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I am an ignorant American

My friend Mercè is visiting for a few weeks from Barcelona. Her first language is Catalan, and she is fluent in Spanish, French, Italian and English. I believe she can get around in a few more. She translates American thrillers into Spanish & is also a simultaneous translator.

She said simultaneous translating demands such complete concentration thatthey trade off in the booth every 20 to 30 minutes. She said Spanish needs more words to say the same thing, so if the English speaker is talking fast, it can be really hard to keep up. And because English puts the adjective first, she has to wait for the noun then translate the whole phrase, noun first, into Spanish.

Me, I studied Latin, Old English, Sanskrit & Biblical Hebrew. Not a spoken language among them. I get along in other countries by saying whatever I know in whatever patois I've picked up, what my colleague Jason Forsythe called foreign: "If they're not speaking English," he said, "they're speaking foreign, so you speak foreign to them." Hence he threw Portuguese at everyone in Germany. (Jason brought 2 giant suitcases for a 3-day business trip to Frankfort: "I believe in traveling heavy." He also somehow talked us into business class on a sold-out flight on the way back.)
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