The Interpreting Student’s Reading List

One should never underestimate the value of book learning. It’s true that almost everything can be found on the internet these days (more on that in next week’s post), but that doesn’t mean that the printed word no longer has anything to offer.

If you read my post on general knowledge, you will already know that I am a big fan of books as a form of background reading and as a way to broaden your knowledge base. Today, I want to look at “how-to” books on interpreting techniques which I consider to be must-reads for anyone who is studying conference interpreting.

The One and Only

I’ll come clean right now: Roderick Jones is my hero. My former students know it, and my future ones will as well. If you only read one how-to book on interpreting in your whole life, let it be Conference Interpreting Explained. Buy it, read it, mark it up, sleep with it under your pillow. And when your teachers give you some bit of advice that you feel needs corroboration, look it up in Jones’ book – chances are, it’s there!

Conference Interpreting Explained is available new from the publisher St Jerome, or used on Amazon. Trust me, it is the best 18 quid (20€) you will ever spend!

The Classic

You can’t talk about how-to books on interpreting without mentioning La prise des notes en interprétation consecutive by Jean François Rozan, originally published in 1956 and considered by many to be the definitive guide to consecutive note-taking. As far as I can tell, the original French version is now out of print, but thanks to the efforts of our friends in Poland, there is now an English and Polish translation available. At 35 zloty (about 8€), it’s a real steal.

The New Kid on the Block

Andrew Gillies, interpreter trainer at ISIT Paris, coordinator of AIIC Training and the man behind the Interpreter Training Resources website and Facebook page, has somehow also managed to find the time to write books on interpreting (note: the “new kid” moniker only applies because Gillies came after Rozan and Jones, but that doesn’t make his works any less relevant). In addition to being responsible for the English translation of Rozan, Gillies is the author of Note-Taking for Consecutive Interpreting: A Short Course. A little birdie has told me that there may be a new book coming out soon, so watch this space for news of that.

But wait, there’s more …

Of course, those aren’t all the books that have been written about conference interpreting technique. There is a much more complete list of recommended reading, complete with book reviews, to be found on the Interpreter Training Resources site. Also, the inimitable Nataly Kelly has prepared a list of books for interpreters and translators right on Amazon – and you can purchase them all with just one click of the mouse!

However, I have chosen to highlight just a few titles in this post, because I know that if I tell my students to go out and read dozens of books on interpreting, they may feel overwhelmed and end up not reading any at all. If I insist, on the other hand, that there are a handful of books which they absolutely shouldn’t miss out on, they might just go out and read one or two of them.

Of course, if readers have favourite books of their own that they’d like to share with me, and don’t see them on the lists above, please let me know in the comments section. I’m always on the lookout for fresh material!

In my next post, I am going to look at online resources for interpreting students. I will be holding a workshop on this very topic this coming Friday, where I have asked students to come with some favourite links of their own – so my hope is that in an upcoming post, I’ll be able to share with you what I’ve learned.

Memory Techniques: Test Your Knowledge

These days on the training course at the ULL, it’s all about memory. Students are spending their days desperately trying to improve their memory skills so that they can survive the first module of the course, during which they are trained to remember – without the use of notes – the substance and structure of speeches up to five minutes in length.

The question I am going to address today is not so much how one can go about improving one’s memory (although we’ll look at that in a minute), but why in Bog’s name it is considered necessary to have this introductory module in the first place. Test your knowledge about memory and interpreting by taking this brief quiz.

TRUE OR FALSE?

1) Memory exercises were invented by sadistic interpreting trainers as a way to make the first few days of their students’ training sheer hell.

2) Although having a good memory can be useful, it isn’t really necessary for interpreters, a good since note-taking technique will spare them having to remember information.

3) Memory exercises are intended to teach students how to memorize information.

4) Giving classes on memory is a good way to break the ice during the initial phase of an interpreter training course.

5) The first classes on memory techniques allow trainers to get a good idea of what their students are like and what they can expect of them over the course of their interpreter training.

6) Doing memory exercises helps students learn how to listen actively, and teaches them to identify and analyse the underlying structure of what they are hearing.

7) Reproducing a remembered speech helps students learn how to synthesize and reformulate discourse effectively.

8 ) If you don’t learn proper memory techniques first, you will have a very hard time ever learning consecutive and simultaneous techniques.

While readers are mulling those statements over, let’s look briefly at what is written about interpreting and memory. In response to a student’s query about what sort of background reading might be helpful when trying to hone memory techniques, I dug up this list of memory improvement techniques (courtesy of Interpreter Training Resources, which is the place I always go whenever I need to find something, since I know that if it is out there, they will have found it first!).

Bootheando has also written about memory in a post entitled Ejercitando las memorias. Another post of hers looks at how contact with nature can improve memory (that’s it, my next class will be held out on the campus quad!).

Anyone looking for a more academic approach to the same question might want to read this article on Memory Training in Interpreting, or this one on Working Memory and Simultaneous Interpreting. These are just two of the many scholarly articles that are out there on the topic. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to everything that is said about memory out there, at least the presence of these articles are testimony to the fact that the business of memory and interpreting is taken rather seriously – and not just by all those poor, sweaty-palmed students suffering through the first days of classes…

 

 

 

To the answers to the quiz, now. To me at least, all of the above statements are true except two – and if you can’t guess which two are false, you might want to sign up for one of my classes ;). As for the remaining six, I listed them in ascending order of importance. So the last ones on the list are what it’s all about, really.

Off mic with Phil Smith: A Compendium

I am currently on my summer holidays, but that doesn’t mean that followers of The Interpreter Diaries shouldn’t have something to read, so I’ve decided to share with you a series of articles by another interpreter-writer.

“Off mic with Phil Smith” is a column written for Communicate!, the AIIC webzine. Phil Smith is a freelance conference interpreter and fellow AIIC member. In this column, he writes about just about anything, not only what he does for a living – although interpreting always manages to find its way into his articles somehow.

Phil’s articles aren’t written in the form of a blog, so unfortunately they are not all available in one place – until today, that is. After undertaking some extensive and painstaking research (actually, I just Googled “Off mic with Phil Smith”), I have put together this compendium of Phil’s articles for your enjoyment, all of which have been published in Communicate! over the last several years.

Happy reading!

Work life imbalance (summer 2005)

Relay race (September/October 2005)

Communication breakdown (November/December 2005)

Diary of a technologically novel assembly (February/March 2006)

Breakfast (May/June 2006)

A sense of loss (Summer 2006)

Looking the part (October/November 2006)

Booths (December 2006)

Private market forces (September 2007)

Little triggers (spring 2008)

Skin deep (Summer 2009)

Respect (fall 2009)

Ordem e Progresso (summer 2010)

Food for thought (fall 2010)