The Truth Needs No Translation…?

I had an interesting experience last night. I had a headache so I skipped my normal Friday night’s Everquesting and watched a movie instead. Some time back I had bought “The Interpreter” on DVD because my boss had recommended it to me, but I hadn’t even gotten around to taking it out of the shrink wrap until last night.

If you are a doctor or a lawyer or even a mental health professional or a teacher, you can find movies that are written about your profession. It is very rare that I find movies about my profession unless they are mainly about Deaf characters with interpreters as necessary evils, thrown into police stations or at the moment that the Deaf protagonist stands up to his or her hearing oppressors and gives a speech. I found myself identifying with Nicole Kidman’s character in her professional role but on a different level than I do with the interpreters in the movies I just described.

I got into my field because I love languages, not because I have Deaf family members or because I have this burning desire to HELP. (Heh, I got into mental health because of the desire to HELP! Just kidding…sorta…) I have always found it fascinating to watch spoken language interpreters work. One of the best interpreting jobs I ever had was to work with a Russian-English interpreter when a former leader of the Soviet Union came to speak at the University of Georgia…I was more interested in meeting his interpreter than him!!

Anyway, back to the movie…One of the things that struck me was her reaction when she overheard the people talking in the GA after hours. I know now that part of the reason she didn’t tell anyone right away was her connection to the situation, but that wasn’t revealed until much later in the movie. Without that knowledge, I saw someone struggling with the same kind of ethical decision that interpreters are faced with on a regular basis. I think it happens even more with signed language interpreters because there is NO whispering in a signed language…and our consumers trust that we are ethical and competent professionals and that we won’t run tell things that we see communicated that were meant to be private.

However, I also applauded her coming forth the following morning to report what she’d heard, even though it was against her own personal and political convictions to do so. I have faced similar situations, obviously not of the same magnitude, but I know it is a very tough call to make and even tougher to follow through on to go against your training and expectations as an interpreter and report something that you “overheard.”

All in all I would highly recommend the movie, and that’s saying a lot because I don’t care for crime dramas and political thrillers normally. But this one hit close to home… I only wish I’d seen it sooner.

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