An interpreter’s job not only requires the obvious language skills but also composure and resilience.
During a visit to the United States by Italian President Sergio Mattarella in October, President Trump held a meeting with his guest in the Oval Office. Behind him was Elisabetta Savigni Ullman, the English-Italian interpreter. As Trump began to speak, she took notes and, after a while, had to remind President Trump to stop so that she could interpret for Mr Mattarella.
She soldiered on as Trump, in one sentence, managed to touch on the troop withdrawal from Syria, the US economy, employment, the China talks and American farmers, before stopping for her.
Later, he rambled about corruption in the 2016 election, Nancy Pelosi, impeachment hearings, his conversation with the Ukrainian president and the whistleblower. As he ploughed on, Ms Savigni Ullman at one point shrugged and smiled at the Italian president as if to say, ‘What can you do?’
The interpreter did not actually get the chance to use most of her notes! But she never lost her cool in difficult circumstances, even though her expression when Donald Trump wound up the meeting was one of apparent perplexity. A credit to the profession!