Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Church Interpreter

There was a response to one of my postings about church interpreters from a follower in California named Lighthouse, who is himself such an interpreter. So I wrote to him and asked him some questions, and he was kind enough to reply. Here are his answers.

1. How did you come into it. Did you volunteer or were you pressed into service?
I started by translating my pastor’s messages at church.

2. Did you get any training or were you just thrown in at the deep end?
No, I didn’t get any training ... God put it in my heart.

3. How long have you been at it now?
12 years.

4. What languages are you interpreting?
I mostly translate in English and Spanish.

5. How do you do the interpreting? Do you have the equipment for simultaneous interpreting? Do you work alone or in a team?
We have the equipment (from listen technologies >, and freelance.

Taken together with the comment from Glasgow (August 11) and with my African and Ottawa experiences (August 9 and 27), this report from California goes to show how widespread church interpreting is. I would draw attention particularly to the answer to question 2. First it characterizes Lighthouse as a Natural-become-Native Translator, while the answer to question 3 proves he is successful at it. Secondly it underscores a point I’ve made earlier (August 3 and September 29), namely that religious translation is an area of translation studies where divine inspiration should be respected as a factor. If you don’t believe in divine inspiration, you might call it something like ‘instinctive compulsion and internal guidance’, but that’s not how the translators concerned perceive it.

Incidentally, JD-Glasgow’s August 11 remarks were illuminating on how he perceives what he’s doing and on the difference from conference interpreting.

The previous postings about church interpreters were on July 29 and August 3, 9, 11 and 27.


  1. Here are my answers:
    1. I volunteered to interpret someone sharing how he came to know Christ at an open-air evangelistic outing as part of a youth conference. About a year or so after, I did my first "conference" working from French-English onstage at a youth conference.

    2. I had no initial training. I did however do a professional MSc in Translation and Conference Interpreting in 2005-2007.

    3. 6 years-ish but off and on during that time.

    4. French<->English

    5. In church it depends. I used to regularly work at a big international conference where they used their own, professional quality sim booths. All other church work is either on-stage or chuchotage.

    Keep up the good work. I love researching on church interpreting!

  2. Hi i live in canada and in my church we are looking for an equipment to translate our services into spanish and french . We are looking for a canadian company.
    If somebody knows something please let me know . Thanks