Movers & Thinkers #8: When Interpreters Can’t Translate Everything

Movers & Thinkers #8: When Interpreters Can’t Translate Everything


Interpreters live at the intersection of disparate languages and cultures, and sometimes they are the only people who can make communication happen. How does that affect their identity? And what happens when they encounter boundaries they simply cannot cross? Featuring banjo player Abigail Washburn, Spanish-English interpreter David Morales and sign language interpreter Scott Baker.

This episode was produced from a live taping in WPLN’s Studio C in September 2016. It was hosted and produced by Emily Siner; engineered by Carl Peterson and Cameron Adkins; and edited by Mack Linebaugh and Anita Bugg.

Guest Bios:

Abigail Washburn is a Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and clawhammer banjo player based in Nashville. She is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and regularly tours in China. Her musical projects range from her string band, Uncle Earl, to her bilingual release Song of the Traveling Daughter in 2005, to her most recent album recorded with her husband, Béla Fleck, which won a 2016 Grammy for “Best Folk Album.” Abigail shares U.S. music in China and Chinese music in the U.S. in the hopes that the communal experience of beauty and sound will promote cultural understanding.

Scott Baker is an interpreter for the Deaf, a professional stage and screen actor, and author of the forthcomingInterpreter’s Guide to Shakespeare. He interprets plays for the Nashville Shakespeare Festival and has interpreted concerts of Beyoncé, Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton, among others. He also works as a professor and marketing director at Lipscomb University. He sees nearly everything he does as interpreting. Scott is married to stage director Beki Baker and father to a 5-year old daughter and twin 5-month old sons, so he’s also sleepy.

David Morales is a Spanish-English translator and interpreter who has been truly bilingual and bicultural since his early childhood. He was born in Mexico City, the son of an American mother and a Mexican father, and he moved to Nashville with his wife in 2000. He is a certified Spanish court interpreter for the State of Tennessee and specializes in medical, legal and conference settings. Plus, he’s translated 13 technical books and six children’s books from English into Spanish. He is also deeply involved with the immigrant community in Tennessee.

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