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“Fact-finding trips like Climalp are some of my favourite assignments”

Apr 08, 2013 / CIPRA Internationale Alpenschutzkommission
CIPRA communicates in four languages of the Alps and also in English. The resulting translation load is handled by several translators and interpreters. Reinhold Ferrari is one of them.
Image caption:
A keen supporter of CIPRA’s ideas: The interpreter Reinhold Ferrari sees himself as a bridge between the speaker and the audience. © Caroline Begle/CIPRA International
Sustainability is a very important subject for CIPRA. For me, too. I still remember when the term first came to be used in the Alps in the 1980s and it had to be reproduced in the Italian language. In English, the word durability was originally used. So the Italian dictionaries suggested durata and also persistenza (like the English word persistence) until someone proposed the term sostenibilità, which is derived from the English sustainability.
That is a good example of the work of a translator: a metatext – containing information about the author of the text, the intended recipient and the cultural context – is needed if the translator is to find an appropriate solution to the task in hand. For the most part, translators are confronted with a static object, i.e. the text, and their view is restricted. They sit alone in their ivory tower, and the author, recipients and client are a long way away.
Basically, I think translators must primarily make sure they avoid the linguistic pitfalls described by Paul Watzlawick in his book “How Real Is Real? – Communication, Disinformation, Confusion”. In the chapter entitled “Traduttore, traditore”, the author compares the relative triviality of confusing the Italian word burro (butter), which is also the Spanish word for donkey, and asino, the Italian word for donkey, with the potentially drastic effects of confusing 109 and 1012 when translating a text book on nuclear physics, for example. This is simply an occupational hazard.
As a translator and interpreter, you are continually learning and preparing for the next assignment. One day you may be interpreting from German at a press conference, the next day you are translating from English at a trade union meeting, and the following day you find yourself interpreting for the Italian members of the audience at a Renewable Alps conference such as AlpWeek 2012 in Valposchiavo. A one-day interpreting assignment requires at least one day of intensive preparation, as well as intellectual curiosity and a clear head if you are to make a good job of it. This makes the work strenuous – and also fascinating.
I have been working with CIPRA for over ten years now. It is easier and also more rewarding when you share your client’s concerns and objectives. In this context I am thinking particularly of the CIPRA publication “Alps Insight”, which often addresses subjects that are not only important for the Alps but also for myself in my professional development as a translator and my personal development as a vigilant and responsible citizen with a growing commitment to sustainability.
I personally prefer interpreting to written translation work. I especially love simultaneous interpreting, where I sit in the booth and can see the speakers. Apart from the spoken words coming to me via the headset, I can see the speaker’s gestures and facial expression, and hear their tone of voice. I take all these elements of verbal and non-verbal communication to literally interpret the message and recreate it in another
There is another form of interpreting I should like to mention, namely consecutive interpreting on fact-finding trips, such as those organized by CIPRA’s climalp project. These are definitely some of my favourite assignments – because I am the bridge between the speaker and the audience. Apart from that I find the subject so fascinating that I have devoted a lot of time and energy to it in my private life, too, and have actually helped plan and build my own passive house. When I am on a fact-finding trip interpreting for someone who is explaining the advantages of passive houses and sustainable construction, it helps that I am a “believer” and have “converted” the people I live with. Then I interpret with maximum enthusiasm to the benefit of all concerned – CIPRA, my audience and myself.

Reinhold Ferrari
Alps LaRete

Building bridges with languages
Reinhold Ferrari has been one of around two dozen translators working for CIPRA for more than ten years now. Among other things, he has translated this Annual Report and the CIPRA backgrounder Alps Insight. The fact that the Italian edition of the 3rd Alpine Report published by CIPRA in 2008 was awarded the Premio Gambrinus Giuseppe Mazzotti prize is due also to him. CIPRA builds a linguistic bridge across the Alps. Most if its publications appear in French, German, Italian and Slovene, and some are translated into English. CIPRA’s central information platform is its website, which has a total of more than 80,000 pages. AlpMedia is a monthly newsletter devoted to current developments and activities in the Alps. Facebook and Twitter support communication with the closer CIPRA community, i.e. CIPRA staff in various countries, affiliated organisations and like-minded people.
In 2012 CIPRA published two editions of Alps Insight in German, French, Italian and Slovene, one on the subject of governance and participation (“Our will be done”) and one about youth involvement (“Yes, youth can”). The CIPRA Compact “Forest management in climate change” is the tenth publication in a series that takes a critical look at climate change mitigation measures in the Alps.

Source: Annual Report 2012 CIPRA International