In Dialogue with Excellence

Assembly Interpreters Overcome Language Barriers


Campus Newsletter / In Dialogue with Excellence


When it comes to Chung Chi assemblies, we would think of some routines like guests delivering speeches, reading Bible, or singing College Anthem. However, have you ever known there is a pool of dedicated Chung Chi-ers who always get themselves prepared for delivering a language-barrier free environment and enabling people of diverse nationalities to fully engage in Chung Chi assemblies? Two of the College assembly interpreters, Ms. Law Hiu Man Mary, a prospective Chung Chi graduate majoring in English; and Mr. Liu Long Shun Samuel, a Year Two Chung Chi student majoring in English Studies and English Language Education; shared with us some interesting anecdotes and challenges encountered during the interpreting process.


Mary Law got well prepared before providing interpreting services for Chung Chi assemblies.


Q: How did you start providing interpreting services for Chung Chi assemblies?


Law: My classmates heard of Chung Chi recruiting assembly interpreters and asked me if I was interested in it because I studied English. I was so curious about interpreting on the one hand, and attempted to have a better understanding of Chung Chi assemblies on the other. Therefore, I seized that opportunity to have a try.


Liu: I was aware of the recruitment of interpreters by The Rev. Ko. As I am a Christian, I have long been knowing the interpreting service in the Church to which I am used to going. I thought interpreting practices can enhance my problem-solving and language skills. Therefore, it has aroused my interest gradually. Fortunately, I passed the interview and have become a Chung Chi assembly interpreter.


Samuel thought that their interpreting experience contributes a lot to the undergraduate studies.


Q: Have you received any training or got prepared beforehand?


Law: I was green in this field when recruited. Luckily, I could ask my friends who have hands-on experience for guidance. Chung Chi administrative staff would assign me to do interpreting for the guests who provided scripts beforehand. In that case, I could digest the content in advance and get well prepared. In addition, as a novice, I partnered with another experienced interpreter who gave me support and let me feel at ease during the interpreting process.


Liu: I first conducted interpreting in the Chung Chi assembly in which Dr. Yu Tak Shun Charles was the guest speaker. He shared a lot of terms related to emotional quotient and intelligence quotient. I recognised I did not have adequate knowledge about the subject area. Since then, I have got myself well prepared beforehand. Apart from reading the guests’ scripts in detail, I would compile a glossary table with some possible terms related to the topic and searched for the speakers’ titles and background information. You are never going to be prepared enough. The more I get prepared, the more stable my performance. I was so grateful for having a chance to attend interpreting courses provided by the Translation Department and learned a lot of interpreting skills.


Q: What is the biggest challenge encountered during the interpreting process?


Law: Some of the guests would improvise on the spot. For example, a speaker talked about Chinese culture and mentioned some information about Chinese medicine such as the Compendium of Materia Medica. I have not prepared anything related to this topic. Luckily, my partner looked up the Chinese medicine glossary immediately and gave me timely support. Another guest shared a Chinese poem with rhyming verses. I was aware I could not truly deliver the meaning in English, and only explained the implication of the poem as far as I could, which was quite challenging for interpreters indeed.


Liu: I had a similar encounter before. In an assembly, a guest cited Confucian thinker Wang Yangming’s poem. Instead of interpreting it faithfully, I explained its core message to the audience. Besides, I once conducted interpreting for a Chung Chi Roundtable Dinner, where Professor Leung Yuen Sang, former College Head, shared some Confucian beliefs by collocating the Chinese characters “jyun” and “sin” (Cantonese pronunciation, literally meaning “round” and “line” respectively), with others. As the word formations of Chinese and English are entirely different, it is somewhat difficult to faithfully convey the meaning of some Chinese terms into English. Since then, I have always reminded myself to get well prepared and gain more hands-on experience through active participation.


Samuel always reminds himself to get well prepared and gain more hands-on experience through active participation.


Q: Can you share some interesting or memorable anecdotes? What have you learned from them?


Law: I remember YouTuber Pomato enlivened the assembly with amusing remarks. I chuckled spontaneously when they burst into laughter. We always bear in mind that a professional interpreter should faithfully render the tone and manner of speakers, but avoid overinterpreting.


Liu: I like the assembly hosted by YouTuber and travel journalist Mr. Ivan Yung, who shared his expeditions to less well-known countries with cinematic footage. I was so excited to conduct interpreting as I love travelling around the world. My heartfelt thanks for my partner’s help in providing English translation of the country names that I have never heard before. I learned a lot during the entire course of interpreting.


Q: Does your interpreting experience contribute to your undergraduate studies?


Law: It does for sure! I have expanded my vocabulary bank as there is a broad variety of themes in Chung Chi assemblies. I majored in the English language though, I am more familiar with the Chinese terms of certain topics like Eastern and Western cultures, history, and literature as the medium of instruction was Chinese when I received secondary education. While interpreting, I also got to know some English terms of these subjects, which has contributed a lot to my English studies.


Liu: Same here! As I mainly conduct English simultaneous interpreting, which is truly helpful for learning the English vocabulary of various disciplines. If I engage in English teaching upon graduation, I can make use of my bilingual capability to help students understand difficult English words.


Mary thought it is a big challenge for an interpreter to faithfully interpret the meaning of Chinese poems improvised by the guest speaker.


Q: Do you aspire to join the interpreting field after graduation?


Law: As a graduate this year, I am now teaching English. I prefer teaching to interpreting as I like face-to-face interaction with people. Having said that, it doesn’t mean I don’t like interpreting at all. I am eager to be a part-time interpreter if there are such openings as I want to put my previous interpreting experience to good use.


Liu: I have not yet decided on my career goal as I still have two years of studies. I may engage in the education field first as it relates to my undergraduate studies. I am also fond of interpreting. Therefore, I would like to provide interpreting services for the Church as the environment seems less stressful. I also have the first solo pilot licence and would like to work in the aviation field. Given so many choices, I am still uncertain about my future career. I may pursue further studies after graduation and see which one is my favourite. I probably turn my interest into a part-time engagement.



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