Patricia is our Interpreter of the Month!
Patricia is a Brazilian Portuguese interpreter, based in Scotland, who has been working with Clear Voice for almost two years. Patricia is also pursuing her academic interest in psychology, and brings care, sensitivity, and a quality of service to her role that is truly appreciated by our clients and their service users.
It was wonderful to speak with Patricia about how her life brought her to the UK, the importance of helping refugees and asylum seekers, and how overcoming cultural differences is a key part of an interpreter’s skill set. It was also fascinating to learn more about the Portuguese language and hear how Patricia intends to apply her psychology qualification within the refugee sector in the future. We hope you enjoy the interview…
Could you tell us a little bit about your background?
Well, I am half Portuguese, half German and I was raised in the south of Brazil, in a city called Blumenau. The name means City of Flowers in German, and there is a huge German influence there. When I was young everyone spoke German before they spoke Portuguese. So from the very start I was exposed to multiple languages. I always loved languages and started to study English in Brazil as well.
As an adult, I moved to the USA and lived in New York for a while. After a few years, I moved to the UK. It was a decision that, though it seems like out of nothing, was very planned. I gathered a lot of information, did a lot of research, and now I’m here. I’m working, I’m doing further study, and it feels like everything has come together.
What are you studying?
I’m studying Applied Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University, which has just been amazing. One of my aims is to specialize in forensic psychology and work with the reporting for asylum claimants and refugees. When I graduate I will be able combine this academic knowledge with my interpreting skills to better assist the Portuguese-speaking community in Scotland.
Is helping refugees something you value about your interpreting work?
Very much so! It is so important that I can help people accurately convey the message of what they have been through, so that both they and whoever they are speaking with can be satisfied that they understand each other. I put my effort and my heart into trying to make sure this understanding is reached.
Many people will think of Portuguese as a European language, but it is in fact a global one?
Yes, of course Portuguese is a European language. But it’s also an African language, an Asian language and a Latin American language. It is spoken by people on all continents. Many people are aware that Portuguese is spoken in Brazil, but the fact it is the primary language in Angola or widely spoken in Mozambique is less well known. As a Portuguese interpreter many of the people I work with, especially through the interpreting I provide for Migrant Help, are from Angola.
And there are a lot of regional variations in the Portuguese language?
There’s a huge amount of variation! A lot of words are completely different and there can even be contradictory meanings. For instance, in Portuguese the word for women’s underwear is the same as the word for men’s underwear in Brazilian Portuguese.
Angola and other African countries received a lot of culture from Brazil. It is a much bigger country, with a far larger population. This cultural impact means they take their lead from Brazilian Portuguese. They speak with different accents, but the words and grammar are Brazilian.
Why did you want to become an interpreter?
It was definitely the job itself, because I love languages. I thought it would be a good fit for me and my interests.
But for myself, what I really love about the job is that I feel like I’m doing like something good for the world. I think the best jobs kind of offer you the opportunity of feeling that you’re leaving a legacy, even if it is small. Interpreting makes some people’s lives better than they were before you touched their life.
How do cultural differences make interpreting more difficult?
Cultural differences can be very challenging and they can occur in unexpected ways. For example, when a Portuguese speaker visits the doctor their expectation is to explain their entire history: When they first experienced the issue ten years ago and everything that has happened since. They want to share all the information, from the beginning to the end, and this is just so difficult to achieve when doctors here have ten minutes. But that’s what they are used to. When we go to the doctor, we stay an hour. If you cut them off, they will feel upset. It’s kind of a tricky balance. You have to be nice, warm but also professional.
Every time we are able to enhance the cultural awareness of both sides, there are splendid and positive outcomes. I personally feel the work of building those bridges is my calling. It is my way to make a difference in this world and touch souls.
When did you find out about Clear Voice?
It was about two years ago that I found out about Clear Voice, and I really was interested. I love people and love to talk to people. One of the things that appealed about working for you was to open my eyes to the area of asylum and refugees which I find so interesting and so valuable.
I really appreciate working with you. You guys are wonderful. It’s a wonderful team to work with as an interpreter. Everyone is very respectful to us.