Note-taking for Consecutive Interpreting
eBook - ePub

Note-taking for Consecutive Interpreting

A Short Course

Andrew Gillies

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  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Note-taking for Consecutive Interpreting

A Short Course

Andrew Gillies

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Note-taking for Consecutive Interpreting: A Short Course is the essential step-by-step guide to the skill of note-taking. The system, made up of a range of tried and tested techniques, is simple to learn, consistent and efficient. Each chapter presents a technique, with examples, tasks and exercises. This second edition has been extensively revised throughout, including:

  • an updated chapter on speech analysis

  • new chapters on comparisons and links

  • revised example speeches and notes

  • a summary of other authors' note-taking guidelines for comparison and reference (Part III).

The author uses English throughout – explaining how and where to locate material for other languages – thus providing a sound base for all those working in the areas of conference interpreting and consecutive interpreting in any language combination. This user-friendly guide is a particularly valuable resource for student interpreters, professionals looking to refresh their skills, and interpreter trainers looking for innovative ways of approaching note-taking.

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Part I
The basics step-by-step

What is consecutive interpreting?
When is consecutive interpreting used?
Community, liaison, medical and court interpreting
About this book
Note-taking for consecutive interpreting
About the notes
About the examples
How to use the book
1 Speech analysis
Mind maps
Section diagrams
Mini summaries
2 Recognizing and splitting ideas
What is an idea?
Identifying ideas
3 The beginning: diagonal notes
Subject, Verb, Object
1. Note shorter synonyms
2. Note a different SVO group with the same meaning
3. Noting only two of the three elements in SVO
4. Make several short sentences out of one long one
4 Links
Why are links important?
Finding links
Families of links
Noting links
Moving on …
5 Verticality and hierarchies of values
Parallel values 1
Shifting values
Parallel values 2
Use of brackets
6 Symbols
What is a symbol?
Why use symbols?
What to note with symbols
How to use symbols
Organic symbols
Where to find symbols
How many symbols?
Similar but not the same
7 Noting less
Structure reminds us of the obvious
When what comes next is obvious
Things right in front of you
Note the simple for the complicated
Stories and jokes
It depends on what you already know
8 What to note
[I]f we are to teach, we must teach something, and that something must be simple and methodical.
Rozan, 1956:9 [translation 2003:11]


What is consecutive interpreting?

Consecutive interpreting is one of the three modes§ that go to make up what we call conference interpreting. It involves listening to what someone has to say and then, when they have finished speaking, reproducing the same message in another language. The speech may be anything between a minute and twenty minutes in length, and the interpreter relies on a combination of notes, memory and general knowledge to recreate his or her version of the original. This form of consecutive is sometimes called long consecutive to distinguish it from short consecutive, which usually involves a speaker stopping after each sentence (or a couple of sentences) for the interpreter to translate. Short consecutive doesn’t necessarily require notes at all and is not the subject of this book.

When is consecutive interpreting used?

Before World War II, conference interpreting meant consecutive interpreting. Simultaneous interpreting§, or the equipment to make it possible, had not yet been invented, and consecutive interpreting was the standard for international meetings of every kind. Simultaneous interpreting came along after World War II and by the 1970s had overtaken consecutive as the main form of conference interpretation.
Consecutive interpreting has not disappeared, however. It is still an essential part of an interpreter’s repertoire and is considered by many to be the superior of the two skills. Indeed on the free market, it is often better paid! Although simultaneous interpreting has replaced consecutive almost entirely at the meeting room table, where conference facilities often include the equipment required for simultaneous interpreting, there are many situations where consecutive survives and will continue to survive.

Ceremonial speeches

There are many occasions where a speaker makes a formal speech that needs then to be interpreted but where no simultaneous equipment is available. After-dinner speeches at banquets or speeches to open receptions are a classic example: the host will want to say a few words to the guests, and the guests will want to reply. You, the interpreter(s), are there to facilitate that. You may also find that you have been recruited to interpret for the opening of a cultural event held at a centre like the British Council or Goethe Institute. The organizer will introduce the event in, say, English or German, and you will interpret into the language of the host country. There is no real limit on the type of ceremonial speech you will be asked to interpret. It could be the opening of a French supermarket in Poland or the launch of a German ship in Korea. It could be a foreign winner of an award making an acceptance speech in their own language or a composer’s 70th birthday at the Philharmonic.

Visits, guided tours and escort interpreting§

Groups of MPs, business people, technical experts and others will often make trips abroad as part of their jobs. Often these visits will involve seeing how things work in another country. This means getting out of the fully equipped conference centre and off into consecutive country. If your clients have come to see a certain industrial process, then you may be bussed off to a plant where it is used, and you will be expected to interpret consecutively the explanations offered by a knowledgeable guide about how it all works. Alternatively, if you are accompanying a group of agricultural experts, you can expect to find yourself down on the farm for a round or two of consecutive. There is no end to the type of place you may visit. Slaughterhouses, pharmaceutical production units, fish-filleting plants and furniture factories – you name it, and one of our colleagues has already been there and worked in consecutive mode§.
Visiting groups also have social programmes arranged for them in the evenings or on the free afternoon at the end of the trip. So when you get back from the slaughterhouse, you may well find yourself interpreting consecutively what a tour guide has to say about the local sights and attractions, or the owner of a local brewery as he introduces his products to your clients, or the host of the visit wishing everyone a pleasant meal and opening the buffet.

Working meetings without equipment

Sometimes, of course, you will still find yourself in an old-fashioned meeting room, interpreting consecutively what the participants have to say to one another across the table – including those days when the simultaneous equipment breaks down! The meeting rooms will all look much the same, but the subject of the debate will depend on who your clients are.

Community§, liaison§, medical§ and court§ interpreting

Although this book is borne of the author’s experience in conference interpreting and conference interpreter training, consecutive interpreting and note-taking are by no means limited to conference interpreting. Wherever simultaneous equipment is not a viable proposition, then consecutive and whispered§ interpreting are used. Where more than two or three people are listening to the interpreting, only consecutive will work. Consequently it’s still used a lot, and, even though the short consecutive format is used a great deal, both clients and interpreters would benefit from longer format consecutive (because the more of a speech interpreters hear in one go, the better they are able to interpret logical links, tone and style).

Accreditation tests

Finally, it is worth m...

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