Quick Interpreting Tip

As our lovely readers and colleagues in the US get ready for Thanksgiving (in the rest of the world, it's just another Thursday), we wanted to share a quick interpreting tip that comes in very handy during practice.

Take a speech from your favorite source (Speechpool, TED, etc.), interpret it simultaneously (consecutive works, too), and record it using a recording software (we use Audacity). We think it's key to record your practice sessions, so it's good to get into the habit of doing so. After doing the recording, try to turn off the memory you have of the source recording and just listen to the target recording. Ask yourself: 

  • Does this recording make sense? 
  • Would I understand this if I didn't speak the source language? 
  • Can I summarize the content of this recording? 
Ideally, once in a while, you'd give the recording to a friend who truly doesn't speak the source language, have him/her listen to it, and have the person to answer the questions we've listed above. In simul interpreting, that is exactly the case - the person(s) you are interpreting for doesn't speak the source language, which is why they need an interpreter. However, so often when we grade exams, the recordings and live performances are disjointed, incoherent and oftentimes consist of fragments rather than entire sentences. Once in a while, if we had not heard the source recording, we would not be able to make sense of the interpretation, which of course is defeating the purpose of having an interpreter to enable communication. 

So next time you listen to your interpreting recording, take off your multilingual hat and listen pretending you only speak the target language. This simple and easy trick has helped us identify weaknesses in our own recordings, such as bad syntax, idioms that didn't quite make sense, etc.

We hope you enjoy this quick tip, dear colleagues! We'd love to hear other tips as well.


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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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