Last Wednesday, I attended a seminar on Retailing at New World Hotel in District 1, Saigon. I came there after lunch and some of the audience left, so I have opportunities to choose where to sit. I was seated myself at the last row next to the translation booth, which is at the right corner of the auditorium. That was the first time I’ve ever witnessed a conference interpretation, so it took me a while to figure out what were happening.
There we had people who could speak and understand either Vietnamese or English, and not many of them afford the knowledge about both languages. The first speaker talked about branding a retail business along with some other marketing tactics. I noticed that the Vietnamese audience had to take the translation headphones on, because they knew that they needed translation and had an expert in the translation booth to do that for them. Perhaps there was no major problems with the interpretation because all of them were busy listening to it.
Right before an English speaker from Deloitte Company started to speak, there appeared another guy at his right hand. It took me some of the first paragraphs of their speech to know that the audience didn’t need to wear their translation headphones on, and so the interpretor in the booth had a long rest thank to the help of the assistant of the company.
The assistant must have tried a lot to make sure that he spoke right after the company’s speaker finished every of his paragraph. He was there to help the company with the interpretation for the speech, so that was his job to back up the English lecture with Vietnamese interpretation.
Many people there would say thank you to him. The audience could overcome the language hindrances and more importantly the interpretor didn’t need to work at the meantime. Everyone seemed happy with his help out of the interpretation.
This assistant guy could really help the rare number of attendants who can understand both English and Vietnamese not with his interpretation but with his professional acting. Within his acting, he didn’t need to interprete exactly the words the English speaker was using to express what he meant. He didn’t need to convey the meanings of the speech either. Really! Believe me or not, he was coming up an entire different imaginative script for his own play. He might have brought to the seminar all the things he’s listened in some of his macro and micro economics, socio-economics and some philosophy classes. He should have made up some of his own fairy tales and decided to entertain everyone to save them from the boring monotoneous afternoon.
The interpretor in the booth should shut up because he benefited a lot from the Deloitte’s assistant. He shouldn’t complain when he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing thank to the assistant’s play.
The audience at the time had their lullaby already. Their ears felts so good and entertaining from the play that the couldn’t say anything about that.
They English speaking speakers didn’t have to say a word about the Deloitte’s Assistant’s Vietnamese interpretation, because it was really a hard job for them to listen and understand the language of a developing small country located in South East Asia though they were in that country to talk to its people and some of them have been doing business there for about fifteen months. They don’t need to understand the language because they can pay someone who can do that for them. Deloitte should have employed just a Vietnamese speaking guy at some street corner in Saigon to cut down the payroll and get more entertainment. Maybe a guy from the street has more tricks to tell.
The remaining people in the seminar, who can understand English and Vietnamese shouldn’t comment about the assistant’s acting because otherwise they could never have a chance to enjoy such a successful acting.
At the end of the English businessman running Deloitte Consultancy, there was a big applause for its assistant’s contribution.
And everyone continued with the next speech as if they had a really good interpretation.