If you are an interpreter in China, you need to know everything.
China is rich in culture and traditions. There are many thousand-year-old attractions that are worth seeing during your stay in China. Today China is also one of the leading trade partners of Russia.
China ranks first in the world in production of more than 100 types of goods. Today it produces at least a third of cameras, air conditioners, televisions, washing machines, microwave ovens of the world market. China is the world’s largest exporter of textiles, clothing, and shoes. In 2001 China joined the WTO. After that, the volume of trade between China and Russia increased dynamically. In 2008 China became the third country after Russia and the United States whose astronaut went to outer space. In 2010 China developed a passenger plane. Well, the stuffing is not Chinese yet.
The country is developing quite fast. Still, it maintains its customs and traditions. You can see it simply by walking along the streets of Guangzhou. Only Chinese old-timers can tell us the whole story of the last 20 years—since the time when the only available place for foreigners in Guangzhou was the Garden Hotel area.
Despite the country’s development, the cost of labor and rental of premises remains quite low. So many foreign manufacturers focus on trade more than on independent production. They entrust the production of goods under their brands to Chinese factories.
So what am I getting at? China produces a large number of different goods, and it is an unusual country. I work as the interpreter in China. So I have the opportunity to deal with different goods and different people, to face different situations and different issues.
I have recently found a quote: “People make less mistakes when they confess their ignorance than when they think they know all the things they are ignorant of” (Joseph Ernest Renan). This quote is very useful for me now. Sometimes I am embarrassed that I forgot some geographical and history facts long ago. Interpreters should be well-read and knowledgeable because of their profession. But sometimes I can not find answers to questions so I have to admit that I do not know them. If I say “I don’t know,” I don’t wake up at night worrying I’ve misled someone. It is just impossible to know everything: what shrimps are bred in the reservoirs, what tree blooms near the road, why the Chinese shuffle their feet, why they chew sunflower seeds and grow nails; what are the names of different mollusks and greens (people in Guangzhou eat a lot of greens; sometimes I know their names in Chinese, but I have no idea how to say it in Russian/English). I’d like to know everything.
Well, we can assess someone’s competence only in the context of the topic given. I don’t always know technical terms, which is understandable: I am a philologist, not a technical worker. Anyway, I always cope with equipment terms in China precisely because I confess my ignorance. So I get an explanation of a process or a particular part, and then I can transfer correct or at least understandable information. In such cases I feel like I received a prize when the client says he or she got it. If I could put these prizes on a shelf, I would probably take part in some who-has-the-most competition.