Interpreting and translating languages is not always word for word. Especially if you're talking about conversations with people from different cultures. A little cultural knowledge can go a long way when it comes to real conversations. Understanding the concept of context will make interpreting and translating much easier and more effective in your professional career. For instance what if there is no word for School Board Member. Did you ever think that in the villages of Burma where they may speak Karen, Karenni, Chin, or Burmese, they don't have a "School Board". What do you do?
Interpreters focus on meaning, not just words
Words don’t mean what they say in another language. When a Karenni interpreter translates Karenni to English, she won’t use exactly those words. That same principle applies when a bilingual interpreter interprets English to Karen or Burmese. Interpreting and translating languages in different cultures can require a great amount of explanation. If in Burma, there is no "School Board" then the in interpreter would have to interpret "School Board Member" as one of the leaders of the school. They would have to describe them as an important person who makes decisions about the school.
You need to understand the culture when hiring an interpreter
Interpreting and translating in a different language is best accomplished with understanding. You need to understand as much about a culture to convey meaning from one language to another. Understanding different cultures can allow you to become a more informed person. Make sure you are aware of cultural differences before hiring an interpreting agency. The better you understand people of different cultures, linguistic backgrounds, education levels, etc., the easier it will be to interpret into that person’s native tongue. Always remember that while English may be spoken by many around the world, there are many others who do not speak English as their first language.
Being descriptive is sometimes the only way when interpreting and translating languages
Translation is much more than simply swapping one language with another. Different cultures, values, and traditions impact how we interpret a phrase or even a single word. A translation can mean different things to different people depending on a variety of circumstances. Translation agencies need to be mindful of these subtleties when working with clients; sometimes there isn’t just one way to interpret something accurately. To provide accurate translations that truly capture what's being said, translators must develop their descriptive skills along with their literal skills to best suit a client's needs.