More training, more learning, more working in an environment that takes translation seriously. And the work at Headquarters, in turn, opened up another door. For much of their working time, UN translators are not actually translating, but acting as précis-writers and report-writers for meetings. On the basis that it is better for those reporting to be listening to the speakers directly, rather than through the filter of the interpreters, in as many cases as possible. Since UN translators have to have three official languages—as against the two required of non-language officials—this makes them the personnel of choice when there is report-writing to be done. More to learn…
Report-writing at UN Headquarters
And various components of the United Nations system also need report-writers from time to time: "Hello, this is the Montreal Protocol. We're in, well, Montreal, actually. Could you come up here and do some report-writing for us?" "This is the Biodiversity Convention. Could you do two weeks' report-writing for us in December? In the Bahamas?" Sigh—"Well, if I must..." "Could you do some report-writing in Buenos Aires?" "Could you come to Jakarta?" "Bratislava?" "Ouagadougou?"
“Could you come and do some translating in Bujumbura?” The Burundi peace negotiations, being brokered by the South Africans, which required a lot of translation between French and English. And it was while getting used to the rules of this new assignment (“You do not walk anywhere; you call for a UN vehicle to drive you”) that I suddenly heard a machine gun firing! This was a bit too much reality! “Steady the Buffs, old man,” I thought, “stiff upper lip and all that. Anyway, it’s not very loud; it’s probably just some trigger-happy fighters out in Bujumbura Rural…..”
Eventually I got it: the firing was quiet not because it was distant but because it was coming from a computer game one of my French colleagues was playing!
Read: A Roundelay of Report-Writers
Continue to Thoughts on the Job.