4 Interesting Facts about UN Interpreters


UN Interpreters bear a big responsibility for their interpreting skills. That responsibility is too big, as a single unusual phrase can be the beginning of a dispute in the political world. So interpreters have to be extra careful while using their extraordinary interpreting and communication skills to translate other languages into UN native languages.

4 Interesting Facts about UN Interpreters

United Nations interpreters are among the world’s most important workers who get the least attention. Interpreters at the UN make the world go round, but they never receive much attention. They’re seldom noticed, rarely seen, yet they make and live history every day.

Traveling frequently from Geneva to New York to Nairobi or wherever they are needed, they seem to be in a perfect position. It allows them to interact and work with some of the world’s most interesting and influential individuals and speak for them at conferences and meetings.

It is not simple when even the slightest error in translation can have severe repercussions on international affairs. Consequently, the responsibility of UN interpreters is well understood.

Advanced and highly experienced interpreters know more than three languages, and they are also highly skilled. Therefore, UN interpreters should know at least three languages at a time. It is an essential requirement of working in the UN as an interpreter, as there are different types of interpreting they need to do.

Difference between a Translator and an Interpreter

The job of interpreters is not the same as the job of a translator. A translator has to translate the sentences from one language to another. However, an interpreter not only translates but also rephrases the sentences into highly official and professional language, which is not as easy as translation.

The job of the UN Interpreters

UN interpreters have to go to the meetings of the General Assembly that may last for 6 to 8 hours per week. There are groups of 2 or 3 pairs that alternate with each other after some time and interpret the whole meeting. UN interpreters not only listen but also analyze the language at the same time. You must have extraordinary multitasking skills to be a UN interpreter, as you have to do both the jobs of listening and interpreting simultaneously.

UN interpreters have meetings with the world’s most popular and influential personalities, as they have to interpret for them. Although the job is not that easy, you have to be precise and professional. They do not get much fame, as they have to keep themselves behind influential personalities for interpreting, and that is why they are also known as “The Invisibles.”

Official Languages of the United Nations

The United Nations has six official languages. These languages include English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. It means that the news and the official documents of the UN have to be interpreted in all these six languages, although the staff of the UN primarily communicates in English and French.

Initially, the official languages of the UN were just English and French. Later on, the other four languages were introduced as the official languages of the UN as well. The speech or message of the UN has been delivered in one of these official languages. That message is converted and rephrased into the other five languages by highly experienced and trained interpreters.

Requirements to be an Interpreter in the UN

If you want to get a job as an interpreter in the UN, you have to be highly skilled and updated about the happenings in the world. You must have to be an expert in a minimum of two official languages of the UN other than your native language, and you must know about interpreting subjects that have a wide range, starting from world’s politics, economics, and fundamental human rights to social issues, legal affairs, and finance. It means you must be well aware of the world’s happenings in the most updated version and should have a deep knowledge of the subjects mentioned above to be on the priority list of UN interpreters.

Films Based on Interpreter’s Work

Interpreters did not remain unnoticed in the film industry. By inspiring the work of interpreters and paying tribute to them, a couple of films are being produced. One of them was “The Interpreter,” in which Nicole Kidman played the role of an interpreter of the UN, while the other was “Charade,” in which Audrey Hepburn played the role of an interpreter. Both films showed how difficult it is to be an interpreter and how much responsible a person should be during the job.

In the earlier one, Nicole Kidman reflected on the role of the UN Interpreter and showed how one mistake could affect the whole matter. He also reflected on how much strength and endurance are required in this profession as they work in a highly stressful environment.

The UN interpreters play a vital role in bringing nations together, as they have to express the message of the UN peacefully to maintain the peace of the world. The UN recognizes the efforts and work of their interpreters; and has dedicated a whole day for their interpreters as “The Translation Day,” on 30 September.

Final Words!

The job of an interpreter of the UN is not that easy. You must be highly skilled in every matter of subject to be a UN interpreter. They have to deliver the best quality work in a stressful environment. As these interpreters are the key to keeping the world’s peace alive, you must be very responsible, as a tiny mistake could cost the world’s stability.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here