と, はい, hai: 東京オリンピックでの喜びと失恋の解釈

と, はい, hai: 東京オリンピックでの喜びと失恋の解釈
The Tokyo Olympics are using about 100 interpreters to render joy and heartbreak into 11 言語

Ask him how many languages he speaks, and Alexandre Ponomarev replies: “If you mean to make myself understood, I’ve lost count.”

Count ‘em. Ponomarev speaks Russian, ウクライナ語, 英語, ドイツ人, スペイン語 French and Danish. And gets by in Swedish, ポルトガル語 イタリアの and Norwegian.

Ahh, but how about your Japanese?

“Muzukashi,” replied Ponomarev, which means “difficult” in 日本語 and can be interpreted to mean he doesn’t speak much.

OK, nobody’s perfect.

Ponomarev is the chief interpreter for the 東京 ゲーム, overseeing a staff of almost 100 interpreters who render Olympic joy and Olympic heartbreak into a calibrated cacophony of 11 言語: 日本語, 英語, フランス語, スペイン語, ドイツ人, ロシア, イタリアの, Arabic, 中国語, 韓国語, and Portuguese.

Ponomarev worked his first Olympics in 2008 in Beijing and took over as the chief in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. His mother got him started with language learning, smuggling DVDs of American films into the old Soviet Union. 一つずつ, the languages piled up.

“When somebody walks into a room full of interpreters, and it’s somebody who doesn’t speak the languages, it does feel like the Tower of Babel,” 彼が説明した. “You can see people speaking at the same time in all these dialects and languages and using strange words. It may seem crazy but we are actually not.”

What they are in Tokyo is busy.

Most work in the Main Press Center in a cable-strewn room with 20 translation booths lining the walls. Wires, 画面, and computer coders splice their words onto a network. The booths are decorated with Japanese art from famous masters like Hokusai, and carry labels like JPN or ENG to designate the languages being worked.

Unlike previous Olympics, all the interpretation is being done remotely. Press conferences from remote venues are fed into the press-center hub. Some two dozens interpreters aren’t even in the country, chiming in from the Americas or Europe to handle late night events in Japan.

Their simultaneous translations can be accessed at all Olympic venues on an app. This eliminates interpreters getting tied up in traffic heading to a venue — and there’s no longer any need to distribute handheld translation devices.

“We are here in the press center all the time, and we watch the events on the TV just like anybody else,” said Andrea Hofmann Miller, a German interpreter. “In Rio, we had to be on the bus for about four hours just to get to the swimming venue. そして私の場合, if a German-speaking athlete didn’t win, we spent eight hours on a bus for nothing.”

Ponomarev pointed out that cultural differences affect language. He may assign a speaker of Brazilian Portuguese to a Brazilian, and a peninsular Portuguese speaker to someone from Portugal; likewise with Spanish, which is spoken differently across 20 国.

A visitor entering his office the other day found Ponomarev speaking Spanish with an accent from Spain. He was chatting with an Argentine, a Venezuelan and another Spaniard. They were all speaking their own brand of Spanish, and a few times they slipped into French.

“When you get four or five interpreters in the room, and they all share at least two or three languages, they automatically switch back and forth,” Ponomarev explained. “The conversation starts in one language then quickly switches to another simply because another language is more conducive to talking about a specific topic.”

For a polyglot, toggling among several language seems more natural than staying in only one, sort of like a musician who plays several instruments. He used the example of the German word “schadenfreude,” which means pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.

This kind of word exists only in German and it would be difficult to express that concept in English. By the same token, there are concepts that exist only in Russia and we don’t convey them very well in any other language. To avoid lengthy descriptions, we switch to another language and people will understand instantly.”

He said his interpreters all bone up before the Olympics, studying the nuances of judo or the vagaries of Modern Pentathlon. But they can be stumped, particularly in new events like surfing and skateboarding.

“These are young people and they have their own speak," 彼は言った. “If somebody says ‘the wave are bad, おとこ’ — meaning the waves were great.”

Ponomarev and much of his staff have worked high-powered political events like the G20 or the World Economic Forum, which are far trickier than the Olympics.

“There you have a wide variety of people — presidents, ロイヤリティ, 政治家, interesting influencers, you name it,” 彼は言った.

時々, でも, things can get incredibly delicate at the Olympics. Hofmann Miller nearly teared up talking about the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, where Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died in a training run before the opening ceremony. He lost control of this sled and hit a steel pole beside the track.

“I was chosen to do the press interview for that, and it was a very, very sad event and I will never forget that," 彼女は言いました. “It was very moving, and it was really tough for all of us sitting on stage taking the questions from the press and to keep our emotions back.”

Interpretation is, 最終的には, more art than science — a discipline that requires skill, はい, but a strong dose of humanity as well. Both Ponomarev and the German interpreter, Hofmann Miller, acknowledge cheering for the athletes, or sympathizing with them in defeat.

“We all get absolutely excited for these athletes,” Ponomarev said. “Because when you interpret, you’re in someone else’s head. You don’t interpret words, you interpret meaning. And when you’re in somebody’s head, you start sympathizing.”

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その他のAPオリンピック: http://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympicsおよびhttp://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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