Monday, April 30, 2007

Tongue twister

For a regular fix of home, we French expats in New York tune to France 2's evening news, shown here at 7pm. They're even subtitled for monolingual American viewers who want to experience TV news utterly devoid of neckless sportscasters. Judging from this screen grab, Nicolas Sarkozy had a refreshingly candid moment. But alas, it turns out there was a mistake in that subtitle—and no, it wasn't the repetition of "that we can." Sarko was inviting the French to rally around him, but the translator took some liberties. While many would think he or she simply verbalized Sarko's implied thought, he/she is now out of a job.

As someone who's often translated and interpreted, I can testify to the everpresent temptation to fix something. I remember an instance, in particular, when I was interpreting for an American writer interviewing the director Leos Carax. It took an enormous amount of discipline to remain neutral and not tell that idiot he was squandering a golden opportunity: Carax obviously was ready to open up but the journo blithely went down his list of questions, never following up on the various leads Carax tantalizingly kept waving in front of him. How can you not follow up when a filmmaker says "Many things went terribly wrong on that shoot…"?!?

Ponder this as you play a few rounds of this Battle Royal (tip 'o the hat to my brother in Paris for sending the link).

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