The booth doesn’t translate, the interpreter does

Today’s article is a bit of a satire, and it’s quite special. It is told from the interpreter’s perspective, but we prefer to let you enjoy it without telling you what it’s about from the start. As you’ve come to expect, the structure of the article is similar to that of a story. And to make it easier to read we have used the following abbreviations: the client is C, the translator is T, and S is the representative of the sound company.

One quiet spring day I get a phone call from S.

S: Hi. We need your help with an interpretation.

T: Of course. But it will take about an hour to get to the location…

An hour later, arriving at the location, I find that the event is over.

T: Well, okay, guys, why didn’t you call me and let me know it’s over?

S: The event ended 5 minutes ago. But I wanted you to come anyway, in case there were still questions.

W: Questions about what?

S: About who is doing the simultaneous interpretation. Let us tell you what happened.

The dialogue between the client and the sound company representative:

C: We can’t hear the translation in the headphones.

S: What can’t you hear?

C: The translation.

S: Of course you can’t hear it. You only order sound and translation equipment from us. You didn’t ask for interpreters.

C: Interpreter? What’s that?

C: Well, doesn’t this booth do the translation?

S: No! Only the simultaneous interpreter does that.

Although this article is a somewhat harsh satire, these kinds of things do happen in the daily life of an interpreter. The irony and playfulness of this article aside, the field of translation is one that has its own specific characteristics. Just as the interpreter cannot provide simultaneous translation without the booth, the booth cannot provide translation without the interpreter.

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