“You cannot stop to ponder. You just can’t. If you do, you fail. (…)
An interpreter at that level cannot – not ‘should not’ – simply cannot make a mistake.”
– the late Russian interpreter Victor Sukhodrev, 1932 – 2014
As the chief interpreter for every Soviet leader from Krushchev to Gorbachev, the late Russian interpreter Victor Sukhodrev attended more meetings of the Cold War superpowers than almost any person in history. His words will resonate with any interpreter, Russian or otherwise, involved in high-level, high-stakes meetings, international conferences, court hearings, contractual negotiations etc. For professional interpreters, every word spoken matters and conveying your exact message is our priority.
Here, the Washington Post pays tribute to Sukhodrev’s outstanding career as a Russian interpreter in the Soviet era and sheds some light on what drove him to such a mastery of the English language.