7 movies to watch if you are into translation

Translation and interpretation are not exactly the most action-packed professions but it does not mean that someone who practices these professions or the activity itself is never represented on the silver screen. In this blog entry we will take a look at the most famous examples where translation and/or interpretation is an essential element of the plot.

One of the earliest film representations of interpretation on screen is Charade (1963), where Audrey Hepburn plays a simultaneous interpreter who gets caught up in a murder mystery. The movie is a fun amalgam of a thriller and a screwball comedy, and while interpretation is not a vital element of the movie, in one scene we can see Hepburn’s Reggie working in an interpreter booth – then leaving in a hurry in the middle of a conference!

Stumbling on a conspiracy might be a surprising twist or perhaps the worst nightmare for an interpreter working for an international organisation. That is exactly what happens to Silvia Broom, played by Nicole Kidman in The Interpreter (2005). In this high-tension political thriller Silvia overhears the discussion of a plot to assassinate the leader of an African country and consequently has to run for her life. The movie is not only interesting because it was the first movie filmed inside the UN headquarters in New York, but also because it touches upon the ethical and moral issues an interpreter can face.

Translation activities often entail cultural mediation as well, and movies often highlight this aspect. One of the most famous examples for this trope is Lost in Translation, a bittersweet romantic comedy starring Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson. The film’s key theme is isolation, which is explored from several aspects, from the culture shock of Japan to the characters’ inability to engage with their lives. In addition, when Bill Murray’s Bob, an aging actor, is on the set to film an advertisement, the Japanese director delivers lengthy but enthusiastic directions in Japanese, but the interpreter only translates the absolutely minimum of information (“Look into the camera!”), because she fears she might offend the actor. The scene, while funny because of its awkwardness, further underlines the overall message of the film.

Spanglish (2004) also deals with intercultural relationships. In this movie, John (Adam Sandler) and Deborah (Téa Leoni) hire the poor Mexican Flor (Paz Vega) as the family’s housekeeper. Since Flor doesn’t speak English, her child Cristina facilitates communication between her and the family.

It is not surprising that sci-fi and fantasy movies also incorporate interpretation and translation as an important element in the plot. In The Mummy (1999), Evelyn Carnahan – played by Rachel Weisz – is an Egyptologist whose ability to understand the ancient Egyptian language both causes and resolves the calamities in the plot. Arrival (2016) is another important movie in this regard. In this film, when aliens visit the Earth a linguist (Amy Adams) is assigned to decipher their language. The movie showcases translation’s linguistic and diplomatic function and importance, while still managing to be an interesting and even fascinating motion picture.

Last but not least, a recent Hungarian film is the latest contribute to this theme. Barnabás Tóth’s short film, Susotázs (2018) chooses two interpreters as protagonists – though the footage actually shows simultaneous interpretation and not chuchotage – both trying to outdo each other in paying compliments to the woman listening to their interpretation. While their practice goes against all the written and unwritten rules of interpretation, the peculiarity of the situation and the twist at the end is a heart-warming experience.

Written by Zsolt Beke

Inclusive workplaces: Everybody is welcome!

In the fight against discrimination, companies are increasingly taking measures to create accepting cultures and foster diversity. It turns out that what is good for the human soul is good for the business, too.

Money and location have traditionally been the top reasons for people to change jobs. However, company culture has recently emerged as an umbrella term for all the other factors they consider or realize they should have considered when signing a new work contract.

As a part of that company culture, recent years have seen a rise in the awareness of being inclusive. When the working community values individual and group diversity and acts accordingly, it fulfils the criteria of an inclusive workplace. Sharing information equally, presenting equal opportunities and assigning similar responsibilities to everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or disability, are the most prominent examples.

But why is it important?

For an employee, the number one reason is human nature. They are predominantly hired for their professional capabilities, yet every employee has both the need to be accepted as a human being and to feel they belong in their (working) community. In practice, this includes being invited to lunch or birthday parties, having support during family emergencies, or merely experiencing no hidden rules of behaviour.

For a company, the inclusive nature of the workplace is a case for increased engagement and productivity. If workers feel accepted, they will be engaged in the company goals and want to give back. An engaged employee is also a productive employee: one survey finds businesses that care about engagement are 17% more productive than the others. Research from Deloitte states that inclusive workplaces are “twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets. Not to mention employee turnover.”

What if job candidates could know about the level of inclusivity in a workplace before they walk in on their first day? Well, they actually can. Now, with the availability of employer-rating sites such as Glassdoor, they can check reviews by former or current employees. They can also find out whether a company has made any top lists for inclusivity. It is also increasingly common to ask related questions at an interview.

The 2019 Diversity and Inclusion study of Glassdoor, however, found that half of the employees in the US, UK, France, and Germany think there’s still not enough inclusion in their workplaces. So here is your to-do list as an employer:

  • Train your leaders. Make them aware of everyday biases and give them the tools to overcome them.
  • Give equal access to resources. Whether it is about preparing for a meeting or applying for training or advancement, make sure everybody has the same amount of information and equal chances to succeed.
  • Promote diversity of thought. Create opportunities for everyone’s voice to be heard and value diverse opinions. Ensure that the workplace is a safe place to express concerns and set a good example.
  • Celebrate the differences. Find out which unique qualities and personalities contribute to a healthy working environment and give them credit for it.

By consistently applying the above guidelines, you will find that your company is becoming a pleasant place to work for everyone. It will create a sense of belonging and a reason for workers to go the extra mile for your business.

Written by Anikó Jóri-Molnár