And the Oscar goes to…

Once again, the limo doors open and glamorous Hollywood stars in their tuxedos and designer dresses walk between the lights along the red carpet, and time after time the words: “And the Oscar goes to…” are repeated, and the winner thanks his grandmother Barbara and her uncle Henry in an excited voice and eyes filled with tears, waving the little golden statue to the cheering crowd.

Oh, and there are also the movies. Some better, some worse, blockbusters filled with special effects, superheroes, exploding bridges and cars flying through the air, or maybe a low budget Icelandic movie, gentle and melancholic of an old fisherman remembering his long gone childhood on his death bed, The big screen encompasses the entire range of human emotions.

I like to make my points about the translation world using movie anecdotes. Since the Oscar awards show just took place just a few days ago, I would like to take another look at some of those TV and movie references.

So sit back, grab a bowl of popcorn, try not to disturb the person sitting behind you, and… Lights, Camera, Action!

The long and short of it – from “Lost in Translation”

Bill Murray plays the role of a Hollywood actor shooting a Whiskey commercial in Japan and is forced to deal with some extremely long directions from the pretentious Japanese director. Surprisingly, the never-ending sentences are translated by the Japanese interpreter into short simple sentences in English.

Being in a situation when you cannot understand what is being said is very frustrating, and even more so if the interpreter is not doing a proper job.

An interpreter must speak very clearly, be assertive and have good presentation skills.

The interpreter needs to be fluent in the source and in the target language and of course understand any specific professional content.

How to order 3 glasses of Whiskey – from “Inglorious Bastards”

In this bloody Tarantino movie, a British agent disguised as a German officer gets caught by a Nazi soldier after ordering 3 glasses of whiskey using the wrong hand gesture.

A professional interpreter has to know the language he is translating thoroughly, including all of its little nuances, slang and body gestures.

Failing to do so may not lead to a massacre like in Tarantino’s movie, but it can certainly cause embarrassment and misunderstanding.

At Lichi we will always prefer an interpreter who is native to the language into which he is translating, knows it to its roots and is able to use it properly when ordering whiskey…

The future is now… almost – from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Just imagine – A fish you can shove into your ear and it translates any language perfectly for you! Wonderful, isn’t it? Think how much translation work could be saved… according to the movie “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, this is the solution to all translation problems.

This may very well happen one day. In fact specialists and inventors are already working on computerized translation solutions based on artificial intelligence. Who knows where this can lead us?

I personally believe that it will take a very long time to really replace the human translator, who is attuned to the nuances of the language and the speaker’s body language, but maybe one day a fish will be able to do the same?

How much would you pay to understand? – from the T.V. series “Louie”

Not from the big screen, but it’s hard to ignore the frustration of the American comedian Louie C.K. when he tries to understand a Hungarian woman he falls in love with as he says: “I would pay a million dollars to understand what you’re saying”.

In reality, and especially in business, deals can rise or fall because of a certain choice of words. For this reason many people would pay a lot of money for a high quality translation. How do you put a price on that? To read more

While we at Lichi Translations do not translate the movies on the big screen – there are other companies that specialize in this field – we will be happy to add subtitlesto your video clips. We certainly can do that.

And now I would just like to thank the wonderful staff of Lichi Translations, my husband and kids, my brothers and sister, my parents, grandparents and grandmothers and all the people without whom I could never have written this post.

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