Mobile menu

What if the speaker elaborates for a long time?
Thread poster: Khuzaie

Khuzaie
Jordan
Local time: 20:44
English to Arabic
+ ...
Oct 24, 2006

In consecutive interpreting, speakers may sometimes keep on talking without giving the interpreter enough time; what shall he do? what if the speaker talks for 10-20 minutes? How about the notes and the listening? Which one of them will be of priority?
I faced all these challenges when a speaker embarassed me by talking for a long time, I couldn't stop him.. He was a high profile person !!!
I am in a dire need for your remarks


[Edited at 2006-10-24 19:37]

[Edited at 2006-10-24 19:41]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Kevin Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:44
Member (2005)
Russian to English
+ ...
A difficult situation... Oct 24, 2006

The ideal solution is to talk to the speaker beforehand and explain the need to pause frequently to let the interpreter render what's been said. Even so, many speakers feel they should not have to do this and will go on and on without stopping.

In this situation, the interpreter can do two things: a) politely but firmly intervene at an appropriate point, for instance, when the speaker completes a sentence or idea; or b) let the speaker ramble on, take notes as best you can, and make your best effort to render as much of the speech as possible.

Even the best interpreter will miss much if forced to take option B. However, the onus is on the speaker, who knows he/she is working through an interpreter and should take responsibility for delivering the message in such a way that it can be properly interpreted.

When I was doing a lot of consecutive interpreting in a high-level environment I frequently encountered people like this. My solution was to hone my note-taking techniques to the point where I could handle virtually any length of discourse without having to interrupt the speaker, but this requires a good notetaking system and LOTS and LOTS of practice.

In any case, good luck to you!

Kevin


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 13:44
English to Russian
+ ...
What was the exact setting? Oct 24, 2006

Could he see you? Did you try to stop him at all? By body language? By trying to start talking? Or were you frozen solid?

I'm a tough old cookie so when I'm all alone without any support from the crowd I just start talking within a 2-second interval, which a dummy still needs to catch h/h breath, and see what happens:-). I certainly do make an attempt to interrupt and try to make a benine fun out of the situation ("Sir, may I please bring the Russian audience up to speed?"). Normally that helps and everyone actually relaxes and smiles. Sometimes when I have someone already on my side, like manager or any other representative who is used to working with the interpreters and remembers about their existence, I would look at h/h and raise my eyebrow with a grin. I don't care how big the shot is if h/h is an idiot:-).

Afterwards I would make a suggestion to provide whispering equipment for the next time. If possible at all, I'd try to make a contact with that idiot and make friends, so to speak, appreciating his help to the interpreter (by shutting up in only 20 minutes:-)). Believe it or not, it worked quite a few times. Fear of the crowd and big brass is often irrational, most people are quite normal and trainable:-). Sometimes things go much easier with a 2-star general than with a young corporate brat recently promoted to an assistant coordinator:-). Try to get any materials from that one:-)

Quite often I break many textbook rules, invinsibility among them, maybe because normally I interpret for "real guys with the wrenches" who, nevertheless, may be of a very high rank. On-site setting - simulators, mockups, test stands etc. are my common surroundings and it is indeed in the hands of the interpreter to create a productive work environment. In a table setting I work the crowd first and make myself part of the team. Things go much smoother after that.

However, when the case is known as clinical in advance, do your best and have and extra beer later. Most importantly, don't get discouraged and don't lose your sleep. Oh well, if you are a perfectionist, you will:-( Comes with the territory. Still, interpretation is a great job. Don't be shy (within ethics etc.) to exercise your people skills. Every crowd is controllable:-)

Best,
Irene


[Edited at 2006-10-24 20:48]

[Edited at 2006-10-24 20:55]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 20:44
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
my respect and deep bow Oct 25, 2006

to whoever is able to handle this kind of workload .

My admiration (and envy too) to you all.

Vito


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
What rules? Oct 25, 2006

"Quite often I break many textbook rules, invisibility among them..."

Yes, I've had to do that also. Now if it is a consecutive situation, being that I am used to the simultaneuos mode, my memory is good for about 2 seconds... well, maybe five on a good day.

So I get right up there and establish the rhythm by force. If they don't shut up, since I'm speaking louder, they'll soon get the message. But what I try to do is make an agreement with them first on how to do it.

One technique I have used with great success when the audience all speaks the target language is a stand-up routine where I talk over the speaker. No equipment is needed. I'm up there, the speaker feeds it to me and I feed it loud and clear to the audience.

It just has to be worked out with the speaker. Once they realize they are really communicating with the audience then they become convinced.

But in so many situations in order to do the job I really have to be right there in the middle, mostly just to hear what is being said (rather critical as we know), so with me there is no invisibility rule.

Many times visible but always heard clearly is the only rule for me...


Direct link Reply with quote
 
shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:44
English to Arabic
+ ...
Ask beforehand for at least what points he/she will speak Oct 25, 2006

Greetings.

Re long-winded speakers (usually politicos or commmunity leaders):

If you can't get a copy of the script of a prepared talk or the speaker will be "shooting from the hip" extemporaneously, then it is OK to ask beforehand for at least a list or "break-out" of what points he/she will present / advocate / pitch.

A serious public speaker who knows he/she will be using an interpreter for ***effective*** presentation to the media or an audience would never put you in such a position of being "left behind."

HTH.

Regards,

Stephen H. Franke


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 21:44
Turkish to English
+ ...
Take notes Oct 25, 2006

It is quite some time now since I have done consecutive interpreting but I used to do it quite regularly when I was living in London a few years ago.
I always took a clip board with a good supply of paper with me to assignments. Most of the time this served no purpose whatsoever, but occasionally I found that I needed it. In the situation you describe I would just start making notes as the client speaks then translate everything when they have finished. I remember a patient at a doctor's surgery who spoke uninterrupted for nearly half an hour as she described her symptoms and then I gave the doctor the complete oral translation. I think as interpreters it is our duty to facilitate clients in conducting the interview in a manner that suits them, not us.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 20:44
French to English
+ ...
Making contact with speakers Oct 25, 2006

Well said, Irene. I agree entirely with your comments.

I left the profession nearly 7 years ago but when I worked in a large international organisation as an interpreter, I made it my stock in trade to arrive early and hunt out delegates and speakers and to TALK to them. Of course, it helped if I had received documents on the meeting/conference in advance, so I could study them and therefore ask relevant questions.

Remember, in the end, even bigwigs can be nervous when addressing an assembly and they are usually quite happy to talk to you before the start. It helps them decompress. Of course, as a woman, it was always easier for me to make contact in the macho environment in which I worked, often as the lone female but that is another story.....

If, this was not possible and if they had a tendency to go rambling on, I would find a way to interrupt with a smile and a laugh in my voice to say 'Hello don't forget me and the people that depend on me to understand". And afterwards I would apologise politely and always explain why. My explanation was always: "I know you will think I want to be able to do things the easy way but in truth it is the audience that I am thinking of." This usually surprised them but they soon understand that it was not good for them to have half the room dying of boredom while they rambled on in a to them incomprehensible language, only to have the other half equally bored when the interpreter did his or her bit because they had heard it all before. I told them it was counter-productive to their own interests. Somehow that always struck a chord.

Naturally it is better to have this exchange before you start but if you have it afterwards it is an investment in the next time.

Being shy and retiring in the interpreting profession is a waste of time. You mustn't come on too strong either but you have to stand up for yourself. Always introduce yourself to the Chairman or Moderator: get them on side.

Remember also that talking to delegates before meetings is also an excellent way of finding out how they think, how they express themselves. Coffee breaks are also good for this. Sometimes they run their ideas past you and, when the meeting reconvenes, they say exactly the same thing, so you have it easy.

If you meet the same people again at other events, talk to them. Remind them of the previous occasion, ask a question that shows how well you remember them. Obviously this works in a European context and may have to be transposed and adapted elsewhere. I can only speak for the "European" mentality and similar. But people usually lap up the attention.

Another thing is to speak up and always speak clearly. Be a commanding (not demanding) presence. Make them take you seriously. Blushing violets should stay at home. I could write for hours on the techniques of grabbing people's attention but I have work to do, so that's all for now
HTH


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Muna khleifat  Identity Verified
Jordan
Local time: 20:44
Arabic to English
+ ...
Speakers need to have some schooling about how we work! Oct 25, 2006

I think this is why many prefer simultaneous over consecutive translation. I do understand the difficulty of the situation. What I usually do before any task is that I ask the organizer to introduce me to the speakers. I ask them about their preferences, like where they like me to sit etc, just to be able to let them know my preferences. I always let them know that they need to segment their thoughts into chunks so I would render them to the audience before they get bored or feel lost.

The truth is that most of the time they forget and get carried away doing their speech, but again , being prepared for this, the smallest gesture from my part would remind them that they need to pause.

Yes, taking notes does help all the time, especially when you have developed your own method. As for me, I just write a word that would remind me of the idea said, with some luck I manage to remember all the important things said about this idea, that is only if it was not associated with dozens of numbers. Mind mapping the speech helps as well. But you know sometimes you might interpret in a reception where you have to be standing up, and you won’t be able to take notes. Then you will need to let the speaker know that they HAVE TO pause, very nicely and firmly of course.

I think you have tackled part of our bigger problem. Interpretation in our part of the world has not yet established its rules. Quite often, people would assume that we are but machines that “must” be able to interpret everything perfectly no matter what the conditions are. They would assume that “if you were a professional translator, you would have managed”.
Well, it is our role to have these rules established.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Zhijun JIANG  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:44
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Let him speak in twenty-five words sentences Oct 25, 2006

Last week, I was confronted with exactly same embarrassing situation with you, as my client is a boss of a large corporation and kept speaking for twenty minutes. I took notes and continued our conversation, but after three hours hard work, I couldn't recall what was spoken when I took notes and was exhausted at 3:00am. We had big problems in communication.

The following day, we had to continue our conversation and I was forced to make a mistake. This boss realized that effective communication was the priority, and chose to speak twenty-five words sentences.

Even for a high profile person, the way of communication is still the same without any exception.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 13:44
English to Russian
+ ...
Good luck Oct 25, 2006

CMJ_Trans brought up a very good point, which is a possible cultural difference. US especially, and Europeans second, can be much more relaxed. and they normally are; in the US we are used to first-name basis, very "informal formal" meetings etc. I can not really assess the level or strictness and officialism as well the exact ethiquette requirements when the meetings are held in Jordan territory or with the participation of your big people, but I'm sure that the collective hints we are trying to share could be anywhere from somewhat helpful to life-saving:.




[Edited at 2006-10-25 16:29]

[Edited at 2006-10-25 16:57]

[Edited at 2006-10-26 12:30]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Khuzaie
Jordan
Local time: 20:44
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting!! Oct 26, 2006

thanks so much, it is really valuable

Kevin Kelly wrote:

The ideal solution is to talk to the speaker beforehand and explain the need to pause frequently to let the interpreter render what's been said. Even so, many speakers feel they should not have to do this and will go on and on without stopping.

In this situation, the interpreter can do two things: a) politely but firmly intervene at an appropriate point, for instance, when the speaker completes a sentence or idea; or b) let the speaker ramble on, take notes as best you can, and make your best effort to render as much of the speech as possible.

Even the best interpreter will miss much if forced to take option B. However, the onus is on the speaker, who knows he/she is working through an interpreter and should take responsibility for delivering the message in such a way that it can be properly interpreted.

When I was doing a lot of consecutive interpreting in a high-level environment I frequently encountered people like this. My solution was to hone my note-taking techniques to the point where I could handle virtually any length of discourse without having to interrupt the speaker, but this requires a good notetaking system and LOTS and LOTS of practice.

In any case, good luck to you!

Kevin


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Khuzaie
Jordan
Local time: 20:44
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yours are important points !!! Oct 26, 2006

Irene,
many thanks.
by the way, what do you think is better in this case, focus on listenning or on note-taking?

IreneN wrote:

Could he see you? Did you try to stop him at all? By body language? By trying to start talking? Or were you frozen solid?

I'm a tough old cookie so when I'm all alone without any support from the crowd I just start talking within a 2-second interval, which a dummy still needs to catch h/h breath, and see what happens:-). I certainly do make an attempt to interrupt and try to make a benine fun out of the situation ("Sir, may I please bring the Russian audience up to speed?"). Normally that helps and everyone actually relaxes and smiles. Sometimes when I have someone already on my side, like manager or any other representative who is used to working with the interpreters and remembers about their existence, I would look at h/h and raise my eyebrow with a grin. I don't care how big the shot is if h/h is an idiot:-).

Afterwards I would make a suggestion to provide whispering equipment for the next time. If possible at all, I'd try to make a contact with that idiot and make friends, so to speak, appreciating his help to the interpreter (by shutting up in only 20 minutes:-)). Believe it or not, it worked quite a few times. Fear of the crowd and big brass is often irrational, most people are quite normal and trainable:-). Sometimes things go much easier with a 2-star general than with a young corporate brat recently promoted to an assistant coordinator:-). Try to get any materials from that one:-)

Quite often I break many textbook rules, invinsibility among them, maybe because normally I interpret for "real guys with the wrenches" who, nevertheless, may be of a very high rank. On-site setting - simulators, mockups, test stands etc. are my common surroundings and it is indeed in the hands of the interpreter to create a productive work environment. In a table setting I work the crowd first and make myself part of the team. Things go much smoother after that.

However, when the case is known as clinical in advance, do your best and have and extra beer later. Most importantly, don't get discouraged and don't lose your sleep. Oh well, if you are a perfectionist, you will:-( Comes with the territory. Still, interpretation is a great job. Don't be shy (within ethics etc.) to exercise your people skills. Every crowd is controllable:-)

Best,
Irene


[Edited at 2006-10-24 20:48]

[Edited at 2006-10-24 20:55]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Khuzaie
Jordan
Local time: 20:44
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I totally agree with you Oct 26, 2006

oh yes Vito, I also said that

Vitomir (Vito) Smolej wrote:

to whoever is able to handle this kind of workload .

My admiration (and envy too) to you all.

Vito


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 13:44
English to Russian
+ ...
Al, that depends Oct 26, 2006

I deleted part of the second post because it's somewhat senvitive even though not confidential, I mostly wanted you to read it, and I guess you did:-)

Below are my personal tricks, I could be wrong by other people's standards, but to me anything that makes the output sound right is correct. We all fit it to our own needs.

I would put it this way - if you are familliar with the subject in general, then note-taking is great for focusing on the details, mainly because you already know what they want to say:-)

In a totally new or much less familiar environment listening is much more important, you need to absorb big picture, specific language, professional jargon etc. and for that, as other colleagues said, you need to choose your technique of making short notes - key words, dates/numbers, names, events etc.

I never try to make notes as meaningful sentences, I use symbols like arrows a lot. For example (I'm giving a very simple example, for which in real life and at normal pace hardly any notes will be required)

Mr. Smith is planning to visit Moscow next January, but the visa processing is not complete yet. He will be bringing draft contract with him and he hopes to set face-to-face meetings with X & Y.

Smith (right arrow) Mosc Jan visa? Draft face X Y

Polishing your personal style of note-taking is very important because in that case you will still be with the speaker, note-taking must go on the background, otherwise one thing will distract you from the other. Notes should be taken at a speaker's speed or even faster, otherwise there is a huge risk of losing the climax of the whole paragraph - normally people would wrap-up a portion of the speech with some conclusion and should you be trying to franticlly complete the previous sentence you might find yourself in a situation when all your notes will turn into a waste because you missed the point, you can list separate things but you can't compose a meaningful sentence with meaningful conclusion. Why in the world did he say all this?!?!?:-)

Selectivity! Sift the trash, people talk too much:-)

Example:

Hardware pre-certfication discussion, tension builds up, time is running out.

Q:

This joint appears to have only one level of protection from contamination. Is that correct?

A:

Oh, you know, I'm afraid that you are looking at the picture that has been sent a month ago. Yeah, it happens sometimes... Oh, the person responsible was out of his office for a while. Did you check the latest email? We know we sent it separately and received confirmation. We also have it in the new data package. What you see now is manufacturer's sketch, it is not shown but in fact this is a welded joint. Again, I believe we sent you the right one with the latest data package (present English-speaking audience begins to roll their eyes). You know, this was when you requested it for the first time and we sent what we had at the moment. If you want me to, I can ask someone to go and open the email and maybe we'll find it and re-send? So the joint in question... yes, the one you are looking at right now, is not what you should be looking at, it is a welded joint and it complies with the 2-level requirement.

Interpreter (me:-))

First, during that long speech I whispered and the audience read my lips: "wrong picture, sent long ago". Then, for the protocol:

Flight article has welded joint. Updated drawing must be in the latest data pack.

Meeting Lead:
Thank you very much, we'll check, no more questions for now.

Remember though, such courage comes after many years of working with people who trust me completely. However, there is still a good half that could have been thrown out by any interpreter.



[Edited at 2006-10-26 16:40]

[Edited at 2006-10-26 22:11]


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

What if the speaker elaborates for a long time?

Advanced search


Translation news





TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs