Defining the Diplomatic Interpreting Blueprint

diplomatic interpreting
Defining the Diplomatic Interpreting Blueprint

My second book is out! This one is about diplomatic interpreting, how it is practised, and why I believe it should be a field of interpreting in its own right – just like conference, court, and community/PSI.

The road to publishing it has been long and fascinating, involving going down several paths at the same time, one for each of my goals for this project: to share my insights about the work of diplomatic interpreters; to help further my business; and to contribute to our professional community.

I started noting the differences between my diplomatic and my conference work right after my first diplomatic mission in London and spent the following years observing, analysing, and systematising how I worked in diplomatic settings: how I prepared for each job, what needs my clients had, what skills I was putting to use, how I made decisions, how the different settings affected my role as interpreter, and even what I put in my handbag.

Eventually, I started drawing conclusions I had not been taught about in translation and interpreting school –and I did have a more-than-thorough education! So, armed with a lot of courage and a little bit of adventurous spirit, I presented my ideas at the 2019 ITI Conference in Sheffield hoping to get feedback from colleagues and verify whether my initial conclusions made sense. It turns out they did!

Back from Sheffield, I spent the next couple of years researching, refining my concepts, and developing what I came to call the ‘Diploterp™ Blueprint’, which covers the four key pillars of diplomatic interpreting work: our interpreting skills, our additional skills, our role, and our profile.

I then sat down and faced the dreaded blank page. What an insightful yet challenging experience! I managed to put together what I think is a very interesting and practical book about how diplomatic interpreting is practised in the 21st century within the new paradigm of network diplomacy. I called it WELCOME!

I did not want WELCOME! to be a theoretical text. I wanted it to be practical, actionable, and more importantly useful. I wanted it to be more of a reference manual than an academic paper, so pouring my ideas into book format felt like the best way to achieve my first goal.

It seems I succeeded, as Tony Rosado, a diplomatic interpreter who has himself worked for the US State Department for decades, wrote in the prologue: “Readers of this work, a must in all college campuses, and in every interpreter’s personal library, will comprehend this unique specialty and its global implications as an indispensable element in all negotiations, dialogs, and debates that impact the human species and the health of the planet, such as trade, science, foreign aid, democracy, and yes: world peace.”

A book format also fit better with my own business plan – which, coincidentally, I discuss in detail in my first book JUMP!. So, goal two checked! As for my third goal, my hope is that WELCOME! serves as a catalyst both for the individual professional growth of interpreters around the world interested in this field but also for a larger debate involving interpreting schools, CPD programmes, professional associations, and clients seeking to hire interpreters for diplomatic settings.

Until now, diplomatic interpreting has existed under the radar. I believe it is time we get rid of the cloak and dagger, shed some light on the shroud of mystery surrounding it, and start looking it in the eye so we can get to know it better.

If WELCOME! manages to inspire colleagues and spark a long-overdue debate about diplomatic interpreting that results in it being recognised as and developed into a field of interpreting in its own right, then I will not only consider my third goal achieved but I will also happily and proudly put a tick next to making a significant contribution to the world of interpreting.

Writing a book is not a bad place to start.

Article originally published in the November 2022 edition of the ITI London Regional Group Newsletter under A View From The Booth

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