The interpreter’s job does not lack plot twists as it often requires immense resourcefulness and swiftness of action. Imagine, for example, that there is a conference taking place in a company and it features a Norwegian entrepreneur. The rest of the participants do not know Norwegian, so his statement should be replicated in a way so as to not disturb the event. How can it be handled? In such a case, the abilities of a consecutive interpreter will be irreplaceable!

What is a consecutive interpretation?

It is, above all, a translation of longer, often several-minute long, statements. Moreover, consecutive interpreters do not speak simultaneously with the speaker (this is a simultaneous interpreter’s job). Statements are divided into segments, and only after the speaker finishes one of them does the interpreter jump into action.

The interpreter often has to find a moment when the speakers need a second to catch their breath or when there is silence.

Consecutive interpretation works best during smaller business meetings, official speeches, conferences, and interviews, when the sound systems are not necessary.

Consecutive interpreter’s notebook

In such a challenging job, good notes can be extremely beneficial. But how to make efficient notes that will not only enhance our memory but also be concise and easy to decipher?

During a consecutive interpretation, transfer is far more important than literal word-for-word translation. Additionally, in order to decrease the time needed for note-taking, it is necessary to shorten the words. Experienced interpreters have a solution to this problem – usually they note only two first and two last letters of the word, but with time they start making their own abbreviations, for example:
• al – national
• ally – nationally
• lity – nationality
• o – national

Another important thing a consecutive interpreter can do is to draw symbols that will help the interpreter remember common phrases and conjunctions. For example:
• → – lead to, result in,
• ↑ – increase
• ↓ – decrease
• + – additionally
• : – idea, opinion
• OK – support something
OK – do not support something

Dividing a page into sections: introduction, subject, verb, and complements can be extremely helpful as well. Sentences can be written to the slide from left to right so that our eyes follow the text in
a natural order:



visa fees

(That is why the French, German, and UK governments have cut the visa fees.)

These are only a few abbreviations that can improve the interpreter’s memory. With time, experienced interpreters create their own reliable systems of symbols that will work even during the most challenging events.


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