Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To Translate Or Not To Translate

This picture shows the booth at the back of the room where presentations at the Chinese Internet Research Conference are translated from English to Chinese and from Chinese to English. One decision I found myself having to make at this bilingual conference is whether to put on a translation head set or not.

On one level, this is an easy decision. My Chinese is nowhere nearly good enough to follow professional lectures given in Mandarin.

My decision, however, was to eschew the headset and use the time, with dictionary in hand, to work on my comprehension skills. I settled on this approach because I have the abstracts and the papers, so I can later go and read any of the research I find particularly interesting. Toward this end, I found myself able to follow the general thrust of the lectures. Helping me in my quest was the fact that the presenters all spoke much clearer than the taxi drivers and restaurant servers I am used to conversing with. That said, many of the details went over my head, as the vocabulary, grammar, and sheer speed of speech was too much for my brain to handle.

It was just another adventure in language learning, one that helped me add a lot of academic and information technology vocabulary to my mental list. Let's see how long it stays there...

~Steve

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