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I was at a press conference recently and the Iranian attaché delivered a statement in his native language. Next to him was an interpreter who appeared to be taking notes when he was speaking and did the translation every 5 minutes or so.

I assume this is what you guys mean by 'consecutive interpreting'. How does note-taking work? Is this some sort of short-hand? Are there resources on the Web where I can see examples?


Is Rozan's seminal book, La Prise de notes dans l'interpretation consecutive, still anywhere to be found? It looks like it's been out of print for a while.

asked 12 Oct '11, 20:03

lGuy's gravatar image


edited 17 Aug '12, 13:56

Nacho's gravatar image

Nacho ♦

Indeed, what you saw was consecutive interpreting. Interpreters don't use short-hand, and each interpreter develops a highly personal note-taking technique - usually consisting of a way to lay out notes on the page to easily distinguish the main components of the message, symbols, abbreviations, etc. - to spur his/her memory. But it's not all about notes. Good analytical listening to cut to the heart of the message and intention of the speaker - what we call active listening - comes first. To get further insight into this process I would recommend a few videos.

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answered 21 Jan '12, 16:28

Luigi's gravatar image


edited 03 Apr '12, 19:23

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck ♦♦

Hi, Luigi, I watched these videos,which are very helpful. Thank you and Nocho, who guided me here. :-)

(18 Aug '12, 02:07) Paris Si de ...

Rozan's book is available in translation.

Polish and English (in the same volume) here:

there's also a Spanish translation out there somewhere but I don't have the details.

You can find a fairly complete description of Rozan's system, with extracts from the translation above here:

and examples of an interpreters notes here:

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answered 06 Apr '12, 12:55

Andy's gravatar image


edited 19 Aug '12, 14:06

Luigi is of course right :-). In trying to explain the difference between what stenographers do and our note-taking, I usually encapsulate it thus: we don't note down phonemes, but concepts, namely how they're strung together and only as needed. It's not about encoding a message but about transposing it.

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answered 22 Jan '12, 07:05

msr's gravatar image


edited 24 Jan '12, 07:55

Nacho's gravatar image

Nacho ♦

I cannot agree more with your point about "concept". Thank you, Mr MSR. :-)

(18 Aug '12, 02:09) Paris Si de ...

Rozan is out of print. Maybe a certain big organization for interpreters could try to have it reprinted, for the sake of keeping a historic document if nothing else.

However, Andrew Gillies' book Note-taking for consecutive interpreting is very good.

I think it would be interesting to single out note-taking for dialogue interpreting as opposed to note-taking for conference interpreting. Same memory technique behind, but presumably different notes?

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answered 04 Apr '12, 01:45

tulkur's gravatar image



"Maybe a certain big organization for interpreters could try to have it reprinted" That's a very good idea. Anyone have the contacts necessary to suggest it to an institution?

(08 Apr '12, 07:36) Andy

Copyright in CH runs for 50 years only, was it 1st published in 56 or 65?

(17 Apr '12, 08:16) msr

hi msr, it was published in 1956, but unfortunately wikipedia says copyright is 70 years in Switzerland. ( That was nearly a great idea and plan!!

(17 Aug '12, 12:57) Andy're of course right, Andy...and 70 years after the death of the author, according to the Swiss copyright authority site :-(, I no longer remember where I'd seen mentioned the 50 I quoted but that source was obviously wrong!

(17 Aug '12, 13:13) msr
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question asked: 12 Oct '11, 20:03

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