Simultaneous Interpretation: how often do bloopers happen?

Simultaneous interpretation is the best way to communicate effectively with another person or an audience that doesn’t speak our native language. Without this profession, most of the international deals, ONG summits, or diplomatic relationships wouldn’t be possible.

But, what happens when the translator makes a mistake? It may happen, simultaneous interpretation requires a lot of work and non-prepared professionals can fail to get the information correctly.

Let’s laugh a bit and see what can happen when translation services fail:

International embarrassment

One of the most famous (and embarrassing) bloopers of translation and simultaneous interpretation services happened a few years ago between the US and Russian governments. In 2009 the then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a meeting in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in order to work on the relationship between the two countries.

Clinton prepared a gift, a “reset button” to symbolize letting in the past decades of friction between the two countries. There was only one problem: the button was intended to say “reset” in Russian, but a translator made a mistake and put a completely different word.
“You got it wrong, it should be ‘perezagruzka’, this says ‘peregruzka’ which means ‘overcharged’”, joked minister Lavrov.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ee4PfhogtdQ

Simultaneous interpretation or simultaneous interruption?

Aside from the translation of the information, one of the biggest challenges in consecutive and simultaneous interpretation is to find a way to not interrupt the person that is speaking. It’s really hard to make it right, and if you don’t believe us, you could always ask the interpreters at Miss Universe 2015, they were highly criticized for interrupting the candidates and even translating some sentences completely wrong. Let’s see:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWHEAoCrQR4&t=97s

No, you’re the translator

Luckily, this is just fiction… we hope. In this sketch made by Comedy Central, we can see how wrong a conversation can turn if a translator is not qualified for his job.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foT9rsHmS24

Jokes aside, simultaneous interpretation requires highly qualified professionals with many years of experience and the knowledge necessary to adapt to any kind of situation.

In EPLS you’ll find the best interpreters in the market ready to offer you a flawless service. Contact us!

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written by mktg the 19 November, 2021


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