Lost and wading through Translation

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Relying on someone else to translate your thoughts while in another country can sometimes lead to hilarious moments, moments you might not even realize are hilarious until months later when you’re going through your footage with a different translator and those strange answers and odd looks you kept getting from your interview subject suddenly makes sense.

The following took place at a wedding in Cambodia in which we were interviewing Navi, a friend of the bride and groom, about weddings. Until our recent translator translated this exchange, I had no idea there was a little bit of meandering during our interview.

Stax: Does she think weddings are important and if so why?

Translator (in Cambodian): Do you think the bride and the groom are important?

Navi: Yes they are important.

Translator (in Cambodian): Why are the bride and groom important?

Navi: Because I’ve known them since they were little.

Translator to me (in English): Because she’s known them since they were little.

Stax: (Internal dialogue: Maybe there was a misunderstanding. Just ask again.) So why does she think weddings important?

Translator to Navi (in Cambodian): Why are the bride and groom important?

Navi: Because I’ve known them since they were little.

Translator to me (in English): Because she’s known them since they were little.

Of course.