Proficiency in two languages is an essential skill for any language interpreter. That skill alone, however, is not always enough. Language interpreter services often entail special technical understanding and knowledge of the field in question – like legal or medical language, for instance. In addition to those sorts of essential secondary skills, language interpreters must often possess a knack for diplomacy and the rhetoric of foreign relations. A recent article in Taiwan’s Want China Times explains that personality, demeanor, and appropriate style are critically important traits for interpreters working in international relations, especially those negotiating the business of statecraft.
In the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Translation and Interpretation, which maintains a staff of 80 translators and interpreters, personnel are selected for their performance on standard language tests and overall academic performance, as well as their familiarity with foreign customs, international relations, and overall interpersonal skill.