Ever play that whispering game?

Ever play that whispering game?

This Japan Times item is a bit old, but merits mention. NHK television offers simultaneous interpretation of their nightly news program. Here’s what happened when they covered a George W. Bush and Tony Blair press conference back in April 2003.

“When U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair held a press conference in Belfast on April 8 to discuss, among other things, the fall of Baghdad, NHK covered it live, and the timing happened to coincide with NHK’s evening news report.

As they always do when they broadcast an important speech by a foreign head of state, NHK used simultaneous interpreters to convey the remarks in Japanese. However, since the evening news broadcast, which the press conference was pre-empting, is already presented on two audio channels, it meant that viewers had a choice of listening to either Japanese or English. The easiest thing to do would have been to simply patch the satellite audio from the press conference directly into the sub-channel, but instead NHK used the English interpreters who were already on hand for the evening broadcast. In other words, on the English sub-channel you heard simultaneous English interpretation of the Japanese simultaneous interpretation of two men speaking in English. The effect was, to say the least, bizarre, though, granted, sometimes the U.S. president needs all the help he can get.”

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