Monday, December 6, 2010

TV Presenter-Interpreters

There’s a very popular TV programme in Spain called Más Allá de la Vida (Beyond Life). In it, an apparently gifted British medium, Anne Germain, transmits messages to members of the studio audience from their dead relatives and friends. The presenter is Jordi González (see photo). I don’t like him in the other programme he presents regularly (La Noria) because there he seems strained; but in Más allá de la vida I have to admit he too is gifted. You see, Anne Germain doesn’t speak Spanish, and of course her audience wouldn’t be able to follow her in English. Everything she says to the recipients of her messages therefore has to be interpreted. But there’s no interpreter – that’s to say, no Expert Interpreter. Jordi González does it all. I’d never have guessed from La Noria that he knew a word of English, but in this programme he does a very creditable, near-expert job in his auxiliary role; and he keeps it up through 90 minutes of short consecutive interpreting without taking notes, while at the same time carrying out his other functions as presenter such as introducing and interviewing the members of the audience who are selected. Quite a performance. He‘s not the only presenter who does occasional interpreting – the veteran Michel Drucker on French TV for instance – but I haven‘t seen another do it so sustainedly. Prime-time presenters like González and Drucker are certainly Professional Experts, but not Professional Expert Interpreters. It‘s another example of what I’ve previously (March 3 post) called unrecognised translators.

Jordi has also presented programmes in Catalan. Since he was born in Barcelona, we can presume he was an early bilingual in Catalan and Spanish. However, the official biography on his website doesn’t tell us how or when he learnt English. Or maybe he didn't. Maybe it's all a put-up job: see the Cavanilles reference below. But if it's not a genuine interpretation – and I'm inclined to believe that the interpreting at least is genuine – then it's a very good imitation of one.

Más Allá de la Vida currently appears on Sunday evenings on the Telecinco channel.

Jordi Gonzalez’s own website is at

Javier Cavanilles. Desde el más allá (más o menos): una médium de opereta [From the Beyond (more or less): a medium fit for a musical comedy]. El Mundo newspaper, electronic edition, August 13, 2010.
A scathing demolition of the medium and the programme.


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