My trip to India

I have just returned from a one month trip to India. I was truly impressed by those wonderful people. So calm despite the extreme misery they live in, yet incredibly rich in terms of their souls, of their commitment to religion, to God.

Beautiful women, especially in the more remote towns of central India where you can often see them carrying the most heavy loads of wood on their heads with the elegance of top models on a catwalk.

In the larger cities people dying of hunger and diseases have such wonderful eyes full of hope and dignity that make me think how small we westeners are who live in such opulence and yet are so poor in spirit.

My trip to India

Translation and interpreting procedures

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.

Compendium of translation procedures

(edited and extended by Alessio Iacovoni, compiled by the author of the Blog Mis Trabajos de Traducción, accessed 11 February 2009)

Translation and interpreting procedures

Make love when you interpret not war

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:

  1. a listening and analysis effort
  2. a production effort and
  3. a short-term memory effort.

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.

Make love when you interpret not war

Use and misuse of referencing in the academia

It goes without saying that academic referencing is paramount in helping a reader identify important resources that would otherwise remain unexplored. Yet it may sometimes be employed deceitfully to substantiate weak or irrelevant points and perhaps show deference to some specific milieus, often the ones to which the author belongs.

The interesting article linked below focuses on the interpreting field, although it probably could be extended to others.

Use and misuse of literature in interpreting research

Use and misuse of referencing in the academia

Cicero’s “Loci” mnemonic system in consecutive interpreting

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).

Cicero’s “Loci” mnemonic system in consecutive interpreting