Upset among translators after Cafiero speech in Dubai

“It is absolutely unimaginable and unthinkable that government agencies do not use the services of professional translators,” said the head of the Association of Public Translators of the City of Buenos Aires, Beatriz Rodríguez.


Disbelief rather than outrage was the sentiment shared by most of the translators and interpreters consulted by NA at the remarkably incorrect pronunciation of Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero’s speech in English on the occasion of the “National Day of Argentina” at Expo Dubai, an international fair attended by officials and businessmen from around the world and in which the national government tried to attract investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Undoubtedly, it is not with the mastery of the language of William Shakespeare, with which positive results can be obtained, but the occasion in which the former chief of staff decided to share his speech in a language that is not the national language, caused the astonishment of the translators in front of the state in which their concerns are.

“There is no mandatory requirement that a civil servant speak English correctly,” Ambassador Diego Guelar said, “although it is recommended that the Minister of Foreign Affairs speak up to three languages ​​correctly. “.

But, if you do not have this linguistic knowledge, it is possible to resort to the services of professionals prepared and studied for years to carry out their tasks and allow, for example, that there are no gross mistakes in translation that may end up causing a message issued by a high state authority to distort its meaning due to poor pronunciation.

Professional interpreters could not believe what they were hearing and disbelief preceded outrage in the opposite direction to what happened at the Foreign Office among ambassadors who were first confused and then tried to understand the nature of Santiago Cafiero’s error.

In this sense, the Association of Translators of the City of Buenos Aires has issued an official statement in which it declares “its deep concern at the speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship during his speech in English at Dubai.

It is understandable that a civil servant (although in this case it is debatable) does not know foreign languages, but there is no doubt that any representative of the State must, necessarily, resort to a professional translator or interpreter who guarantees that said official is understood and who, in turn, understand and thus leave a country like Argentina in good health, which has excellent translators and interpreters”.

To respect the professional translator and interpreter is to guarantee that the world can communicate as it deserves”.

For Beatríz Rodríguez, director of the College, “we are not called for the functions to which we should normally be called. As a citizen, I think a Minister of Foreign Affairs must speak English properly. But, the important thing here is the responsibility of the translator, in the government or public sector. It is unimaginable that in these cases our services are not used. Besides, it’s not recommended, by the way.

Santiago Cafiero’s speech in English that was trending on social media
Asked about the specific problem in Dubai with Santiago Cafiero, the professional said: “the foreign minister should have been taken care of and had a body of high level translators like the foreign ministry has with a team of interpreters who is the best in Latin In America, it is rare that he has a translator at his side who transmits in correct English, because these errors undermine the image of the country.

Regarding the concerns of the professionals who make up the College, Beatriz Rodríguez explained: “We have 9,000 registered people who work with 34 languages. We are essential in the field of Justice. For example, a detainee who speaks only in their native language and does not have the participation of an interpreter who knows the language of the alleged detainee, this alleged hearing may be considered invalid.

Thus, if the judicial power gives us, to us public translators, the value that it gives us, it is obvious that the State and the governmental authorities must do the same. This type of imbalance is not good for Argentina’s image. Moreover, there were not only serious errors of orality but also of writing.

The translator in general is not considered to his fair measure”, concluded the professional.

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