Reading Passage 1
Consecutive and simultaneous translation
6. 2-3 seconds
7. 10 seconds
8. 100 to 200
10-13. B, C, E, F
Consecutive and simultaneous translation
A When people are faced with a foreign-language barrier, the usual way round it is to find someone to interpret or translate for them. The term ‘translation’, is the neutral term used for all tasks where the meaning or expressions in one language (the source language) is turned into the meaning of another (the ‘target’ language), whether the medium is spoken, written, or signed. In specific professional contexts, however, a distinction is drawn between people who work with the spoken or signed language (interpreters), and those who work with the written language (translators). There are certain tasks that blur this distinction, as when source speeches turned into target writing. But usually the two roles are seen as quite distinct, and it is unusual to find one person who is equally happy with both occupations. Some writers on translation, indeed, consider the interpreting task to be more suitable for extravert personalities, and the translating task for introverts.
B Interpreting is today widely known from its use in international political life. Then senior ministers from different language backgrounds meet, the television record invariably shows a pair of interpreters hovering in the background. At major conferences, such as the United Nations General Assembly, the presence of headphones is a clear indication that a major linguistic exercise is taking place. In everyday circumstances, too interpreters are frequently needed, especially in cosmopolitan societies formed by new reiterations of immigrants and Gastarbeiter. Often, the business of law courts, hospitals, local health clinics, classrooms, or industrial tribunals cannot be carried on without the presence of an interpreter. Given the importance and frequency of this task, therefore, it is remarkable that so little study has been made of what actually happens when interpreting takes place, and of how successful an exercise it is.
C There are two main kinds of oral translation-consecutive and simultaneous. In consecutive translation the translating starts after the original speech or some part of it has been completed. Here the interpreter’s strategy and the final results depend, to a great extent on the length of the segment to be translated. If the segment is just a sentence or two the interpreter closely follows the original speech. As often as not, however, the interpreter is expected to translate a long speech which has lasted for scores of minutes or even longer. In this case he has to remember a great number of messages; and keep them in mind until he begins his translation. To make this possible the interpreter has to take notes of the original messages, various systems of notation having been suggested for the purpose. The study of, and practice in, such notation is the integral part of the interpreter’s training as are special exercises to develop his memory.
D Doubtless the recency of developments in the field partly explains this neglect. One procedure, consecutive interpreting, is very old - and presumably dates from the Tower of Babel! Here, the interpreter translates after the speaker has finished speaking, This approach is widely practiced in informal situations, as well as in committees and small conferences. In larger and more formal settings, however, it has been generally replaced by simultaneous interpreting - a recent development that arose from the availability of modern audiological equipment and the advent of increased international interaction following the Second World War.
E Of the two procedures, it is the second that has attracted most interest, because of the complexity of the task and the remarkable skills required. In no other context of human communication is anyone routinely required to listen and speak at the same time, preserving an exact semantic correspondence between the two modes. Moreover, there is invariably a delay of a few words between the stimulus and the response, because of the time it takes to assimilate what is being said in the source language and to translate it into an acceptable form in the target language. This‘ ear-voice span’ is usually about 2 or 3 seconds, but it may be as much as 10 seconds or so, if the text is complex. The brain has to remember what has just been said, attend to what is currently being said, and anticipate the construction of what is about to be said. As you start a sentence you are taking a leap in the dark, you are mortgaging your grammatical future; the original sentence may suddenly be turned in such a way that your translation of its end cannot easily be reconciled with your translation of its start. Great nimbleness is called for.
F How it is all done is not at all clear. That it is done at all is a source of some wonder, given the often lengthy periods of interpreting required, the confined environment of an interpreting booth, the presence of background nois