<center><font colour=red>The Sounds of Confusion</font></center>

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 »  Articles Overview  »  Art of Translation and Interpreting  »  Interpreting  »  
The Sounds of Confusion

The Sounds of Confusion

By Marcia Pinheiro | Published  08/18/2012 | Interpreting | Recommendation:
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Quicklink: http://arm.proz.com/doc/3623
Marcia Pinheiro
անգլերենից պորտուգալերեն translator
View all articles by Marcia Pinheiro

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What does Mill Street have in common with R$ 1,000.00 or what does taxi have in common with Imposto de Renda (Tax in Portuguese)?

These apparently infinitely-unlikely-to-exist similitudes put us to think.

It is the sounds: the articulation/occlusion patterns of different peoples making one people think that the other people refer to something that they themselves have in mind.

Maybe the client who says rua Mil (street 1,000 in Portuguese) is diverging somehow from the conversation.

A street called Mil in Australia, like 1,000 St?

Not uncommon is the situation in which the client knows a bit of English, and is giving what they are supposed to give but ends up passing the impression of being non-cooperative.

Mill is the name of a street in Australia, so that it is not the same as Mil, which means one thousand in Portuguese, despite both being pronounced in the same way.

Another client says, eu gostaria de entregar o meu (I would like to hand my in English) taxi.

Taxi in Portuguese is taxi, so that the interpreter is allowed to ask this person who the owner of the taxi is (in Portuguese).

She may say that it is her.

The interpreter may then ask to whom (para quem in Portuguese) she would like to give her taxi.

That is when the secret may be revealed: para a Taxation Office, obviamente.

Obviamente, obviously: she wants to lodge her Tax Return.

It is frequently the case that people who were born overseas mix their original language with the English language, the little that they know, when speaking: the lady says tax in Carioca English, and the interpreter's ears hear taxi, which is Portuguese for taxi.

It is good when sigmatoids are spelled, and said precisely in the same way in both languages.

Sigmatoids like influenza, aspartame, and gas form a dream bridge between one people, and another.

Paradise is this: influenza, says the client; influenza, the interpreter tells the other party.

Ah, influenza is influenza.

Languages don't usually behave like that because interpreters made of building bridges between them their breadwinner!

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