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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

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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

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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

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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

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edited 24 Jan '12, 07:55

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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

Hi Iguy,

Note-taking is a highly personal skill which varies from person to person. One method might work for someone but not for you. you need to explore different methods to see which one suits you best. However, there are some general rules which can be applied in order to improve the note-taking methods. I had the same kind of problem till I read Andrew Gillies book, Notetaking for Consecutive Interpreting: A Short Course (Translation Practices Explained) . He basically expands on Rozan's principles for note-taking. Give it a go. Hope it helps :)

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answered 17 Feb '15, 20:50

Omid's gravatar image


Some of the major interpreting schools in Europe still have this book as part of their library collection. Try getting in touch with them?

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answered 17 Feb '15, 22:00

Anyuli%20In%C3%A1cio%20Da%20Silva's gravatar image

Anyuli Ináci...

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question asked: 12 Oct '11, 20:03

question was seen: 24,424 times

last updated: 17 Feb '15, 22:00

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