President’s Translation Mix-Up

At a news conference this past Wednesday, between President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, there were some translation mix-ups, causing great confusion between the two leaders. There was not simultaneous translation from English to Chinese for Hu Jintao, as thought by President Obama. When both leaders were asked a question, it was not immediately translated to Hu, leaving him unaware of the question, thus not responding. His lack of a response cause many to believe that he was avoiding the subject of human rights altogether, when in fact, he had just not been asked the question in his own language. Another mishap occurred when Obama answered a question with a quite lengthy response, but because there was not simultaneous translation occurring, the interpreter was made to translate the long response after Obama had finished, which increase the margin for error in the translation.

Later in the conference, a reporter jokingly asked for the translator “to interpret my two questions correctly and accurately.” Although it is not entirely clear what caused the confusion, it was stated by White House representatives that the Chinese had requested consecutive, not simultaneous translation, which apparently had not been expressed to Obama, or he would have responded in shorter, more broken up and easier to translate segments. There were also issues with the American live broadcast, sometimes having stretches of Mandarin that most Americans are unable to understand.

Clearly, this is an example of the necessity of clarity of what’s expected when working with a professional translation service. Both parties need to make their expectations clear to the translator and to each other to get the job done well. Here at Epic Translations, we are always making sure that all bases are covered with our translation and interpretation work. Come give us a try and we’re sure to impress. Give us a call at 1-877-EPIC-745