Understanding the Importance of Interpreters Through ‘Game of Thrones’

Every linguist’s favourite Game of Thrones character is (or should be!) Missandei, Daenerys Targaryen’s interpreter.  Neil Payne, in the Huffington Post, explains why Missandei’s mediation of the negotiations between Daenerys and the Masters of Astapor makes her a great diplomatic interpreter:

Within the book, although not explicit in the TV series, we see that one of the Masters speaks enough of the Common tongue that the negotiations are being conducted in to be able to understand exactly what Missandei is saying. For Missandei she first must understand the intent of Master Khaznys words, and change them to a respectful statement that still conveys his message. In the TV series we watch as she pauses to try and work out what to say when Master Khaznys state he will give Daenerys 10 extra unsullied because he likes her looks; she decides to merely say he is generous. Imagine the horror on both sides had she just translated his words exactly!

Understanding the Importance of Interpreters Through ‘Game of Thrones’, Huffington Post Blog, 13 September 2014.

More examples are reviewed in A Geek’s Guide to Fictional Interpreters.


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