The other day a friend joyfully called me on the phone. Apparently, I did not respond fast enough on Twitter. He proceeded to inform me that on Monday, presidential candidate Romney was interviewed in Miami. The friend told me that instead of using an interpreter, Romney used Google translate and instead of saying, “I love papaya,” he expressed, “I love vaginas,” or its vulgar equivalent. He pointed out that this was my opportunity to help people see why a professional interpreter is needed as opposed to Google translate.
A little research confirmed that Romney did say “I love papaya” to the Cuban community in Miami. But he didn’t use Google translate. It was an English-language interview with a Spanish-language radio host. Although an interpreter was not needed, it probably would have been a good thing to have one present. Interpreters interpret meaning and are sensitive to cultural differences in understanding of words. Perhaps if Romney had someone familiar with the Cuban language with him, the crude miscommunication could have been avoided.
Let me just say that when I was told it was a mistake due to Google translate, I readily believed it. Those kinds of mistakes are pretty common. When a therapist exclaimed, “That dad-gum hand!” I interpreted, “ese maldito mano,” (that darn hand), the closest thing to dad-gum that I could think of. Just for fun, I typed Dad-gum into Google translate and it resulted in “Padre de las encillas” (Father of the gums; the gums in your mouth). It was nonsense.
Although the real story turned out different than originally told to me, I feel honored and privileged that there are people looking out for me. People interested in the progress of our company. People concerned for the welfare of others and wanting to speak out about it. The need for a proper qualified interpreter is essential and would make clear communication better for everyone.