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If for instance, an American is addressing a European audience and they mention a distance in miles or a temperature in Fahrenheit, do you convert the measurement in your interpretation? Of course it would have to be approximate, unless you're a math whizz. This question can also lead into a more general question concerning the interpreter's responsibility to localise the content of the speech to the audience's needs.

asked 01 Sep '13, 01:52

charlielee's gravatar image


edited 02 Sep '13, 15:41

Delete's gravatar image

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My favourite impossible conversion is petrol consumption from German into English. In German it's measured litres consumed per 100km driven, in English it is miles to the gallon!

But your right about making things understandable to your listeners.

For example, for "3 liter Auto" (a sort of ideal car with great fuel consumption), you absolutely can't say "3 litre car" because that would suggest a 3 litre engine in English - something very different. So even if I can't do the fuel consumption maths, I will say something like "a car capable of doing 100km on 3 litres of fuel".

At worst the listener must understand that they don't understand the numbers so they can query them.

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answered 01 Sep '13, 06:54

Andy's gravatar image


edited 01 Sep '13, 06:59

You are not expected to.

Of course, if it is really easy and you are certain of your conversion (i.e. 2 miles = 3 km aprox.), you may volunteer the information, but otherwise it is not done, generally speaking. Because in many cases you'd have to be a math whizz - or lose the next sentence - and because if you make a mistake, it is your own responsibility. When it is really vital, the speaker himself will make the conversion (they always do when talking $ // €)...

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answered 01 Sep '13, 03:24

Danielle's gravatar image


It depends on the rate of delivery too, in fast simul you ll hardly have time to say the original number, so the general answer is: no.

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answered 06 Oct '13, 21:34

Cyril%20Flerov's gravatar image

Cyril Flerov

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question asked: 01 Sep '13, 01:52

question was seen: 2,575 times

last updated: 06 Oct '13, 21:34 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

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