Rowland Palairet is a staff interpreter at the UN in Geneva (EN – ES FR RU) and Admin of the Interpretation Station.
Here he shows us a few tricks for what you might usefully do with the text of a speech that’s handed to you in the run up.
Scroll down for a blow by blow account…
A statement delivered on 10/2/21 by the Cuban PR to the UN in Geneva (UNOG) at an intersessional meeting of the Human Rights Council on the subject of “The Prevention of Genocide”
The idea is to give bite-size snapshots of how I would deal with statements delivered under typical “new normal” conditions of RSI, with all the attendant aggravating circumstances of bad audio, exterior sound interference and intermittent internet connection. The focus is on paring a text down to its bare bones while losing as little of the intended meaning as possible.
When reading my notes, imagine that I don’t have any text in front of me; I can give the speaker about a 3-4 word head start to give myself a little room for manoeuvre. Don’t be disappointed if sometimes the solution I offer is much more basic than you had hoped for… after all, it’s so much less taxing on the brain to say that something just “ is” than something “ is tantamount to” 😀
I’m also assuming in each case that the meeting has been running for some time and that the delegates are familiar with the subject-matter, events and people referred to.
“Hacer avanzar”… “further” as a verb is often a good one-word solution in English to reflect what is often a multi-word concept in other languages
“Injerencista”… key word to know when any reference is made to US foreign policy
“Senora Presidenta” can go straight in the bin! Take a well-deserved deep breath instead 😀
“economico… financiero” and “masiva… sistemática”… two cases where, under the current circumstances, getting 2 out of 3 adjectives is perfectly acceptable
“el gobierno de Estados Unidos”… in the context, saying “The US” implicitly refers to the government, so you can just drop “gobierno”
“Cubanos y cubanas”… unless the context was referring explicitly to the contribution of Cuban men and women, no need to make your life harder than it already it is. “Cubans” is fine by itself
“Convencion… Genocidio”… The assumption is that the Convention has already been discussed – after all the meeting is about “Prevention of Genocide”. Therefore no need to give it its full laborious name every time
“se ha recrudecido”… ramped up/ratcheted up. Good solutions when visualising a process similar to where the villain is “ratcheting up” the pain on his victim lying on the torture rack. Think James Bond in Goldfinger
“pandemia de Covid-19”… what other pandemics do you know of currently?? 😀. Give yourself a moment’s breather instead!
“reforzando”… just as “bolster” and “strengthen” have more zing than tepid old “improve”, likewise “compound” and “aggravate” are the spunky twin brothers of humdrum Mister “Worsen”
“Constituye”, “representa”… very satisfying to say “tantamount to” on a good day, with perfect sound and text in front of you, but when you’re up against it, better to just follow the KISS strategy – Keep It Simple, Stupid – and say “is”
“El principal obstáculo”… as I say in the hand-written notes, a well-timed emphatic “ THE” can express any number of superlatives “La Carta de las Naciones Unidas”… “The Charter” speaks for itself. Trust me. Breathe.
“Absoluto rechazo”… textbook example of where English has a sumptuous one-word solution to reflect a clunky two-word adjective+noun construction in another language”
“por quien quiera… se cometa”… something of an in-cliché these days in political circles when talking about terrorism
“individuos u organizaciones” … as I say in notes, the word “entity” pretty much covers both bases
“radican”… a word I sometimes forget, so always good to recall it every now and then