While research on machine interpreting is ongoing,1 few researchers have delved into the arguably more interesting subject of animal interpreting. To resolve this lacuna2 our specialist team set up a simple simultaneous interpreting task and generated qualitative data3 on their performance. The table below details our findings.
|Animal||Performance||Comparison to Humans|
|Dog||Ran around chasing its tail, gnawed on the wiring into the console, did something rather wet and warm on the terminology list, barked incoherently for fifteen minutes and scratched the door to be let out then proceeded to lick the main speaker before bolting after a passing car.||Shows some features commonly found amongst newly qualified interpreters and those who think interpreting is easy. Incoherent barking will work in some settings and with some speakers but it is not recommended for all forms of interpreting.|
|Hamster||Filled its face with food, nibbled all the wires and chewed a hole in the booth wall before escaping.||All these behaviours, apart from the last, are seen in human interpreters but not to the extent found here.|
|Cat||Sat proudly on the desk with its tail wrapped around it and refused to do anything else.||Sounds like a good proportion of the interpreters found in some institutions. May also be ready to become a translator if tool use is achieved.|
|Rabbit||Jumped around the booth chaotically, before settling down for a sleep.||Possibly useful behaviour for finance and budget meetings.|
|Snake||Bit one of the experimenters and one speaker who read from a script, and shed its skin.||Snake has been appointed as head of client training for a major professional association.|
|Crow||Attracted to shiny objects. Kept banging its head on the booth wall.||Completely unsuited to interpreting.|
|Goldfish||Known for having a thirty second memory. Had to be contained within several litres of fresh water (carbonated preferred), went round in circles for hours, opening and closing its mouth randomly with little sound coming out. Also known for having a thirty second memory.||The behaviours of this subject are identical to all known conference interpreters. Its affinity for small, cuboid tanks and memory management are so close to human behaviours that we have now sent a skin sample to geneticists to test whether all conference interpreters are actually goldfish in disguise.|
These results are truly groundbreaking. Not only did all animal species except for the crow show remarkable similarities to interpreters at various stages of their careers, but the goldfish behaved identically to humans. The importance of these results are undeniable. We expect all staff interpreters contracts to include regular algae removal, sprinkled flakes of dry food and a small castle in the corner of each interpreting booth from now on.
1 And keeps hitting exactly the same problem with certain accents, irony and the need for sentences to actually have an endpoint, which is natural really when you think of it but then, as my Aunt Esmerelda once said, Germans need to know where they are going but not how they will get there, which might be true or might by a bigly lie but we can’t really tell until...
2 You know we are proper researchers when we can use words like “lacuna” properly (just don’t ask what it actually means).
3 Because frankly, we like counting stuff even less than you do.
|Some Aspects of the Counting System of Nappaholihok
|Grammaticalization of and Generalizations to What’s-PRO-Face Among Annoying Pre-
|SpecGram Vol CLXXIX, No 3 Contents|