As reported by Journalism.co.uk on Wednesday, the BBC will today depart from normal broadcast methods and experiment with a global live translation event, using its 13 different language services.
The primary house rule of SuperPower Nation is that different languages must be used. Will it work? The event’s editor Mark Sandell, who also edits World Have Your Say on the World Service, said he doesn’t know.
“This is the whole point of it – there’s got to be a sense that this is an experiment,” he told Journalism.co.uk. “I have no idea whether it will work in this format – the experimentation is crucial.”
“People have to go with the fact that there are going to be some messy moments,” he said, but he hopes there will be “some magic in there too”.
This simultaneous transmission will put pay to the “usual hierarchy of TV pulling rank on radio,” says Sandell. “It’s going to be a little bit rough and ready.”
The hub in London is central, but not the main element of the event, he says: “It could be anywhere. The people in the room are no more or no less important than those in an internet cafe in Dhaka.”
At the London base, actors will play out Romeo and Juliet – in their own languages. Musicians will collaborate – in their own languages. A ‘chat roulette’ will see different participants thrown together in conversation.
The initial idea of the entire project, says Sandell, was to break down as many language barriers as possible and see what real-time conversations occur when English is no longer the default.