Simultaneous Interpreter for the Islamic Conference of the Minsiters of Environment Protection

On May, 17-18th  the fifth Islamic conference of the Ministers of Environment Protection was held in Astana where I was providing  simultaneous translation services.

The conference touched on the issues such as Islamic agenda for green development, strategy for disaster risk reduction, green economy in Islamic countries and many others.  During the discussion there was prepared a draft Islamic Declaration on Sustainable Development within the framework of the Islamic world’s participation in the Rio+20 Summit that will be held next month in Brazil.

The conference was very specific from the translation point of view: there were three interpreter’s booths with working languages being Arabic, English and French. As it is quite difficult to find Arabic-French or Arabic-English interpreters in Astana, Russian was used as the language “in between” which means that when there was an Arabic speaking presenter, first the speech was interpreted into Russian and then from Russian into both English and French. This setting resulted in interpreting mainly our colleagues-interpreters which is a big responsibility because it is one thing to provide translation to the “end user” and it is a different thing to say the words that will further be interpreted into other languages.  It is also true the other way around: interpreting a speaker directly is a challenge in itself but interpreting the translation is a double challenge: we had to rely completely on our colleagues because we had no idea what the speaker actually said in Arabic and if the Arabic-Russian translation was wrong or came with the delay, we repeated mistakes, too. In other words, welcome to the broken phone game!

Another difficulty was that each speech was started with the reference to Quran or with the prayers which we weren’t exactly familiar with so we had to quickly learn that, too.

But apparently things didn’t go wrong as they could have, the delegates understood one another, signed  the documents that they prepared and left our city to meet again in Rio in June.

Posted on May 25th, 2012