Translation is a huge issue that I have to deal with. My Hoklo/Taiwanese skills are sufficient for most conversational purposes, but during the interview process, my language skills are definitely put to the test. No matter how well I prepare for our interviews, unexpected things inevitably pop up- which is most definitely something that I welcome! At these times, I sometimes find myself in need of clarification or translation of what Su Beng has said; sometimes it is hard to react quickly enough in formulating follow up questions, and at times when I need to probe more for details, I find myself at a loss for words in trying to rephrase my questions.
Throughout this project I have almost always had someone who is a native Hoklo/Taiwanese speaker accompany me to my interviews with Su Beng. Lately, that has been my Mom. She has committed herself to being my personal translator during my interviews with Su Beng. I couldn't think of anyone better to help me with this since Su Beng speaks in his special mix of mainly Hoklo/Taiwanese, with a smattering of Mandarin Chinese and Japanese phrases. My mother has a very proficient understanding of Japanese, and of course, she is fluent in Hoklo/Taiwanese and Mandarin Chinese. Also, the type of Hoklo/Taiwanese that Su Beng speaks is definitely better understood by someone of my mother's generation.
All of my interviews with Su Beng have been audio recorded. So the first step before even putting together the story of this man's life, is translating all the interviews. Anytime I get stuck with a translation question while going through this arduous process, I consult my special team of experts* for clarification or suggestions.
*My team of experts includes my parents who have been on the "front lines" with me throughout this project, and my aunt- who has been doing freelance Chinese-English translation for years.