Latest News: Interpreting

'To err is human'--Comical gaffes and quiet triumphs of a UN interpreter

Monday, September 19, 2016  

Interpreter Anne-Catherine Boudot was a little confused as to why a speaker was repeatedly bringing up sea shells during an international gathering in Geneva, but she dutifully translated it into the French coquillages. "I spoke for a good 20 minutes," says Boudot. "All of a sudden my colleague looked at me and said 'I think they're talking about the Seychelles.'"

As leaders, old and new, gather for the United Nations annual General Assembly debate in New York City this week to outline their visions for the world, many will be listening to their words through the voices of interpreters. This can lead to some tricky — even comical — situations when issues of syntax, idioms, unknown words, accents and speed are at play.

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