Strategy with TGV-speakers.
Thread poster: Williamson

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:51
Flemish to English
+ ...
Jun 2, 2004

What is your strategy during simultaneous interpreting when the speaker speaks at a high velocity or does not pronounce his/her words very clearly

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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:51
Member (2004)
English to Italian
simple strategy Jun 2, 2004

very simple: before the interpreting starts, I try and talk to the speaker, stressing the importance of good pronunciation and speed. Believe me, it works...

Giovanni

[Edited at 2004-06-02 15:22]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:51
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not in a booth Jun 2, 2004

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

very simple: before the interpreting starts, I try and talk to the speaker, stressing the importance of good pronunciation and speed. Believe me, it works...

Giovanni

[Edited at 2004-06-02 15:22]


Not when you are in a booth and when the speaker of a presentation does not have a headset on his head. You cannot afford to get behind.


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Pat Jenner
Local time: 18:51
German to English
+ ...
Not one, but many Jun 2, 2004

Giovanni is quite right that the first thing to do is contact the speaker before you go in the booth. It can help, for a while at least. Then, as the speed starts to build up, my preferred first option is to swap with my booth partner more often (doing 20-minute stints rather than half an hour). If the pressure is relentless, say into the mike 'The interpreters are having trouble keeping up. Could someone please ask the speaker to slow down'. Also if the speaker is reading a prepared text and you don't have it, it's worth mentioning that. The only situation where speed is really an issue for an unbearable length of time is, I find, at medical conferences where the entire event consists of prepared texts (no free-flowing discussion); in other settings you generally have a respite while delegates discuss topics. Only once in my twenty years experience have I and my colleagues decided that it was impossible to continue, and after repeated pleas for a more moderate pace switched off the mikes. This really has to be a collective act by all the booths/interpreters.

On a lighter note, one suggestion made at a simultaneous interpreting workshop I tutored recently was for someone to invent a words-per-minute counter (bit like a speed camera) with fines for speakers going above the legal limit.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:51
Member (2004)
English to Italian
in fact... Jun 2, 2004

I was talking about contacting the speaker before entering the booth. I know this is not always possible. I always try and have a word with the speaker before the assignment begins, but I'm aware that often the speaker cannot be reached. As far as your original question is concerned, I don't think there is very much you can do about that. It's the luck of the draw, really. It's down to your skills as an interpreter and to your knowledge of the source language.

Giovanni

[Edited at 2004-06-02 17:01]


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IrinaGM  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:51
English to Georgian
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I've been lucky so far... Jun 2, 2004

Well, I just start speaking faster

But luckily I have not had very bad cases. The speaker usually guesses from the expression of my face that he is either unclear in his speech or speaks too fast (the latter is not usually a problem for me). But if you're in a booth and the speaker is not ever looking at you or is not able to see you or hear you, then there is nothing you can do but do your best to keep up with him/her.


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 10:51
English to French
+ ...
Use your language skills Jun 2, 2004

Most of the time, such a speaker is not a language pro, but you are. Ergo, you can probably find the right word and the right formulation much faster. Your knowledge of the topic + anticipation of where he's going will also help.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:51
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sometimes it still feels like walking on a fire hydrant Jun 3, 2004

sarahl wrote:

Most of the time, such a speaker is not a language pro, but you are. Ergo, you can probably find the right word and the right formulation much faster. Your knowledge of the topic + anticipation of where he's going will also help.


Thanks for all the useful tips.
Yes, you are the language pro, meaning that you have a very extensive vocabulary register, but at specialized conferences, the participants usually are the experts (CEO's, M.D.'s,accountants, economists,...).
Most of the time, at work-councils, road shows and conferences speakers take turn.
It is not possible to talk to all the speakers. I remember a CEO with a very tight schedule, who read the annual report of his company at such a speed that none of the interpreters were able to interpret.


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translatol
Local time: 18:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Talk to the Chair, summarise, and bring back the panic button Jun 10, 2004

I`m retired now, but like everybody else I have some bad memories and some 'tricks of the trade'.

I used to try to have a word with the CHAIR of the meeting rather than the speakers. The speakers, unless they were accustomed to working with interpreters, would say thank you and then let good advice fly to the wind once they got going. Ironically, I've sometimes interpreted speakers who were themselves interpreters, and observed that they were just as likely to offend as anybody else. As one speaker put it to me: "When I`m on the podium I have to devote all my thoughts to what *I* am saying and not to how somebody else is going to say it." But it's possible to work out a good rapport with an experienced meeting chair and communicate with him or her by hand signals even from the booth.

For some kinds of speaker - the blah-blah kind - it's possible to summarise some passages, and even for more concrete speakers summarising may serve as a last resort. When I remonstrated (gently) with one speaker, she retorted, "Well, you didn't have to say ALL of it."

In the early days, there used to be the 'panic button', a button in the booth that lit up a red warning light on the podium. I haven't seen one for several years now. It ought to be standard equipment, though even then many speakers, already panicked enough at having to face an audience, would ignore it.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:51
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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Think of it as a bullfight Jun 13, 2004

It's the message -- not the speaker -- that's the bull (sorry about the allusion, I don't like bullfighting much myself, but this is just about the closest I can come to "that sensation"). Concentrate all the butterflies in your stomach into condensing it. Empirically, the speaker can't go much faster than 800 words every five minutes (talk about legal speed limits?) But one thing is sure: racing AGAINST him will render YOU unintelligible -- don't try that. Make hand signals if you can, but remember he's probably more nervous than you are. (I've always thought, blame it on the microphone. A lot of people standing up in open forums speak quite normally until the mike is passed to them.)

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EdithK  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 19:51
Member
Gaelic to German
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Be just as fast Aug 14, 2004

A well-trained conference interpreter can speak and think faster than the fastest speaker - but it takes a lot of training. A tip: There are two ways of interpreting TGV-speakers. 1) Be just as fast with practically no decalage but slur your words slightly. 2) Have a long decalage and summarise what the speaker says. As I said, you need a lot of practice. But never ever contact the chair .. it will be the last time, you got the job as the chair does not realise the true speed of the speaker. You may try to speak to the speaker if he holds several lectures but never ever before he/she has started or interrupt, and your credentials immediately go down the drain even before you had an opportunity to prove yourself.

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EdithK  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 19:51
Member
Gaelic to German
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Don't .... Aug 14, 2004

Williamson wrote:

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

very simple: before the interpreting starts, I try and talk to the speaker, stressing the importance of good pronunciation and speed. Believe me, it works...

Giovanni

[Edited at 2004-06-02 15:22]


Not when you are in a booth and when the speaker of a presentation does not have a headset on his head. You cannot afford to get behind.


Don't -- because you will be branded right away as an interpreter who does not know his/her job. It's fatal.


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