I have been in a lot of Spanish language situations. I have been in a lot of Spanish language churches. And as a result, I have experienced a lot of translators over the last nine years of marriage to a native Spanish speaker. Here are some of the highlights through the years:
#1 -Most Resourceful
I spent a month at language school in Xela, Guatemala. It was incredible to sit with an individual tutor for several hours every day and talk. She didn't speak any English, but she was incredibly skilled at speaking in simple Spanish so I could understand.
When I got sick, she offered to take me to her doctor. He didn't speak English either, so she agreed to "translate." Basically, he would talk and she would "dumb it down" into Spanish I could understand. It was incredibly helpful actually.
But she didn't know how to explain the question, "Do you have a cough?" So she asked around the question, and then she faked a cough. And then the doctor mocked her translation skills, and we all laughed.
#2 - Most Adaptable
We were sitting in a Spanish church hosting an English guest speaker. The translator was standing next to her on stage since nearly the entire room required translation. The speaker was sharing, and the translator was translating.
Then, the speaker became moved to sing her sermon. It was not a familiar song, and it appeared she was freestyle singing thoughts as they came to her. Thankfully, she had a nice voice.
Bless that translator, who tentatively began singing the sermon in Spanish. Turns out she did not have as experienced of a singing voice. But she had all my respect because I feel like she didn't sign up for all that. And after a few minutes of this hilarious back-and-forth, she began simply speaking Spanish translations.
#3 - Most Accessible
Ah, the Internet. You are there when we need directions, movie times, and also when we want to read what our husbands are posting on Facebook.
There's only one problem. While Internet translations are certainly accessible, accuracy is a moving target. It's not uncommon for me to read a collection of English words that make absolutely no sense together in that order. (I collected a few favorites here.)
#4 - Most Awkward
There once was a time when I stood in a church sanctuary after the service was over while my husband helped the band pack up their equipment. A woman called into the microphone, hoping to be heard above the sound of parishioners socializing.
Then I heard the phrase "the girl who only speaks English." Yeah, I'm going to pretend I didn't get that at all.
But the sweetest tweenage boy walked over and said, "She's talking to you." My eyes darted to my husband on stage like a frantic cat trapped beneath a bicycle. We didn't know anyone at this church but the visiting band.
The woman onstage began to prophesy about my life, and this darling boy translated, saying things like "God will bless your womb." I think he and I both wanted to be invisible.
Translators are like bilingual superheroes. I love them and am grateful for their hard work. And I also enjoy the amusing situations that sometimes emerge.
Have you had any funny experiences with translators? Share them in the comments!