The power of interpreters

Interpreters have a lot of power. People rely entirely on me to communicate, and sometimes it is ever so tempting to be “creative” to get out of an unpleasant situation. The following illustrates something that happened on Monday. My client took a group of 30 French farmers (and me) to a Sussex farm which has taken steps to limit its impact on the environment. They were very interested and wanted to see everything, but after a rainy weekend, there was mud everywhere, I was wearing my new shoes and I didn’t want to ruin them. I’ll let you guess who won: Céline the Bad Interpreter or Céline the Good Interpreter?

Céline the Good Interpreter


Céline the Bad Interpreter who Doesn’t Like Mud

Zillions of thanks to Andy, who did it all.

By |2016-10-18T15:49:34+00:00December 14th, 2007|Interpreting|12 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Fabio Said December 14, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    This was so funny! From the cool shoes in the cartoon I can only guess the bad interpreter won, but only this one time – so you’re forgiven 🙂

  2. xl December 14, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Céline the Good Interpreter borrowed some boots and everyone lived happily everafter!

  3. Jean December 14, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    This is absolutely wonderful! I hope it will be a continuing series?

  4. céline December 15, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Of course, I faithfully translated the exchange and we went to see the reedbed. I almost never let the little devil that sometimes appears on my shoulder have her own way. It wasn’t even that muddy and I suspect the English farmer was being a bit lazy!
    I really enjoyed designing the cartoon and pestering Andy to help me out, so there might be another one at some point, especially as something else happened the day after where I used "creative interpreting" to defuse a tense situation.

  5. nicholas December 15, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    As a French>English translator and French<>English interpreter, I loved this cartoon. But I would have loved it even more if the exchanges were in the actual languages! (Maybe an alternate version, since you blog in both?)

  6. céline December 16, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    I see what you mean Nicholas, but I had to think of my monolingual readers! This way, everyone gets it without having to compare/contrast with the version in the other language.

  7. LInda Herbertson December 17, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    Great post; thanks Céline!

  8. Bela December 17, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    That’s the cutest thing I’ve seen since… I don’t know when!

  9. Lis December 21, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    That’s hilarious – I haven’t checked out your page for years and I see that you’re still producing top quality posts, go girl! xx

  10. andy February 6, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I’ve only ever come across one interpreter who does cartoons… (see link below)… but your duet with Andy is great. Couldn’t you make a regular feature out of it?
    all the best
    Andy (no relation)

  11. windi February 14, 2008 at 6:02 am

    your story is so funny. I think now i understand why interpreter is so important…

  12. Haldis March 3, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Great ! and funny.. I’m just writing on a project about interpreters and their power. So this was useful comments.

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