Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Flight attendant's interpretative translation

I'm now once again back in the States again. My last flight, from Tokyo to New York, was a flight bound for Sao Paolo via New York, so all announcements were in Japanese, English, Portuguese, and Chinese.

While we were still in Tokyo, there was a bit of a delay after we boarded. One of the Japanese flight attendants came on and announced, in Japanese, that we were waiting for one of the passengers who had checked in but not boarded, and at the same time they were seeking to remove that passenger's luggage just in case that person didn't make it. There was a fair amount of detail in the announcement. This largely matched what was said in English as well, although there was less detail in English.

When we got to the Portuguese announcement, the flight attendant said what was going on in a curt, single sentence, saying the delays were based on "technical difficulties".

I happened to be sitting next to a Japanese-Brazilian, who noted that that's thanks to a cultural difference between the two. Whereas the Japanese will give you lots of detail about things like that, in Brazil you'll be much more likely to just get enough to keep you appeased. So the difference in "translation" here stands as one of many examples of how the culture of the language you're speaking might manifest itself in speech—or in a lack thereof.

3 comments:

  1. What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they
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    ReplyDelete
  2. What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they
    recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the
    too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to
    the next crazy venture beneath the skies.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete