Interpreting at the Folklife Festival

A funny thing happened to this stage-shy translator at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival: I spent most of my time on stage, and I enjoyed it! There were a couple of small hiccups (quick! what’s the word for “pheasant” in Hungarian?). I won’t say I did a perfect job—that’s why I interpret on a volunteer basis. But the effort was mutually beneficial to me and my audience.

Interpreting for a little while helped me think about my translations in a new way. I guess this follows the same principle as cross-training in athletics. I was nervous at first, since I’m used to taking breaks at will and leaning on dictionaries more often than I should. After a bit of warm-up, I found the words rolling off my tongue. All of a sudden, it wasn’t a matter of thinking in X, then thinking in Y—there was a much better flow going on. Rather than thinking of the two languages side by side, they blended a bit, the one superimposed on the other.

I also noticed that I remembered vocabulary better—sometimes, at my desk, fatigue gets the better of me, and I end up using the dictionary far more than I should have to. In the festival setting, that was certainly not an option (though I had one handy just in case). Being forced to remember more, for the sake of conversation flow, was a blessing rather than a burden.

Hungarian Horntail dragon

Soon after I got back from the festival, a conversation started in a business practices listserv I belong to about using dictation software to “speak” your translations out loud. Paired with the timing of my recent venture outside of my comfort zone, this productivity tip really caught my eye. [Full disclosure: the idea of typing less is also appealing to me, because I injured my wrist in some undiagnosable way during high school.]

And that’s how I came to buy a dragon. Dragon Dictate 3 should arrive next week, and I couldn’t be more excited about a piece of office software. From the hundred or so reviews I read, it should take me about 10 minutes to train it to recognize my voice. I am aware that the Mac version isn’t as “feature-heavy” as the PC version—it won’t be as easy to navigate my tabs and tools by voice command as others are used to. But really, if all this does is type for me, I’ll be a happy lady.

I’ll definitely write up a review for this product soon. I’m especially curious to see how it handles changes in my American accent as I work with varying volumes of French versus Hungarian documents (does that happen to you, too?).

In the meantime, those of you who use dictation, do you have any advice for me? Does anyone have a text they think would be good or hilarious to use as a training document? Do you “cross-train” your language skills?


2 thoughts on “Interpreting at the Folklife Festival

  1. Pingback: Weekly favorites (July 15-21) | Adventures in Freelance Translation

  2. Pingback: Little-big cultural differences | translation, untangled

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