Speaking Worlds

Mariana's blog about
interpretation and translation


A brief introduction

I studied Political Sciences because I wanted to change the world, I dreamed of ending hunger and wars and of promoting education, health and freedom. My studies were fascinating to me, I simply loved reading and discussing the current affairs of the world, and I could see all the possibilities to make significant changes. My career was especially interesting because it was so wide, we learned about law, philosophy, statistics, history, current affairs, sociology, geopolitics, and so many more subjects that gave us a true insight of what happens in the big wide world. 

However, after graduation, and a short incursion in my country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it became clear that my strongest skills were the different languages that I speak. My multilingual communication skills were very much appreciated and needed everywhere I went, and I realized I could apply them to the pursuit of my original dream, and truly make an impact on the things that mattered most to me.


Are you a feminist?

I was deeply touched by Emma Watson's recent speech on feminism to the UN as Goodwill Ambassador. This was not only because I am a woman, nor was it only due to the fact that I have lived most of my adult life in a developing country where gender inequality is overwhelmingly present in our daily lives. Mainly, it moved me because it reminded me of the day I realized I was a feminist.

I was one of the interpreters working in a Gender and Diversity workshop in Bangkok, and the facilitators of the workshop asked us to integrate the workshop and participate as well as interpret. One of the main facilitators was the amazing Kamla Bhasin, and she was going to change the way I looked at things and at myself, as a woman.


Je me présente...

J'ai étudié les Sciences politiques parce que je souhaitais changer le monde. Je rêvais d'en finir avec la faim et les guerres, et de promouvoir l'éducation, la santé et la liberté. J'ai trouvé mes études fascinantes, j'adorais lire et discuter les affaires de l'actualité internationale, et je trouvais maintes possibilités pour arriver à d'importants changements dans le monde. Ma profession me semblait d'autant plus intéressante qu'elle était vaste; nous apprenions le droit, la philosophie, les statistiques, l'histoire, la sociologue, la géopolitique et nous discutions des sujets de l'actualité mondiale ; toutes ces différentes matières nous présentaient une vision réelle des affaires quotidiennes du monde.

Cependant, après finir l'université, et après un bref parcours dans le Ministère des Affaires Étrangères de mon pays, il est devenu évident que les trois différentes langues que je parle étaient mes atouts principaux. Mes compétences en communication multilingue étaient appréciées et nécessaires partout où je me déplaçais, et j'ai vite compris que je pouvais m'en servir afin de réaliser mon tout premier rêve et d'avoir un impact réel sur les thèmes les plus importants pour moi.


On FGM's catastrophic numbers

Today I read terrible newson the Internet. In spite all the work done for decades by UN agencies to raise awareness on the terrible and inhumane practice of Female Genital Mutilation, also known as FGM, still more than 200 million girls and women have undergone this terrible procedure.

Yet, for the past few years, we have seen the headlines in the international press that country after country made it illegal to perform FGM, and naively, we celebrated the news. It has become apparent that the data was wrong by a huge margin, and we now read that 70 million more girls and women than previously estimated have been subjected to this practice.


On World's AIDS day

One of the most meaningful assignments of my life as an interpreter was a three-weeks training in San Salvador, working for ActionAid. I thought I knew so much about AIDS, it turned out I knew very little.

The workshop was about a trainer methodology called Stepping Stones. It was directed to people coming from San Salvador as well as from the rural areas, educated people as well as people with little formal schooling; healthy people, as well as persons living with AIDS.


The Future is Now

Remote interpreting is not new. In the past 10 years, many interpreters have been given the chance to work online, or remotely. It has mainly involved consecutive interpreting, over the phone or on Skype. Consecutive has never been my favourite form of interpreting, since it involves allowing for pauses in the speaker's speech so that the interpreter may then repeat what has been said in the target language. Consecutive interpreting is therefore an exercise in memory, and effective note-taking. I, however, much prefer the real time or simultaneous interpreting, which remains, in my opinion, the most faithful and direct form of interpretation. Yet, how can we expect to deliver simultaneously over a phone line? The need to pause to listen to the message forces us to do consecutive work, the conversations become longer, the flow of communication is constantly interrupted and the quality of the sound – which is exceedingly important – often leaves much to be desired. All too often, remote interpreting represents a very stressful situation for everyone involved.


The well-prepared interpreter is fearless

This week's interpretation assignment was not an easy one. And this does not mean it was difficult. It means it required preparation. It was actually quite a painless exercise, I had time to prepare myself, to read the presentation and learn the appropriate terminology. My booth mate was competent, professional and kind. The equipment was flawless. The client was sufficiently experienced to make our job stressless.

This is not to say there weren't any challenges, the topic was agriculture - quite specific and almost scientific I would say. The terminology was mostly new and definitely not what my usual clients, and much less I use frequently. The source language was English, but almost every speaker was French, and I think I will not surprise anyone by saying their English was not always smooth and accentless.




Mariana Hernandez, English, French and Spanish interpreter and translator My name is Mariana Hernandez; I am a freelance conference interpreter and translator working in English, French and Spanish. I was born and I grew up in Paris, France. Later in life I moved with my family to Latin America, where I eventually started my career, working with international NGOs, United Nations agencies, and private and public sector stakeholders in developing countries. This blog speaks of my work, and the many humanist topics which are close to my heart.



Interpretation (3)

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