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The technique of note-taking: tips and tricks

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Claudia Brauer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:09
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The importance of taking notes Apr 4, 2013

Jasmina, how wonderful that you are giving this course, because it is one of the important issues for any consecutive interpreter to learn. I will recommend it to those taking my courses on introduction to interpreting!


United States
Local time: 05:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
What type of note taking? Apr 4, 2013

Jasmina, is this a note taking course for conference interpreting? Or court interpreting?


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:09
Russian to English
+ ...
Conference and court interpreting Apr 4, 2013

is done mostly in the simultaneous mode where there is not time for note taking. This might be helpful in consecutive interpreting only, such as during various depositions, hearings, etc.


Jasmina Djordjevic  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:09
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
Note-taking in general Apr 5, 2013

Claudia, thank you in advance for all recommendations. I am sure people will benefit from it.

RSotura, this course is meant to be a general course in note-taking. I shall try to explain briefly why general in order to avoid confusion and answer LilianBoland as well.

Obviously, notes are taken in consecutive interpreting as in simultaneous time is of the essence and it is rather unlikely that the interpreter might opt for notes. Maybe only to jot down a number or some other concept they might forget easily. Otherwise, notes might be more of a distraction.

As for the difference between consecutive and conference, it directs us back to the basic difference between consecutive and simultaneous. Conference interpreting is realized mainly as simultaneous but could, in certain circumstances, also be realized as consecutive. Traditional training, during most of the second half of the previous century, relied heavily on consecutive. With the advance of technology, simultaneous has become the more practical form.

However, nowadays there are yet many other forms within the two. Thus there is simultaneous for hearing impaired based on sign language, for instance. Notes are not a usual thing there. Or, there is whispering (known as "chuchotage"). Again, notes are unlikely to be taken. Or, there is community interpreting (related to social services, advisory meetings, police hearings, marriage ceremonies, etc.) which is basically consecutive and notes might be useful in some cases. Furthermore, there is court interpreting, which might be either simultaneous or consecutive as it will depend on the location, the scope and the magnitude of the case itself. In a smaller setting, courtrooms will not have the necessary equipment, so consecutive will be more appropriate. Furthermore, there is bilateral interpreting, which is more like mediation in cases of negotiations, company meetings and other smaller settings where notes might be useful. Finally, consecutive may be based on longer or shorter pieces of discourse (referred to as "chunks") meaning that the source language speaker might be delivering an entire speech and then the interpreter delivers the translation. Obviously, notes are crucial. Alternatively, the source language speaker might be uttering smaller pieces of discourse and the interpreter will render the translation in smaller chunks as well. Notes might not be needed.

In brief, notes can be taken whenever the interpreter feels the need for them. There is no law or rule against it. Whether or not the interpreter will benefit from the notes is clearly a matter of how well they have developed the technique.

Therefore, rather than imposing theoretical elaborations, I usually tell my students to develop the technique and make use of it whenever they feel the need for it. That is the reason why I would like to invite professionals, those in training or those aspiring to widen their expertise to participate in the course. I am sure they will benefit from it.



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