Note Taking

When interpreting consecutively, the interpreter first listens to the speech or part of the speech and then repeats it in the other language.
Only very short passages can be rendered entirely from memory, even though interpreters' memories are usually trained well enough that they are able to convey two or three sentences in the other language without any aid.
With "genuine" consecutive interpreting, however, the interpreter almost always takes notes while listening to the speech, which he then uses to present what has been said in the other language himself. These notes are not stenography, though, as people often think, but consist of a mix of symbols, words, arrows, abbreviations, and underlinings, which mostly serve as a memory aid for the interpreter.

Stenography is extremely ill suited for the interpreting process, regardless of how well or how quickly the stenographer works. For if a text is taken down in shorthand, the exact same text is afterwards found on the shorthand pad, in exactly the same grammatical form, with all subordinate clauses and with all the speaker's idiosyncrasies
This text would first have to be deciphered by the interpreter, and even if he were able to read shorthand as quickly as regular writing, he would still be faced with the text in its original language, which the interpreter would then have to translate off the paper - a process which requires double the time and double the effort and is not feasible for practical work.

Instead, the interpreter jots down the text in a way which goes beyond one single language and which reduces what has been said to pure, language-less content, as it were. Symbols represent nouns, small circles above the pictograms symbolize people, smileys depict emotions, arrows reflect back to things that already were said/noted above, and underlinings reinforce the speaker's statements. Subordinate clauses are reproduced by means of indentations on the notepad. Thus the interpreter does not get distracted by having to translate the text from its source language during his presentation. When he looks at his notepad, he sees the bare visualized framework of content at a glance. Therefore he is fully able to concentrate on conveying that content in the target language in high-quality style.

This is an example for a short passage which might occur in a speech that is typically interpreted consecutively (even though in the case of a "real" sample of consecutive note taking, the writing would probably be much harder to read).

Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to see how many of you have found their way today to this old and venerable building, which was commissioned by Prince Ludwig I in 1897.



I hope that you will spend two interesting days here, two days whose motto will be "The Third World - Caught in the Conflict between Agriculture and Industrialization".



In the past few years, the third world has experienced a remarkable upswing, but still many people have to live in appalling poverty, especially among farmers.



The support provided by the developed countries helps, of course, but it is not sufficient by far. Governments pay enormous amounts, but this alone is not enough.



Therefore it is the people, every single person, who are called upon to help and to each contribute their individual share. That is why I am calling upon you today. I ask you, please, do what you can! Make as high a contribution as you are able to, even if it may not be not much. Every little bit helps. In this spirit of generosity let us now raise our glasses to equality and to an end of poverty all over the world!



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