The high art of consecutive interpretation
Consecutive interpretation is an art, a highly skilled exercise. Indeed, good consecutive interpreters are a rare breed. Real professionals work on meaning, not on words, conveying the intent of the original message in another language. Hence, note-taking in short-hand form isn’t useful to them.
Instead, consecutive interpreters take notes consisting of a unique, language-neutral combination of abbreviations and symbols that help them reconstruct their translation two, five or even ten minutes after the original was delivered. What they’re doing is recreating the message in a different language by combining their memory and their notes.
Every interpreter has a unique note-taking system with abbreviations and symbols which they have developed through training and refined in professional assignments. Hence, it is virtually impossible for an interpreter to decipher notes taken by a colleague.
Consecutive interpreters and secret codes
Unlike shorthand, consecutive interpreting notes are arranged on the page almost like a semantic mind map so that the interpreter can perceive, digest and sum up content at a glance rather than having to translate words and sentences sequentially, as with shorthand.
Next time you see a consecutive interpreter scribbling away, remember that she or he is not taking shorthand notes but drawing on a secret code of hieroglyphic symbols and abbreviations. This code serves as raw material to be reconstructed and delivered in a different language.
To find out whether consecutive interpretation is suitable for your next meeting, contact us.
Or visit this page to learn more about the different types of interpretation.