Monday, 26 March 2007


This weekend, to widen my experience as a linguist (and to make up for all those times I've ignored people begging on the RER), I did some volunteer interpreting for a French NGO.
I arrived on time and introduced myself to my booth-mate:
me: so what brings you here then?
- oh I used to be a translator but I wasn't making enough money so I signed up to an interpreting school. what do you do?
me: I'm a translator
I'd been a bit nervous but it turned out to be a very supportive atmosphere, and a good day altogether. Although at one point, when the delegates went off to work in groups, I started to wonder about interpreter neutrality. When everyone is there as a volunteer and you are talking about a charitable organisation it's sometimes hard not to get involved. The first group we listened to (for vocab learning purposes) was very small, so we introduced ourselves but found it hard to stay out of the discussion without being rude. The second group was larger so we were able to keep a low profile, until one of the delegates approached me with a digital camera and asked if I could take a few snapshots. In our third and final attempt at neutral observation one of the group members, enthused by the appearance of foreigners, launched into an explanation of what they were working on, until his colleague pointed out that, currently, they were not able to work on anything, and could he please just pretend the interpreters were not there! This made me feel instantly more comfortable.
A good experience altogether, and a chance to meet some interesting people.

Today my Polish CD finally arrived from Amazon! I've been making the daily fruitless trip to reception to check for parcels for the last two weeks now, but today the receptionist caught me at the door with my package! Now I have six days to learn the whole Polish language...

And finally: I brought a very old book with me to France, supposing it to be Tristram Shandy. As I started to read, it became clear that it was really The Count of Monte Cristo. Now that I have come to the last page, I realise with horror that it is in fact only volume 1 of The Count of Monte Cristo. How can I possibly wait to find out What Happens Next??
My dealings with Amazon may not be over yet...

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