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Pronunciation of English words when interpreting into Spanish
Thread poster: hfp
hfp
United States
Local time: 03:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 3, 2008

Hi, everyone. I was wondering how an interpreter should pronounce English words when interpreting into Spanish. Should the interpreter say the English words with a Hispanic accent? Here are some examples.

Interpreter: Juan vive en Washington. (Juan lives in Washington.)

Ok, since I grew up speaking English, it is not natural for me to say Washington with a hispanic accent. But should I do it anyway, or just pronounce it the way it is said in American English?

This question also applies to names of people. Hillary Clinton, in Chile for example, is always pronounced with a strong accent here in Santiago. I doubt many monolingual Americans would even understand the nightly news in Chile when the newscasters say "Clinton" since they pronounce it as if it were a Spanish name. I have yet to hear someone pronounce it the same way as a native speaker of English would.

What are your thoughts on pronunciation? Thank you for your time.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
As identifiable by the target audience Dec 3, 2008

hfp wrote:
Ok, since I grew up speaking English, it is not natural for me to say Washington with a hispanic accent. But should I do it anyway, or just pronounce it the way it is said in American English?


I am not an interpreter, but to me it would be logical to pronounce any names the way they are easily identifiable by the target audience, i.e. the way they are pronounced in Chile. Otherwise you will have two problems: 1) you will have to repeat the name many times (probably repeating until you pronounce it "right", i.e. usual way in the target country), and 2) you will sound pedantic.


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Tarara Paso
Sri Lanka
Local time: 07:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
It depends Dec 3, 2008

I agree that you should pronounce English words in the English way of pronunciation, but also you must know that there are many English names that are not at all pronunced similarly in Spanish: i.e. Arkansas, Leicester, Tottenham and many others that I cant recall now.
And the other way round: I remember a story about pronunciation of English names in which the only way to make yourself understood to get to Oxford Circus was pronouncing something like "Ajos secos".

Regards!


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Javier Wasserzug  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Communication!! Dec 3, 2008

My advice: always say everything in a way that every one of the parties understand.
The same applies for Spanish words.

Many times, when I am interpreting, English speakers do not understand what Spanish speakers say in English.
- Where do you live?
- Bothell.
Then, I repeat it since the English speaker might not recognize the name of that location, it's hard to say it in Spanish.
When the patient is called "Jaime!!" I have to pay attention, many people might not recognize "Jaime" if not pronounced properly.
And many more examples...


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Gabotino
Local time: 02:06
English
Pronunciation of Englis words Dec 3, 2008

Hello everybody! I've been thinking about this matter and I consider that enlish words should be pronnounced as they are in their native language, just imagine for a while what would spanish language natives think if they hear a spanish word pronnounced with an English (American o British) accent? I mean, I'm sure they would understand it but, obviously, pronnounciation wouldn't be the most adecuate. Well this is just the way I think about it.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:06
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The goal is to get understood Dec 4, 2008

... so you should pronounce them in the way your audience most likely would do so, or translate them, if they have a translation (e.g. Nueva York for New York*).

For you to empathize with your audience, I'll tell you one case when the reverse happened to me. I seldom do interpreting, only court interpreting (consecutive). This was an arbitration hearing, and there were two witnesses, one Italian and one German. In order to cut expenses, they found that both spoke English, and hired me as the sole interpreter.

I speak Italian, though I don't translate it professionally, so I could cover any slips or missing English vocabulary on that side, in spite of not being certified for that language.
However I don't understand any German at all, and that individual spoke English with an abusively heavy accent, and uttered German words/names with lightning speed. So when he said things ("zynx" in his version of English) like "I hold a PhD degree in XXX from the @#$%^&* University in @#$%^&*" I had to count on the help of the more savvy members of the audience for the sake of the record.



*Just as an example of pronunciation, once I was in Princeton, NJ, buying a train ticket to NYC. The elderly clerk asked me a couple of times "Nook or Nawk, suh?" until I realized he wanted to know whether I wanted a ticket to Newark or New York. This should help you rule out pronouncing these words in English, as you'll never know what English you should use.

So the goal is to get understood.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My dear teacher of German Dec 4, 2008

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
I speak Italian, though I don't translate it professionally, so I could cover any slips or missing English vocabulary on that side, in spite of not being certified for that language.
However I don't understand any German at all, and that individual spoke English with an abusively heavy accent, and uttered German words/names with lightning speed. So when he said things ("zynx" in his version of English) like "I hold a PhD degree in XXX from the @#$%^&* University in @#$%^&*" I had to count on the help of the more savvy members of the audience for the sake of the record.


This reminds of my teacher of German in Switzerland: in his first trip to the UK, he wanted to see the "Kathedrale" in some city. He just could not make himself understood for quite a while (he thought he had learnt proper English). "Wär is de Kathedrale? Wär is de Kathedrale?".


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