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Spanish Interpretation of Obama's Address to Congress
Thread poster: hfp
hfp
United States
Local time: 01:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 25, 2009

Tonight I was watching CNN en Español in order to hear the Spanish translation of Obama's speech, and I noticed that the interpreter did an extremely good job. He hardly ever stuttered and very faithfully interpreted Obama's speech into a standard version of Spanish that was free of any accent, or at least any accent that I could recognize. However, I noticed that everyone in the audience had a thick program in their hands, which I imagine contained Obama's speech in English. The person rendering the speech in Spanish was not visible at any point (CNN probably had him in a studio). Do you think the interpreter already had the speech before it was given? I guess if he already had it, he could have taken the time to translate it, and thus be cheating.

Or is it possible that he was just an extremely good interpreter and was able to stay right behind Obama without hardly any hesitation?

Any thoughts? Regardless of whether he was given the speech beforehand or not, are some people actually good enough to listen to a speech like this one and interpret it into Spanish with very little hesitation? I appreciate your comments.

[Edited at 2009-02-25 03:36 GMT]


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:36
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Some people are that good, but... Feb 25, 2009

Hi,
Of course there are interpreters who are able to interpret long speeches without hesitation, however it doesn't work like this on high political level. Not only the speeches are prepared long in advance, they are also translated and reviewed many times not only by translators but also by political staff. The interpreter has a text in front of him/her. The trick is that the speaker may occasionally skip some part, reword it or say something different and you need to be prepared for that.

I'm not commenting this particular speech as I haven't heard it (and not in Spanish ), but speaking from experience.

Magda


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Fernando Guimaraes  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 04:36
German to Portuguese
+ ...
It is usual Feb 25, 2009

It is usual Interpreters, newspapers, TVs, etc. to get all sort of communications beforehand.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:36
Flemish to English
+ ...
Preparing a day's work Feb 25, 2009

Can't comment on the state of the union. But you have speakers who are a joy to listen to and to interpret.
President Sarkozy of France is such a speaker.
He pronounces clearly, stresses almost every word, pauses a while to look his interlocutor in the eye and then continues. Nevertheless, during his visit to the UK and his speech before Parliament, the interpreter stumbled over one word: "sous-officier". She did not know the equivalent "petty officer" in English.
President Obama's speed of speaking is also slower than the average university professor rattling about the impact of the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the E.U. on the business of company XYZ....
If he had it beforehand, it is not cheating. Most companies supply materials about the topic of the meeting/conference, which enable the interpreter to look up terminology and get acquainted with the topic. In other words, it is preparing a day's work

[Edited at 2009-02-25 10:27 GMT]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
They must have been that good Feb 25, 2009

Magda Dziadosz wrote:

Of course there are interpreters who are able to interpret long speeches without hesitation, however it doesn't work like this on high political level.


I watched it too, with a stuttering, repeating (and 50%-of-content missing) interpreter on Televisión Española. Obama just came out of session. He wouldn't have had more than bullet points to work on, and if there had been a text, it would just have been those bullet points (lately our "briefings" consist of PPTs, padded out along the way). I guess it reflects relative budget outlays. She sounded young and not just a bit inexperienced.

Yes, these jobs are done in-studio. There just may be a repeat on another channel today, hopefully under prime-time conditions. Or someone may buy the CNN recording...

Getting materials beforehand is standard. Studying them is part of the job. Reading them out as is, however, is not.


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:36
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Why cheating? Feb 25, 2009

You have very strange ideas of conference interpreting. In ideal case you get all the speeches in beforehand, so that you can prepare them. Sometimes you get materials in both languages, so that you can read them. But you still have to be careful, because the speaker can just change his prepared speech.
Unfortunately in most of the cases, you just get some PPTs with key words or just nothing and still have to perform your job.
But why cheating???


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RieM  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:36
English to Japanese
+ ...
true Feb 25, 2009

Fernando Guimaraes wrote:

It is usual Interpreters, newspapers, TVs, etc. to get all sort of communications beforehand.


I watched it on NBC, and before the speech began, the news anchor (newscaster) Brian Williams mentioned that. Then, I'm sure the President Obama went off the script and threw in his own words. I wonder if the interpreter said:

"Nobody messes with Joe" (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0209/19285.html)

Then, he must be soooo good.

Regards,
Rie


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 00:36
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
In this case, he got a copy Feb 25, 2009

But with ordinary televised press conferences and announcements, no speech is given beforehand, sometimes not even an inkling of what the press conference will be about, until there it is, live, and you're in your studio with your eyes on the TV, and you're off and hoping it's about something you know (like the economy) and not a detailed description of something you know nothing about (guns, for example - I got caught like that once. Description of the different parts of a gun. I know nothing about this!)

But for an important and anticipated message like this, to be broadcast in many countries live, there is a main interpreter assigned to the job who has before him a speech that has been reviewed by many pairs of eyes, as Magda says. I only wish this were the case with all live televised events

Nancy

[Edited at 2009-02-25 15:54 GMT]


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 00:36
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
It was in the prepared speech Feb 25, 2009

Rie Matsuda wrote:

Then, I'm sure the President Obama went off the script and threw in his own words. I wonder if the interpreter said:

"Nobody messes with Joe" (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0209/19285.html)

Then, he must be soooo good.

Regards,
Rie



He's referring to his VP, see http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090224/obama_speech_090224/20090224/


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hfp
United States
Local time: 01:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I was just joking about cheating. Feb 25, 2009

Thanks to everyone who replied.

Just to be clear, I was only joking about the cheating remark. That's why I put a smiley face at the end of the sentence. I understand that when possible it is best to have a copy of the speech or at least as much information as possible before the actual interpretation is given. That comment was not meant to be taken seriously.

Nancy, I'm glad you brought up that informal statement made by Obama. That caught my attention too and the translator did actually translate it. He said "Nadie se mete con Joe." Actually, as far as I could tell, the interpreter said almost everything Obama said, with the exception of a few repeated phrases that didn't need to be repeated in Spanish anyway.

Also, at the beginning of the speech Obama said something like "Where's my wife? She's around here somewhere." and the interpreter said "Ella está por aquí en algún lugar."

This was on CNN en Español mind you. Surely other channels had their own interpreters.


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Thank you for taking note! Mar 2, 2009

Obviously we are delighted that you have taken note of the excellent work of CNN en Español’s chief interpreter César Cardoza. For the record, César, who is on CNN en Español’s full-time staff and also does translation, copyediting, producer, and voiceover work, received excerpts of the prepared text for the speech late Tuesday afternoon, and a hard copy of the full address about 7 minutes before air. He quickly reviewed these materials but interpreted the entire speech live without referring to the printed text. César finds that the printed text is a distraction and can be misleading, since speakers often take liberties with the prepared remarks. This level of interpretation is par-for-the-course for César and we’re very proud of his outstanding contribution to CNN en Español as a journalist and as an interpreter.

Posted by Mariana Piñango, Public Relations Manager, CNN en Español-Turner International/Latin America.


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krizck
Mexico
Local time: 22:36
English to Spanish
It may be possible. Mar 6, 2009

Some people do have a very special talent for interpretation. But there is a big chance that he already had the speech and he only had to translate it. However, a political speech may not be as difficult because politicians usually take their time when going from one idea to another. They have to breathe and use a special intonation, which makes them speak kind of slowly. From this point of view, it is very possible that the interpreter simply did a good job.

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