First-time posters: please review the site's moderation policy

During my training, I found a problem, I have to abandon some information before I catch up with my next sentence. I think this is caused by an insufficient EVS. According to my understanding of CI, this EVS is vital in actually conducting CI, so dear seniors, any precious experience/ advice to share? Thanks in advance.

asked 22 Oct '12, 09:42

Paris%20Si%20de%20Chine's gravatar image

Paris Si de ...

edited 22 Oct '12, 15:42

Delete's gravatar image

Delete ♦

Do you actually mean abandon, ie you got it but you do not manage to keep it until reproduction... or information you never caught but was there? If the former jump to my conclusion, if the latter, read on :-)... is it information that you are "missing out" on or just words? That would be my 1st question...and if your answer is the latter I'd say worry not...but then you probably wouldn't have put this question, if it were indeed just words you were "missing" :-). If it's actual information, my next question would be is it primary or non-primary information, ie is it "dog" you're missing or "yellow" or "tail-wagging"? Again if the latter - particularly if colour or tail-status are there just for "colour" :-) and have no links with successive or prior information - again worry not, at this stage! If it's indeed "dog" that you missed, that's probably more serious - altough "an encounter" might do, if you got that much and what exactly was encountered is likewise "irrelevant".

Are you recording yourself AND the original? Try to locate a few segments where cognitive loss occurred and then identify retrospectively what exactly it was that you did leave out and - here comes the fun bit - WHY: listen carefully to your voice saying whatever you did say, pointers are to be found therein evidencing the reasons for absences, of course helped by your memory (and your boothmate's notes - or your own - if any was there/taken) if not much time has elapsed...

1-was it because the phonemes you heard made no sense?

2-because you had never encountered them (look them up, savour them, put them in context, consider equivalences, write them down...end of story) or because they were undistinct?... many a speaker will be, welcome to the club :-)

3-because you judged them to be incongruous, and if so check whether you had misunderstood whatever you thought clashed with them...and repeat steps under 2 :-)

4-were these decisions influenced by anything else, namely other germane mental operations going on, extraneous noises, momentary lapse of concentration, ie would you have made them again in the absence of said factors? No? Make sure you get your concentration act together, look daggers at whomever even looks like conceivably capable of emitting noise (if you get really good at the previous goal, such low-lifes won't matter!) and if it was indeed because of other mental operations, go read about Daniel Gile's effort model:

Gile, Daniel (1995). Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator Training. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

or start here

or perhaps here

...once you've finetuned your diagnosis, then you can start looking up specific therapeutics :-)...and before you know it you'll be 55 and still learning...happily! :-).

permanent link

answered 22 Oct '12, 13:53

msr's gravatar image


edited 22 Oct '12, 15:38

Hi, MSR:

Thanks so much for your pragmatic/ detailed reply. As I look back, yes I find it was "information"- length of sth. like a sentence, I did not even hear it, but my cognition tells me it is there. As for the nature and WHY for it, I need to explore further.

I did record my interpreting many times as kindly advised before by Almute, but in the beginning my performance just discouraged my willingness to listen/ examine it again. After I witnessed more and more interpreting (also thanks to Almute), I started to remember my "audience" in mind, this helped me to improve. Yes, I will record my interpreting and original, compare them and find the reason and solution for my particular case. Also, more is required to be found in the documents suggested by you. From the titles, I believe they must be quite useful. Many thanks. :-)

Thanks again for your answer, which leads me to go deeper/ more specific in analyzing my problem. :-)

Best regards

Paris Si

(22 Oct '12, 21:35) Paris Si de ...

EVS, (also known as time-lag or decalage) is not an aim in itself. It makes simultaneous possible, yes but as Manuel suggests it's more useful to think about what your problem is and what the solution.

It's quite likely that you're not processing the information enough. And that actually you're waiting too long to say anything rather than not long enough. That means you have too much information in your short-term memory, it overloads and you go functionally deaf for a moment as your brain refuses to accept any new inputs.

One way of relieving the burden on memory and solving the problem you describe is to get as much information spoken as quickly as possibly, not as late as possible. The best-known way of doing that is called the salami technique, where long and complicated sentences are chopped into smaller, simpler chunks the first of which are then spoken by the interpreter long before the speaker has completed his complicated sentence.

This technique is described very well in Roderick Jones' book, Conference Interpreting Explained, which I cannot recommend highly enough. A radical summary this technique is as follows. You can find a fuller version here... and in Jones' book.

  1. Don't start speaking until (or in your case, start speaking as soon as...) you know you can complete a grammatical sentence. Any sentence, no matter how short, but you must be able to finish a sentence.
permanent link

answered 22 Oct '12, 15:24

Andy's gravatar image



Hi, Andy:

Many thanks for your kind reply. Based on your analysis, I suppose my case mostly fits in the one described by you, which I will try to prove by myself and improve with the technique kindly recommended by you. Thanks again for your kind/ sincere guidance. :-)

Best regards

Paris Si

(22 Oct '12, 21:48) Paris Si de ...

Hi, Andy: I'd like to thank you again especially for your policy of "get as much information spoken as quickly as possibly ". I found it very useful. Best regards Paris

(30 Nov '12, 03:18) Paris Si de ...

You seem to be waiting for too long before you start interpretation.

A common mistake is to wait until the end of a sentence but interpretation does not happen in sentences but in "translation units" (sometimes they are called meaning units but I think it is a less correct term).

A translation unit is anything that an interpreter treats as a whole for purposes of interpretation, in other words,you cannot break it down further without changing meaning.

Technically speaking, anything can be a translation unit:

  • sound - then you transliterate
  • word - literal translation
  • collocation - you use a set phrase
  • syntagm. A syntagm is a logically complete part of a sentence. For example, "He said / it was impossible" consists of two syntagms. Each one of them is treated as a different cognitive unit.
  • Sentence: for example a proverb cannot be broken down into words and translated literally because it will become meaningless.
  • entire text. Sometimes you take the entire text and treat it as one single whole.

The strategy for source text semantic analysis in interpretation is to use the SMALLEST translation unit you can. Therefore, your first task is to learn to identify the boundaries of translation units. Take a written text and mark in in the individual translation units as indicated above. See if any of these units can be broken down further without changing meaning.

You combine translation units using saucissonnage that is combining translation units without much paraphrasing. Remember that your sentences need to be short, ideally about 15 words each so sentence splitting becomes very important.

Segmenting source text into manageable shortest possible translation units will significantly reduce your cognitive load.

Long decalage is not a sign of skill in simultaneous interpretation,although some tend to think so. On the contrary, as your skill grows your decalage actually becomes shorter first (because your skill to parse translation units improves) and then you learn to "play" with decalage by using various strategies in SI (see my post on strategies here:

You anticipate upcoming difficulty in source language and let go by using stalling to get more time to think or anticipate a difficulty in the interpretation (eg memory overflow)and use digesting or summarizing, though linguistically they are not quite correct terms either.

Happy interpreting!

permanent link

answered 07 May '16, 14:28

Cyril%20Flerov's gravatar image

Cyril Flerov

Your answer
toggle preview

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text]( "title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported

Question tags:


question asked: 22 Oct '12, 09:42

question was seen: 8,410 times

last updated: 07 May '16, 14:28 is a community-driven website open to anyone with questions and/or answers about interpreting, i.e. spoken language translation

about | faq | terms of use | privacy policy | content policy | disclaimer | contact us

This collaborative website is sponsored and hosted by AIIC, the International Association of Conference Interpreters.