simultaneous interpreting (keeping up)
Thread poster: hfp
hfp
United States
Local time: 18:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 6, 2008

Lately I have been watching some shows on tv in Spanish and I have been trying to interpret them simultaneously into English. The shows have been on different topics such as cooking and world events. However, sometimes while I am interpreting into English, my native language, I fall behind because when I speak I have trouble listening to what is being said. What advice can you give me on keeping up and simultaneous interpreting in general? I greatly appreciate your help.

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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 15:43
English to Russian
+ ...
shadow and paraphrasing exercises Dec 6, 2008

Simultaneous interpreting is not a skill you can master overnight. It takes lots and lots and lots of practice.

TV news are delivered at a very fast rate, so it is difficult for the beginner. You might want to do something easier, and then, when you feel you are ready, try interpreting the news.

Before you do actual interpreting, two recommended exercises are: shadowing and paraphrasing. Shadowing means you repeat everything after the speaker word by word, trying to lag a little behind.

Paraphrasing means you express the same thoughts as the speaker, but in different words.

You can find these exercises, and more, in Edge 21: Simultaneous interpreting, sold at www.acebo.com.

Another idea: you can borrow books on tape from the library and use them for exercises. You might want to start from something easy (such as children's books), and gradually progress to more difficult material.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 00:43
English to Hungarian
+ ...
- Dec 7, 2008

That is pretty much the toughest/key/most interesting/main/most peculiar thing in simultaneous interpreting.
The advice wuold be "learn this profession" or "go to an interpreting school".

There is a bit of theory to it and some techniques but I think the main ingredients are: impeccable language skills, quick thinking and the ability to multitask well, a VERY cool head and practice.


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~Ania~  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
Polish to English
+ ...
Practice and work on your vocabulary Dec 7, 2008

I interpret simultaneously in court and it is not so hard once you get used to it. The advantage in court is that the judges/solicitors/probation officers etc. are all used to working with interpreters and speak fairly slowly. However, it is a skill you have to master and lots of practice as others have suggested is very important. Having a very extensive vocabulary is also key. If you stumble on a word because you do not immediately know its equivalent in the other language it may throw you off course, and as a result you may lose concentration and get frustrated with yourself. So try to read extensively in both languages, everything you can get your hands on, womens' magazines (frequently they cover an amazing variety of topics), newspapers etc.
Keep a glossary of the terms you are likely to encounter most often. Do you know which field you would like to work as a simultaneous interpreter? Simultaneous interpreting is tiring and your mind tends to attempt to switch off after a while, that's why conference interpreters often work in pairs. In court you get natural breaks, so it is not necessary.


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Sabrina Valente  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:43
Member (2007)
English to Italian
+ ...
Headphones Dec 7, 2008

You may want buy headphones, that way your words will not cover the speaker's voice. It's an effective (and relatively low cost) way of keeping up with simultaneous interpretation.

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Marek Daroszewski (MrMarDar)  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:43
English to Polish
+ ...
Resources Dec 7, 2008

IMHO an absolute must for interpreters is the book 'Conference Interpreting' by Andrew Gillies and published by Tertium Society for the Promotion of Language Studies in their periodical 'Jezyk a komunikacja 7' in 2004 (both in English and Polish) (ISBN 83-914764-7-2).

Also try his website http://interpreters.free.fr/ which is full of useful tips and tricks of the trade.

Marek


[Edited at 2008-12-07 19:55 GMT]


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hfp
United States
Local time: 18:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the tips Dec 8, 2008

Thanks for the tips, everyone. I'll try to read everything I can get my hands on, as you say, including women's magazines. What about men's magazines? Ania, my interest lies in court interpreting and I am considering purchasing Edge 21 simultaneous interpreting from acebo.com.

Thanks for the website, Marek. I really appreciate your time.


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~Ania~  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
Polish to English
+ ...
Legal terminology Dec 9, 2008

If it's interpreting in court that you are pursuing then you need to be fully acquianted with legal terminology, first and foremost. Also, familiarise yourself with the structure of the legal system in the country you are likely to be working in, if nothing else it will give you extra confidence because you will be familiar with the system and the roles played by the different legal professionals.
Are you in the UK or US? If UK, I would read something like
"The English Legal System" published by Routledge Cavendish and I found "Criminal Law" (The Facts at Your Fingertips) very useful - it covers concepts like Mens rea and Actus reus, it also names and describes the most common offences.


[Zmieniono 2008-12-09 18:16 GMT]

[Zmieniono 2008-12-09 18:17 GMT]


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hfp
United States
Local time: 18:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
probably the US Dec 10, 2008

I plan to be in the US rather than the UK, but I still appreciate the books you mentioned.

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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:43
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Are you joking? Dec 13, 2008

...asks an experienced court interpreter!

~Ania~ wrote:
The advantage in court is that the judges/solicitors/probation officers etc. are all used to working with interpreters and speak fairly slowly.


Barristers in particular, they are masters of speed talking!

As Sabrina said, from the technical point of view, headphones for practice would be helpful, or you would have to put the source volume up, and speak very quietly.

Hearing can be a complicated issue in court, because the speakers are often facing away from you (you see their back), therefore their voices carry away from you, and you cannot read their lips.
There may be other interpreter(s) in close proximity, speaking at the same time, making listening very difficult. Some courts use microphones and headphones in these situations.

Luckily, in court, if conditions make it too difficult to interpret, the judge can be alerted and usually some changes, improvements can be made. That also applies to slowing down rattling barristers or asking mumbling solicitors to speak up.

[Edited at 2008-12-13 19:31 GMT]


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~Ania~  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:43
Polish to English
+ ...
In my experience... Dec 13, 2008

I have also felt comfortable about being able to speak up, if I found that someone was talking too fast. However, in my experience to date, Probation Offices and Magistrates, in particular, were very good, they spoke slowly and made eye contact with me to make sure I was keeping up.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:43
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Shadowing, paraphrasing and headphones Dec 23, 2008

hfp wrote:

Lately I have been watching some shows on tv in Spanish and I have been trying to interpret them simultaneously into English. The shows have been on different topics such as cooking and world events. However, sometimes while I am interpreting into English, my native language, I fall behind because when I speak I have trouble listening to what is being said. What advice can you give me on keeping up and simultaneous interpreting in general? I greatly appreciate your help.


First of all, headphones are a great help. One of the biggest distractions in simultaneous interpreting is background noise. Headphones enable you to focus; for example, in conferences, anyone speaking without a microphone (usually spontaneous interventions, out of turn) who can't be heard in the booth tend to get filtered out of the interpretation, through no fault of the interpreter. Without the headphones, it is not always easy to decide what is noise and what is not. When you get used to this kind of discipline, this primary filtering task becomes easier. The result is improved concentration on your part.

That said, perhaps the first type of training you should attempt is shadowing: listening while you talk. For starters, simply repeat what is said while maintaining a few words of distance. Choose a speaker with a clear and reasonable output of around 150-180 words a minute. I'd insist on this because we also have limits to our own intelligibility: the fact that a speaker is rattling off past the speed limit does not mean we should follow suit, and this is where paraphrasing comes in. We are always expected to be intelligible, even when the speaker threatens to go over the top. (An even delivery by an interpreter can go as far as to calm down a nervous speaker. When he notices that his audience is at ease, it breaks the vicious cycle of panic that starts with his own tension).

I've monitored TV newscasts in this sense, and the word/minute ratio is often far from ideal. In addition, factual content is higher per unit of time than the average type of presentation (journalists are taught to answer the 5 Ws in as short a space as one sentence, and tend to do so at the start), so failure on the part of a beginner should not be gauged by this kind of delivery. Try downloading a speech and using it as a baseline, monitoring your own progress as you repeat the exercise. Politicians, for instance, tend to maintain a good pace for interpretation.

In court - on my side of the planet, anyway - I always ask at the outset for favourable conditions (a writing surface for my notepad, for instance, and at least a clear side-view of my subject). The judges understand and appreciate this - but then, this could be local.

Hope it helps.


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