How do you prepare for an interpreting assignment?
Thread poster: Allyson Larimer

Allyson Larimer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:41
Japanese to English
+ ...
Jan 24, 2013

Let's say you are got an interpreting assignment in a field that you are not very familiar with. And let's say that you have several days, without any other work, to prepare:

What do you do to prepare yourself?
How do you ascertain which words you will need to know off the top of your head and which ones can be kept on a reference sheet?
How do you study and memorize those words?
What sources do you go to to learn more about the topic?
How do you know when you are prepared?
Have you ever over or under prepared?

I would love to hear everyone's preparation rituals when going into an interpreting assignment.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 05:41
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Get more info Jan 24, 2013

This all depends on what will be said at the event. Get the programme/schedule, get a list of participants, get the presentations/speeches/documents to be discussed.
Read or skim whatever you can procure, then you will have an idea about what to expect.

The way I deal with terminology is that
- I have my laptop in the booth with me so I can look things up during the meeting as well.
- I have one A4 sheet that is always in front of me. Not a dozen bits of paper with random words scribbled on both sides, just one sheet. As the meeting progresses, I note down terms I have trouble recalling instantly. If I know in advance that I will need some tricky term that I'm likely to forget, I put it on that sheet already before the meeting - but I don't write everything there. The cheat sheet has to stay glanceable.
- If there are working documents that will be discussed in detail, I often write notes/terms in them (electronic or hardcopy). It's no use writing up a ten-page glossary because you'll never be able to find the term you need fast enough. On the other hand, if you write the translation of a term right where it occurs in the document you'll be using, then it will be right in front of you when you get to that part in the document.

What sources I use and how much I prepare depends on the topic.

[Edited at 2013-01-24 18:38 GMT]


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Lucía Marino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
How I prepare Jan 24, 2013


- I have one A4 sheet that is always in front of me. Not a dozen bits of paper with random words scribbled on both sides, just one sheet. As the meeting progresses, I note down terms I have trouble recalling instantly. If I know in advance that I will need some tricky term that I'm likely to forget, I put it on that sheet already before the meeting - but I don't write everything there. The cheat sheet has to stay glanceable.
- If there are working documents that will be discussed in detail, I often write notes/terms in them (electronic or hardcopy). It's no use writing up a ten-page glossary because you'll never be able to find the term you need fast enough. On the other hand, if you write the translation of a term right where it occurs in the document you'll be using, then it will be right in front of you when you get to that part in the document.


I also do those two things. But if I have several days to prepare myself for a new topic (or a hard one) I start by reading about that topic in Spanish (my mother tongue). I search specialized and general texts and note down whatever expression or terminology I find interesting about that subject. I study the subject in my mother tongue as much as I can, and then start researching in the source languages to start building glossaries. If I am lucky enough to receive beforehand PowerPoint presentations or documents they are going to deal with, then I also write special words in the document.

Regarding glossaries, I agree that they are not so useful once you are in the booth, but sometimes for me they work as way of studying and memorizing the special terminology. And in some occasions they have saved my life, so I still prefer to prepare them.

When there are lots of difficult and long names (like drug names) it might be hard to pronounce them naturally once you are in the booth. If I know they are going to be recurrent I just repeat them aloud like a parrot so as to get used to pronouncing them as naturally as possible and not falling into tongue twisters when the mic is on. Otherwise I write them down in a piece of paper so as to have them at sight.

That's more or less what I do. Ah! I also watch videos about the topic, if they are available on line. Or videos with some of the key speakers of the meeting in order to know what accent they have.


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How do you prepare for an interpreting assignment?

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