CARS HOMES JOBS

SOCHI SCENE: Huh? Que? Was?

Monday, February 10, 2014
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— This must be what it feels like to be at the United Nations.

Volunteer interpreters scrambling to communicate while transcribing quotes for the Olympic News Service. Journalists fighting over which language athletes should speak when they answer questions. And the jargon of youth - how the heck do you say "stoked" in Korean?

American gold medalist snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg forced interpreters to translate that seven times on Monday, in seven languages besides English for those listening on headsets in tongues they could understand.

The 20-year-old from Coeur D'Alene, Idaho who trains in Park City, Utah also dropped a "sick" while approving Great Britain's women's slopestyle bronze. The word became "slick" in a transcript later distributed to journalists.

While interviewing a Russian speedskater in the mixed zone, the Russian interpreter assigned to help me struggled with double-duty, catching minor heat from her supervisor when she couldn't write down the athlete's quotes at the same time. Quite a lot to ask - listen, talk and write at the same time. I wanted to give her my recorder.

A day later, a presser with Canada's freestyle skiing sensations Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe was delayed several times by language lobbying. By the last answer, Justine double-checked if she really had to repeat herself in English on an answer she'd already given in French. Her handler told her yes, but keep it short.

"OK," Dufour-Lapointe said with a slight sigh.

Makes you want to tell folks, preferred language or not: Hey, just roll with it.

 

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