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April 8, 2007

A day of firsts

First flight (all the way) across the Pacific. First trip to the southern hemisphere. First time to take a twenty-two hour trip and arrive two days later, because I crossed the international date line. According to Betty, the time shift works out to “only three hours of Easter.” :-) Australian currency is pretty: bright and colorful. As far as I know, my car arrived in Amherst on time and in one piece. (I cannot say the same for the drivers.) There is no mail drop anywhere in the LA airport. Hello?! I refuse to take this personally.

Betty’s on her way to China. We talked about languages and translation. She mentioned Steven Pinker (who I suppose I really must read someday. I have even already bought The Language Instinct.) Later, in preparing for my presentation, I re-read this datum from my interviews with interpreters at the European Parliament:

“[Mentalese is] a level of communication that doesn’t necessarily have to be expressed in words. It’s the kind of gray area, the 'you know what I mean' area. He [Steven Pinker] talks literally about mental ease and almost refers to it as a language in its own right that we all possess, and some use it more effectively than others. I don’t think he expressly refers to interpreting per se, but with the background it automatically occurred to me that it’s something that is very relevant to any kind of interpreting, inference, that can be expressed through gesture, facial expression, obviously words as well, but not necessarily any of those. Even just the tone of voice. It’s a mode of translation, if you like, that is probably one of the most powerful tools that an interpreter possesses.”

Hmm. :-) Not exactly what I will present on this time around, but it might work it's way into future analysis!

On the second, longer leg of the journey I had a brief, also pleasant conversation with a woman on her way to surprise her family with a visit for the first time in eight years. Reminded my of my trip west a year and a half ago. She grew up in Mombasa, married a military man, now lives in Florida; her family is in New Zealand. I asked her about colonialism and race relations; she responded about the beauty of nature and that the natives were always all around. I thought we might not see as eye-to-eye as Betty and I had, but the connection was still warm.

I took my time departing the airport and finding my hotel in the western suburbs of Sydney. It was nice wandering the city pre-rush: quiet, mildly humid, only barely chill. I hope to make my way to Newtown tonight.

By the way, it is 9:45 on Monday morning here, some fourteen hours ahead of my friends in New England, who are still enjoying Sunday evening.

Posted by Steph at April 8, 2007 7:45 PM


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