The following list of tips is intended to assist IPY researchers in planning and conducting community presentations in Northwest Territories communities that may require interpretation into one of the NWT Aboriginal languages. The list is by no means exhaustive and not all tips may apply to every instance where interpretation is required. Please contact the appropriate organization (such as the HTC, RRC, band manager, or other relevant organization) in the community you are visiting to determine if and when interpretation would be appropriate.

Before your presentation

  • If possible arrange to work with an interpreter who has professional training or certification and speaks the local dialect of the community where the interpretation is required. Contacts for accessing appropriate interpreter/translator services is available in the community information pages on this website. Note that some communities have members from more than one Aboriginal communities. For example, Inuvik and Aklavik have both Inuvialuktun- and Gwichin-speaking populations.
  • Provide interpreters with a written summary of your presentation and copies of your presentation slides in advance. If possible, meet with your interpreters before the presentation to answer their questions about your material and explain any terminology or concepts.
  • If possible, provide your interpreters with plain language glossaries of technical terminology related to the subject matter of your presentation.
  • Determine with your interpreters whether the interpretation format will be simultaneous (interpreter and presenter speak at the same time) or intermittent (presenter and interpreter take turns speaking). Simultaneous interpretation is the more efficient option but requires specialized equipment (receivers and microphones) that must be obtained and tested before the presentation. More time is generally required to complete presentations when intermittent interpretation is used.
  • The Interpreter/translator society recommends budgeting for two interpreters for presentations longer than half an hour if using simultaneous interpretation. Simultaneous interpreters cannot interpret for more than 30 minutes at a time accurately. Interpreters are currently paid between $400 and $600 dollars for a full day of work ($600/day is common remuneration for certified interpreters).
  • If presenting power-point presentations with unusual fonts (such as syllabics or Dene diacritics including nasals and glottal stops), ensure that the specific fonts used to translate your document are installed on the computer that will be used for your presentation. If in doubt, bring your own computer. Note that newer Unicode fonts will not work on pre-OS10 Macs and older Windows machines.
  • It is helpful to review Aboriginal translations of important written documents for quality prior to dissemination. Translation accuracy can be assessed by backtranslating the text to English and matching the result with the original English text for consistency in meaning and content.

During your presentation

  • Clearly explain technical terms and concepts. Interpreters do not have time to look up definitions while interpreting and many specialized terms in English have no existing terminology in the Aboriginal languages.
  • Clearly explain all graphs, tables, and figures (e.g. explain what is represented by axes on graphs).
  • Use simple, straightforward English with complete sentences.
  • Speak slowly, clearly, and directly in the microphone, and pause every couple of sentences to let the interpreter catch up. Make occasional eye contact with your interpreter and watch carefully for any signal from them that you should speak more slowly or pause so they can catch up. If the interpreter asks you to pause, continue speaking after your interpreter has finished speaking.
  • If using a visual presentation (e.g. PowerPoint) make sure you interpreter is able to see your presentation slides (ensure their vision is not obstructed) and ensure that they have paper copies of your presentation to refer to.
  • Avoid using puns and idiomatic expressions (example: throw the baby out with the bathwater), and use acronyms only when necessary.
Thanks to the Nunavut IPY Coordination office for the original text.
Aurora Research Institute
Phone: (867) 872-3298
Fax: (867) 777-4264