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I wanted to ask how much experienced colleagues deal with German word order, especially long sentences where the verb comes at the end. What strategies do you use? Could you provide me with some examples? Example of how you break up sentences etc.

Personally, I find it almost impossible to wait for the verb. I can generally only be 3-5 words behind max, any more and I get myself in tangles.

I also find that sometimes if I come in too soon I can get myself in a rut.

And I am sure we have all been caught out by a something like "Wir schaffen 1000 Arbeitsplätze im Zusammenhang mit....[10 seconds later]....ab"

My strategies: 1) I try to anticipate collocations, e.g. when I hear "Maßnahmen" I know 'ergreifen' or 'nehmen' is coming, Entscheidung comes with treffen etc. 2) I try to use my background knowledge to anticipat where they are going. Doesn't always work 3) I try to use a more neutral verb and then stick in the actual verb a bit later.

Having said all of this, I do find that these strategies do backfire and it can be quite easy to get lost in a never-ending German sentence.

Thanks :)

asked 31 Oct, 05:08

uebersetzer2019's gravatar image

uebersetzer2019
313


Your three strategies are excellent, but they all rely on anticipation, which is probably the most famous strategy for dealing with German (or any Subject-Object-Verb language when working into a SVO language). The big advantage of this strategy is that you don’t need to keep items in your memory. The inconvenient of course is the risk attached to it, so your idea of using a neutral verb is good as it reduces the risk of errors (but it often requires more information to be added afterwards, so you might lose time). You can also practice your anticipation skills by doing exercises like cloze (a text with missing words that you need to guess).

If you’re not confident enough to anticipate and you feel like the sentence is going to be too long for you to be able to wait for the verb before speaking, there is another strategy that I find very efficient: chunking (or segmentation). For this, you simply divide the long sentence in smaller units, i.e. creating a full sentence with the first unit of meaning that you hear.

In your example: "Wir schaffen 1000 Arbeitsplätze im Zusammenhang mit....[10 seconds later]....ab", I would probably start with the sentence coming after „in Zusammenhang mit“. Of course, that means keeping the first part of the sentence in your memory (“Wir schaffen 1000 Arbeitsplätze”), but it’s better than having to keep the whole sentence in your memory. If I take another example from today‘s press: “Massimiliano Calì, Leitender Volkswirt bei der Weltbank, hat Mitte Oktober vor der jüngsten Eskalation berechnet, wie sich die weltweiten Warenströme verändern könnten, wenn tatsächlich alle zwischen den beiden Nationen angedrohten Zölle in Kraft treten würden.“ You could divide it like this: „Massimiliano Cali is Chief Economist at the World Bank. Mid-October before the recent escalation he made a calculation. He calculated the possible changes in global commodity flows. These changes would happen if all the announced tariffs between the two countries were to come into force.” It's not the best example, as in this case, there was not much to guess but it's just to show you how it works. Personally I use this strategy mostly with subordinate clauses, since the subordinating conjunction automatically indicates that the verb is going to be at the end.

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answered 31 Oct, 06:05

Camille%20Collard's gravatar image

Camille Collard
1.1k1211

The salami technique, in detail here... http://interpreters.free.fr/simultaneous/whentostart.htm ... in short 1. Don't start speaking until you know you can complete a grammatical sentence. Any sentence, no matter how short, but you must be able to finish a sentence. 2. But you don't have to complete the sentence you originally had in mind. 3. nor the same sentence the speaker finishes.

With this technique you need to give us the next bit of the sentence, "Wir schaffen 1000 Arbeitsplätze im Zusammenhang mit....[10 seconds later]....ab" which is probably something like "einem globalem Konzernumstrukturierungsplan..."

That gives you something like... "We've begun a global company-wide restructuring plan. As part of that plan we will shed 1000 jobs"

This technique is not mutually exclusive with anticipation and Camille's answer. So if you're 100% sure it's going to be "abschaffen" then you can start differently, eg. "We will shed 1000 jobs". But as I understood it your question was more about what to do when you're not sure.

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answered 01 Nov, 03:29

Andy's gravatar image

Andy
7.3k222839

Thanks for your input.

Btw, I saw you wrote two books: Conference Interpreting: A Student’s Practice Book and Note-taking for Consecutive Interpreting: A Short Course. Is the note-taking one radically different from the advice on consec in the first book? Thank you :)

(01 Nov, 04:12) uebersetzer2019

Hi, the Note-taking book explains how notes might work and why. It also takes the reader progressively from no notes to a full note-taking system. The Practice book just lists exercises to practise note-taking. Obviously the Note-taking book is far more detailed - 250 pages about notes to 15 in the Practice book. If you want to find out more you can read reviews of the book linked to from this page http://interpreters.free.fr/reading/consec.htm

(01 Nov, 05:04) Andy

Thanks, Andy :) I see that a new edition of the note-taking book is due to be released in Jan. Is it worth waiting for? Is it that different from the current version? :) Thanks

(02 Nov, 03:36) uebersetzer2019

The new edition of the Note-taking book came out in 2017. It has several major changes from the 2005 edition. In January Routledge will publish a new book, Consecutive Interpreting. That covers consecutive as a whole (and therefore Note-taking in less detail). Obviously I would recommend you buy all 3 of my books, but I am hardly neutral ;)

(02 Nov, 09:45) Andy

Thanks C for your detailed response :) I really appreciate your input.

Can you provide more examples of chunking?

I've got a few more sentences and I'd like to know how colleagues would deal with them.

Could you use chunking in any of these examples?

(Junker): wir [haben] alle gemeinsam versprochen, einen innovativen digitalen Binnenmarkt, eine vertiefte Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion, eine Bankenunion, eine Kapitalmarktunion, einen fairen Binnenmarkt, eine Energieunion mit einer zukunftsorientierten Klimapolitik, eine umfassende Migrationsagenda, eine Sicherheitsunion zu verwirklichen.

In this sentence I would find it impossible to wait for "verwirklichen". My attempt:

We all promised jointly...to ensure that...an innovative digital single market... becomes a reality.

We all made a promise, namely that an innovative digital single market would become a reality.

Wir werden außerdem das „African Women Leaders Network“ auch weiter politisch und finanziell unterstützen.

Would you make "African....Network" the subject of your sentence?

Additionally, the African Women Leaders Network will continue to be supported by us politically and financially/is something that we will continue to support politically and financially.

Wir werden die Umsetzung von Resolution 1325 ins Zentrum unserer Arbeit als Mitglied im Sicherheitsrat 2019/2020 stellen

The implementation of Res 1325 is something that we will place at the centre of our work as SC member in 2019 and 2020.

Salami?: "Res 1325 is being implemented. Our work as a SC member will focus on its implementation"

Wir werden die wichtige Arbeit der Vereinigten Nationen zur Verhinderung und Beseitigung konfliktbezogener sexueller Gewalt weiter tatkräftig unterstützen.

Would you be able to guess "support"? Or would you make "Arbeit" the subject?

The important work of the UN on preventing and combating conflict-related sexual violence is something we will continue to firmly support.

Or salami technique: "The UN is doing important work to prevent and tackle conflict-related sexual violence. We will continue to support this work"

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answered 01 Nov, 03:37

uebersetzer2019's gravatar image

uebersetzer2019
313

"(Junker): wir [haben] alle gemeinsam versprochen, einen innovativen digitalen Binnenmarkt, eine vertiefte Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion, eine Bankenunion, eine Kapitalmarktunion, einen fairen Binnenmarkt, eine Energieunion mit einer zukunftsorientierten Klimapolitik, eine umfassende Migrationsagenda, eine Sicherheitsunion zu verwirklichen."

Well, when interpreting into my A (which is not English, so it's entirely possible that this would sound clumsy in EN but maybe you'll be able to find an equivalent solution) I would put the entire list as an object in the sentence, eliminating the need to use the second verb, which otherwise would have to come much sooner than in German. So it would go more or less like this:

"We all promised an innovative digital single market, ...".

And then I could add another sentence to express the idea of the verb, e.g. "We promised that all of that would become a reality". But I think this wouldn't be necessary here, the idea of "verwirklichen" is already implied in the first sentence (at least in Polish).

Or I'd put it like that:

"We made promises together. An innovative digital single market, ..."

The second option is particularly convenient, because with the right intonation (in Polish at least) I don't need to use a verb in the second sentence. It's just a simple enumeration of promises (and there is the added bonus of avoiding declension, but that's again a target-language specific thing). Plus, I can still add the verb afterward if I want to, or add another sentence like in the example before.

(01 Nov, 06:08) Joanna

"Wir werden außerdem das „African Women Leaders Network“ auch weiter politisch und finanziell unterstützen.

Would you make "African....Network" the subject of your sentence?"

I wouldn't, the sentence is short and easy to anticipate.

But I generally work with a relatively long decalage, and most of the time I'm more than 3-5 words behind. That's a personal thing, I suppose (plus it depends on the target language, the kind of speech you're interpreting and a number of other factors) but I think it's worth training with different lengths of decalage, shorter and longer than your 'natural' one, to have more flexibility in the booth. I may be wrong but 3-5 words behind seems to be really close to the speaker, and may force you to some tasking verbal acrobatics which could be easily avoided by increasing your decalage just a little bit.

"Wir werden die wichtige Arbeit der Vereinigten Nationen zur Verhinderung und Beseitigung konfliktbezogener sexueller Gewalt weiter tatkräftig unterstützen.

Would you be able to guess "support"? Or would you make "Arbeit" the subject?"

I think I'd use salami technique here (probably "The work... is important"). But I think "support" could be anticipated here. Plus, in this kind of speeches 'support' is (in Polish at least) a good 'universal' word anyway, one that can be safely used even if it has not been explained yet what kind of support will be offered.

(01 Nov, 06:08) Joanna

Thanks so much, Joanna, for your input :)

What decalage do you work with? I find it impossible to hold back because I end up missing the next bit and getting completley lost.

Any exercises to improve decalage? I find it really hard to be translating the previous sentence whilst listening to the next sentence. That's why I try to deal with everything as soon as it comes.

(02 Nov, 03:39) uebersetzer2019

My decalage depends on the speaker/conference. I am able to stay as far as a few sentences behind the original, provided that they're not super-dense, packed with numbers and names. I think I'm one-two clauses or one sentence behind most of the times, though.

I think you should try training with a longer decalage (beside other targeted training, of course). It doesn't mean you have to stick to this later: improving your decalage is not about making it longer but about making it more flexibile. Think about it as a rubebr band that can be adjusted depending on your needs (I've encountered this metaphor somewhere here I think and I find it really pertinent).

As to how to increase your decalage, try taking a very simple speech, one that you would usually deal with easily, and just force yourself to wait until the end of the first sentence before you start, no matter what :). Another method is to make a longer pause after each sentence in your interpretation, as this automatically makes your decalage longer. You can combine both: even if you start your interpretation after the first sentence has finished, you will naturally tend to catch up with the speaker, so making extra pauses will help you fight this instinct :).

(02 Nov, 08:59) Joanna

More examples (sorry!)

Deshalb ist Präsident Trumps Aufkündigung der Nuklear­vereinbarung mit Iran nicht nur ein Rückschlag für all diejenigen, die um eine Lösung in einer der zähesten Proliferationskrisen bemüht sind.

How would you break up this sentence?

Normally, I would plod along following the word order and get a bit alarmed when I hear "diejenigen, die um eine Loesung" and would probably say something like "..is a defeat for all those who...worked to find a solution"

Also, "ohne...zu" constructions are a casse-tete.

Der geänderte Standard [...] beinhaltet Änderungen bezüglich der Darstellung und Struktur des Geschäftsabschlusses sowie dessen Mindestinhalts, ohne sich auf den Ansatz und die Bewertung von Vermögenswerten und Schulden und damit auf die eigentliche Vermögens-, Finanz- und Ertragslage auszuwirken.

Salami technique?:

The revised standard entails changes concerning the presentation and structure of the transaction and minimum content. The approach and assessment of [...] will not be affected by these changes, however.

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answered 01 Nov, 04:02

uebersetzer2019's gravatar image

uebersetzer2019
313

If your extract starts with "Deshalb" then what comes before will be relevant! Can you add it? The passage also presumably continues with an "aber auch..."

(01 Nov, 05:42) Andy

Found it! ;) Die Nuklearvereinbarung mit Iran ... ist... ein Erfolg engagierter Multilateralisten... Deshalb ist Präsident Trumps Aufkündigung der Nuklear­vereinbarung mit Iran nicht nur ein Rückschlag für all diejenigen, die um eine Lösung in einer der zähesten Proliferationskrisen bemüht sind. ...Sie schwächt auch das Vertrauen in die Zusagen der Mächtigeren...

Strict salami might be (and there could be many different versions).

Pres. Trump has withdrawn from the nuclear deal with Iran. That is (therefore) a blow. Not only to those who seek a solution to one of the thorniest proliferation crises. It is also a blow to confidence in the pledges made by the major nations...

There are three things that are typical of the salami technique here. 1) Moving of "deshalb/therefore" 2) the ambiguity of whether the second and third lines here are separated by a comma or a fullstop (or the use of sentences without a verb) and 3) the repetition of "(it is also) a blow"

(01 Nov, 05:54) Andy
1

Thanks, really useful to see how you've sliced up the sentence.

(02 Nov, 03:41) uebersetzer2019

"(Junker): wir [haben] alle gemeinsam versprochen, einen innovativen digitalen Binnenmarkt, eine vertiefte Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion, eine Bankenunion, eine Kapitalmarktunion, einen fairen Binnenmarkt, eine Energieunion mit einer zukunftsorientierten Klimapolitik, eine umfassende Migrationsagenda, eine Sicherheitsunion zu verwirklichen."

Salami is a pain when it sounds artificial and clumsy. You should practice using fillers. Words that won't change the meaning, but that will you allow to stall content-wise until you get more materia to commit. They give you the advantage to be able to repeat things (think audience attention span & foreign speakers listening to you). A good speaker will say everything thrice anyway. Binary and tertiary rythm/structures also improve rhetorics and elegance - not universally accepted as it could be perceived as an alteration. Yet, extremely effective for political and solemn speeches.

Slightly exaggerating:

We all made a promise, ladies and gentleman. All of us. Together. We made a promise about A. A promise about B. A promise about C. We now need to make that promise become reality.

Just think Martin Luther King, Mandela or Obama. Never shy to employ redunding words for rythm and better structuring.

Few more examples re. fillers written up by @JuliaP 's better half: http://www.cciconline.net/documents/texts/(EN)%20Gap%20filler%20phrases%20for%20simultaneous%20interpretation.pdf

Similarly, when DE will say "[nun] zu(m)...", That's an invitation to Say: And now, ladies and gentleman, allow me to touch also on a different subject. The keyword this time is..."

By going for a keyword, you announce the topic. E.g. jobs. But you still don't have to sweat profusely because you don't know if they're gonna be disappearing, have to be saved our sought to be created. You'll have 2-3 extra seconds to find out.

Personally, I find it almost impossible to wait for the verb. I can generally only be 3-5 words behind max, any more and I get myself in tangles

Speech analysis might help. If you don't know where it's going, you'll get lost sooner or later. If the interests are clear, you're just retelling a story and you'll be able to increase your EVS significantly.

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answered 02 Nov, 08:22

Gaspar's gravatar image

Gaspar ♦♦
7.3k141829

edited 02 Nov, 08:40

1

Gaspar has made an excellent point!

I remember a class on fillers during CI studies. Among different materials, including political and solemn speeches, we used some speech given by a speaker that was stuttering quite a bit: very good for developing some more flexibility in your fillers.

It's worth thinking about salami technique not as some syntactic exercise but a genuine way to express thoughts clearly and naturally.

(02 Nov, 08:40) Joanna
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