A good translation is like a perfect mirror
Updated: Apr 3, 2021
This year International Translation Day on 30th September prompted a bit of a social media flurry, with translators coming up with catchy ideas why translation is about more than just words. Indeed, translation is about breaking barriers, building bridges, encouraging trade, reaching out, understanding cultures and much more. I think a good translation is like a perfect mirror: it reflects the true message.
This is relevant for spoken language as much as written language. It was a coincidence that on the same day The Sun ran an eye-catching story entitled “VLAD'S MAD Vladimir Putin warned Lewis Hamilton not to spray him with champagne after Russian Grand Prix win”. The whole piece was based on a misunderstanding and is therefore fake news as some would call it. The paper claims that Putin said on TV via his interpreter: “I am accustomed to warning you something each year. Year after year...” In fact, what Putin said in Russian was “I am accustomed to awarding you something each year. Year after year...” And the interpreter did relay that but the reporter writing the story misheard it and took it for a warning, an order not to spray him with champagne ever again. So true message is what our job is all about. A competent interpreter has adequate pronunciation skills to ensure he and his client are understood, not misunderstood, although here it appears that the fault lies with the tabloid reporter.
With International Translation Day falling on a Sunday this year, it provided us with a perfect opportunity to meet and catch up with the latest news in our industry. This is exactly what we did when we met with colleagues for networking lunch in Spalding. Such gatherings are a good way to share ideas, forge new professional links and learn from each other. I am a great believer in that it’s continuous learning that keeps our skills and competence up-to-date.
Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish interpreters met in Spalding, Lincolnshire, on International Translation Day