The dictionary meaning of interpreter is a person who translates words so that meanings can be communicated between people who do not communicate. However, in professional baseball, the character of a running mate is stronger than an interpreter. He becomes a companion who cries and laughs together with a foreign player for a year.
As the 10 KBO teams begin overseas spring camps starting on February 1st, interpreters from each team also have a busy schedule from spring to fall. Spending most of the day with the foreign player in charge almost every day throughout the season, I feel close to him, but on the contrary, I also rot.
Team A’s interpreter suffered from a problem with a foreign player in charge who was expelled due to poor performance during the regular season last year. This player couldn’t even play baseball, but mentally he was a ‘child’. Not only did he act out of context, he often broke the team spirit.
In the end, the club instructed the interpreter to ‘stick mark’ for foreign players on and off the ground. When Lee left Korea, he couldn’t help but feel a strange sense of liberation.
◆ ‘Compatibility’ between players and interpreters affects adaptation and performance
Each team’s interpreter is assigned a player to be in charge of this season before the start of spring camp. Depending on the player, if they can only speak Spanish, a Spanish interpreter will be provided, but for English-speaking players, there is a standard for interpreting for each team.
Team C pays more attention to the pitcher than the batter. It is a way of attaching a veteran interpreter with a little more experience to a foreign pitcher who has been recruited as the first starter. It is not because the fielder is neglected, but because the interpreter’s role in the training and meeting process is greater for the pitcher than for the batter.
In some cases, the preferences of players and interpreters are taken into account. Since you have to see each other almost every day, having similar personalities and lifestyles will greatly help players adapt to Korea.
In the case of Dixon Machado, who played an active role as the Lotte Giants’ main shortstop in 2020-2021, he became his interpreter and soul partner. With Machado’s interpreter Ji Seung-jae (now LG interpreter) for two years, he formed a cross-border friendship and often spent time outside the stadium.
Ji Seung-jae, an interpreter, said, “If the player and the interpreter get along well, when the player is struggling in baseball or outside of baseball, there are some things that can be solved just by having a conversation.” There were many times when he asked me to hang out with him even on my days off. Maybe it’s because we got along well, and we still keep in touch.”
Meryl Kelly, who played an active role as the ace of SK (now SSG) in the 2015-2018 season, also became her interpreter and ‘Assam Yuk’. She even invited her interpreter to her own wedding in the United States in February 2018.
Lotte coach Larry Sutton and Hanwha coach Carlos Subero also have a special relationship with their interpreters. All four of them have a common point of being devout Christians, so the fact that they communicate well outside of baseball is a great strength in their life in Korea.
◆ ‘Bitter’ interpretation is difficult, but ‘literal translation’ is the correct answer
If we only exchange good things, there will be no major difficulties in the work process, but just like social life, in professional baseball, there are times when someone speaks bitterly. If this bitter voice is directed at a foreign player, 안전놀이터 the interpreter must clearly convey the voices of the coaching staff and front desk in the middle.
The pitfall not to be missed here is that the interpreter should not try to refine or wrap the expression. If you change your expression out of concern for the player’s mood or worsening relationship, ‘distortion’ may occur.
Interpreter A said, “It is correct to convey reprimands or bitter words as they are without filtering. For example, if the coach says to the player, ‘I want to eat that apple’, the interpreter should not say, ‘That apple looks delicious’ to the player. If you think about the listener’s mood and touch the original text, communication misses begin to occur,” he explained.