Replies: 19 - Last Post: Oct 21, 2012 9:32 AM Last Post By: nutraxfornerves
Oct 8, 2012 2:31 AM
reportersi was watching the chicago marathon online on NBC chicago yesterday, and during the race, the commentators usually tell the viewers a little bit about the elite runners, their successes, but also that especially the ethiopian and kenyan runners tend to come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, that running is the way out of poverty for them, and in the case of tsegaye kebede, the winner of the men's race yesterday, that he had barely had any education, could not afford to go to school, was earning next to nothing for a day's hard work blah di blah di blah...
so this super talented tsegaye kebede won the chicago marathon yesterday, he even set a new course record, so why is it that some reporter approaches him at the end of the race and asks him questions in english, a level of english that is far too advanced for tesegaye kebede to understand, and when he (tsegaye kebede) does not understand, the reporter repeats the same question, but only louder.
i mean how can someone be so oblivious to the fact that the party being interviewed does not possess the command of english that is required to answer such a question?
i know that some elite runners speak reasonably good english, but most really struggle.
i was also watching an interview once with an elite female kenyan runner, who won a race, and she was asked technical questions about the race, and all she could say was that she was happy to have won the race and that she had trained very hard. then the reporter kept banging on with his questions and all this little poor girl was able to say was what she had just said, that she was very happy and that she had trained very hard.
why is it that some reporters are so oblivious to the fact that not everyone is capable of holding a conversation or answering a question in a language that is foreign to most those athletes? especially when only a few minutes ago, the viewers were told about their social backgrounds etc.
they - the reporters - struck me as really insensitive and unprofessional. why do they have to be such idiots?
Oct 8, 2012 8:46 PM
Oct 9, 2012 8:33 PM
2#1 - I agree. The very worst example I've ever seen was a channel 10 tv reporter in Australia asking a young champion swimmer, who had won a silver medal in the Olympic Games, "What does it feel like to have lost?"
The report was a total pratt. The champion shortly after that left swimming forever and took up a carpentry apprenticeship.
Oct 10, 2012 12:05 AM
3It's that total lack of sensitivity that annoys me. But I saw one who got his comeuppance, years ago after the attack on a US navy ship in - the Straits of Hormuz? forgot exactly where - by a group of Saudis. The reporter (American) was interviewing a Saudi prince and asked him, pompously, what kind of country could produce terrorists like that and I'll never forget the prince's classic response - "the same type of country that gave rise to the uni-bomber." The reporter was actually at a loss for words after that.
Oct 10, 2012 1:14 AM
4It is common for reporters to ask foreigners questions in a level of English they can't respond to. But it is also usual in such cases to have a translator to hand. If you don't, you are just daft.
I also get annoyed when reporters manage to get access to people like senior Saudis, and ask them grandstanding questions that can be brushed off, when there are telling questions of detail that would be much more challenging to them. They ask "Why do you still torture suspects and pin involuntary confessions on them?" which can simply be denied. "Why, if you are so insistent that suspects are not in fact tortured, do you not allow them to have a lawyer and a camera present at interrogation, a safeguard that has been found necessary in even the most human rights-conscious countries, so that fact of them not being tortured can be clearly demonstrated, both to you and the wider world? Would it not be better for your police to concentrate on collecting actual tangible evidence of what happened, and presenting that evidence to the court, rather than relying on confessions, which have been routinely shown to be unreliable in all jurisidictions?" These questions would be harder to dodge.
Oct 10, 2012 2:20 AM
Oct 10, 2012 3:13 AM
Oct 10, 2012 6:19 AM
7Same issue in the olympic men's road cycling race. The favourite to win was Bradley Wiggins from UK, but in the end Alexandr Vinokourov from Kazakhastan took gold. The TV interviews were painful to watch as the interviewers made no allowances for Vinokourov's limited English. I bet Bradley Wiggins couldn't give an interview in Russian either.
Oct 10, 2012 8:20 AM
8My guess would be that a) the reporter had little or no experience dealing with non-English speakers and b) the reporter was told "no problem,he/she speaks English." The reporter took that to mean there would be no language barrier, and missed the cues that there was indeed a barrier.
This kind of badgering really does sound like the reporter thought she was being evasive, not that she had no idea what he was asking. It also sounds like the assignment was "hey, Fred, I know you usually cover City Hall politics, but I need someone to interview the marathon winners and since you run marathons, I want you to do it."
None of which excuses being an insensitive idiot.
Oct 13, 2012 11:18 AM
Oct 13, 2012 11:39 AM
10I've been on the other side, as the English-speaker working with a translator. (Not as a reporter, but mainly in meetings with visiting dignitaries.) I would hazard that most people have no idea how to work with a translator, because they do it so seldom. I found that when I spoke in short paragraphs, it often caught the translators by surprise, since they were so used to people who reeled off half of a book before stopping. I learned to brief staff before any meeting involving a translator, to help them understand what to do.
We had a group once who brought their own translator. Unfortunately, he was a German-English translator. Why unfortunately? Because it was a group of Italians. One of the Italians spoke German. Everything was first translated into German, then into Italian. And back.
None of us spoke Italian, but we tried to come up with as much German as possible, to shorten the time. Even our primitive Spanish was better than waiting all that time.
I once attended a small science conference between Russia and the US. The US State Dept. provided simultaneous translators. I was impressed.
Since the conference was pretty small, I could see the translators in their sound-proof booth. I hadn't really thought about it before, but they only worked in one direction. For instance, Russian to English, but never English to Russian, although they obviously were fluent in both languages. For this conference, they also had to have a good knowledge of scientific terms. Once in a while they would "break the window" and ask for an explanation of a term.
They always had this absolutely intense, concentrated look on their faces while translating. I've only seen that kind of intensity in two other situations--Secret Service officers guarding a presidential candidate and Seeing Eye dogs on duty. Each translator only worked for 15-20 minutes. When not translating, they'd sit at the back of the booth, looking exhausted.
Oct 13, 2012 11:57 AM
11A friend of mine was a simultaneous translator at the UN. The one-way rule, into your native language, is the way they run. She did Russian-English primarily and French-English when needed. She also traveled to UN conferences on scientific topics and boned up on the appropriate vocabulary ahead of time.
She taught simultaneous translation and said that she could tell very quickly which students were likely to succeed. The attrition rate was very high.
As for me, even consecutive translation was exhausting. It's all short-term memory and at the end of the job I rarely remembered any specific content, only general subject matter.
I was informally, as a helpful (I hope) bystander, in a two-step situation in Russia where one person spoke Russian and the other spoke French. I spoke both, but all my translation got mentally mediated through English, since I don't seem to have any neural pathways directly between Russian and French. I was wiped out very quickly.
Oct 14, 2012 9:10 AM
12I spoke at a conference in Warsaw. Presentations could be in English or Polish. Two booths at the back held English -> Polish and Polish -> English simlutaneous translators, to which delegates listed through headphones if necessary.
I speak basic Polish, not enough for a full presentation. I practised my opening paragraph (thank the organisers, great honour to be here, blah blagh)- over and over - in Polish with some very patient local colleagues, until I had it more or less correct. I started presenting in Polish, five minutes later apologising (still in Polish) that for the technical part I would have to switch into English. At this point a kerfuffle broke out in the booth, as the English->Polish translator had nipped out for a cigarette and was nowhere to be found.
Oct 20, 2012 11:35 AM
13one thing i find particularly frustrating when travelling is when you ask someone if they speak english and say yes, but then find out that they don't. anyway, you have no choice but to talk to this person as noone else is around. and say it is ten o clock in the morning and you want to know what time the next bus departs for Y.
that person then says 'three hour' or 'three o clock' but you know from experience ,that they don't really know the difference between 'in three hours' and 'at three o clock' and then you are stuck, because it is 10am, and there is no way for you to find out if the bus departs in three hours, which would be at 1pm or at three o'clock, which would be in 5 hours...
Oct 20, 2012 12:34 PM
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