This article is for those who are planning to correspond with a Russian girl and visit Russia. If your potential bride graduated from one of the foreign language institutes, you are lucky and you don’t need an interpreter. In all other cases, eventually, you will have to resort to the help of an interpreter. (Or a translator for written work.)
Some couples need an interpreter/translator all the time, others just from time to time. Many people use one only during pre visit correspondence and telephone calls, and maybe during the first date, and then try to make their own way after that.
There are many Russian interpreters and translators out there, so don’t just use the first one you find; there are several things you should give thought to beforehand.
Rule number one: do not be a cheapskate and consider using a woman’s acquaintances; always choose professionals who are experienced in interpreting and relationship work. An inexperienced interpreter can often get in the way of a relationship. Too often, the interpreter isn’t working on your behalf. In effect, you want an interpreter who is also part psychologist and can help from making any major faux pas.
Should your interpreter be a man or a woman? Most men prefer to use a woman for the job. When we are starting a relationship, there is a whole load of stuff outside of the words spoken. A lot of stuff that when we share language and culture we can take for granted and infer from what we hear, see and already know. When we do not share language and culture then we cannot safely infer much at all. An interpreter in this case can provide useful input as to context – the subtext of the other party’s words, intent both overt and covert and cultural/social aspects.
Many Russian and FSU men (even if they don’t show it openly), object to their local females dating foreigners. They show it through verbal and non-verbal signs; some of which you may not be able to interpret properly, but the woman will get them and feel embarrassed. Moreover, even when a Russian male interpreter is not feeling negative, your female date will expect negativity anyway, and will feel uncomfortable communicating with you openly.
Overall, in relationships with a woman, I’d prefer to use a woman interpreter. There are several accounts around the internet of Russian male interpreters trying to hit on their clients women; think about that.
It will be more difficult for your lady to open herself before two men. She will have to think not only about how to build up relations with a fiancée but how to behave herself with an interpreter!
While working, an interpreter gets very close with his clients. Will it be okay for you if your potential fiancée gets close to a male interpreter? It is difficult for a woman to open her heart with an unfamiliar man, but it is much easier to do so with another woman.
Another reason to use a professional female interpreter is the need to translate between you without any feelings or agenda. Taking a woman and “her friend” along will restrict you due to privacy issues and personal agenda conflicts. Do not foster a situation where both women would engage in personal conversation outside the scope of your date. You need to know that the woman you are with is focused on you and only you. The translator or interpreter should provide nothing more than background noise outside of the obvious task of translating.
The age of your interpreter is something you may want to consider. A very young interpreter, unfortunately, has no necessary life experience. Old interpreters have too much experience; they will talk incessantly. On a first date, it will be physically hard for an old interpreter to endure the sightseeing, walking, restaurants, etc. you may do.
You may wish to consider the marital status and appearance of your interpreter. If you are visiting the FSU to meet one or more particular women, most of your conversation will be with your interpreter. This can make you take your eye off the prize (the women you actually went to see), and make you begin to form a bond with your interpreter instead (and she speaks good English after all). If she is married (and preferably not too hot), this will help you (and her) stay focused on the original purpose. That said; many men have married their interpreter!
A translator/interpreter should be a really good psychologist, should be able to predict or detect any Red Flags, should be able to encourage or comfort, to clarify any cultural or meaning misunderstandings, should not be afraid to do it not once if need arises till 2 parties understand each other to the end.
An inexperienced translator sometimes chooses incorrect expressions that can change the meaning of your words completely, or make your letters sound stilted and clumsy; the last thing you want when you are building up a delicate relationship with a lady. In situations like this, it is as important HOW you say something as WHAT you say.
Relevant experience is essential. It is very good if a person actually lives in the USA, UK or Canada, to really understand all the cultural realities men live in; be able to explain the differences between the two countries.
If a translator came through the fiancée visa process herself and knows all the details, how to avoid some difficulties, save time and how and where to get necessary documents, then she can share all this information with the lady when the time comes, and give advice on that, based on personal experience.
Agency or private interpreter? Each of these options – to arrange a translator directly or through an agency – has its pros and cons.
If you deal with the translator directly, you won’t be paying fees to an agency. More importantly, you’ll know for sure that the entire sum is going to the translator. With some of the less professional agencies, you can pay what seems a fair price, even allowing for the agency fee, but in reality the translator receives a disproportionately small amount and the agency takes an excessively large cut. Such agencies consequently employ less experienced, poorer quality translators, often amateurs, and charge professional rates for them.
This is one example of how valuable the right translator can be. I hired a translator in Russia to handle a meeting and during this meeting about halfway through I noticed the translator felt uneasy so I waited for the appropriate time to speak with her alone. When I asked her what the problem was, she didn’t want to tell me; she was hired to translate only and nothing more. I explained to her my decisions would be based on my assessment of all information I gathered, including her personal input so I could make an informed decision. To this day that translator and I are still very good friends, due to the fact that her honesty and personal values saved me thousands of dollars and a tremendous amount of time and trouble. I speak from experience and hiring the right translator in the first place.
Some final advice. Don’t hire an interpreter for the whole day when you are in the FSU, unless the woman is totally mute. If a woman speaks at least some English, it will be helpful for her to practice. With an interpreter, she relaxes and doesn’t try to speak English. Don’t be afraid that you will not understand each other. It has been observed many times how couples communicate if a girl has poor English. Patience, love and dictionaries help them! As one man said to a woman when he presented her with a digital translator, “When you put a word into this translator, your mechanical, visual and intellectual memories work. This translator will help you to learn English”.
If you are to become her husband, she must get used to your speech, and learn to understand you and to communicate with you. Most of your work with an interpreter should be with correspondence and three way calls prior to a meeting. Your use of them on the ground in Russia or Ukraine should be minimized. Always remember, others are not cheap to feed!