Meet Anatoli Levikov

Hello everyone. We are starting a new blog series where we introduce you to the veteran translators in Cuz Translation. We asked If they can participate in a short interview to answers some questions that might help some of our less experienced translators get an insight into the business, and they kindly agreed to our request.

Today I introduce you to Anatoli Levikov, an English <-> Russian translator and interpreter. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting with him in person and he has a lot of stories to tell!


Why did you decide to become an interpreter?

In my case the decision to become an interpreter actually wasn’t mine. After graduation from the University I worked as a translator for over ten years, dealing mainly with different kind of technical texts of aerospace industry. Later I accepted a job offer from one of the famous Russian Development & Production Enterprise “ZVEZDA” which provides design and development of life-support and escape systems for aviation and space industry. I was lucky to participate in ESA’s (European Space Agency) HERMES (European Space Shuttle) project working with colleagues from Germany, France and Italy. Those days I was one of the very few people who had technical and English terminology background and was assigned to interpreter activities. So, I did a lot of interpreting work at the top managers and designers meetings along with routine translation and interpretation of common matters.
Later I joined one of the US company and did a lot of interpreting within PC production project. That experience was priceless since I got a great background not only in IT terminology but in accounting, HR and corporate management as well.

What kinds of people do you have the most difficulty working with?

There were some, say, special cases when I was dealing with people who had a tendency to change the subject of discussion in unpredictable way. That becomes an issue when you are doing synchronized interpreting. You might know that when you are doing such type of interpreting you try to keep your interpretation no more than one or two phrases behind the speaker. It is very intensive type of work which requires your full concentration and attention. Meanwhile the instant change of the subject of conversation might cause a delay in your interpretation since you need some time for adaptation.
Some of the speakers might not be consistent in their thoughts, that also could create problems for interpreter because the main task is to provide understanding from the counter partner side, who has different mindset, traditions of keeping vital conversation, cultural tradition, etc. So, at the end of the day both parts could point to and blame interpreter for not the proper translation and loosing of the “track of the conversation”.

In an interpretation job, have you ever encountered with a statement or a sentence you did not wish to translate?

Well, couple of times I faced such situation and was quite confused since one of the sides of the conversation moved into curse language environment. The funny thing was that when I interpreted that “strong language” sentence the other part started yelling at me since in his mind I chewed him out. So, it is always an issue for interpreter when conversation between parties becomes rude… On one hand the interpreter must convey meaning of the sentence but this make it hard since the person listening might think you are insulting them.

What kind of funny translation mistakes did you make on a job?

There was one case which I remember quite well. In our life funny and sad things often come along. In Russian language the words “kidney” and “barrel” are very close by pronunciation. So, we were in France that days I believe and the Head of our delegation was looking for medication to treat stones in the kidneys. While interpreting his speech with the local people I didn’t hear him quite well and translated like “stones in the barrel” which confused our French partner a lot. It happened over 20 years ago, but I still feel myself sorry for that.