The story of a BBC sign language interpreter being sacked for her “creative” approach to interpreting (reporting, amongst other things, that radioactive zombies had been sighted near the nuclear reactor in Japan after the earthquake there) reminded me of an old post where I talk about being tempted to use my all-powerful position as an interpreter to turn a situation to my advantage.
Indeed, it can be really difficult to remain a neutral conversion hub and not get personally involved. During projects that I have worked on for some time, and which I know inside out, I am sometimes tempted just to give answers to questions instead of relaying first the question, then the answer, in order to save everyone time and effort and get the job done. I’m not the only one, as once, I worked with another interpreter at a one-day workshop, during which we had to work with small groups of French and English speakers who had to plan their workload for the afternoon session. To my horror, my colleague started to try and organise the participants, pointing out who was taking on too much and who was best placed to do such and such task. This was obviously inappropriate, but it can be very hard not to contribute when you think that you can see a solution to their dilemmas.
The BBC interpreter cited “personal difficulties – particularly a crushing professional boredom” to explain her actions. I hope she changes career and tries her hand at comedy, as I found her fondness for adding zombies to international events rather hilarious.
Brighton zombie picture by Heather Buckley
OF COURSE this was a spoof! I knew that *cough*. However, my point remains, and interpreters have been sacked in the past for speaking their mind, in Ukraine, for example.
(Thanks May!)
Also, I’ve always wanted zombies on my blog.
Le Plus, a Nouvel Obs community site, asked me to elaborate on the issue of interpreters and neutrality (in French).