• Yelena McCafferty

That chemistry between interpreters and football coaches

This month there have been two interesting episodes involving interpreters and football coaches at press conferences.

Ange Postecoglou, the manager of Celtic, was asked by a Ukrainian interpreter to “speak closer to the mic” as the sound level was too low. Postecoglou told him: “Instead of telling me what to do, can you just keep things really short so we can try to get through and all go out? Just don’t correct me please. Just keep things civil.”

Looking at this particular incident I think the mic was in the right place, but the interpreter might have struggled because of Postecoglou’s voice being hollow or even husky. He appeared to have a cold. He also sounded irritated so his mention of staying civil might have been a Freudian slip.

The second episode involved Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp who asked the interpreter to relay his response with ‘a bit of aggression’ to adequately convey how annoyed he was with a journalist. This is an excellent point: a good interpreter interprets the tone of the message appropriately. On the other hand, if I were to be picky, I believe Klopp instructed the interpreter prematurely, almost as soon as he started speaking - and that's at the very end of the press conference, when Klopp should have already built some rapport with the interpreter.

Klopp often gets quite emotional when he talks to the press, and to interpret such expressive people an interpreter would need to try to get into their shoes: understand what the person says, why, and convey the message with the same intention and in the same tone. I once read an unfavourable comment about an interpreter “losing so much emotion in the translation” that it made the person they interpreted seem like a different person.

Independent interpreters often like to highlight the benefit of their impartiality. However, impartial interpreters doesn’t mean we are robots. You can call us actors. Or point out that we have split personalities, we won't mind: we are lucky to experience other people’s lives, even if only temporarily.

And Klopp has always had a soft spot for interpreters. Back in 2018 he complimented one interpreter on having... an erotic voice! One can say interpreters have many virtues.

[Tip: if you need a Russian interpreter for a media interview or require media content translations, get in touch with us by emailing enquiry@talkrussian.com or call 0207 0436940.]