Frequently asked questions
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AIIC language classification system
Every interpreter has a given combination of active and passive languages: interpreters work into their active languages and from the passive ones. The main active language (known as A language in AIIC´s classification) is generally the interpreter´s mother tongue: thus a language which they master in every register with every possible nuance, and speak absolutely fluently. Only in exceptional cases does an interpreter have more than one A language. Often, however, they may have another active language (or languages), which they command in depth but without such a full mastery as of an A language. These are referred to as B languages in the AIIC classification. Some interpreters work to their B language(s) in only one mode of interpreting (simultaneous or consecutive), and in many cases solely from their A language(s). A C language, finally, is one that the interpreter understands fully and in depth in such a way that they can translate it into one of their active languages. Many professional conference interpreters have several C languages.
Why don't you charge by the hour?
Conference interpreters devote a lot of time to preparation. This includes specific preparation for your meeting (reading up on the topic, checking vocabulary, drawing up glossaries...) and general background reading that provides the foundation of their work (interpreters must be aware of current events, legal issues, economic matters, sport, science, technology, and so forth). As you see, much of our work happens before we ever switch on a microphone. Hence the daily rate.
AIIC´s code of professional ethics

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