Behind the CETRA Scene: Interview with a Russian Interpreter, Ludmila Annable

Name: Ludmila (Lucy) Annable

Location: Yardley, PA

russian interpreter

What languages do you work with?  What are some of the intricacies or challenges of the particular language you work with?

I work only with Russian and English languages although I know a few more.   In my professional life the greatest demand was for these two and I focused on them the most.  As for intricacies which exist within this language pair, it’s a difference in a length of a sentence.  English is an analytical language.  Russian is almost a purely synthetic language with a complicated system of declension and conjugation which ultimately leads to longer words and sentences.  As a result, on average Russian text is 25% longer than its English equivalent.  And it definitely presents a challenge for simultaneous interpretation.  When a presenter speaks very fast, it means that an interpreter should do it even faster.

 What are some of your most interesting projects? Why?

I’ve been very fortunate to take part in a wide variety of projects from aerospace to coal mining.  But the most memorable ones are those which involved meetings at U.S. Senate and the White House Executive Office.  Participation in such projects gave me a different perspective on our profession and its significance. 

What is the best part about being an interpreter? What do you love about it?

I think the best part of interpreter’s job is its diversity.  It has its pluses and minuses.  It gives you an opportunity to constantly learn new things, explore new areas of knowledge and technology.  It is challenging, and at the same time it is rewarding.  It is like opening a new chapter in my life every time I start a new project.  I love it all – discovering new things, achieving new goals, meeting new interesting people, creating bright memories.   One thing is certain – interpreter’s life is never dull or boring.

How did you know you were “ready” to be an interpreter?

I was “ready” when I graduated from Minsk State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages (presently Minsk State Linguistic University) with an equivalent of a Master’s degree in teaching English and German.  Interpretation and translation were an integral part of that degree.  At that time I was ready to do my work at a required professional level but professional confidence and ease came later with years of experience and additional studies in the field.  The years of teaching experience at my alma mater and postgraduate studies made a great difference in my professional confidence. 

What is the most difficult part about your job?

The most difficult part about my job is to say good-bye to my project team members when the project is completed.  It is always hard to say good-bye to people with whom you went through good and, sometimes, trying times and shared the joy of accomplishments.  Although we try to stay in touch, but it’s not the same thing when you work together everyday.

There is one more difficult part in interpreter’s job.  An interpreter has to be always ready to meet new people, to adjust, to excel.  I would say it requires good social skills, diplomacy, flexibility and dedication to the profession.

Can you translate a sentence for us? Your favorite quote? Your favorite word?

I don’t have a favorite word, but if I had to choose one I would pick “confidence”.

My favorite quote I borrowed from one of the greatest Russian writers Maksim Gorky who liked to repeat it.

“If I am not for myself, who is for me then?  If I am only for myself, what am I for?”

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