Something I could never manage


Registrating guests

Last week at our event, we had a simultaneous interpreter. Some people are impressed by extreme athletes, others by neurosurgeons or firemen. While I do think those do a great job, I am currently most awed by simultaneous interpreters. I had never before had the opportunity to listen in on one but now I am even more floored.

The translator sat in her booth and as our Swedish panelist spoke, she translated to German in our headphones (and vice versa). Most of the time, she was one word behind. That is probably not even a second. She listened, thought and spoke all the same time. Many people cannot even think and speak at the same time, in their own language.

Being fluent, even bilingual, in two languages is not at all the same as being able to interpret simultaneously. Even trained translators and interpreters can’t do it, you have to have the gift to be able to do it simultaneously. I’ve tried once to translate a friend to another friend and I failed brutally. No chance.

And there is this incredible interpreter just putting out all these perfect sentences while listening to the next sequence! I had one headphone on and one ear in the room, comparing the original and the translation. It was basically flawless.

I concur with Francois Grosjean, who says, “I have the utmost respect for interpreters and the training they have to go through to do their job well”.



The other day my computer at work broke (again. I am the IT’s most faithful customer.) so I had to relocate to my colleague’s office. She prefers a room temperature of 16 degrees and listens to the radio while she works. It wasn’t my most efficient day at work. But as we were sitting there, the radio played the song “Jubel” and my colleague said, “Oh, that’s [klingon:de], I like them!” I was very confused and wondered if Star Trek made songs now as well. When the song continued, I recognized it as the French band Klingande which I always thought was pronounced in the Swedish way since, um, well, it’s a Swedish word. But apparently not. On the radio and online it says it’s pronounced the Klingon way. I even did my research on the French wikipedia and read that “Le duo trouve que cette langue sonne bien, à la fois parlé et chanté”, the two Frenchies think Swedish is such a great language to use for music. Well then – Jubel!

(P.S.: Nevertheless the lyrics read in English, “Save me”…?)

A new language

My desk at which I hear a lot of weird German. And drink water with Spanish names.

My desk at which I hear a lot of weird German. And drink water with Spanish names.

Since I came to Germany, I had to deal with a new city with its infrastructure, new flat mates, a new workplace that uses different systems and computers, bascially a whole lot of new things. You would think, “So convenient that she is not really a foreigner, at least she understands everything they say!” I thought so, too, and then I started attending the meetings we have at work. And I started to wonder if this is really Germany. Because at work, they say things like,

“Wir müssen hier die headline besser setzen, im Teaser und im Lead kann das key word auch mit rein, und ich scribble dir bis morgen ein template für das Mailing. Dann müsstest du sehen, wieviele unique visitors wir haben, denn die visits sagen viel über die usuability aus, und das sehen wir uns dann mal an, wie das mit der conversation rate ist”.

And I am like, “Of course.” I learned other languages before so I can certainly learn one more hybrid language.

I think both the Swedish and the German language have an interesting albeit different relationship with the English language. Swedes will frequently throw in English words in their sentences, often swedifiying them. (Something that can go a little wrong when you say “Vi vill att det ska benefitta alla”, quote by someone who probably wants to remain anonymous.) Both in German and Swedish you can find many expressions that are direct translations from English.

Schnellzug (Photo: Systemtext/MyNewsDesk)

(Photo: Systemtext/MyNewsDesk)

But when I worked with similar task as the above named in Sweden, a lead was an ingress, a visitor was a besökare, a mailing was an utskick. I still have not arrived at a conclusion why and how Germans use English (but there is some kind of corelation between not speaking English very well and loving to use a lot of German-English). I also wonder if it is a self-berating act to refuse to use German words? But then again, Swedes also think English words are so much cooler. (Once I had to go buy super glue at Fältöversten in Stockholm and I had no idea what it was called. So when I went in and said, “Jag letar efter  super glue”, the shop assistant did not seem to for one second think I was lacking vocabulary but instead found that I was simply too cool to say superlim.)

The Deutsche Bahn (German Railway) received the title “Sprachwahrer des Jahres” this year which basically translates to Protector of Language. After I-don’t-know-how-many-years the German Railway company has decided to rename their “Service Points” into “Information”. However, the amazingly silly name for our fast trains remains: ICE (Inter-City-Express). The funniest thing about that is that Swedes sometimes call (or used to call) fast trains snälltåg which is a swedification of the German Schnellzug. At least someone is still using German, I guess.