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The invisibility of the interpreter

The best compliment an interpreter can get is, “I didn’t even realize you were interpreting.”


Staying off the record is rule number one for a good interpreter.

Obviously, every genre of interpreting has its rules, but in general, the interpreter must be as invisible as a ghost. He/she aims to facilitate communication among people that have different native languages, the interpreter is not the subject of this communication, he/she is just a tool that makes it possible. For an interpreter, to be ‘invisible’ means not to interfere with the communication between two parties. Many interpreters use the ‘pretend I’m invisible’ or ‘pretend I’m not here’ explanation to prevent patients, or at times providers, from engaging them inside conversations. Although invisibility is not an ethical value of interpreters, it is a real and significant aspect of an interpreter’s duty when providing accurate interpretation.




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