Interpreter Shines with Mandarin Services

A few days ago, theĀ MSN News World BlogĀ posted about a “mystery” top-level interpreter who expertly rendered U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s speech into fluent Mandarin at U.S.-China trade talks in Beijing.

I was amused by the post, thinking that the author (NBC News Producer Adrienne Mong) made the interpreter seem like a rock-star of the interpreting world, marveling at his proficiency and pointing out that it is rare for an interpreter working at such a high-level Chinese diplomatic function to be anything other than ethnic Chinese. Indeed, Mandarin is a difficult language for Westerners to master, especially because of its multiple tones, and it is surely more common to see ethnic Chinese interpreters at these kinds of functions.

Ms. Mong was able to track down the elusive Mr. Brown for a phone interview. And it turns out he’s a very modest guy with an interesting education and career path that accidentally led him to this specialty. It’s certainly known now that interpretation is a growing field, and there’s a greater demand for linguistics that are capable of not only speaking multiple languages fluently, but understanding local cultures and customs. This company that provides Michigan interpreting services teaches a course at a local community college to prepare interpreters for just that. Check out some linguistic resources on educational websites, or read more about them if you can!