The United Nations in Geneva


International Organizations

Geneva, the “Capital of Peace”, has traditionally been a space for diplomacy and international relations. The city hosts one of the largest hubs of the UN system and its busiest center for meetings and conferences. Every day, decisions are made which have an impact on the lives of people across the world. Around 8,000 meetings took place at the Palais des Nations in 2022, topics ranging from disarmament to human rights, health, or international trade. Historically, “International Geneva” has grown not only through the presence of the League of Nations which is widely considered to be the predecessor of the United Nations, but also thanks to the Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations, devised by local philanthropes, and to organizations such as the International Telecommunication Union Opens in new window(founded in Berne in 1865 and moved to Geneva in 1948). ITU was one of the first entities established to facilitate cross-border technical cooperation, and it is now a specialized agency under the umbrella of the UN. Today, Geneva houses around 40 international organizations, 180 permanent missions and more than 400 NGOs. Large parts of the UN family call Geneva their home. In addition to the UN entities headquartered here, most UN funds, programmes and agencies maintain a regional office or liaison office in Switzerland. Together, they bring "UN Geneva" to life. A range of UN entities are headquartered in Geneva, making the city a center point for different topics such as health, human rights, refugees and migration, disarmament and more.

Interpreters and the Spoken Word


Simultaneous, Consecutive and Whispered Interpreting

Interpreters translate spoken speeches for multilingual audiences, in a culturally sensitive manner to facilitate communication. They work in legal, education, health care, media and multinational companies. The interpretation can be simultaneous or consecutive, through speaking or signing. When it is performed simultaneously it takes place at the same time the speaker is talking. These kinds of interpreters usually work with some other people in order to segment the interpreting process. In the consecutive interpretation, the interpreter waits for the speaker to finish his speech so that he can translate what the speaker has said. The speaker makes pauses during the conversation. In whispered interpretation or its French name chuchotage, the interpreter silently whispers the translation into the client’s ear while the speaker talks. In contrast, translators work with the written word and usually have the luxury of time to consult dictionaries and review their work before it is finalised. Interpreters prioritize understanding and communication over perfection as it's challenging to achieve in a live setting.

The Art of Listening

Interpreters relay informations and messages clearly, preferably at the same level of fluency without breaking the flow of conversation. They must make sense of a message composed in one language while simultaneously constructing and articulating the same message in another tongue. They must take into consideration the speaker’s tone, facial expressions and body language to ensure they reflect the true meaning of the message. Furthermore, they cope with stress when dealing with difficult speakers and need to remain relaxed, even in seemingly tough situations. If an interpreter has a break, parts of sentences will be missed and the overall meaning of the discourse will be chopped off. Listening skills and a powerful short-term memory are particularly important. Interpreters working at the UN are expected to recognize, understand and – in a split second - have a word in another language for any one of a myriad of issues. They work in groups that alternate every 20-30 minutes. The range of interpretation subjects is broad, including politics, legal affairs, economic and social issues, human rights, finance and administration.

Translating Science


The Quest for Truth

Scientific research and translation are defined by the quest for truth. Scientific translation must convey the exact meaning of the original text, with concision and clarity. It is essential to the advancement of science. While literary translation turns to the authors’ aesthetic intention, scientific translation centers on the accuracy of scientific terms. The translator must read the latest books and academic journals to keep up with the constant development of knowledge and discoveries. In many countries English is generally the lingua franca of science. However, it should not be assumed that everyone who can benefit from scientific findings speaks English, or that all relevant findings are even being published in English. Many scientific papers go unnoticed because of the linguistic barriers, resulting in the potential distortion of research in some fields. An alarming example of this happened in 2004, when there was a delay of more than 6 months in the World Health Organisation’s and The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s awareness of pigs infected with avian influenza, due to papers reporting the discovery being published in Chinese. This was a public health concern as pigs may have the potential to make the fatal disease more infectious to humans. The translation of scientific texts is important to expand global scientific knowledge. Let me quote Marie Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

Challenges in Translating Scientific Texts

Translation at the same time enables and hinders the exchange of knowledge. Scientific language can be difficult to convey across languages. Certain concepts may not exist in your target audience’s culture so ideas need to be adapted carefully. Texts and images often include numbers, formulas, graphs, diagrams and symbols, and must be localized. Scientific language is characterized by a specific lexical system and the constant emergence of neologisms. Technical words such as hypothesis, experiment, analysis, and description are shared by a variety of disciplines. Moreover, a curious interplay between scientific writings couched in localized forms of English can happen. Slight differences in the lexicon, and larger differences in standard style and form, provide a geological article written in French in France, evocative literary qualities absent in sobersided British English. We can imagine the working translator at his or her task, a task as subtly exacting as translating poetry.

Take Your Game to the Next Level

female boxer

The World’s Global Language

Every team has a brand. Every athlete has a brand. Throughout history, sport has brought people together and served as a bridge across many different vibrant communities. There are not many things that have that level of impact. Culturally, societally and globally. The World Cup exists beyond the field in the same way the NBA exists beyond the court or F1 beyond the circuit. Brands convey messages that tap into fans' favorite memories with the goal of evoking a nostalgic feeling and looking ahead to creating new ones. They aim for fans to feel like their sport is the most vibrant community in the world, giving a historical perspective without feeling old and dusty. Sports translators must develop valuable marketing strategies to bring fans closer to the brands through unique content that drives engagement and excitement. They must be experienced and passionate athletes to understand what customers want to hear, and should keep up with sporting culture and language. Understanding the target audience and the linguistic nuances that come with it is important.

Build Your International Presence

There are more and more global sports and outdoor brands every year. The process of internationalizing your brand can only be done with proper localization and a real cultural adaptation. Sports translators should be aware that a brand’s success with sports marketing requires both careful strategy and many seasons of training. We deal with some of the most formidable, biggest-spending marketers in the world and we have to be good to stand out, because it's competitive. Each sports discipline has a specific terminology, often from the country it originated in and everything must be implemented to avoid any cultural faux-pas that could cause bad press for your brand. Building authentic connections with consumers doesn’t happen by chance and high-quality translations are key to helping your brand connect with new fans every year. Request a quotation or speak with me to discuss your requirements. I would love to help your brand florish by leading, not following, contemporary culture. I am here to break conventional rules, with enthusiasm and expertise.

Post Production and the Film, Television and Streaming Industry


The Golden Rules

We translators must follow style guides, so that you can watch your favorite shows with subtitles translated in the language of your choice. Style guides are materials that tend to change the least often. That being said, because a style guide contains key guidelines that influence every part of the translation, it will not just talk about how to handle things that exist in the English language. It's going to contain sections that deal with recommended style for handling grammatical categories and sentence structures that do not have any equivalent in the source language. One example would be how to handle verb tenses and verb forms. It will also help the translator in adapting the tone and style to the target market. For example, French audience will have a different perception of how much informal is too informal then, for example, people in Italy. The English language is more polite, French is more direct. A tweak in tone to achieve a similar communicative effect is often a good idea, even when adapting just within one language such as between American English and English for UK. Being too literal can destroy the meaning, being too adaptive can also destroy the meaning. It is a fine line between the two. What I've written just scratches the surface. What other points can you add to this list that I may have not mentioned?

A Few Reminders

An anagram is a word or phrase made by using the letters of another word or phrase in a different order, such as « migraine » and « imaginer ». In the movie Silence of the lambs, Faust Federel is an anagram for « sulfate de fer ». Throughout his career as a burglar, Maurice Leblanc's gentleman Arsène Lupin used anagrams: Paule Sinner, Prince Paul Sernine, and Don Luis Perenna. A holorime is a form of rhyme where two very similar sequences of sounds can form phrases composed of different words and with different meanings, as in the verses: « Et ma blême araignée, ogre illogique et las | Aimable, aime à régner, au gris logis qu’elle a », by Victor Hugo. A pun is a humorous use of a word or phrase that sounds like another. The word « calembour » in French, was invented by Denis Diderot. « De deux choses lune, l’autre c’est le soleil » wrote Jacques Prévert. Interesting facts, the masculine noun « scarabée » end with « ée » and the word « les ténèbres » only exist in plural form.