I was working at the Alex Theater in Glendale, California and there was a group that rented the space once a month for a one night event for their community. It was an Armenian group and most of them only spoke their native language.
There was a translator provided to interpret what their lighting designer wanted. She explained everything to me directly and the translator repeated it in English.
The one challenge with this was that the translator was not a theater person. I would see her explain something and his confusion about what she was requesting. They would bicker for a few moments and then he would cobble together some semblance of words describing what she had requested.
The third time the group came to the theater, I met with the lighting designer and the translator. She spoke directly to me as had already become the usual. When she concluded I turned to go fulfill her requests.
The translator said, “What, you speak Armenian now?”
“No, I just know what she is looking for.” I replied.
The language barrier had been broken by her and my shared theater experience.
It reminded me of the Star Trek episode “Darmok” in which Picard has to understand the Tamarian’s language which is being translated by the universal translator properly but doesn’t make sense. (Spoiler Alert) Picard ultimately figures out that the aliens are speaking in metaphors.
I have had several other experiences in theater and live event in which the artist or client was a non-english speaking person. Fortunately, the language of theater is my universal translator.
Oh, and I would like to speak Klingon.
Thank you for reading.
One Reply to “Universal translator”
Yeah some things just don’t translate directly. I read pens written in say Spanish or Italian. They have put them through an online translator for English. Sometimes I just scratch my head. Just doesn’t make sense.
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