The Voice

This post isn’t about The Voice, a television singing competition, but about the human voice, my voice that allows me to practice a craft I get paid for.

All interpreters depend on their voice.

I guess I took my voice for granted because I had never lost my voice before. It happened to me a few weeks ago while working on a larger interpreting project (8-week session abroad). After the first week, I woke up one morning, I felt my voice began to crack and I cleared my throat – this is how it begins.

First response: I panicked.

Should I find a replacement? Oh, wait, I’m abroad.

How is my contractor going to react? I’m not going to be able to finish the project.

What are my booth mates going to say? I hate to get off on the wrong foot.

This is what I’ve learnt:

  • Rely on your booth mate(s). Tell them you are experiencing a sore throat, you have laryngitis, etc. and they will be happy to help you. I like to believe that we are a great community showing team spirit and solidarity. Their success is your success. Their failure is your failure. We all need to be able to depend on one another.

The first day, I had the morning off and I translated some slides for the following week, for the same event. I avoided talking, at all. The following days, my booth mates allowed me to rest my voice (usually taking turns every 30 minutes or so) by doing 20 minutes “on the air” or shorter segments. Very important: ask your booth partners not to leave the booth or the meeting room for longer than absolutely necessary because it is highly likely you cough, choke or blow your nose at any point while “on the air”.

  • Take care of your voice (doctor’s order):

-rest your voice as much as possible; speak only when necessary;

-avoid phone calls and talking in noisy areas because you overuse your voice;

-don’t whisper because whispering irritates your vocal chords;

-drink water and warm tea for moisturised and free of mucus vocal chords; no fizzy drinks;

-eat honey and gargle with saltwater;

-don’t smoke and don’t drink alcohol because it dries out your throat and dehydrates your body.


How about you, fellow interpreters? Have you ever lost your voice? Share your experience!

Leave a comment