a modest fee to cover the administrative cost of recruiting interpreters for you.
  • What is the Code of Professional Ethics?
    AIIC interpreters have a code of professional ethics regarding conduct and confidentiality (also known as a non-disclosure agreement), binding interpreters to the strictest confidentiality regarding all people and all information gleaned in the course of their work at non-public meetings. Nor may AIIC interpreters make any use whatsoever of confidential information that comes to their attention in the course of their interpreting work. In addition, interpreters are expected to decline work for which they lack the requisite expertise.
    Click here for the 'Code of Professional Ethics'.
  • What are A, B and C languages?
    Interpreters' working languages are classified as A, B and C. This system was devised by AIIC, the International Association of Conference Interpreters, to show an interpreter's command of each language. AIIC members are thoroughly screened when they join. The classification system guarantees high standards.
    The A-language (sometimes called the active language) is the interpreter's mother tongue. Interpreters translate from their B and C languages into their A language.
    A B-language is also an active language. The interpreter speaks it at a near-native level and translates into it.
    C-languages (passive languages) are the languages from which interpreters translate into their A language. Most conference interpreters have more than one C language.
    Example: an interpreter works from B and C into A, as well as from A into B.
  • Do I need special equipment for my meeting?
    Congrestolken will be happy to advise you about the technical equipment needed for interpreting. We can organise it all for you, relieving you of the entire burden in that respect.
  • How long can an interpreter keep working?
    How long an interpreter can work continuously depends on the type of meeting and the mode of interpretation used.
    Simultaneous interpreting is high-pressure work. The interpreter listens, translates and speaks, all at the same time. For this reason, a simultaneous interpreter can work for a maximum of 45 minutes at a time. Meetings lasting longer than 45 minutes require two interpreters per language. They work by turns to ensure that the highest standards are maintained.
    A single interpreter per language is generally enough with consecutive interpretation. Regular breaks are needed. Where a heavy workload is expected, or there are several languages, two interpreters per language are required.
    In whispered interpretation, one interpreter is normally sufficient, as long as frequent breaks are possible. If this is not the case, or if several languages are used, two interpreters are required for each language. If more than two people need to listen to the whispering interpreter, they need tourguide headsets.
  • What is the difference between consecutive and simultaneous interpretation?
    Simultaneous interpreters translate while the speaker is speaking. Simultaneous interpretation is suitable for all conferences with presentations, with a large or small number of participants, where participants need to understand what is being said without delay.
    Consecutive interpreters do not translate while the speaker speaks. Instead, the speaker speaks for a certain amount of time, after which the interpreter conveys what was just said in the target language. Consecutive interpretation is suitable only for small meetings with few languages. The meeting time is almost doubled, since the interpretation happens after the speaker has spoken.
  • What is the difference between interpreters and translators?
    Many people think that interpreting and translating are the same profession. They are in fact quite distinct. Translators deal with the written word, interpreters with speech. Translators are skilled at writing, keep close to the original text and can take time to come up with the ideal translation. Interpreters have good communication skills and use their intuition, flexibility and quick reactions to come up with a translation for anything that is said, virtually instantaneously, without notice. Most interpreters and translators are university-educated, and they often specialise in a number of fields.
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