The translation industry scored a very nice mention on All Things Considered tonight, thanks to the sharp ears of Judy Jenner, who is both a translator and interpreter (this becomes important to the story!). Although I love (OK…worship) nearly all things NPR, their reporters have the somewhat aggravating habit of consistently using the expression, “speaking through a translator.” And as those of us in the industry know, part of what we translators love about our jobs is that we don’t have to talk while we’re working, and we leave the speaking to interpreters.
An All Things Considered segment that aired yesterday featured NPR’s national political correspondent Mara Liasson using the aforementioned “speaking through a translator” in reference to visiting Chinese leader Hu Jintao. Our ever-vigilant colleague Judy had had enough, and fired off an e-mail to NPR, pointing out that translators write and interpreters speak, and noting that she, as both a translator and an interpreter, surely knows the difference between the two. This afternoon my phone rang and it was NPR (not an everyday occasion here in my world headquarters!), looking for a quote on the topic and noting that especially because NPR CEO Vivian Schiller is a former Russian interpreter, they really wanted to get this right. It was exciting to be interviewed and I think it’s a good indication for the industry in general…at least the major media outlets want to keep their translators and interpreters straight! Huge thanks to Judy for alerting NPR to this issue in the first place, and to NPR for following up!