I mentioned in the previous post that I was lucky enough to get front row seats at the World Bachata Masters, and now that my rundown of the weekend’s activities is over, I’ll tell you a little of this particular side story.
On Thursday evening, I met the organizer of the convention because we had become friends with a few of the American instructors who came over to Madrid for this weekend. When he found out I spoke Spanish, the very first thing he asked me was if I wanted to be the official translator for the World Bachata Masters. I told him I had never done anything like that before, but still, he asked. Finally, after a number of nervous giggles on my part I acceded. (Why did I accede? I have no idea.)
Saturday afternoon, I talked with him again so he could tell me when and where to be, and then nothing else until 11 pm, when the announcer gave me a few sheets of notes in Spanish on what he wanted me to translate. It ended up being only the beginning remarks talking about the competition as well as the little bios about the different judges, which altogether formed a very small part of the entire proceedings, but the notes were given to me so late that I only had time to pre-translate about half of it. That first half I had already translated onto the paper went great. It was pretty much like reading a book aloud, which I love doing. But once I reached the end of my notes, I was flying by the seat of my pants, translating on the go, which is actually really hard. Most of it was ok, with a few mistakes and funny sentence constructions as my mind flew to find the best way to say something, but I did make one major gaff that got a number of people laughing.
As we were introducing the last judge, we got to the end of her bio, in which it said that she was the “pareja” of one of the judges previously introduced. Now, literally translated, “pareja” means “partner,” but it is also used with decent frequency to mean “significant other.” So when I saw the word on the page, my first thought went towards the second definition, for some reason not even thinking that it might more likely mean “dance partner.” As soon as the word “girlfriend” came out of my mouth, the other judge, who happened to be sitting near me, gave me the most emphatic shake of his head, and I had to renege with “I’m sorry, dance partner, my bad!” Probably not the most formal way to phrase it, but I was on the spot, under pressure, so I reverted to that comfortable colloquial expression from back home…my bad!