The interpreter’s ‘third client’

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Interpreting agencies are crucial in determining outcomes in community interpreting, but have been little studied. We analyze the role of agencies in the context of changing employment practices in the field, where more interpreters now work as freelancers. We identify problematic issues for both parties in agencies’ relations with interpreters: agencies vary in their expectations of interpreters, their own work practices, and engagement in professional issues; interpreters vary in their own required business practices and professionalism, and the ability to see the agency as their client. Agencies also crucially set expectations of end-user clients who purchase language services. The growing prominence of agencies may lead to greater emphasis by public policy bodies in demanding codes of industry practice and ultimately accrediting agencies.


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