Thursday, April 8, 2010

Letting speakers speak freely

Here’s something i posted in my list of thoughts from general conference, but i wanted to pull it out on its own. (Actually, i may do that in coming days for a few other things buried in those posts.)

When are non-native-English-speaking speakers finally going to be allowed to speak in their native languages in general conference? I remember listening to Ángel Abrea speak back in the day, and being able to tell he had something to say, but not being able to really follow along when he spoke (and i tend to be better than most at following along with non-native speakers). I’d rather have had him speak perfectly fluently in his native language, and let me listen to a translation.

Does anyone else feel the same way?


Michelle said...

I think that day might be coming soon. Now that talks are given in advance to translators so that people can listen to Conference in another language in real time, I think technology has reached a point where this could be possible. The only sticky point would be that the speaker wouldn't be able to deviate from his/her talk. And the talk would need to be translated into English before the other translators around the world could work on it. For example, a talk given by a native Japanese speaker would need to be translated into English before the Romanian translators could do anything with it.

I guess then the only issue would be if it's hard to put subtitles on talks shown on TV. I think this could be done, because they put words to hymns on the screen sometimes. Radio listeners would be a challenge, too, because then the talk would have to be overdubbed. I don't know. For internet listeners and people who view Conference by satellite it could work. By radio and regular TV, I don't know. And I guess the folks in the Conference Center would be lost, unless there are screens with subtitles.

David B said...

Operas get subtitled in live performances these days, so the technology’s certainly there for use in the Conference Center.

When i was still working at Brigham Young University, i knew someone who had worked with the church’s general conference translators. (You’re a linguist, you meet people with interesting behind-the-scenes jobs.) He said that there was always a nearly-visible sigh that went through the translators’ booths when LeGrand Richards got up to speak—you knew how he was going to start, but you had no idea at what point he was going to deviate from his prepared remarks, except that it was likely to be sooner rather than later, and he was likely never to return to them.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Logistics may be the biggest issue. Operas are pre-planned with specific words since they are, essentially, a play. People like LeGrand Richards could be the exact reason why it wouldn't be feasible. President Monson even commented on Saturday that he was ad libbing.

Jeanne said...

...which was one of the coolest parts of his talk.

If you watch TV with the teletyping (is that what it's called?), you can see that someone is entering the words in as they are spoken because occasionally the written words get deleted and corrected (although some clear typos and other stuff remain uncorrected). So that kind of thing could definitely be put up on the screens in the conference center.

I haven't actually seen whether or not there are screens in the conference center, but I'm assuming there are because of all of the pictures and quotes that get put up while speakers are speaking in general conference. I'm assuming those are shown to the conference center audience as well. I would imagine they show the speakers on the screens as they talk, too, just like at BYU-Provo devotionals, so the audience can see their expression.

Michelle said...

So the biggest obstacle I think is letting everyone around the world hear ad-libbed remarks in real time.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Yeah. I'm sure it would work fabulously from any language to English. It's to the other languages that might not be so easy.