Quick Money at the Expense of Professional Reputation

Reading the recent Chinese newspaper, there was a short report on a Chinese interpreter who helped driving theory test examinees pass the test by not just interpreting the questions, but also giving the right answers. In exchange for the “favour”, she was given money from those examines. The exam committee got suspicious because no one who used her interpreting service had failed the exam. In the end, after having another independent interpreter checking the recordings, her misdeed was found out and she was given a year prison sentence.


I was completely shocked by this piece of news. Personally I can never understand how people are willing to risk their professional reputation for some quick money–although in this case, whether the interpreter is truly professional or qualified is another matter. This just reminded me of once waiting in a crown court on a media press assignment, an Asian looking lady approached me asking if I was a court interpreter too. She was wearing jeans (yeah, you read it right, jeans!) and carrying a very colourful flowery cotton sack (not even a handbag). She then volunteered to tell me how this new court interpreting work paid so much better than her old housekeeping part-time job, and she emphasised “it’s good money”. Apparently another unqualified interpreter but given work from then ALS.

The whole interpreting profession is getting harder to get into and make a living from, and unqualified interpreters like this just made it even harder.



This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)

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