Translating the Bush-Kerry debate

Last Thursday’s Bush-Kerry debate naturally attracted a lot of linguistic analysis and comment as experts tried to open a window onto the soul of the next president. Does any other albeit unsurprising conversation attract as much scrutiny over its pauses, lengths of sentences, understandability according to standard reading tests etc? I was more interested in the debate’s resonance in other cultures and locales. Gangs of interpreters were no doubt on hand around the world to translate the 15,000 word exchange live for TV and radio stations. Once of the fastest to react was the French daily Le Monde, which helped French readers rush to judgment, by delivering an 8,743 word edit in French (probably about half the original Engish) for its Friday Oct 1st edition (which comes out in the early afternoon in Paris, 12 hours after the debate). They used two interpreters translating the live debate, and a merry band of stenographers to transcribe the results into text.


Andrew Joscelyne
European, a language technology industry watcher since Electric Word was first published, sometime journalist, consultant, market analyst and animateur of projects. Interested in technologies for augmenting human intellectual endeavour, multilingual méssage, the history of language machines, the future of translation, and the life of the digital mindset.

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