Saturday, February 9, 2008

What is the Word For...?


Valery has never gotten into the rhythm of working with a translator, speaking a sentence or two and waiting for the translation. He chatters on for minutes on end, speaking with idioms and metaphors. Not every translator is a match for it. But the best of interpreters make you feel as though you're speaking seamlessly to the other person. It is easy to take a good interpreter for granted, because you hardly notice she is there.

I have always wished I was fluent enough in two languages to be an interpreter. It seems like a magical ability that opens up your world to many people and cultures.

After more than five years speaking to each other with interpreters, I can tell you that there is a vast difference between a professional interpreter and a non-professional. There is simply much more to it than being fluent in two languages. Back in the 1980s Kevin Nealon performed a hilarious sketch on Saturday Night Live, "Amateur Translator," in which he was a particularly incompetant simeltaneous interpretor for a U.S./Soviet summit. "He's using a word... it's kind of like that feeling where you..." he would explain as the leader moved along to the next paragraph.

If you ever need a Russian-English translator we can recommend Yulia Coe (pictured above with Valery Lantratov at the Performing Arts Presenters Conference in New York) without reservation. Over the years we've been filtering our talk through her brain, we've also come to be good friends and we were pleased to have the opportunity to visit her during our trip to Florida. We had the opportunity to be guests in her home for the first time, and she was able to come and see Valery's class for the first time at the Guilfoil Academy of Ballet in Clearwater.

Located on the second floor of a professional building lined with vine-covered trees, the studio is spacious and well-designed for dance. Even though it was a bright, sunny day outside, the mood lighting in the studio made it a bit difficult for photography-- at least my amateur variety. But here is the best of what I got:


Regretfully, this class marked the end of our time in Florida and we would soon begin our trek north into winter.

Thank you to Andrew Guilfoil for inviting us to your studio.

Incidentally, In Clearwater, FL was a Knights Inn with a sign claiming it had the "world's cleanest rooms."

I find that claim a bit hard to believe. Surely there are a few operating theaters and microchip plants that are a little cleaner?