The Anecdotes of Interpreting

by Vladimir Reznikov

A lady (my client) begins to answer the immigration officer’s question and then makes an aside to me: “Should I really be talking about this hooey?!” (of course, she didn’t say those specific words, but that was the essence). And let me make a quick aside. The word “hooey” very closely approximates a Russian profanity, but is actually a very good translation for a Russian word of the same meaning (but a much softer translation).

Anyway, the officer turns to her and answers in clear and fluent Russian: “if it’s hooey, don’t say it.”

I thought that was hilarious. I knew he spoke Russian, because he “preempted” my interpretation (it was clear he knew what was said before I finished).

Any morals? Oh, I don’t know – not to assume (general moral). And for interpreters – always do the most professional job possible, as you never know “who’s watching.” And court interpreters are well trained not to engage in side conversations, which may well have disqualified her and me, had we done that.

Translation or interpreting

A question I often get asked is: “What do you prefer, translation or interpreting?!” And it’s tough, for it’s like answering: “Do you prefer ice cream or steak?”, “Running or tennis?” (Well, I prefer running, but you get the point).

I love both: translation is the most thorough analysis of the author’s thoughts, meanings and intentions you’ve ever done and interpreting is “fast and furious,” you work with people and work your mind to its capacity (or close to it).

Anyway, if there is anyone out there who has something to say and needs a book translated (or an essay or a contract), don’t hesitate to ask. And if you need high-tech interpreting for whatever reason, you know what to do…

So why the Marine motto? Well, I like to think my team and I are the Marines and Seals and Green Berets of translation…

Related:

DOES PUTIN SPEAK ENGLISH?

 

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