Sunday, December 16, 2012

Natural Interpreter Honored

It's rare for interpreters to be honored for their work. In Zagreb I did once meet Dr. Vladimir Ivir, who was proud of the MVO (Member of the Royal Victorian Order) that Queen Elizabeth II had bestowed on him for his services when she visited what was in those days Yugoslavia. But then he was a Professional Expert.

How about Natural and Native Interpreters? Less chance for them, of course. But here's an instance from the world of sport. (There have been other cases of Natural or Native Sports Interpreters described on this blog. For an example, enter pilota in the Search box on the right.)
"Rangers scout Joe Furukawa, who worked this year as the interpreter for Texas Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish, on Wednesday was named the 2012 Harold McKinney Good Guy Award winner by the Dallas-Forth Worth chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
"Furukawa, a Pacific Rim international scout for the Rangers, served as Darvish's interpreter for all press conferences and media liaisons in the Japanese pitcher's first season in the majors. Furukawa played for the Hiroshima Carp and Yokohama BayStars.
"Furukawa will receive his award along with Rookie of the Year Darvish, Player of the Year Adrian Beltre, and Pitcher of the Year Matt Harrison, at the 2013 Texas Rangers Dr. Pepper Awards Show, which will be held in conjunction with the Texas Rangers Fan Fest at the Arlington Convention Center on Jan. 11."
Should be quite an event. Joe is a Professional Expert Baseball Player, but there's no suggestion he ever had any training as an interpreter. He must be good at it.

He was an early bilingual.
"He was born in Yokahama, Japan, but moved to Anaheim, Calif., when he was six years old. Furukawa still has family – his parents, brother and sister – who reside in the United States.
"Furukawa doesn't just speak English and Japanese – he speaks the language of baseball. He played in Japan, spending much of his career as a minor-league shortstop, and understands the culture and how the game is played there."
Clearly baseball is something which goes against the "offsprings of The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" vision of Japan that Lionel Dersot decries.
"We're the envy of 29 teams who would love to have a guy like him," said Jim Colburn, senior advisor for Pacific Rim Operations and the point person on the club's expansion to that market the last few years.
"He's a fanatic about baseball. Any scout that goes to Japan knows who he is. It's very important for a Japanese player to have an eloquent interpreter. The English that comes out of Joe's mouth is sensitive and correct. That's what he brings to the table."
  • Kyodo News Agency. BBWAA honors Darvish's interpreter. Japan Times Online, December 14, 2012. The report is here.
  • Richard Durrett. Joe Furukawa speaks baseball. ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth, April 9, 2012. The article is here. It provides insight into how valuable this kind of liaison interpreting is.
Yu Darvish #11 of the Texas Rangers talks to the media with the assistance of his interpreter Joe Furukawa after spring workouts at Surprise Stadium on February 23, 2012 in Surprise, Arizona. Source: Norm Hall/Getty Images North America.


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