The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2021 - 28

IF
worked with an interpreter
who put on nail polish
in the booth, and it was
quite pungent), while her
boothmate is gesticulating
as he interprets. While
gesticulation would clearly
be frowned upon in a
courtroom setting, where
the interpreter aims to be as
inconspicuous as possible, I
often find that gesticulation
helps me concentrate on the
subject matter, especially if
the subject is somewhat dull.
(In the film, the conference
touched on refrigeration and
electronic waste.)
We are led to believe the
two Hungarian interpreters
in the film are pros. They
have fantastic diction and
a very pleasant style, even
when dealing with a less
than scintillating subject and
non-native English speakers
perorating in Eurospeak.
(One speaker begins his
remarks by saying, " I am
Paolo Falcioni. " A native
English speaker would
have said, " My name is
Paolo Falcioni. " )
In the midst of a dense
presentation on recycling
electronic waste, the two
interpreters manage to
play tic-tac-toe with each
other. While I can imagine
two very cocky interpreters
doing this, I've never seen
it (fortunately). I have seen
colleagues receive phone calls
while interpreting. If they do
answer, they usually mute
their mics, pick up the phone
and say, " I'll call you later, "
release the mute button,
and resume interpreting.
However, such multitasking
is counterproductive and is
best avoided. No matter how
experienced the interpreter,
you'll likely miss part of a
sentence or various sentences.
Which brings us to the
heart of the film. As the
two interpreters strike up a
competition to see who can
win over their sole listener,
they repeatedly turn each
other's microphone off and
start interpreting. This is a
no-no and a basic violation
of booth etiquette. The
person who is interpreting
determines when to stop
and then signals to the other
interpreter to begin. I've
witnessed interpreters cut
their boothmates off, and
it definitely does not work
wonders for booth morale
and team spirit.
It's very understandable
that an interpreter would
want to know if anyone is
listening to them. If you're
absolutely sure that there's
no one listening, maybe
you can stop interpreting.
(The jury is out on that
one-you might be sure no
one is listening, but halfway
into the conference, a new
attendee might walk in,
turn on your channel, and
hear nothing.) A good,
although not infallible, way
of knowing who is listening,
or if anyone is listening, is
to ask over your channel,
" Is anyone listening to the
Hungarian interpretation?
If so, could you please
raise your hand? " This is
a fairly accurate way of
ascertaining one's audience,
a technique not followed
by the interpreters in the
short. Had they done so, the
director wouldn't have had
a film.
Which brings us to
the major sin of both
interpreters. They try to
seduce their one-person
28 The ATA Chronicle | November/December 2021
female audience over the
headphones: one rather
coarsely, and the other
somewhat poetically.
Obviously, this is a film,
and the director is entitled
to cinematic license. I
know of no interpreter who
would seriously entertain
the possibility of doing
something that might
get them blacklisted in
perpetuity. However, what
has happened, on more
than one occasion, is that
interpreters continue to
talk in the booth during
breaks and sometimes
forget to turn off their
mics. When this happens,
information they thought
was for their ears only
might be inadvertently
broadcast to anyone who
has their headphones
on. One interpreter at a
conference on ceramic
tiles told his colleague
that the English spoken
by a Japanese delegate
was incomprehensible.
(He was removed from
the conference.) Another
commented on the physical
appearance of someone in
the auditorium. (He was
NOTES
1
2
also kicked out.) Sometimes
the conference technicians
realize the interpreters
are discussing " sensitive "
information on air and
quickly alert them that their
mics are live. But not always.
For Those Who Wonder
" What if...? "
This is a film that gets all
the details right. It's realistic
down to the minutiae, even
showing the coffee breaks
with participants talking on
cell phones. Starting from a
very realistic setting, the film
takes off on a flight of fancy.
What actually happens in
the film would never happen
with veteran interpreters.
But for any interpreter
who has ever wondered,
" what if...?, " this film
provides a most entertaining
interlude.
Chuchotage (2018, 18
minutes) is available for rent
($4.50) or purchase ($7.00)
on Vimeo at https://vimeo.
com/ondemand/chuchotage.
For the moment, at least, it's
also available on YouTube for
free at https://bit.ly/
Chuchotage-YouTube.
Sarah. " Chuchotage (Short Film), " Caution Spoilers (January
16, 2019), https://bit.ly/Chuchotage-review.
Prestridge, James. " Interview: Barnabás Tóth's Short Film
Chuchotage Brings Laughs and Love to the Translation
Booth, " Close-Up Culture (January 11, 2019), https://bit.ly/
Close-Up-Culture.
3
You can watch the Barnabás Tóth interview for the Edinburgh
Short Film Festival here: https://bit.ly/ESFF-Tóth.
Daniel Sherr is a court and conference
interpreter who works in both New York and
Barcelona (not simultaneously, but sometimes on
the same day) in Catalan, French, Spanish, and
English. Danielsherr@cs.com
www.atanet.org
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/chuchotage https://vimeo.com/ondemand/chuchotage https://www.bit.ly/chuchotage-youtube https://www.bit.ly/chuchotage-youtube https://www.bit.ly/Chuchotage-review https://www.bit.ly/close-up-culture https://www.bit.ly/close-up-culture https://www.bit.ly/ESFF-Tóth http://www.atanet.org

The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2021

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