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 »  Articles Overview  »  Art of Translation and Interpreting  »  Interpreting  »  Note taking for long consecutive interpretation : Use of mind mapping techniques

Note taking for long consecutive interpretation : Use of mind mapping techniques

By Philippe Locquet | Published  03/18/2014 | Interpreting | Recommendation:
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Philippe Locquet
English to French translator
Fíxose membro: Jun 19, 2013.
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While interpreting, the linguist is faced with a flow of informations. His challenge will now be to retain it also and to translate it as accurately as possible. These informations include the particulars of what has been said: Who, Where, When, How, How many, How much etc… But that’s not all, the linguist will have to remember how it has been said: Some specific expressions, tone, a touch of humour and other things that make up a speech. Because the informations are many, the choice of method for note taking will be crucial.

Usually a person will speak at a rate ranging between 120 to 140 words per minute or more. Needless to say our writing down information is slower. Furthermore the interpreter need to avoid the pitfall of trying to write down every word in an attempt not to miss anything. This hinders comprehension and in the end valuable information is lost anyway using this method.

The benefits of mind mapping techniques:

Usually mind mapping is used to build cards that will be a help to memory. People giving a talk or a presentation would use such tools. The basic concept is to take your sheet of paper horizontally and to write the theme or the most important information in the center and then work your way around creating branches with sub-themes and then specifics. Relations between entries will be shown by a network of arrows and the adding of symbols will clarify the matter. One preparing such a card would take time doing it adding colours, highlighting… Of course the interpreter will lack such time and will thus have to stick to simpler version.

Let’s apply now these principles to interpretation. If a speaker has an average delivery of 135 words per minutes your goal would be to write less than 65 words to be able to make your interpretation. This is exactly what this technique will allow you to do.

How to proceed:

Before anything, consider the theme of what will be presented, try to get an idea of the angle (do you have access to a seminar program, speaker’s notes, can you have a chat with the speaker to get on overall idea of what will be said…). If you have access to such information, write it down and search for unknown vocabulary.

Now take a blank sheet of paper (A4 for example) horizontally (landscape format). It musn’t be squared nor have lines as this would tend to impair your ability to use the full space as you need. Write in the middle (or center left) the main theme. If you already have sub-themes and relevant informations, start building your network with these.

As the speaker starts his speech, your main goal is to understand the links between ideas presented and make these appear on your notes through arrows and symbols and to write specifics (figures, peoples, products etc…) where they belong. Doing such you will find that you have a lot less words on your page but you will understand more easily what you have taken down. This will allow you to write some linguistic features you want to use: specific words, expressions, jokes that will allow you to be closer to the speaker’s style.

In what language should you write down? If you are performing a long consecutive interpretation, it is likely the target language will be your native tongue and you will have researched unknown vocabulary prior to the actual interpretation. Furthermore, if you where to write in the target language, you would have to perform several tasks at once: understanding and processing the information, organizing it and taking it down and translating it. It is a better use of your brain if you take down the information in the source language as you will be better able to translate it from what you have understood and written down.

Now what is left for you to do is to start delivering the information in the target language. I wish you’ll do this successfully!

Fi2 n Co

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