The role of interpreter is lost in translation
The following comment appeared in the Languages section of the Guardian on the 11th of April. The article it refers to can be found by clicking here (Copyright The Guardian 2017).
The big picture (5 April) was good and the numbered captions helpful. It was a boost for our profession to have the man below the late King Abdullah’s portrait described as “perhaps the most important person in the room”. However, translators are not normally people who listen and speak (sometimes simultaneously) in meetings: that is the job of interpreters. Some translators are trained to interpret, but they usually excel at writing, keyboard skills and carefully honing text. Speech is not writing; transfer of meaning between languages and cultures requires not only accuracy, speed and clarity, but impartiality. Interpreters should have no vested interest in the outcome of a meeting. It would be useful to know whether Theresa May had a British Arabic-English interpreter in her delegation.