I’ve always loved watching the Olympics. If I had to decide between the Summer and Olympic ones, though, I don’t think I’d be able to.
There’s just something about being able to see athletes from all over the world complete on a common stage. It sounds corny, but it is what it is, and I like it.
One of the things that I’ve most appreciated about the Olympics since becoming a translator, though, is how difficult it must be for the translators and interpreters covering all of the events.
I mean, for me, it’s difficult to understand some of the events in my native English, let alone if I had to interpret those into Spanish or another language.
There was an interesting article on Aljazeera America I read a few days ago about this phenomenon. After Sage Kotsenburg won the gold in the snowboard slope style event, he talked with reporters about his runs, which, according to the article, included landing a “a cab 270 to switch, half-cab on back 540 off flat down, half-cab layback slide off the cannon back 180 out, cab double cork 1260 holy crail, frontside 1080 off the toes rocket air.”
Uh, quick, how do you say that in Spanish?
I couldn’t do it.
But the Russian interpreters seemed to manage just fine. According to one of the interpreters, “You also have to live the same life as the athlete so you can think the way they think,” Lesokhin said.
How true is that?
How many of us as language professionals take the time to actually live the life of the people for whom we work? Now granted, this doesn’t mean that you should go impersonate a doctor if you’re a medical translator.
But what it does mean, and I think we can all agree, is that we need to be up to speed on the subjects in which we work. Translation and interpretation is not a field in which we can remain stagnant and not learn anything.
We must constantly be learning and reading about our areas of expertise. How can we do that?
One way, the news.
The news is a great source of surface information about practically any topic. Sure you won’t get any real deep analysis on anything, but you will be able to get that baseline of information and read up about new ideas and trends within your areas of expertise.
A great way to stay on top of that is to set up Google Alerts. These are based on keywords that you provide and google will automatically email you news articles related to your keywords. It’s a great way to stay passively engaged in current news.
Now of course if you are an expert in a particular area and want to maintain that expertise, you will want to do more than passively read news articles related to that subject. You’ll want to be actively engaged in that specific area, preferably in your second language. This will build on your foundational knowledge and not only make you a better translator, but make you a faster and more efficient one.