Simultaneous interpreting course, day 4
I'm back from the fourth day of my intensive simultaneous interpreting course. Being halfway through the course, I'd thought I'd put down some thoughts while they're fresh.
Today, we had our first live day of simultaneous interpreting, with a guest speaker. The manuscript he gave us beforehand would take about 15 minutes to read, and he spoke for about 90, so we got some good practice at interpreting without a script.
The course has been a great learning experience so far. For one thing, it's shown me that I need to work on expressing myself in Japanese.
The techniques we're learning for simultaneous interpreting between Japanese and English have been illuminating. Japanese and English are very different structurally, and usually in order to translate a sentence, you need to look at the end.
Here's a contrived example, with the parts color-coded:
You've got a topic, a bunch of "modifiers," or supporting information, and then the predicate. Normally, I'd translate that sentence something like the following, moving the predicate to the beginning, and turning the supporting information into one or more subsequent sentences:
The new version has improved capabilities over the previous one. It has X as well as Y.
This of course won't do with simultaneous interpretation. Especially considering that "X" and "Y" could be of arbitrary length (it's not uncommon for the topic and predicate to be far, far separated, even in spoken Japanese), if you waited until the end, you'd forget the sentence. Or even if you didn't forget it, while you were processing this sentence the next one would be flying by.
So they're teaching us techniques to kind of listen until you get a meaningful "chunk" of information, and discharge that while you listen to the next chunk. Here's an example from a passage where I can still remember how I interpreted it.
(1)バングラディッシュ チッタゴン大学(2)の経済学教授ムハマド ユヌス(3)と学生達が、ある村を調査している(4)最中に、素朴な竹製家具を作っている女性に出会いました。
My English interpretation:
(1)Chittagong University in Bangladesh (2)is where professor of economics Muhammad Yunus works. (3)He and his students were on a field trip to a village. (4)There, they encountered a woman who made simple bamboo furniture.
We always do a lot of preparation before each piece. In this case, the preparation included the Wikipedia pages on Grameen Bank and Muhammad Yunus, and the original English version of the article. Incidentally, the English version started, "During a field trip to a village, Muhammad Yunus…"
Tomorrow, we get to interpret for a mock trial, where a GI has been arrested for theft and assault. Very Okinawan topic!