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An unforgettable experience of translation  

2010-12-18 14:12:57|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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As a translator, there is no special story in the work and all will be soon forgotten. But one experience is a little bit different, and still fresh in my memory.

In September, 2007, I acted as a translator in the China-EU forum of an International Conference. At that time the working language of the Conference was English, and I am responsible for helping the French delegates who were not good at English to hear speeches and participate in discussions.

Before the meeting, I met two English translators who were invited from London. They are Chinese, I was so surprised at their dressing: the delegates of China, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and I, all of us wore suits, but one of them wore a red sweater, and the other in a black low-cut dressing!

I began to translate for the French audience after the conference opened, and at the same time using one ear listening to the English translation. I felt that they were likely doing a conversion between English and Chinese, say what they had heard exactly in another language. So sometimes I was not able to understand them in a short time under such circumstance. There is always a few seconds of silence after their translation and nobody speak anything. I just thought that this kind of silence is different from the one after the finish of a wonderful performance in a concert. During the short silence, all of the participants were trying to understand what the translator had said and how to continue the speech.

My guess was confirmed after two or three hours, during the break time, the President of the Conference told me privately that he wanted change the working language into French and asked me to replace the two English translators. I could refuse as it is beyond the predetermined range of my work. But I did not want to see the delegates who attended the conference by plane from long distances but only did this paradoxical communication. So I agreed.

At first, the translation was not so easy, because although the two sides had talked for two or three hours, it's still just a beginning, the beginning of communication is always not easy; what’s more, this is my first time to be translator at international conferences. However, not only did I listen to what the speaker said, but also grasp the contents he wanted to express, then looked straight at the representatives who do not understand the language and deliver the contents to them. Gradually, we all feel the differences of language and cultural seem to disappear, the thought of all delegates (possibly except the two "dormant" English translators) became faster and faster, with the discussion went further and more intense. In the evening when the conference was over and we were leaving, one representative of China could not help saying that “I finally know that what a great role the excellent translator plays in the success of an International Conference. You are the most tired among all of us!" How inspiring when I heard of this!

This experience let me know a few things:

What is a translator? Why is there such an occupation? In short, translation is the exchange, is to provide services and help people who do not understand each other to communicate. You know two (or three) languages, understand the culture of two (or several) countries, know how people from different countries thinking, and then help them to communicate, this is translation. Thinking hard about the corresponding word in another language is suffering and in vain. What you need to do is just make the communication go fluently through your translation and you will see how happy they are.

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