In this sense, a non-disclosure agreement is only a manifestation of this moral obligation, which is already so deeply rooted in the collective and individual psyche of the performer, and therefore the best performers do not need NDA on some level. All of this once again highlights how important it is to hire truly professional interpreters who will present your event in the best possible way in another language. This should be a lesson for the new generation of interpreters. In the age of social media, there is a very delicate balance that we should find between creating credibility as a professional and customer privacy. For this reason, the «interpreters` memoirs» of colleagues («Look how awesome I am!») are generally hated by truly professional interpreters, and posting your photos in the booth or in a conference room is a burden and can actually damage your reputation in the interpreter community if the photos haven`t already been published in the open press. It is sometimes called «professional secrecy», but it is preferred «confidentiality» because «secret» has the useless ring of «coat and dagger», which is certainly not there, and also because it is probably a direct translation of the French «professional secrecy». One of the most common complaints we hear from potential new clients is, «We`ve had problems with interpreters in the past!» If you hire in the elite interpreting market, this simply can`t happen. For this reason, confidentiality has always been one of the dominant cornerstones and principles since the beginning of the profession as we know it today. Here we come to the idea of a language interpreter as a «channel»: in all situations, a professional interpreter is used, he does not have a «life of his own» in the sense that he is only a transmissible link between the parties who communicate through the interpreter. And interpreters insist on being treated in this «depersonalized» way, which actually makes our job easier. It is also the difference between professionals and amateurs who do not know the principle of confidentiality or do not consider it too important. Poor hiring practices therefore expose clients to potential harm from «interpreters» who are not necessarily malicious, but who simply do not know what they are doing. Some interpretive associations require this only as a condition of membership.
The International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) states in its Code of Ethics: «The members of the Association shall be bound by the strictest secrecy that must be observed with respect to all persons and with respect to all information disclosed in the course of the practice of the profession at a meeting not open to the public.» If statesmen are to express themselves freely, they must be able to fully trust interpreters not to divulge confidential information. It is therefore important to defend the cardinal principle that has been in force throughout the world since the Second World War, namely that interpreters should never be obliged to testify. This idea of a «channel» is officially supported by some courts and tribunals for court and medical interpreters, but we must remember that all professional interpreters, regardless of their specialization, must adhere to it in the strict sense, whether legally recognized or not. The highest level of conference interpreters goes even further. Of course, the content of conversations is confidential, but some interpreters do not even disclose the names of clients they have worked with or worked for, as this information is also confidential. These interpreters do not have or do not need A CV and receive all their work of recommendations, they do not have to advertise. When you get them for your event, it`s like winning the lottery: it`s guaranteed impeccable quality, although with a high price, the best service money can buy. But in practice, this also means that the information that the interpreter has heard or to which he has been exposed must die with the interpreter. «Professional secrecy» is another principle without which linguistic translation is not possible. There are unique happy professions that expose their practitioners to a variety of different life situations, from the sacred to the profane.
Have you ever worked at the United Nations, in an airplane engine and in a barn in a week? It is quite possible that some interpreters did so. We are witnessing so many different situations, scenarios and circumstances that watching «live» TV shows no longer makes sense: a perfect job «flying on the wall». Of course, after all, we are all human beings, and it`s, oh, so tempting to say: I worked with President X or Governor Y, but ultimately the number of names you can boast of is limited, and in this elite market, it`s just not necessary! Without this neutrality, linguistic interpretation is not possible. While this may be a moral obligation and not a legal obligation, this is what defines the profession, and it is what a professional interpreter would fervently adhere to, regardless of existing legal obligations regarding confidentiality. However, the work comes with some challenges. One of them is exposed to a range of confidential, personal and sensitive information that customers share in conversations or presentations. Some of them can be quite scary or shocking, like working as a court interpreter, others can be just hilarious, for example, watching how the same company employee speaks differently to his subordinates and management, and some can decide the fate of the world, such as the telephone interpretation of conversations between U.S. and Soviet leaders during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
We simply believe that disclosing customer information would betray the spirit of the profession so deeply that it is unthinkable. It will also create a permanent conflict within the interpreter, harm their integrity as a professional, and make future practice impossible or hypocritical. Interpreters also don`t have an «opinion» about what they`re interpreting, they don`t direct the conversation in any way, or promote their own agenda. They are not interested in the outcome of a conversation. (By the way, if you`re not an interpreter, you might think it`s «boring» because you can always «repeat» other people`s words and not express your own opinion. This is one of the reasons why some students in interpreting schools stop after a while – they simply don`t realize that language interpretation is not just a «repetition of words», but a very creative process of «restoring» the personality of a speaker in another language, based on the rules of that language and culture. The goal of the interpreter`s efforts is therefore not to have an opinion, but to become a perfect «transparent» communication channel between cultures.) Interpreters are, in a way, «confidants» of the people who interpret them, and this is a special moral obligation. .