5 translation experiences that can be compared with…Interpreters’ Flying Spins

There are simultaneous interpreting challenges that really thrill me.
I could mention five things that make me feel like an ice skater performing a perfect flying spin when I succeed in translating them and they are:

1. HUMOR
I have always loved humor, I love it in private life and I love it at work (both in written translation and simultaneous interpreting). This is also the reason why I wrote my degree thesis on this topic.
Humor is one of the most challenging elements in a translation, it really boosts my self-esteem when I manage to translate it effectively.

Here you can read an extremely interesting article on this.
Let me quote some excerpts:
“(…) humor does not travel well, and simultaneous interpreting is a harrowing, treacherous journey that might eventually kill all the joy. (…) Simultaneous interpreting leaves no time to be creative, nor does it allow for research into social, cultural or linguistic issues. The interpreter is at risk of passing as utterly ineffective, painfully slow and even downright rude. Having said this, interpreting humor implies crossing cultural, social and even academic borders. Being honest with clients about the shortcomings of our work, sharing with them the difficulties faced when translating humor and providing them with the background information they need at least to understand why the others laugh (if laughing themselves is not possible) might result in a good performance, worthy of praise and appreciation. If the interpreter has communicated a fair amount of meaning, albeit not in a funny way, ensured the foreigners have not felt socially excluded and encouraged their appreciation of a different culture, the effort was most probably worth it.”2. SWEAR WORDS, INSULTS & CO.
As I also told you in my previous post, I feel authorized to use four letter words when translating (they are actually not mine) and it is a very effective way to make people laugh – in some environments – and boost team-building with both speaker and interpreter, if they are used by the speaker with positive intentions.
When they are used to show indignation or anger they won’t probably foster team-building, but to me, being in a neutral position, it’s fun anyway.
Don’t shoot the messenger, or rather, the interpreter 🙂

3. VERY TECHNICAL/SPECIFIC STUFF
You know, those words you spent so much effort in learning by heart, that are very technical or specific to a given jargon, etc…? I mean those. When they come to your mind with no effort (almost) it’s like heaven. Great satisfaction.

4. NAMES
In about 1% of the cases I get foreign names right without reading them previously.
So, virtually impossible. But when it happens, it’s just great.

5. ANTICIPATING THE SPEAKER
I love it when you sort of know what the speaker is about to say and you can anticipate the end of a sentence, it’s risky, but sometimes necessary to keep up with the speech pace, especially with German. That’s a death drop rather than a flying spin.

So, if you see strange movements in the booth during an event, it’s just me trying to perform flying spins. Sometimes I fall to the ground, but I’m stubborn enough to stand up again 😉

S.

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Translator & Interpreter