The Tower of Babel Conundrum

RCDD TranslationsBICSI is in many countries around the world and language barriers have always been a concern, both in terms of publications, training and presentations at conferences. I’ve talked to a few of the international members about this and got a wide range of opinions. On the one extreme, I was told that all training and publications should be available in a member’s native tongue while on the other extreme it was suggested that since a person has to take the RCDD in English they should be able to read and understand English making multiple languages unnecessary.

At the winter conference in Orlando last month, 3 presentations were given in languages other than English. Two were in Spanish and one in Japanese. I sat through two of them and the first by @Tokyo on DCIM was presented in Japanese by the speaker and then subsequently translated into English by a male interpreter. The second was given by Rick Ciordia on ANSI/BICSI/002 in Spanish and simultaneously translated by a female interpreter who sat in the back of the room in an isolation box and broadcast to the attendees who were wearing receivers and earpieces.

A couple of things came to mind as I reflected on these different ways of translating the presentations. First, the Japanese translation was very effective because I could concentrate on the interpreter and follow the presentation. However, this method did double the time required for the material.

With the simultaneous Spanish translation, I was distracted by hearing Rick’s presentation in Spanish in one ear and the female interpreter in the other ear. I found it hard to concentrate on the material. But, on the plus side, no additional time was needed for the material. If I had used noise cancelling headphones it may not have been a problem, but I still believe that it would be better to have the same gender interpreter as the speaker.

I’d like to hear from the International Community and get your preferences on the following:

– Training and presentations in your native language

Formación y presentaciones en su idioma nativo
Formation et présentations dans votre langue maternelle
Formazione e presentazioni nella tua lingua madre
Κατάρτιση και παρουσιάσεις στη μητρική σας γλώσσα
당신의 모국어로 교육 및 프리젠 테이션
अपनी मूल भाषा में प्रशिक्षण और प्रस्तुतियों

– Simultaneous translation, where the interpreter translates as the speaker presents
– Consecutive translation, where the interpreter translates after the speaker finishes a statement or thought.
– All presentations and training in English

And as a final thought, how good were the above machine translations.

One thought on “The Tower of Babel Conundrum

  1. The problem with translation is that not all English words translate into other languages and other languages are not always translated correctly into English. Even within our own language a word or statement can have multiple meanings. In some languages like Spanish, Chinese, and even French there can be many dialects, how do you make sure you are using the right translation that will get to your audience.

    I think this is a great subject for discussion because it is important to be able to get important information into several languages. I agree that in today’s advanced technology world we should be able to speak and communicate with all languages and those who want to listen. Maybe go old school and have the presentation subtitle in multiple languages that a person can utilize there electronic device as the presentation is going. That way you do not have to have it translated and increase the presentation time.

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