Bad interpreting in Lost in Translation/Schlechtes Dolmetschen in Lost in Translation

The film ‘Lost in Translation’ has led to a discussion as to whether it is racist, for instance in German at [bov] (via Anke Gröner). Also at asianmediawatch and by Kiku Day in The Guardian.

Blogalization (iggy), however, cites the blog are you awake, which gives a translation of the Japanese when the Suntory ad is being made, the director speaks at length in Japanese and the interpreter translates only a few words. There are no subtitles to the Japanese, but it is very funny. Here’s a little bit:

bq. DIRECTOR (in Japanese to the interpreter): The translation is very
important, O.K.? The translation.

bq. INTERPRETER: Yes, of course. I understand.

bq. DIRECTOR: Mr. Bob-san. You are sitting quietly in your study. And then
there is a bottle of Suntory whiskey on top of the table. You
understand, right? With wholehearted feeling, slowly, look at the
camera, tenderly, and as if you are meeting old friends, say the
words. As if you are Bogie in “Casablanca,” saying, “Cheers to you
guys,” Suntory time!

bq. INTERPRETER: He wants you to turn, look in camera. O.K.?

I read that some people think this scene is hackneyed because the original speech is so long and the interpreting so short, but I don’t think every judge who has an interpreter in court would notice!

One thought on “Bad interpreting in Lost in Translation/Schlechtes Dolmetschen in Lost in Translation

  1. There are worse slapsticks than the ‘interpreter’ kind. I think it really is nothing more than a slapstick; saying that ‘racism’ starts wherever people are mocked, then we’d really have to go without the category for “best comedy”. I think the sensitivity here has its roots in history.

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