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I'd be interested to know whether professional conference interpreters need to receive written speeches to be read out in advance. If that is the case, so they translate them on paper before reporting to their interpreting booths?

asked 16 Oct '11, 19:26

silvia-c's gravatar image


edited 17 Oct '11, 00:00

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

...shouldn't the title be "...prepare WRITTEN SPEECHES for an..."? :-)

(06 May '12, 00:39) msr

If the speeches are going to be read, the interpreters should receive them in advance, not so they can "translate them on paper" but so they can prepare the speech for interpretation: get the gist, look up technical vocabulary, figure out ways to start a convoluted sentence that won't leave them high and dry when the speaker gets to the verb...

Think about it: the speaker knows what s/he's going to say, is typically an expert at whatever field s/he's speaking about, and still needs/wants notes to read -- the interpreter may have had a three-day insurance conference just before today's medical conference which will be followed by tomorrow's literature seminar.

When we don't get any speeches, presentations or any sort of preparation material even though they exist, we have to spend a lot of time googling in the dark, wondering just what that speaker about "Technical Difficulties on the Horizon" will be discussing and trying to figure out what's what and who's who. The more targeted our preparation, the better job we can do for the speakers and their audiences.

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answered 25 Oct '11, 00:22

LingoJango's gravatar image


There are colleagues I work with very regularly and we have a similar style when it comes to marking texts. So if a complicated text is handed into the booth at the very last minute and we think it should better be read beforehand (e.g. Asian speakers), we either split the text right away and share the presentation or the second interpreter continues to prepare the text still unread by the first interpreter and marks the difficult points and/or looks up unknown vocabulary whilst the first interpreter is already interpreting the first part. Such team work is worth a mint!

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answered 06 May '12, 09:10

AlmuteL's gravatar image


When working with a text which is intended to be read to the audience (chances are at supersonic speed!) I try to put in brackets parts of the text which are redundant or could be abbreviated, so if need be I can leave these parts out without changing the meaning of what the speaker wants to say.

Working from German into English I also mark verbs - especially in long sentences - which makes it easier to come up with proper English sentences.

It has also proven to be very useful to circle parts and words that are in the negative (like any "not") - this helps me to better understand the speaker's intention and get a better grasp of the sentence - by just looking at the text, I see there is a negation.

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answered 05 May '12, 22:44

AlmuteL's gravatar image


edited 06 May '12, 08:58's two more things one can do with texts - which I never translate: divide up long, convoluted paragraphs into more manageable chunks using slashes, particularly when in your target language said chunks are best rendered in a different order in which case you can also number them... and in long word sequences whose order needs changing I write the "right" sequential numbers above each element thereof, both so that my eyes will "know" where to go first.

If you get them in advance but not long enough to prepare a proper glossary, noting down on the back or margins of each sheet whatever needs noting saves time and makes refreshing your memory easier by glancing at them before you start interpreting each one.

If texts show up in the booth at the very last minute, make sure you prepare the opening and closing paragraphs... and for the rest I strongly recommend learning speed-reading/visual scanning - which I was lucky enough to be able to do long ago: it's not brain surgery, a day's seminar will let you learn the basics and thereafter, like in so many other things, practice makes "perfect" :-).

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answered 06 May '12, 00:30

msr's gravatar image


I do exactly the same: segmenting into chunks and putting stuff into the "right" order. Very useful, in my view.

(07 May '12, 03:36) Alexander

In Heidelberg, we systematically map the workflow in conference interpreting. The Heidelberg model moves cognition upstream, so that you work with triggers to reactivate strategies, terminology and concepts during simultaneous.

We use booth glossary systems to look up terminology during simultaneous interpreting which are based on the Heidelberg workflow model such as Intragloss, Interpretbank or LookUp.

Terminology only covers part of the workflow during preparation. This is why we train students to prepare printouts for:

. Term Maps (terminology organised chronologically in semantic fields)
. Content Maps (flow chart of the information structure of the speech) . Template Maps (triggers for strategies) . Knowledge Maps (Speaker Biographies, Figures etc.)

If you are interested feel free to use the following article for further reading:

If you read German (full PhD thesis as .pdf):

Warm regards, Christoph Stoll, Conference Interpreter (aiic)

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answered 28 Jun '16, 06:54

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edited 28 Jun '16, 06:57

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

I highlight verbs in German and nouns in English. Usually I won't translate written speeches (unless it's a special challenge such as Asian speakers who are likely to read with an unusual accent).

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answered 06 May '12, 03:10

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edited 06 May '12, 03:11

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question asked: 16 Oct '11, 19:26

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