Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Translation Game

Yesterday evening I went with Rachel to the opening sessions of Kisufim, the Jerusalem conference for Jewish writers. Apparently, nobody thought until now about having such a conference, despite numerous Jews having won numerous Pulitzer prizes, several Nobel prizes for literature, and of course having shaped the history of the modern world as we know it through its writings for the last several thousand years.

Apparently "it slipped their mind," as the opening speaker so eloquently put it.

Or so I believe, having had to struggle with this little simultaneous translation device you get to wear if you don't understand the language that the speakers are talking. You simply aim your device at the podium, select the desired language, and a woman who sounds like my snarky bank lady hesitatingly translates a few words out of every hundred about twenty-five seconds after they're spoken.

Since simultaneous translation requires you to be able to blather continuously when you should be listening to other people speak, it's a job well suited for Israelis, especially my bank lady.

But I wonder if it wouldn't make a great party game for the bilingual set (obviously this would have to be a European game).

Your game comes with 1000 sound bytes of speeches in five different subjects. Roll the dice and move your piece to the square that says "Move Again", and then roll the dice and move again to the next square that says "Move Again", and then roll the dice and move to your choice of "Politics" or "Entertainment" squares. Since Moshe Shapiro is on your team and knows every single Hebrew movie by heart, you choose entertainment.

Snippet Number 176 of Entertainment is played, and you have to speak an accurate translation, finishing within ten seconds after the tape is finished. You lose points for each error you make.

Hours and hours of riotous entertainment for young and old alike. And it's educational, too.

That's what I came away with from the conference. The conference was about books or something, I think. Ask Rachel.


Modesty is back in fashion

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