This is the first of a series of reviews on some ios apps that I believe can come in very handy to interpreters.
Needless to say, terminology management is an interpreter’s most daunting tasks. In order for glossaries to be effective, they need to be updated regularly, a task which can be tedious and time-consuming.
Among the plethora of IOS apps aimed at streamlining the process of managing and learning new terminology, there is one that stands out for its many interesting features, including a unique text-to-speech function that I will expound on further into the review.
The app is called Flashcards Deluxe.
Despite the name, it’s not merely a flashcards program, but a versatile utility that can cater for most terminology management needs. It has features to backup glossaries on various cloud services (dropbox, google and others), to help practice and memorize the terms with in-built tests (flashcards, multiple choice) and even to automatically convert the lexicon into audio.
The text-to-speech function is available in a large number of languages and does not require an active internet connection: the sound files are downloaded on the device and remain available also when off-line.
Here are some screenshots from the app:
Here is a nice system you can use to prepare for conferences. Just click on the audio file. Use headphones. The ear/voice span (decalage) can be easily modified to fit your translation style. I recently used this file to prepare for a conference on migration and evangelisation. You can make your own very easily.
Here are some interesting articles on interpreting and translation studies that I collected in these past years.
The following is a list of translation procedures developed by Vinay, Darbelnet, Newmark and Catford. Although they were developed for written translations they can also apply to interpreting.
(edited and extended by Alessio Iacovoni, compiled by the author of the Blog Mis Trabajos de Traducción, accessed 11 February 2009)
Simultaneous interpreting is generally considered to be a very difficult task that involves a number of complex efforts. According to Daniel Gile’s suggestive tightrope model, simultaneous interpreting is made up of three different concurrent efforts:
Although models such as this one are very precious to describe what happens “behind the scenes” in the so-called black box (the interpreter’s mind), it is perhaps best to approach the interpreting process as though it did not involve any special effort at all.
The frame of mind required to produce a good working interpretation is such that it actually has to come by as a simple and spontaneous event. In the end simultaneous interpreting is only as hard as one makes it. L1 and L2 should not be viewed as ferocious opponents, but as precious allies that peacefully and placidly work together.
P.S. A word of advice to those interpreters who are moving their first steps in this very competitive business: be wary of those seemingly “nice” new colleagues who offer to share their 20-page glossary of abstruse lingo just a few minutes into the start of the conference.
Note down only those few words that are truly essential, relax, allow your mind to be as blank as possible, focus only on the message and on the speaker…. and “voila’” the magic is done.
Il carissmo Paolo Noseda traduce Annie Lennox da ‘Che Tempo che Fa’. Come al solito piu’ che perfetto, mai noioso e sempre ‘a cavallo’ della persone che traduce. Ma senza pedanteria e sopratutto senza finzione.
Mnemonic systems such as the one developed by Cicero centuries ago would come in very handy to consecutive interpreters when traditional note-taking is not feasible. In interpreting for the media, for example, spontaneity is appreciated and scribbling is generally considered inappropriate.
One of the oldest mnemonic systems is the method of loci [LOW-sye]. A “locus” is a location, “loci” is the plural. The Method of Loci uses locations of a familiar place (imagined in memory) as a framework for memory retrieval.
To use the method of loci, you associate items you wish to remember later with locations of a familiar room, building, or street. Then, to retrieve the information, you mentally “stroll down memory lane” and visualize the same locations. If the method works, the information you stored in various locations will come back with the memory of the location. To be effective, one must usually visualize an object “doing something” or interacting in some way with the objects at a particular location.
The method of loci is ancient. Cicero, the Roman orator, recommended it. Lecturers in his day were not allowed to use lecture notes, so memorization techniques were valued.
Cicero told a traditional story about how the method of loci was discovered. A Greek poet named Simonides was entertaining a group of wealthy noblemen at a banquet. Suddenly a pair of mysterious figures called him outside. They turned out to be messengers from the Olympian gods Castor and Pollux, praised by Simonides in his poem. As soon as Simonides stepped outside, the roof of the banquet hall collapsed, squashing everybody inside. The mangled corpses could not be identified until Simonides stepped forward, pointed to the place where each victim had been sitting, and said each name in turn.
How did Simonides accomplish this feat? He mentally recreated the scene of the banquet, visualizing each reveler in his place. When he saw the places, it helped him remember the person who had been sitting there.
(From Psychology: An Introduction by Russell A. Dewey)
A more modern approach would involve the use of a digital voice recorder, as already discussed in this same Blog and previously in some SCIC Newsletters (see Simultaneous/Consecutive Mode).
An optimal segmentation of the source message is by far a simultaneous interpreter’s most important resource to avert the risk of falling behind a fast speaker, of missing some important information or overloading short term memory.
While this may not come as a novelty, few interpreters will be aware that they can learn to master this technique through an apparently unrelated discipline: subtitling.
Here is a brief excerpt from a very informative article that I recently came across in the Translation Journal.
“Segmentation at the highest nodes: Subtitled text should appear segmented at the highest syntactic nodes possible. This means that each subtitle flash should ideally contain one complete sentence. In cases where the sentence cannot fit in a single-line subtitle and has to continue over a second line or even over a new subtitle flash, the segmentation on each of the lines should be arranged to coincide with the highest syntactic node possible.
For example, before we segment the phrase:
we first have to think of its syntactic tree as follows:
A segmentation on the fifth node (N5) would create the two-line subtitle
A segmentation on the second node (N2) would create the two-line subtitle
Out of the two segmentations, it is the second that flows as more readable. This occurs because the higher the node, the greater the grouping of the semantic load and the more complete the piece of information presented to the brain. When we segment a sentence, we force the brain to pause its linguistic processing for a while, until the eyes trace the next piece of linguistic information. In cases where segmentation is inevitable, therefore, we should try to force this pause on the brain at a point where the semantic load has already managed to convey a satisfactorily complete piece of information.” (From A Proposed Set of Subtitling Standards in Europe, by Fotios Karamitroglou)
I know, the title sounds ridiculous. Consecutive interpreting without note taking is like a sunny day without the sun, like solid air and liquid earth. Or is it not?
I actually believe that this idea is not as far fetched as it may initially appear, for one simple reason: that we now have the technological means of digitally recording a speech, playing it back with top notch audio quality and slowing it down without degrading the audio output.
Most modern digital recorders have all of these features, plus others such as sophisticated voice activated systems that stop the recorder automatically when the speaker pauses.
Are there any advantages in interpreting a speech consecutively by using a digital recorder instead of a traditional note taking system?
I believe there are many.
For one thing, while you are recording you can focus your full attention on listening, while perhaps jotting down a few numbers, names or words you anticipate you will have problems with afterwards.
There is very little tension in this phase, you don’t have to scramble to understand everything immediately nor do you have to write down every important detail, as you would with traditional note taking.
Then, once the speaker is over, you play the speech back in your earphones (possibily noise cancelling ones) and interpret it “simultaneously”, but with the considerable advantage of having heard the speech already once before and of being able to pause it or slow it down if needed.
Here is a link to an internet site with a wealth of material aimed to interpreter students but equally useful for trainers and seasoned interpreters. I am particularly fond of the excerpts of some of the works of Daniel Gile, but there are many other interesting items, including detailed exercises for both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting.