shorthand...why not use it in consecutive interpreting?
Thread poster: Cao Mac

Cao Mac
Local time: 14:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 4, 2003

Hi all,

My question is really simple. I have read interpreters don't usually use shorthand for their consecutive jobs, WHY NOT?

Thank you all in advance.


Jane Lamb-Ruiz (X)  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
no shorthand unless you know it Nov 4, 2003

The reason is it would involve learning another langugage 1, and 2, translating from that.

Now,if you ALREADY know shorthand, you could use it but if you don't you are upping the variables. When you read your shorthand back to yourself,you are in effect translating. So it would be double the work.

That's why.


Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:23
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Too many things to do.. Nov 4, 2003

at the same time, I guess.icon_smile.gif

If I make any notes during consecutive interpreting, I scribble figures only, if there are many of them and if they are somehow confusing figures (things like '186 thousands cars produced in 1995 and 195 thousands produced in 1999', etc). Otherwise, writing distracts me enormously. I need to listen, memorise and 'process' at the same time, I guess my 'processor' is too slow to take yet another taskicon_biggrin.gif

Also, I notice that when reading form notes, the voice and speach becomes somehow unnatural and looses flow. Frequently emphasis given by the (source) speaker is replaced by the interpreter's emphasis, and this should be avoided.

These are my very quick comments, I would like to hear the experience of other colleagues?



Antonella Andreella (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:23
German to Italian
+ ...
Ideas vs words Nov 4, 2003

Because in consecutive interpreting you need to write down ideas, key concepts and not words which may be just confusing when you translate the speech in another language. In brief you need symbols and key words which help you link the various parts of a speech, like a chain.


PS: the risk is that you look after words and miss the 'key' words

[Edited at 2003-11-04 23:46]


Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:23
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You use a kind of shorthand Nov 4, 2003

When you take notes, instead of: "In 2003 the car output was 2 million in Detroit",
you write something like "3-car-2m-det". It's a lot clearer than shorthand.


Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:23
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Because you are translating ideas, not words Nov 5, 2003

That's the first lesson taught at any interpretation course: you translate ideas, not words. Shorthand is about words, not ideas. If you take notes, you are using concepts, that's why note-taking is so important.

There is an interesting article about it at


Clarisa Moraña


CMJ_Trans (X)
Local time: 20:23
French to English
+ ...
I agree with other comments.... Nov 5, 2003

I have worked with people who take notes in shorthand but even they do NOT note every single word. Writing in shorthand tends to distract you from actually listening to and understanding what is being said. I have in fact always found it easiest to take notes in the target language, insofar as I noted words. Mostly, once you get used to the technique, you only tend to note figures, dates, names and other key "signposts" to point you on your way. Apart from anything else, you have to get these right because people always pick up on them and could lose confidence in you, if you make a slip !
It also helps if you can look at people while you're talking, rather than reading off a piece of paper as you would if you had taken notes in full in shorthand.


Maria-Jose Pastor
Local time: 14:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
too distracting Nov 9, 2003

in my experience, trying to take notes during an interpreting assignment is just too distracting. Dates, and figures even ehen written down break one's concentration of the matter at hand.

I have never used any sort of notes, and if in the case of figures I lose my train of thought I request a repeat of same.


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