Gaelic-English Simultaneous Interpreting: a one-off insight
I was at the Cothrom AGM last week, and found myself in the “Interpreter’s booth” at the back of the boardroom whispering English into a microphone for the benefit of those in attendance who had no Gaelic. There were a few folk around the room equipped with discreet headsets they’d picked up as they came in the door.
Anyway, I survived – and a couple of folk were kind enough to say that I made some kind of sense of it – but it’s not something I’ll be volunteering to do again in a hurry. There was some fairly routine, if unscripted, procedural stuff – agreeing minutes etc. But the main challenge lay in two speeches – one quite brief, the other less so. Mercifully, both speakers gave me copies of what they were going to say before they started – otherwise I definitely would have drowned.
In the event, neither speaker stuck strictly to their scripts, so for me it wasn’t “simply” a question of reading/interpreting from the page in front of me. One speaker had supplied me with their Gaelic text, while the other had gone a stage further and already translated their speech into English. Perhaps counter-intuitively I found the latter more difficult – even though it was the shorter speech. The fact that neither speaker stuck exactly to their script meant that I had to keep an ear open for what they were saying while I was whispering away into the mike. I found it easier to locate where the speaker was on the page in front of me when the written text was the original Gaelic, rather than the translated English. I guess that’s because I had an extra processing stage to go through with the latter – “re-translating” back into Gaelic to match text with what the speaker was saying at the time. Complicated stuff. And I was definitely ready for the refreshments when it was all over.
Anyway, after the event – duh – I did some googling on simultaneous interpreting and simultaneous translating. I found this link offered interesting insights, including concise tips for speakers as well as interpreters from folk who do this for a living. Not that I’m planning on making more direct use of them any time soon. Once was interesting, but quite enough. Definitely a job for professionals whenever possible.
But hats off to Cothrom for running their meeting in Gaelic. Now that the technology is more readily available it’s good to hear the language re-entering the public domain in community meetings like this.