Tuesday, 15 July 2008


- We're still waiting for one or two people...
began the speaker (in French) .. so I'll tell you an amusing little anecdote to get the interpreters warmed up.

Uh oh.

- I'm a farmer, I live in the country, and one day a woman from the city came to visit us. "You'll never guess what I just read in the papers" she said. "There's been an exciting new discovery for beekeepers. It's so clever. They've taught the bees to make the honey... in jars!"

There was a pause.

Silence in the hall.

The speaker stared hard at the tinted glass of my booth.* Why weren't they laughing? Was she broken?

He gave me another puzzled look and continued.

- My nephew - himself a beekeeper - was also sitting nearby. "That's nothing." he replied. "My bees have been doing that for years. Better still: my bees make honey in jars ...

... and
they put the lids on!"

I held my breath and willed the sleepy audience to have just a little giggle.

Faint mirth. Not enough though. The speaker sent a Very Pointed Look in my direction.

- Now I will speak in English.

he said.

- to test the French interpretation...

*It's just me actually - times are hard and English interpreters can put away an awful lot of free food...


Darth Sida said...

Speaking (of) French, I nearly missed my hiatus in "les héros" comme "les zeros" once. Brr. And Very Pointed Looks - the reason I never dared start any serious interpreting.

Can't comment much on bees. Oh. In Japanese they sound like 'eight' does ("hachi"). Wha kens, it might turn out useful some day.

pinolona said...

agh the dreaded liaison... get it wrong and the French will Spot You as a mispronouncing foreign-type straight away.

Thanks for the Japanese tip. I'd like to go to Japan some day actually. No particular reason, it just appeals in some way. One day in a few years' time when I can afford long-haul flights...

pinolona said...

On the other hand, Italians are really nice to interpret for and will nod and smile enthusiastically in spite of your mangled version of their beautiful language and misguided use of subjunctive endings (and the odd stray - and very swiftly bitten back - Polish preposition...)