Interpreter Breaks Down How Real-Time Translation Works | WIRED

Interpreter Breaks Down How Real-Time Translation Works | WIRED


these two diplomats are about to begin a negotiation this one is from an unspecified spanish-speaking country hola and this one is from an unspecified english-speaking country hello and these are real interpreters and I’m Barry slaughter Olsen a conference interpreter with 25 years of experience interpreting for diplomats and world leaders at places like the UN when you think of interpreters scenes like these are probably the first that come to mind people in soundproof booths interpreting in real-time to government officials below but interpreters often have to do their jobs in private closed-door meetings this is called bilateral interpreting and as anyone who heard about the Trump Putin meetings knows it’s a very real situation when certain meetings just have a limited number of people in a room and those people are sworn to secrecy this is a demonstration of what can typically happen in these meetings behind closed doors going someone’s actually things began before anyone even arrived most of the time terms are agreed upon in advance of the meeting the agendas are carefully negotiated and outline they can range from arms reduction to economic cooperation to water rights all we need is a plausible topic to get started let’s say dolphin-safe tuna fishing to start our interpreters position themselves you’d think they’d be in the middle somewhere because they’ve got a here will right well for meetings in front of the press they don’t want to be the center of attention or appear in press photos see how they’re on the sidelines here that’s so they can easily be cropped out of the pictures to be published later which doesn’t always work out so before this meeting begins there are things that need to be decided will recordings be permitted is a record being kept who’s going to attend but this is a closed-door bilateral meeting so it’ll just be these four now there are two styles of interpretation simultaneous and consecutive consecutive is the most common style of interpreting in diplomatic situations here’s an example it’s been awhile since I’ve been here I’m so excited to be back thank you for having me and then again Pokeno venía SEK moti Samaras oppressive in Manoa meant a the interpreter waits until the speaker pauses time on weird I see a poetical award I don’t know I mean no suffice and then interprets we’re very happy to be able to collaborate again with the government of your country simple right but what happens if the speaker goes on and on without pausing hey come on we’re die seals their political award contest interpreters rarely translate word for word instead we remember specific ideas and translate those ideas accordingly but when the speaker goes on and on for a long time interpreters rely on note-taking we want to authorize the use of the dolphin friendly label by your country’s tuna processors these symbols represent the speaker’s ideas but each interpreter has their own style watch as three different interpreters take notes on the same sentence we want to authorize the use of the dolphin friendly label by your country’s tuna processors but we must have a reliable way to verify the use of authorized equipment and fishing practices interpreters usually come up with the symbols beforehand and as you can see here on Caddy’s cheat sheets she carefully thought about what will be most useful for this particular meaning the DFL stands for dolphin friendly label that tu in a box refers to tuna that’s being caught you get the idea now let’s watch as caddy interprets her own notes into Spanish GMOs dr. Lesage ellos son and a lady kita the dolphin friendly para lo processor horas de pekka de soup is pero necesitamos para verificar kitten odorless and o aqui pose it technically pekka koalas now let’s switch to simultaneous interpretation simultaneous interpretation is usually used with earpieces and microphones and with interpreters working from a soundproof booth but we won’t have equipment in this demonstration when we’re right next to another person like in this scenario we can employ what we call shushil – which means whispering in French this usually is an ideal whispering for a long time is bad for the vocal cords it can also be hard to hear due to ambient noise in the room like ventilation now let’s talk about pacing in simultaneous interpretation you try to maintain an optimal distance from the original speaker this is referred to as Nicholas or ear voice spam we’ll call it Evi so when one diplomat starts speaking the person employing shushil Taaj would probably start here understand perfectly references in the conceived inif the speaker is speaking at 100 to 110 words per minute which research tells us is the optimal speed for interpreting the interpreter still has to figure out the optimal eds here’s the problem the further back in the diplomat speech the interpreter is consuming orestes y es y por ESO también queremos references the more the interpreter has to keep in their short-term memory their listening and processing as they’re interpreting it’s a lot is high quality dolphin dolphin but get too close to the original speakers words and they may screw up things like grammar syntax and style and of course interpreters are prone to fatigue and burnout fatigue will hit at around 30 minutes of straight interpreting this is why simultaneous interpreters often switch out in intervals of 30 minutes or less if pushed to our limits interpreters can really suffer you may recall the 2009 incident in which more Marga da fees interpreter collapsed at the UN after simultaneously interpreting for over 75 minutes so what happens if the conversation turns emotional or the speaker becomes rude well my friend I’ve listened to what you have to say and the only conclusion I can come up with is that you’re a damn fool interpreters are not meant to be mediators our only job is to stay true to the message of the speaker if someone becomes rude or angry if threats are made then we’re supposed to interpret those threats faithfully so in this situation interpreter would not say no conclusion a la cual puedo llegar es que attention puckateeto imprudent a and here is an example of a faithful interpretation young Christian aleck well well you got a key okay that is perfect idiota although a speaker may become emotional and just stick you late the interpreter is not going to parrot the behavior of the speaker this is not the way the people my boy has said to me given to get moja migos how could you do this to me I thought we were friends this is more realistic robo-moe me voy a hacer esto me your pencil Karamoja migos how could you do this to me I thought we were friends so the situation has gotten quite intense maybe a joke would be helpful to lighten the mood but jokes are some of the most difficult things to interpret because they can get lost in translation easily what it one dolphin say to the other after splashing him you did that on purpose never mind that this joke barely makes sense in English in Spanish it completely doesn’t work because porpoise is Maricopa and purpose is propósito al otro tipo del piccolo oh that is so Louise in similar sopa untranslatable pun Nintendo attempts at humor are often lost and there’s not much an interpreter can do there’s an anecdote about an interpreter who when faced with an untranslatable joke simply said colleague acabo a contouring chief take a result the totalement intro simplistically a support for of course what we’ve seen today is a tiny excerpt of what are often longer and arduous negotiations and that concludes our bilateral meeting behind closed doors this job is tough to juggle the many things that we have to do to be able to interpret well and accurately but this job is important because it’s what makes communication possible between countries and between peoples I’ve been at it for 25 years and I wouldn’t trade it for the world very will interpret a financial speech we have seen that the GDP of Latin America and the Caribbean has increased and then Cathy will interpret a text message exchange between two friends I mean if you’re seen killing Eve I mean it’s not that realistic but I love it are you kidding I’ve never seen it [Music]

100 Replies to “Interpreter Breaks Down How Real-Time Translation Works | WIRED

  1. I'm a 33yo Hungarian guy, and I've just learned that a very basic word of ours, "susogás" is common with French. Mindblown.

  2. My question is why there are TWO translators? If the one person can understand one language and translate into the other, surely they can do it the other way too?

  3. A have huge respect for simultanious interpreters. I could NEVER do that. When I speak, I don't listen, when I listen I don't speak.

  4. The Actress @ 5:38 is Freaking HOT! I would love to have her phone # ..(Is that creepy?)…I don't care, she's Hot as Phuc!

  5. Chuchotage method must be pretty uncomfortable, because you have to be too close to the person, and to deal with ambient noise.

  6. Didn't know their job is really difficult. Especially that part where they have to remember/note really long sentences.

  7. 7:18 Mi native language is Spanish, I just couldn't stop laughing due to how surreal sounds that phrase

  8. I speak 4 languages and never thought that translating things are difficult, my opinion hasn't changed after the video, it doesn't look like a big deal -_-

  9. Why don't they have court reporters type it all down real time in their native language and have the interpreters interpret that?

  10. I always have to translate between my boyfriend and my mom and sometimes it gives me a headache or I get confused and start speaking to both in the same language, its a mess LOL

  11. Note taking: So in order to know what is inside the confidential converstation, u only need to abduct the intrepreter..

  12. Wow how interesting is this ? I’m berly going to start working as interpreter and I’m nerves and excited

    Thanks for the information

  13. it doesnt make any sense. why do they have 2 translators when you only need one? both translators knew english and spanish. what is the point.

  14. I'm surprised the headache now starts at around 30 minutes, my interpretation professors used to last up to 45 minutes before needing a break.

  15. Im in law school studying International Relations and this video is exactly what I needed to get me motivated for my exams and remind me what's waiting for me in the future! Thank you Wired!

  16. There is a BIG difference between "translation" (which often happens to written documents) and "interpretation" (which is usually real-time translation of spoken word). Please stop mixing it up.

  17. translator: i'm sorry, i can't keep up. can you speak a little slower?

    duolingo owl: comes out of the floor ominously with a low frequency rumble "And now you will pay the ultimate price"

  18. Imagine being a meek, demure middle-aged woman interpreting for a 30 year old belligerent alpha male in times of political turmoil.
    Yep, you'd need to pay a hefty premium on your life insurance.

  19. I remember translating to the shopkeeper when my aunt wanted to ask or convey something, I could understand the difficulty then. Its arduous, No doubt.

  20. My father is an interpreter and I've been around them my entire life. It's interesting to see the style for diplomatic as I am only used to everyday needs (doctors appointment, graduations, sporting events, a facility tour) as well as video relay. Very different

  21. I heard that some languages are harder because of the sentence structure, what would be the start of the sentence comes at the end in the other language so the interpreter has to wait until the sentence is over to start translating

  22. One time I was interpreting for a doctor and a patient for a mental evaluation. The doctor asked " what does it mean by do not judge a book by its cover?" I interpreted it to the patient " what does it mean by do not judge a person by his appearance?" Oops

  23. kids with immigrant parents know consecutive translations (in both english and the other language) all too well lmao

  24. I would love to be an interpreter :'( i'm study traslation in Mexico city but i hope i could be an interpreter later

  25. 5:45 prolonged hours may have contributed to making the interpreter faint, but the thing that really caused the faint is that the dude speaks gibberish

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