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6 Times Interpreters Got Mainstream Recognition Outside the Language Industry

6 Times Interpreters Got Mainstream Recognition Outside the Language Industry

A professional interpreter’s job may seem simple, but it isn’t as straightforward as you might think. It goes beyond just learning a new language and gaining language proficiency.

Interpreters are required to go through professional training and continuous education to maintain their certification.

It’s no easy job so it's great that the United Nations (UN) celebrates International Translation Day every year on September 30 to pay tribute to the work of language professionals, who play an important role in bringing nations together through facilitating dialog and communication in all forms. The UN is one of the world’s largest employers of interpreters.

The truth is interpreters don't get anywhere near the thanks and recognition they deserve outside the language industry. But here are six times interpreters did get recognized by mainstream media.

  1. This YouTube video posted by WIRED with more than 6 million views shows conference interpreter Barry Slaughter Olsen, to explain what it’s really like to be a professional interpreter. He goes behind the scenes of his vocation and breaks down some of the real-life scenarios he faces on a day-to-day basis, ranging from simultaneous interpreting and consecutive interpreting to chuchotage and décalage.

  2. Some people may not be familiar with the name Valentin Berezhkov, but he served as the primary Soviet interpreter for Joseph Stalin and Vyacheslav Molotov during World War II conferences, where both Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were in attendance. In 1945, Berezhkov served as the main interpreter for the Yalta Conference, which was focused on post-war peace and Europe’s post-war reorganization.

  3. This sign language interpreter's amazing performance of “WAP” went viral on TikTok and Twitter, and for good reason. Sign language interpreters are becoming more prevalent at major music festivals and concerts, making these events more accessible to fans with hearing loss. Since going viral, sign language interpreter Kelly Kurdi has used this opportunity to shine a light on the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

  4. Oscar-winning film CODA highlighted the Deaf and ASL interpretation at the 2022 Academy Awards. The entire cast closed out the 94th Oscars with their best picture win, taking center stage at the Dolby Theater to signed applause as they accepted their award with an ASL interpreter next to them.

  5. The Interpreter, a 2005 political thriller starring Nicole Kidman is another film that gave interpreters a large amount of popularity. Parts of the film were also filmed inside the UN General Assembly and Security Council chambers, giving viewers a largely accurate depiction of interpreting settings at the UN.

  6. Nic Zapko, the ASL interpreter for Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, also went viral after impressing the public with her animated and passionate delivery. Zapko, who was born deaf, knows that feeling of being left out. So she uses her newfound fame to bring recognition to interpreters and access services.