Wugga mugga

Interpreters’ challenges are not solely terminological and linguistic. Sometimes we meet exceptionally tongue-tied people or someone with unique prosody.

Once there was a dual wielding guy, and by this I mean nonsensical gabble. When he first started speaking, Richard Feynman quoting Professor Robinson emerged from the depths of my memory: “wugga mugga mugga wugga wugga…”. You try hard, invoke the Holy Context, concentrate all your feeble forces… and start to hear.

What you hear is: “Well, let me think… No, of course not… it’s not that I wugga… I can’t remember, you know, those… how to put it… Well, mugga, yes, actually… But you have to understand… Let me start from the mugga way round… the thing is that… Yeah, maybe one can put it so… bugga to say the truth… I would never… However, on the other hand… Well, what else can I add?” You soak in everything the gentleman has to utter, then you render his two-minute allocution in four words. Something like: “Yes, I sold it”.

Remember “Lost in Translation”, the movie? There was a verbose Japanese film director who got carried away each time he spoke, and then an interpreter rendered his message in a sentence. The truth is, her translation was [not exactly complete but] correct. I checked.

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