This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Lynette Shi and William White, two globe-trotting adventurers who've found unconventional careers navigating the shoals of the professional interpretation circuit in China. So whether you're considering a career in interpretation and want the inside story on how to do it, or are just curious what two of the working greats consider the most unexpected and hilarious moments of their careers, join us for this show.

On a side note, the audio quality is a bit soft during this recording. We've tried to fix it as we can, but there are a few moments that might -- we'll be fixing this moving forward. In the meantime, if you have your own thoughts on Chinese-English interpretation or just want to nitpick our translators, please feel welcome to comment in the discussion space below, or write Kaiser and Jeremy directly at We're also pleased to release this show as a standalone mp3 file if you don't want to stream directly from Popup Chinese. Enjoy!
 said on
January 12, 2015
Awesome show guys! Simultaneous interpreters have achieved one of the most impressive neurological feats, and to do it with such distinct languages like English and Mandarin is all the more impressive.

Question for you guys: the podcast focused a lot of diplomatic uses for simultaneous interpretation. Have you ever seen it in business negotiations? Would a business executive pay for people like William or Lynette to sit by their side in a business negotiation? Would this appeal to people like William or Lynette?
 said on
January 13, 2015
Thanks Matt!

Good question. Remembering that simultaneous interpretation involves everybody putting on headphones, a professional team interpreting from a (hopefully) soundproof booth, and some equipment to make sure everyone's sound channels don't get mixed up, I've seen it in the following situations in business:

- press conferences, especially after a transnational takeover/merger

- regular board meetings, when board members speak different languages

- business-flavoured conferences combining networking (mostly during coffee breaks) and presentations on crossover / transnational projects

- public / educational / briefing events prior to big art auctions, where most of the audience is actually art collectors

- presentations of X country's potential mining opportunities, and existing projects requiring more investors

If you're asking about situations where people are trying to close a deal, I haven't seen simultaneous interpretation used. But I and colleagues of mine have been hired to provide consecutive interpretation (no headphones, speaking in turns) for business executives, especially for:

- high-pressure situations involving executives from different companies;

- one-on-one, or one-on-two media interviews, or dinner media briefings;

- initial contacts when executives are thrown together pre- and post-M&A

Of course, sometimes a customer prefers to use in-house people. In business these are usually bilingual staff members. In diplomacy they're, well, diplomats! In both cases they're called on to specialise in one important, ongoing, two-way relationship. And do some of the negotiations too - which neutral and impartial conference interpreters don't do.
 said on
January 18, 2015
I am really impressed by the language skills of the speakers. I have heard so much about the guests even before the talk. Thank you for such a precious opportunity.

For the audience:

I am a student interpreter/translator in Britain. Chinese is my mother tongue. If you want to be a interpreter/translator and have relatively good Chinese skills, I will be very glad to be your language partner. I have already had a study plan. Contact
 said on
January 20, 2015
On the podcast they mentioned Jim Brown, the White House interpreter. Here is the photo William mentioned of Deng Xiaoping and the Reagans:

And here is a video of Jim Brown interpreting for Barack Obama and (then) Vice-President Xi Jinping:
 said on
January 26, 2015
Mark Lesson Studied