The Interpreter of Tongues

I will never venture to argue that I am an expert on issues related to spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, or charismatic theology. However, I do appreciate dialogue, when I was young I did attend a charismatic church for a time, and of course I appreciate diving into a Bible passage to see what we can understand. So let me make some comments about the interpretation of tongues. Recently as I was reading in 1 Corinthians 14, something really struck me as I read vv. 27-28. Here Paul is discussing the proper way in which speaking in tongues should be used in a public worship setting:

If someone speaks in a tongue, it should be two, or at the most three, one after the other, and someone must interpret. But if there is no interpreter, he should be silent in the church. Let him speak to himself and to God.

The phrase that really struck me was at the beginning of v. 28: "But if there is no interpreter . . ." I guess I had never really noticed it before. What this phrase implies in the context of the statement is that there is a particular person who was known to the speaker to be an interpreter; the speaker had to know whether that person was present, and if not, then the speaker was instructed to remain silent. In my own experience within the charismatic church of my youth, there was a great deal of emphasis placed upon the interpretation of utterances in different languages, but they were ad hoc. What I mean by this is that normally during worship someone would speak out in another language, and then someone would be moved to interpret it, but no one knew ahead of time who the speaker or interpreter would be. The Spirit would move someone to speak, and then the Spirit would move someone to interpret. Based upon my reading of 1 Corinthians 14:28, I would argue now that this practice is contrary to Paul's instructions. The interpreter would be an individual known ahead of time to fill that task. Otherwise, the instructions in v. 28 make no sense.

If anyone is familiar with exegetical literature within the context of charismatic theology that addresses this issue, I'd appreciate learning about it.