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The FixersLocal News Workers' Perspectives on International Reporting$
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Lindsay Palmer

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190680824

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190680824.001.0001

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Interpreting Unfamiliar Languages

Interpreting Unfamiliar Languages

(p.114) 4 Interpreting Unfamiliar Languages
The Fixers

Lindsay Palmer

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the labor of interpreting unfamiliar languages. Fixers place great emphasis on their role as translators, but they echo much of the recent scholarship on translation by indicating that the task of translating and interpreting is not a passive process. The very act of standing at the crossroads between two (or more) languages places news fixers in the role of cultural mediator, demanding that they live simultaneously within more than one linguistic expression of culture. Though some news fixers certainly conceptualize translation and interpreting as the process of building a bridge, they also suggest that the act of translation is fraught with moments of disconnection and miscommunication. Sometimes, the fixer might choose to translate a journalist’s question rather differently than the journalist intended, for instance, in order to assuage the anxiety of a source or an authority figure. Sometimes the fixer might leave some of the source’s response out of the translation, or paraphrase instead of translating word for word. Throughout the entire process of interpreting unfamiliar languages, the news fixer makes active decisions about what to say and how to say it. These decisions are typically guided by the fixer’s own understanding of both the source’s cultural identification, and the journalist’s. From news fixers’ perspectives, interpreting is much more than translating words—it is also a process of actively and creatively interpreting “culture,” however complex culture may be.

Keywords:   international news, foreign correspondents, fixers, translating, interpreting, language

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