One of the greatest things about being an interpreter is that you are always learning something new. Interpreters learn deliberately by attending continuing education classes and conferences, by looking up relevant terminology, but also unintentionally, just by virtue of doing their jobs. Any interpreter worth their salt will spend hours if not days preparing for new assignments, whether it is a medical appointment for an unfamiliar specialty or a complex court case. However, sometimes it is worth taking a step back and learning about the profession itself! To help with that, we prepared a selection of our favorite books about interpreting and interpreters.
This book will be of interest to new and experienced interpreters alike, as well as anyone interested in languages and communication. David Bellos writes about the history of interpreting and translation, language, culture and human connection.
Healthcare Interpreting in Small Bites by Cindy Roat
Written by Cindy Roat, a national language access consultant and a veteran interpreter trainer, this book is a treasure trove of useful insights and practical tips for medical interpreters. Even the most seasoned interpreter can learn from reading this book – and it is definitely a must-read for those starting out in the field.
Interpretation: Techniques and Exercises by James Nolan
This book has everything you need to know about conference interpreting, and more. Despite being aimed primarily at conference interpreters, it will be of interest and use to interpreters in any field. Starting out with an overview of interpreting modes and the difference between interpreting and translation, it moves on to guidance and practical exercises in interpreting everything from political speeches to idioms.
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words by Ella Frances Sanders
This book is an absolute delight and will be of interest to anyone interested in all things language and translation. Containing beautiful and quirky illustrations of over 50 words from the world’s languages, this book is a perfect escape into the peculiar world of untranslatable words.
Daniel Stein, Interpreter: A Novel by Ludmila Ulitskaya
This book, translated from Russian, tells the story of Daniel Stein, a Polish Jew who narrowly survives the Holocaust by working for the Gestapo as an interpreter. While this particular book is a work of fiction, it does have a basis in real life – Daniel Stein is based on a real person, Oswald Rufeisen, a Carmelite priest. Daniel’s story is told through letters and other documents, letting the reader figure out the rest for themselves.