Bridging the gap between Public Service and Business Interpreting:The Way Forward


  • Summer Mouallem University of Central Lancashire, School of Literature, Languages and International Studies


interpreting, business interpreting, public services interpreting, Training Requirements


The need for both public service interpreting (PSI) and business interpreting (BI) is increasing. Globalisation means not only do we need to communicate in order to create business, hence the need for business interpreters, but it has also opened the door for travel and immigration and to a different type of communication, hence the need for public service interpreting services. An interpreter is the link in all the above cases. In the past, the interpreters used were persons who could speak the two languages fairly well (or not, in the case of some of the rare languages). Nowadays, the issues raised in interpreting are so critical, that the need for training is ever increasing.

Training needs are different in order to meet the difference in interpreting needs. To ensure appropriate and suitable training approaches, it is vital to determine the difference in training needs, if any.

This paper will separate the needs for those receiving public services interpreting and those in conference and business interpreting. It will discuss who receives which type of interpreting and their expectations, and then how the training needs to be tailored to match those needs.

Training in both methods include coping techniques, although the focus could be slightly higher in one rather than the other; the vocabulary used and needed would be different as PSI is localised while business interpreting is globalised.

The paper will discuss how the emphasis in PSI interpreting is on ethical issues as well as certain vocabulary; eye contact is paramount and the cultural aspect plays a large role in this mix; while in conference interpreting culture does play a significant role but not as much as in PSI where the recipient may be vulnerable and the issues therefore extremely sensitive; training in this is therefore vital. The register used in PSI may be different to that in business interpreting and this is reflected in the training process. Stamina is an aspect that must not be dismissed lightly in business interpreting; the student must be seen as a whole, so stamina building is important in addition to voice training.

Finally, the calibre of applicants for PSI courses is different to those going for business interpreting courses; data should be obtained to see if this affects their training requirements and therefore if training schedules need to be adjusted accordingly. Some choose to make the move from PSI to business interpreting, others already move in both domains; however, this must not be mistaken by thinking the move can be smooth in either direction.