Archive for March 11th, 2010

Accidental Translation

I read this story about the bus accident in Arizona and how a boy, 11 years old, translated for paramedics and firefighters at the scene. In what was most likely total chaos and confusion, and despite his own injuries, this child translated for people who were injured so that the rescue workers could do their jobs. Wow!

Is translation that remarkable? I would say yes. Partly, because it’s hard to do (and partly because I’m not so good at it). But first, some terms. Although typically we think about both written and oral translation as translation, these involve different, related processes. Typically translation refers to conversion of one written language to another. And interpretation refers to listening to one language and producing what is heard in the other (more on these differences here).

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