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gregg shorthand for US court interpreters
Thread poster: jkrump
jkrump
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 26, 2006

I've read some excellent posts in this forum about note-taking and the pros/cons of shorthand. I am currently learning Gregg (in English & Spanish) and was wondering if anyone out there uses this method? If so, is it effective, especially in consecutive?

I'm taking the LCI (Licensed Court Interpreter) exam in a couple months so I'm hoping to master reading my own symbols and interpret them quickly by then :-~.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Jeff
Spring, Texas


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:42
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
99% Sep 26, 2006

99% of sworn interpreters (and I would say 100% of certified judiciary interpreters) would advice you against shorthand and would encourage you to exercise your memory. What would happen if, for any reason, you cannot decipher your own symbols and do not remember what was said because you were dedicated to writing? That is absolutely possible and it is their main contention. You would be doing yourself a disservice by relying on anything else other than your memory, except for names, numbers, and the like.

[Edited at 2006-09-26 22:08]

[Edited at 2006-09-26 22:09]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:42
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Uhm... Sep 27, 2006

in the neatest court set-up I've seen, the interpreter gets to sit within earshot of the (Spanish) court stenographer, who does his/her job on a computerised steno keyboard (instant replay/retrieval is possible). And I'm told this is the way our future courts are going to be laid out, so... it rather seems a duplication with an eye to the future, don't you think?

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sounds good, but... Sep 27, 2006

Parrot wrote:

in the neatest court set-up I've seen, the interpreter gets to sit within earshot of the (Spanish) court stenographer, who does his/her job on a computerised steno keyboard (instant replay/retrieval is possible). And I'm told this is the way our future courts are going to be laid out, so... it rather seems a duplication with an eye to the future, don't you think?



Sounds good, but don't hold your breath folks, I don't think the court interpreter is going to get such breaks in very many courts so soon, at least not in the USA.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Shorthand is a very useful skill, but not for interpreting Sep 27, 2006

jkrump wrote:
I am currently learning Gregg (in English & Spanish) and was wondering if anyone out there uses this method? ... I'm taking the LCI (Licensed Court Interpreter) exam in a couple months...


Shorthand is very useful, and it may be good for you transcribe court events during your practice rounds, but I doubt if it will be useful for interpreting, as you'll have little time to take notes.

You may perhaps use it to take notes during a tandem session, if you have them. The key to shorthand is to practice it over and over. Practice it while watching the news on television, practice it while attending church, practice is on the bus with a portable radio plugged into your ears, etc. Ideally your writing speed should be as fast as a normal person's talking speed.

In ZA we don't have Gregg at all; we use Pitman instead. I have yet to see what Gregg looks like -- can anyone give me an example? There is also T-line and Handywrite, neither of which is used in ZA, but perhaps they are known in your country...?


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jkrump
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What about extremely long statements? Sep 27, 2006

In consecutive interpreting, omitting testimony is considered unacceptable and leaves the interpreter open to criticism (or worse). A witness or speaker is not always stoppable, even in a consecutive interp setting like a witness deposition. I don't trust my memory if the speaker goes over 50 words (especially if I can't control the pace and flow, which is the case on the LCI exam).

I just can't imagine that not a single judiciary interpreter (if not a whole group) out there does not have a note-taking system for longwinded testimony.

Please don't construe me as argumentative; I truly want counsel and feedback on this issue because I want to perform at my absolute best when I sit for the exam. If there are good methods out there for interpreting verbose speech in this setting, I want to know!

I found this article interesting; it says that fast handwriting maxes out at 50 wpm. Shorthand can get up to around 200 wpm with training.

http://www.crazycolour.com/os/writing_01.shtml



[Edited at 2006-09-27 16:33]


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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
Comments Sep 27, 2006

I've looked at your profile, it says you live in Texas. Are you talking about taking the Texas court interpreter's license?

I live in Texas, but became certified by the state of New Mexico first, because at that time, Texas did not have a license for court interpreters (it's called a license in TX, and a certification in NM). I got grandfathered into the TX license, and obtained my federal certification after that. For the past years, I've been participating in the NM program to certify court interpreters, as a workshop instructor, exam proctor and evaluator.

Every time we teach the orientation workshop, your question about using shorthand to take notes comes up. And the answer we give is the same. Consecutive interpretation requires mental gimnastics that are not simple. You have to listen to the witness in Spanish, retain as much as possible in your memory, take notes, then read your notes and rely on your memory to interpret into the target language. If to all that, you add more steps to the process it becomes:

Listening to the witness in Spanish, while at the same time you try to retain as much as possible in your memory, take shorthand in Spanish, then decipher the shorthand, then sight interpret that shorthand into English. It adds additional steps to a process that's already difficult enough.

This also raises the question, are you going to take notes in English shorthand of the questions asked? If so, you'll be using two types of shorhand, English and Spanish, making your work even harder.

In my opinion, the more we simplify, the better. There's nothing worse than not being able to read your notes, whether they are in shorthand or not. Shorthand maybe faster to take, but it may not be faster to interpret.

Parrot wrote:
in the neatest court set-up I've seen, the interpreter gets to sit within earshot of the (Spanish) court stenographer, who does his/her job on a computerised steno keyboard (instant replay/retrieval is possible).


I've never seen this, Parrot. Any time I've worked in a courtroom, or during a deposition, there's only one stenographer, and he/she only takes notes of what's being said in English. I've never seen a courtroom that had both an English stenographer and a Spanish one.

What I have seen is an interpreter who sits next to the stenographer who takes notes in English that can be seen on real time on her laptop screen, and that helps the interpreter with the questions, but not with the Spanish answers. But, it does help, some of the lawyers' questions can be very long-winded.

In some NM courts, during consecutive witness interpretation, they sometimes use of a digital mini recoder. They are tiny, and the advantage of digital recording is that there's no tape that leaves a record of what was said. And you can erase the last comment. I've seen the interpreter record the witness testimony into the speaker of their recorder, he then plays it back on his earpiece, and actually turns consecutive into a simultaneous translation. This works really well, because the witness then can talk freely, for as long as he wants to, and the interpreter doesn't have to rely on his memory at all. And this elminates the need to take notes.

I know that they don't allow the use of recording devices in most courtrooms. The colleague who does this says that it's up to us to instruct the judges and everyone else what are the tools necessary to be able to do our job well. And I agree with him 100%. Of course, this doesn't mean that they'll go along with our recommendations. Recording anything during a court proceeding is forbidden in most (or all) places, but this is because the court doesn't want the interpreter (or anyone else) to be able to keep a record of what was said. But, with a digital recording, there is no record.

If they don't allow you to use a digital recorder, then my recommendation is that you take notes using your own system of symbols. A lot of people I know simply take out the vowels in the words to write faster. It's essential to write down names, dates, and any numbers. I think that doing consecutive without taking notes is very risky. We've all had a moment when we didn't remember it all, and that's not good. Asking for repetitions should be avoided as much as possible.

Whenever you can, talk to the witness before he testifies. Let him know that it's on HIS best interest to pause often, because it's important that you interpret everything that he says, and if he speaks for a long time you may not be able to remember it all. It's natural that witness forget, they're nervous. That's why I also tell them that if they do forget, I will remind them. Since only the witness can hear you, you can always tell him "please pause" at a convienent point to stop, you render, then he continues. That's all part of the instructions that I give the witness before he takes the stand. I always tell him that his answer can be as long as he wants, but that it's important that we take turns talking.

In court, you may not always have the luxury of prepping the witness, but in depositions, you can always take a minute to talk to him before you begin. As a courtesy, I request permission from his lawyer, letting him know exactly what I'm going to tell the witness (lawyers get uncomfortable if they don't know what you are going to say beforehand). No one has ever told me "don't do that". Again, we have to educate people so that we can do our job properly. I find that most people cooperate, and when they forget, I either give them a hand signal, or say "permítame" and then I start interpreting.

We are not machines. It's in everyone's best interest that we do a complete, word for word interpretation of what was said. Good luck to you with your exam!

teju


[Edited at 2006-09-27 17:41]


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Christina Courtright  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
a good resource for consecutive and note-taking Sep 28, 2006

You might want to look into the new edition of training CDs by Acebo, the consecutive version of which comes with a handbook containing a substantial section on note-taking:
http://www.acebo.com/e21.htm

Christina


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Jonathan Sanders  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:42
YES, you can take notes, but not in shorthand Jan 18, 2007

You can and should take notes, especially for extremely long utterances, and also to ensure accuracy of names, places, etc. Notes do not replace memory, but are merely an aid to it.

Most conference interpreters have a system of note-taking for consecutive speeches that includes noting down the "skeleton" of the speech, and the numbers, names, lists and other features one is likely to forget. The idea is to write down the structure of the message, and listen well enough to add the nice touches that are in the original speech.

Intepreters in court are often told that we are supposed to give a literal, word-for-word interpretation. Not only is that not true, but it is impossible, because word-for-word interpretations don't necesarially make sense. And noone will be satisfied with an interpretation that doesn't make sense. Interpreters have to give the "legal equivalent" of utterances, meaning that you have to do your best to interpret register, false starts and utterances that seem like errors because they could have legal consequence--but your fundamental role isn't that different from any other setting: you have to communicate a message, not just artifically transpose words onto another language. You have to intellectually connect with what's being said, and communicate it in the best way possible in your foreign language.

Noting down each and every word (even in shorthand) is counterproductive. You will feel more inhibited by the words, and you probably will not interpret adequately as a result.

Here is a good site with a lot of information on notetaking, as well as examples of notes, symbols, and different takes on notetaking principles: http://interpreters.free.fr/consecnotes/notes.htm. Hope that helps!

Take care,
Jonathan


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patriciat
Local time: 18:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
Develop your own system shorthand is not very good Apr 24, 2007

Jeff Krumpholz wrote:

I've read some excellent posts in this forum about note-taking and the pros/cons of shorthand. I am currently learning Gregg (in English & Spanish) and was wondering if anyone out there uses this method? If so, is it effective, especially in consecutive?


You definitely have to take notes, I use my personal version of the Rozan method it worked very well, but I think it is important to develop your own version of the method

Good luck in the exam
Thank you

Patricia


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