Interpreters work in many high-profile situations, including some you would never have thought of, including the International Space Station (as eloquently explained in our favorite book of 2012, Found in Translation) and yes, international beauty pageants. Objectification of women aside, these popular events are televised all over the world, and we could not really think of a more nerve-wrecking interpreting assignment than being on stage interpreting the famous question (and response) for a Miss Universe finalist. The Miss Universe organization hires a small army of highly qualified interpreters to assist the contestants throughout the competition. Usually Miss Universe is held in an exotic location, but unfortunately for the US-based interpreters, the 2012 competition was held in Vegas, which isn't bad, but it can't compete with Brazil or Thailand.
Now that we've told you about the great Miss Universe interpreters (one of whom Judy had the pleasure of meeting), you will be surprised to know that Miss Venezuela (usually a very strong contender for winner or runner-up) decided not to use her interpreter, who was right there on stage with her (and correctly interpreted the question). Instead, she waits for the question to be interpreted into Spanish, but then proceeds to answer it in broken English. Only she knows why she chose to do this, but the result is quite cringe-inducing.
The question was: "If you could make a new law, what would it be? And explain why."
The transcribed answer was (courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter): "I think that any leys [Spanish for "laws"] there are in Constitution or in life, are already made. I think that we should have, uh, a straight way to go in our similar, or, eh, in our lives as is this. For example, I'm a surfer, and I think that the best wave that I can take is the wave that I wait for it. So please do our only, eh, law that we can do. Thank you Vegas!"
Not surprisingly, this answer earned Miss Venezuela zero points. Somehow, she was still able to come in third. The lesson? Interpreters can save your life, avoid war, prevent you from getting falsely convicted, and they can help you win an international beauty pageant. Miss USA was this year's winner.