Frequently asked questions 

Aren’t interpretation and translation the same thing?

The interpreter uses the spoken word to bridge the linguistic gap between two or more parties. A translator works with the written word: a document (the original) is transformed into a second document (the translation). When translating, I can work with a variety of word processing file formats, the actual paper document, or even a scanned file of the document.
This video provides a humorous depiction of the difference between interpretation and translation:

What is consecutive interpretation?

Consecutive interpretation means I will be sitting with you at a table, for example, as your interpreter. It is particularly suited for negotiations, business meetings, and discussions in smaller groups.

In consecutive interpretation, Person A speaks for a few minutes while I take notes. Then Person A pauses, enabling me to recite what has just been said to Person B in his or her language. The word “consecutive” comes from Latin and means “to follow closely.”

What is simultaneous interpretation?

Simultaneous interpretation is when one person speaks and I (with minimal delay) interpret into the other person’s language what is being said at the moment. The word “simultaneous” comes from Latin and means “at the same time.” In simultaneous interpretation, I can whisper into the other person’s ear (“whispered interpretation”), or I can use a headset with microphone and the audience can listen in on headphones. This equipment enables me to interpret for more than one person simultaneously.

The best working conditions—and therefore the best quality of simultaneous interpretation as an interpreter—can be achieved when I work in a soundproof booth. Here I am shielded from background noises, such as the ringing of a telephone, during my work, as it requires my absolute attention. Interpreters generally work in this type of booth at congresses, conferences, and seminars. In order to maintain a sufficient level of concentration, a team of two interpreters alternates every 20 to 30 minutes.
I am capable of providing both consecutive and simultaneous interpretation.

What exactly is liaison/escort interpretation?

Liaison/escort interpretation is a subset of interpretation. It relies on simultaneous and/or consecutive interpretation, depending on the context and the number of people involved. As an interpreter I accompany foreign delegations, business people, etc. to events, usually over the course of several days. These can include official work meetings, guided tours, receptions, as well as everyday conversations. As a result, my role as an interpreter is much broader. For example, I have the time and space to provide a running commentary on cultural aspects of the country to the foreign guest.

What is the work of a sworn interpreter?

You will generally require the services of a sworn interpreter for legally relevant occasions such as the notarization of a contract before a notary public, meetings at the bank, in court, for a wedding, etc. I am a sworn interpreter for the languages of English, German and Spanish in the State of Brandenburg and Berlin.

I want to buy an apartment/house in Berlin or Brandenburg and do not understand the German contract well. The notary public told me I need to engage a sworn interpreter.

The notary public made this recommendation to protect your own interests. By law, the notary public is required to make sure that both parties understand the contract completely. A purchase contract for real estate is a type of text that is worded in a very specific way. Even many native speakers of German have great difficulties understanding these contracts in German. And they will certainly seek advice from a professional before signing such a contract. This also applies to documents from a bank, such as an application for a mortgage. Therefore, during the appointment with the notary public, you will need an interpreter who transforms everything the notary public says into a language you understand. The notary public is required by law to inform you about the legal implications of signing the contract and to answer any questions you may have. I am an interpreter who speaks legalese AND is familiar with topics regarding the construction industry and real estate. I have performed my services as an interpreter at many appointments with notaries public. If you also need to discuss a loan application, I am happy to apply my experience as a qualified interpreter to help you at your bank.

Many apartment seekers from other countries have the contract translated in writing beforehand. I would be happy to prepare such a translation for you. You should approach investments of this scope in a well-informed manner.

I was told I need a sworn translation. What is that, anyway?

Documents often need to include a sworn translation before they can be submitted to the authorities. For example, this applies when you are requesting official recognition of an academic title or expert opinion (for court proceedings). These types of translation may only be made by sworn translators. The translator confirms the accuracy and completeness of the translation with his or her stamp, signature, and certification statement at the end of the translation. I have acquired the qualifications to act as a sworn translator through my university studies.

I want to get married. What exactly do I have to do?

Before you can get married, you need to register at the registry office (or Standesamt/Bürgeramt/Bezirksamt), informing the authorities of your intentions of getting married. The authorities will require you to submit a number of documents. In legalese, this is known as Anmeldung zur Eheschließung, or “registration for marriage.” You will need to be accompanied by a sworn interpreter if you do not speak German well enough. It is important that you make an appointment with the registry office as the interpreter’s fee is calculated according to the time spent with you there. This way you avoid paying for time spent in the waiting room.

I speak English or Spanish well enough. Why can’t I interpret for my fiancé/fiancée when we register for marriage or at the wedding?

I’ve heard this question many times before. And of course, it is justified! If your partner’s mother tongue is a different language than yours, then it is likely that you have interpreted for him or her in many everyday situations: whether chatting with your family or friends, buying clothing at the store, or talking to the dental hygienist at an appointment. I’m pretty sure that it was a little more difficult for you to explain to your loved one how to have a crown fitted at the dentist.

It is no different when you register for marriage. There will be a whole range of technical terms being thrown around, like “affidavit” and “certificate of no impediment.” Having interpreted for many couples when they registered for a marriage license and at the wedding, I am very familiar with the procedures and the technical terms used.

From the perspective of the German state, the actual registration for the wedding and the wedding itself are legal acts. With this in mind, it is extremely important that all parties involved understand exactly what they are committing themselves to doing. For example, the clerk will inform you that you can be punished if you give false information about yourself. The government ensures the spoken accuracy of the legal act by prescribing a sworn interpreter, i.e., a person who not only has an extremely good command of the foreign language but also a person who has sworn to interpret what is said without bias and to the “best of his or her knowledge.”

Which documents do I need to get married in Germany?

You will need a whole range of documents. Any documents issued by a foreign authority must be submitted as a sworn translation. You can find out what documents you need by phoning up your local registry office. Likewise, some of the information is available online. If you do not speak German well enough, I will gladly help you with this step, as well. If you need a sworn translation, I will tell you exactly which documents you will need and we can go through them on the phone or an online communication platform.

This way, you will be prepared for the appointment at the registry office and save time.

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