I’m Paula López Herrera

Conference interpreter, translator, language lover and with a zest for helping others.

Lights, Camera, Action!

I’d stake my life on the assertion that almost every interpreter has been asked at some point:

  • “Are you an interpreter? And what film have you performed in?”

And our answer would have been,

  • “No, I’m not that sort of interpreter. I translate words orally from one language to another.”

The truth, no matter how we deny it when asked, is that interpreters and actors have a lot in common.

We stop being ourselves

When interpreting, we have to assume the words, thoughts, tone of voice and feelings of the person we are interpreting, much like actors. In other words, we stop being ourselves and step into our “character” shoes.

We depend on our voice

The voice is a working tool for both interpreters and actors. And, like any other tool, we must know how to handle it. As interpreters, we can lower or raise the volume, modify the rhythm and intonation, and modulate to transmit/ represent the ideas/ the role played by the speaker.

Protocol to follow

The same procedures are generally followed throughout a play performance at a theatre: the lights go out, the curtain goes up, there is an intermission, the second interval begins, and, finally, the curtain comes down. When interpreting, something similar happens: at the start of a conference (if this is where we are interpreting), the moderator introduces the participants, they give a speech, followed by a round of questions and answers and a closing speech.

Elephant memory

In our case, we must have a superb memory to remember all the vocabulary of our working languages. In addition, if we are interpreting consecutively, we must recall specific parts of speech (with the help of note-taking). Actors, for example, must have an excellent memory to be able to remember the script they must perform.

As can be seen, we have far more similarities than differences. Aside from the obvious, the main difference is repetition. What exactly do I mean by this? If an actor forgets or gets a line wrong, you may stop the recording and repeat the scene. We interpreters are not that lucky, if you make a mistake, you try to fix it, pass the buck and behave as if nothing happened.

As it’s said:


Are you looking for someone to interpret your event? You’ve come to the right person, take a look at my services.

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