Off topic: Simultaneous from German into any language: how do you guys manage it?
Thread poster: Daniel Frisano

Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 07:52
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Dec 2, 2016

Just for curiosity. How do you do it when the verb is at the end of a sentence? Try to guess the verb in a split second and insert it where needed? Memorize the sentence and wait until it's over to say it in the target language? But then it would mingle with the following one...
Me, I have a hard enough time looking for verbs in written material, I can't imagine how it can be when spoken.
I've been wondering this for years!


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:52
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Wait for the next sentence? Dec 2, 2016

I'm no interpreter, but is it not the same in many other languages? When translating from Russian the whole sentence has to be turned back to front into Finnish. Often when translating from German and the sentence is split by a hard return the verb moves into the first segment, when in the source it is in the second segment.

 

erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:52
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Disagree Dec 2, 2016

As a sim. interpreter you can not wait. You will loose the text. Simoultaneous interpretation is about predict. In most cases you know which verb will come, before ir´t comes.

 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:52
English to Hungarian
+ ...
It varies Dec 2, 2016

I don't work with German but this issue does come up with all languages occasionally. I don't doubt that it's more frequent with German but it's not unique to German. The solution varies depending on the situation and the coping strategies/abilities of the interpreter in question. Some people have a great short-term memory and can afford to wait until the whole sentence ends and spit it out while listening to the next sentence. I don't have that kind of memory so I tend to stay closer to the speaker. I will wait for the end of a short sentence if needed, but if I were to try to do this with a really long sentence, I might succeed but I would almost certainly lose track of the next sentence while I'm reproducing it. Some colleagues seem to continuously lag behind the speaker by a complete (long) sentence. Like 5 to 10 seconds, which is an eternity in simultaneous. I don't know how they can juggle that much text in their head and keep listening for new information. It's quite impressive. But even if you can work this way, the lag can be a problem especially if lots of short interventions follow each other. Also, if the speaker speeds up or starts to fire off some dense information like 3 or 4 numbers in quick succession, there's a good chance that even the best memory masters will get lost. If you stay closer you have a better chance of keeping up with dense speeches.
Guessing/predicting what's coming up is an option, but it's to be avoided if at all possible. If you make a habit of it you will eventually miss and it's never pretty. I do do it but only if I'm really confident. Often the best option is to break the run-on sentence into a few shorter sentences and stay a little non-committal... Hopefully you can tie the bits of information together at the end. That way you don't need to keep that much in your head and you don't generate a large lag. I try to do that when I can.

[Edited at 2016-12-02 22:23 GMT]


 

Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 07:52
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's what I thought Dec 3, 2016

Good post András. I was referring to German but yes, of course it is a more general issue, especially across language macrofamilies (like any Indo-European to Magyar). And yes, after almost 20 years translating (never interpreted), I am still impressed that simultaneous is even possible at all.

[Edited at 2016-12-03 14:17 GMT]


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 07:52
English to Russian
+ ...
There are specific tricks, too Dec 3, 2016

Generally speaking, for every language pair one can find specific types of source phrase transformation that make this problem less critical. In particular, when the verb is at the end, it is often advantageous to transform the phrase from active to passive voice.

By the way, the verb at the end is probably not the nastiest problem in simultaneous interpreting from German. It's the negation at the end of the sentence that can most drastically screw up interpreter's predictions.

[Edited at 2016-12-03 13:45 GMT]


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 00:52
German to English
+ ...
anecdote Dec 4, 2016

This is consecutive, however. I was interpreting at a discovery court hearing, and the lawyer "on the other side" was hostile, seeing me as "siding with the enemy". The speaker tended to get rambly and you really couldn't predict which way it was going to go. The suspicious lawyer had tried to dictate that I interpret in small chunks. At one point he interrupted the woman to say "Madam interpreter, the speaker has gone on for quite a while, and you still haven't said anything." And I said -- with reminiscences of Samuel Clemens even as the words came out of my mouth - "I'm waiting for the verb". icon_biggrin.gif

Of course there is a problem when the German speaker gets so rambly that they get lost in their own sentence, and the verb never comes. Professional speakers, i.e. speakers who are professional and used to speaking with an interpreter present, don't make those kinds of mistakes. But a distraught lay person being interviewed in a legal case will.


 


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