About me

I have been working as a freelance English-Russian interpreter in Georgia since 2013. Before that I interpreted on an irregular basis in Ukraine, Russia, and the United States. I also occasionally work with Ukrainian here in Georgia (Ukrainian to English).

There are three things I particularly enjoy about the interpreting profession: the formidable intellectual and linguistic challenges, the interactions with interesting people, and the behind-the-scenes perspectives I gain on what's happening in society.

Precision is very important to me, and while working I constantly add to my glossary of terms and expressions. I also give attention to style, avoiding monotonous intonation patterns common among interpreters. Where informal language is used, I use appropriate informal wording, adjusting the register as necessary.

I do this not just because it benefits the audience; it also keeps things interesting for me as an interpreter.

Professional bio

Interpreters at the 2015 Interfaith Summit in Istanbul
My bio is rather unusual for two reasons. Firstly, I had no prior university or professional connections to the world of simultaneous interpreting. Secondly, I'm a native English speaker in a region where virtually all other interpreters are locals—Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian-speaking natives, etc. I have never met another native English-speaker who works as an interpreter in the post-Soviet region.

Due to the first reason—a lack of connections—it took me longer to enter the profession than I would have liked. I spent many years doing written translation from Russian and Ukrainian into English when I would have preferred to interpret.

It was only through a fortuitous introduction to a prominent Georgian interpreter in 2014 that interpreting became my primary occupation. You can see the types of events I have worked at here.

In our small regional market interpreters rarely have the luxury of specializing in different fields, so I typically agree to work with any subject matter, even highly technical ones, as long as I am provided with adequate materials in advance—agenda, presentations, etc.

I am constantly taking in information on different subjects in both Russian and English and make a point of knowing vocabulary in both languages. Despite English being my native language, I have mostly communicated in Russian for 20 years, and my vocabulary size in the two languages is roughly the same.

A lifelong language learner 

Foreign languages have been an interest of mine since I spent a year in Slovakia as an exchange student in 1994-95. However, my best results were with Russian, which I learned on my own in Russia in 1996-98. I did little else for two years but speak and study Russian and by the end had approached near-native mastery of the language.

Something odd happened while I was there. I began to use Russian for private tasks as well as communication—in other words, while taking notes, journalling, and even thinking to myself. Russian became my dominant language of use. I developed unusual habits such as taking all university notes in Russian, even though my studies were mostly in English. Now, 20 years later I'm writing a novel in Russian.

I formulated my self-directed approach to language learning, called the Frictionless Mastery method, in a book published in 2017 in English and Russian. I've also spoken at polyglot events, given interviews and webinars about language learning, founded a language exchange club still popular 8 years later, and continue to host quarterly multilingual get-togethers in Tbilisi.

I have learned 8 foreign languages over the years. In current order of dominance they are: Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Spanish, German, Polish, French, Slovak.

Other pursuits of mine include writing, hiking, guitar improvisation, contact improvisation, meditation, and practical psychology.
(c) 2020 Richard DeLong, interpreter