By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – This week’s big confab at the United Nations brought translation of their remarks into a brief spotlight, but a professional interpreter says we ought to pay attention all the time.
Nataly Kelly, co-author of Found in Translation, says the dictionary equates translator and interpreter but the profession does not.
“An interpreter is someone who deals with spoken language and a translator is someone who deals with written language,” Kelly says.
Most of us in this country are immersed in English, but Kelly says making sense of the world requires more.
“I think translation is like air in a lot of ways. It surrounds us and we take it for granted. It affects the news that we hear, the politicians that we elect, the food that we eat, so my goal is just to get readers to wake up to that fact,” Kelly explains.
Kelly says the pros usually work in one direction, language A to B, probably their native tongue, and when you see some goofy mistranslation on a label or instructions, that’s a do-it-yourself job.