Here’s a conversation starter that will most likely lead to some interesting laughs with your organization’s interpreters and translators. Check out the bi-lingual translation site, Tr-ex, which provides translations for phrases you enter, then shows their use in a sentence. Tr-ex offers translations between English and Russian, French, Spanish, Czech and Indonesian.
You could while away a lunch hour with an interpreter while typing in phrases that convey a complicated thought in English — for example, “a stitch in time;” or “a monkey on my back” — and then discuss how much (or how little) the translation provides when stripped from its cultural context.
It’s another fascinating exercise in demonstrating both how far online resources have come, and the immensity of the work that remains to duplicate the complex understanding behind top-drawer human interpretation.