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RSI as a response to the global pandemic

September 21st, 2020

COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a lot of changes into our professional and personal lives. Conference interpreting industry was hit very hard as all the big (and small) events got cancelled. Many clients postponed everything that they planned until things got back to “normal”. Half a year into pandemic and “normal” isn’t really back. Instead, there is a “new normal” – working remotely and providing RSI – remote simultaneous interpretation services.

Remote Simultaneous Interpreter Snezhana Skakovskaya

RSI has its advantages and disadvantages: while interpreters have many more responsibilities now (we basically became our own simultaneous interpretation technicians), new opportunities opened up as well. It became so much easier to get access to new markets, to work all around the globe in different time zones while never leaving your home office and not even being in the same room as your booth partner. Many love it, many hate, most tolerate it and everybody misses offline events and coffee breaks 🙂  

Zoom has become our main means of communication, zoom calls and zoom call tests are daily occurrence in our lives these days. Since no one really know when the pandemic is going to be over we might as well embrace all the new technologies, platforms and handover functions.

All in all, like many other professionals, simultaneous interpreters are doing their best to make lemonade out of 2020 lemons.

English-Russian Translator in Bangkok for EXPO 2017 in Astana

October 29th, 2012

Last two weeks I worked as a Russian-English translator in Bangkok, Thailand as a part of the EXPO 2017 in Astana promotion campaign.  I had started working for EXPO 2017 in February and I had a number of assignments since then.

This time I  came  to Bangkok to organize and translate  meetings between the Government of Kazakhstan and the Ambassadors based in Thailand as well as for the UN ESCAP Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives Session.
First week was spent for preparations: together with my colleague we mainly worked with the Embassy of Kazakhstan to Thailand; we found conference room for meetings, hotel for the Kazakh delegation, a place for the reception.
Next week when the main delegation arrived from Kazakhstan we started meetings with Ambassadors to ask for support of Astana candidacy to host EXPO 2017. After two days of meetings the representative of Kazakhstan delivered a speech at the Session of the Advisory Committee of the Permanent Representatives of UN ESCAP.
Once all the official meetings were over, the Embassy of Kazakhstan invited Ambassadors to the reception where video materials on EXPO 2017 Astana projects were demonstrated.  I translated during the reception as well.
The trip was very interesting as it was my first time in South-East Asia: in spite of the busy schedule I had a chance to explore the city a little bit and got to know a small part of the thai culture: people are nice and smiling, always trying to help foreigners who are a bit lost in such an exotic place.

French-Russian simultaneous translation for Turksoy

September 24th, 2012

Yesterday for the first time I did simultaneous French-Russian translation for the 3rd meeting of the country-members of TURKSOY (International Organization for the Turcic Culture) on UNESCO –related questions.
Snejana Skakovskaya  French translator in astana
Previously I worked as a consecutive French-Russian interpreter and as a simultaneous English-Russian interpreter but never as a simultaneous French-Russian interpreter. There is always first time, as they say. Plus I also worked with the Astana Mayor’s office on the UNESCO-related issues so I was more or less prepared.
Most of the speeches were held in Russian, so my main translation was Russian-French: speeches were delivered on the natural, tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the world. Representatives of different Turkic countries (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, republics of Saha, Tatarstan and others) spoke of historical monuments, manuscripts, legends, traditional music and songs of their countries and the ways to preserve this heritage.
There was a speech from the French scientist M.Fischler who shared his impressions and thoughts on his visits to the mausoleum of Khodja Achmed Yassawi in Kazakhstan, he also touched upon the works of two prominent scientists and philosophers such as Al Farabi and Yasawi. This speech I translated from French to Russian.
The conference continued on the next day where I combined the knowledge of both French and English because eventhough the main translation was Russian-French, one of the speeches was delivered in English and I had to quickly “switch” languages in my head. I worked at the session where participants discussed how the countries can preserve the documentary heritage, such as manuscripts, legends and historical books and works. The collaboration in this area is especially important because not all the works of a scientist are kept in one country, sometimes they are scattered around many countries and without helping each other the countries might lose the heritage altogether.
I was very happy to have this opportunity to try myself in simultaneous French-Russian translation and it seems that it didn’t go bad at all so I will be even happier to continue!

Interpreter at the World Chess Tournament

September 17th, 2012

On July, 5th I worked as a simultaneous English-Russian translator at the World Blitz and Rapid Chess Championships. For the first time the Championships were held in Astana.
To translate during the Chess Championship was a very unusual and interesting task, the topic is so much different from that of the conferences where I normally work.

To my surprise the conference that preceded the championship started in the Kazakh language which I don’t speak but understand somewhat. For the first couple moments I was expecting the translation into Russian but then I realized that it wasn’t provided. Which means I had to “improvize” and translate from Kazakh to English directly which I wouldn’t normally do but I thought it was better to go ahead than keep silent. Plus it wasn’t that difficult! There were questions about the winning fund, about guests’ impressions on Astana, about the championship’s participants.

The conference was brief but very interesting as I already said. The following day I came to the Championship as a visitor: I play chess myself and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to watch a real game! There were 8 games played at the same time and I had hard time following them all. Eventually I chose one and stuck to it.

It was a very enriching experience both professionally and personally. I am happy to have participated in the Championship in Astana!

Working and studying in Paris

February 15th, 2011

Last month I spent in Paris both studying in Alliance Francaise and working for ALSTOM Transport.
Snejana Skakovskaya translator in astanaMost of the time I work as an English-Russian interpreter in Astana  that is why I almost don’t practice my French. Working for ALSTOM in Astana changes that a lot, so French translation in Astana is more and more required. I decided to take some time off in Astana and go to Paris to refresh my French.
Courses of the French language in Alliance Francaise were very useful, we focused on grammar and also worked on our conversational skills. I also had access to the rich library of Alliance Francaise which comprised books as well as audio and video files. The best way of practicing the language was actually communicating with  the natives and living in the french speaking environment. There was also such thing as Polyglot Club where people from different countries gathered and could practice basically any language. Many people were interested in speaking Russian to me.
Since ALSTOM headquarters is in Paris, it is no wonder that I contunued my work as a Russian translator there as well. It was nice to meet people from ALSTOM in Paris with whom  I normally work in Astana.
By the end of my stay in Paris I got a request for Russian translation in Berlin. Berlinale film festival will take place  there in February, 10th-20th. Among other films that will compete for the prize, there will be presented a Russian film „Innocent Saturday“ and there will be interviews with the actors and film director, that is why a Russian-English interpreter in Berlin is required.
I look forward to that exciting assignment!

Russian Interpreter in Astana for ALSTOM

January 11th, 2011

Since April I’ve been involved in two projects of ALSTOM TRANSPORT in Kazakhstan. These are two strategic projects: delivery of electric locomotive and construction of tramway line in Astana. I work mostly as a technical Russian-English translator, sometimes also as a Russian-French translator since ALSTOM is a French company.

The projects are very big so we had several working groups: technical, legal, financial. I mostly work in a technical group where we talk about electric locomotive manufacturing process, about its parameters and technical description. At the beginning I didn’t know much about „locos“ – as we call electric locomotives, I saw no difference between BoBo, double BoBo and CoCo locomotives, but step by step I was getting more and more into it. Now I know why it is that important for a locomotive to have an unbalanced lateral acceleration up to 1.0 m/s2 and what impact it has on the rails and on the locomotive bogie.

But it’s not always the technicians that I translate. Sometimes we have a hectic schedule and after interpreting at the technical meeting, I have to run to a finanical one, where specialists discuss cash flow, overheads and structure of Joint Venture. I also became familiar with the notions such as P&L, CAPEX and OPEX. I might also translate at a legal meetings where I deal with words as precedent conditions, preemptive right and fundamental breach.

Everybody involved in the project worked quite hard, often without days-off and working long hours but it was worth it – on the 27th of October, 2010 in Paris there was signed the Contract by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the President of France. Now the project is officially launched which means we have more work ahead!

Translation for the Secretary General of OSCE

July 8th, 2009

Translation for the OSCE Secretary General seems to be impossible in Astana, but this is not true. Secretary General of OSCE, M. Marc Perrin de Brichambaut came to Astana for the Congress of leaders of world and traditional religions.
The state broadcasting station „Kazakhstan“ had the privilege of interviewing the Secretary General. I was asked to translate for M. De Brichambaut.  There was  the agreement with the press center that the interview would be done in English, but since M. De Brichambaut is French, I translated from Russian to French and vice versa.
The atmosphere was very friendly. We swichted  to English for the official part of the interview. I translated from Russian to English the questions of the journalist and the responses of M. De Brichambaut. He  made remarks about the Congress that was being  held in Astana, he also shared his thoughts about the forthcoming chairmanship of Kazakhstan in OSCE.  At the end of interview the Secretary General wished all citizens of Astana a happy 11th anniversary of the city.
The interview was quite short but very intensive. After the official part I switched back to French and we talked for a while. M. De Brichambaut assured us that this was not his last trip to Kazakhstan and that he would be coming back again and again. He was willing to have an open dialogue between OSCE and Kazakhstan. Hopefully, we will be following the news related to the presidency of  Kazakhstan in OSCE.
Chairmanship in OSCE in 2010 has a great value to Kazakhstan, so does the translation for the Secretary General to me.

Translation of excursions in Astana

January 15th, 2009

Translation of excursions in Astana is a great deal nowadays as not many tour guides speak English, French or any other foreign languages. The situation will probably change in the course of the next couple years as a new generation is getting more and more multilingual and there won’t be any need to translate what the tour gide says.

Last summer an international economic forum was held in Astana that was the reason wny there were many foreigners in Astana. After an official part of the forum the guest were eager to explore our city and to find out more about its history. Our small team (a bus-driver, a russian speaking tour guide and me) drove up to the hotel where all the guests stayed and we started our excursion stright away.

There were guests from CIS who spoke russian and those from USA, India and China who needed russian-english translation so we arranged the process of excursion this way: first a tour guide Elena gave us some information about this or that sight-seeing in russian and after a while I did the translation.

So we started with a new part of the city, drove by Baiterek (a symbol of Astana), went to the Pyramid (a very famous building made by a Normann Foster’s project), saw a residence of our president Nursultan Nazarbaev, crossed the river and found ourselves in an old part of Astana, came up to its historical center and continued our excursion at the museum of the first president of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

It was my first translation of an excursion so it was very useful that I prepared for the work: found out lots of information about our city and translated it into English. That was also very good that just couple months before the excursion I had a course „Theory of interpreter’s note-taking“ and I was ready to manage with all figures, names and places that should either be remembered or written down in order to be able to make an adequate translation.

Our excursion was very interesting and productive: even I who was born in Astana learnt many new things about it, so did the guests I hope. I also hope they really enjoyed our city and will come to Astana over and over again.

Quotes on Translation and Translators.

January 15th, 2008
  • Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.

Anthony Burgess

  • Either the translator leaves the author in peace, as much as is possible, and moves the reader towards him: or he leaves the reader in peace, as much as possible, and moves the author towards him.

Friedrich Schleiermacher

  • Translators can be considered as busy matchmakers who praise as extremely desirable a half-veiled beauty. They arouse an irresistible yearning for the original.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

  • Translation is at best an echo.

George Borrow

  • The original is unfaithful to the translation.

Jorge Luis Borges

  • Translation quality assessment proceeds according to the lordly, completely unexplained, whimsy of “It doesn’t sound right”.

Peter Fawcett

  • Translators live off the differences between languages, all the while working toward eliminating them.

Edmond Cary

  • Translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful.

Yevgeny Yevtoushenko

  • Many critics, no defenders,

translators have but two regrets:

when we hit, no one remembers,

when we miss, no one forgets.

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