No me canso, ganso – mis impresiones del Foro Lenguas 2019 en CDMX

En medio del desabasto de gasolina llegué a la ciudad de México para asistir al Foro Lenguas 2019 la semana pasada. En este congreso, con representación de 20 lenguas amerindias y 7 lenguas extranjeras, me lancé a la aventura para discutir la gramática, la importancia de las asociaciones profesionales y el papel que desempeñan las tecnologías en nuestra profesión.

Entre muchísimos momentos especiales e interesantes, estos fueron para mí los más inspiradores:

El día 24 de enero fue día de plenaria.

Entre muchas otras charlas interesantísimas, escuchamos la plática de Concepción Company acerca de „la comunicación eficaz y la pureza lingüística, ¿conceptos antagónicos?“ Aprendí que todos somos seres gramáticos y que muchas veces lo que consideramos correcto o incorrecto solamente constituye una valoración social: „Dime cómo hablas y te diré quién eres.“ Me recuerda mucho las discusiones que a veces tenemos los intérpretes. ¿Hay que educar al cliente y hablar „como se debe“ o „como hablan ellos“?

Y: ¿Se puede hablar en dialecto o usar regionalismos? Nos explica Concepción Compay que cuán más elevado el nivel hablado, más neutro se hace, se pierde la variación y riqueza del dialecto y del sabor local, la identidad. Me hace pensar en la cuestión de si es aceptable que los intérpretes podamos hablar con acento, o incluso en dialecto. ¿O solo si el orador mismo lo hace? ¿Se puede interpretar un dialecto con otro en el idioma meta?

Otro dato muy interesante: El bilingüismo es un estado natural. Según la fuente consultada, aunque varían mucho las cifras, parece ser que abarca a más de la mitad de la población mundial.

Me dejó muy impresionada la charla acerca de los servicios lingüísticos en situaciones de crisis con las perspectivas de Julie Burns, intérprete en The Communication Bridge, Ian Newton, director ejecutivo de InZone y Carlos Sánchez González de Rescate Internacional Topos, A.C. Además de sus vivos relatos acerca de sus experiencias en las regiones de crisis, dejaron muy claro lo diferente que es el papel que tiene un intérprete en esta situación a la de un intérprete de conferencias. Es que no hay vidrio en medio, uno se convierte en actor activo responsable que no puede „esconderse“ en la cabina.

Además, como es muy apropiado en este Año Internacional de las Lenguas Indígenas de las Naciones Unidas, escuchamos a la poeta y activista indígena mapuche (que no quiere que se le llame chilena), María Teresa Panchillo. Nos habló de su cultura, de la interacción del lenguaje, la modernidad, la tradición y me dejó impresionada por su relato tan original y genuino.

El viernes 25 de enero fue mi día de talleres, enfocado más que nada en el tema de las tecnologías. Tanto en mi propio taller como en los otros dos a los que asistí la sala estaba completamente llena.

Primero tuve el honor de tratar los temas de la preparación eficiente y la gestión de información y conocimientos con un grupo de colegas super simpáticos y muy inspirados. Fue la primera vez que di este taller en tierra americana, y además en español, con participantes de Brasil, México, EEUU y Canadá, me llevé muchas reflexiones muy interesantes. Discutimos de las particularidades de nuestro trabajo de preparación, del „ya no“ y del „ni modo“, de un poco de teoría y muchas herramientas de gestión, búsqueda y extracción de terminología. Al final mi verdadero motivo de impartir cursos – saber acerca de las opiniones e ideas de los demás – quedó más que satisfecho 🙂

Después tocó un taller acerca de las „Tecnologías disruptivas: la cadena de bloques y la traducción“ con el Dr. Miguel Duro Moreno. Nos habló de lo que la tecnología de las cadenas de bloque nos traerá a los traductores (y en parte también a los intérpretes):

  • Trabajo colaborativo y en equipo con todas las garantías de seguridad
  • Asignación de los derechos de propiedad intelectual con todas sus consecuencias en relación con la propiedad intelectual/autoría, remuneración, reputación, responsabilidad
  • Traducciones infalsificables, importante sobre todo en el ámbito jurídico
  • Contratos inteligentes tipo „if then“ (si se termina la traducción, se paga automáticamente), negociados entre computadoras/máquinas, con oferta de contrato y aceptación automática
  • Pagos seguros e inmediatos al monedero digital (celular) sin intermediarios como bancos o empresas financieras tipo paypal – la Uberización de la economía

Miguel Duro tiene previsto publicar un artículo sobre este tema en la revista Comparative Legilinguistics. Se titulará Translation quality gained through the implementation of the ISO 17100:2015 and the usage of blockchain: The case of sworn translation in Spain.

Y finalmente, asistí al taller „Terptech“ de Darinka Mangino y Maha El-Metwally. Ellas nos facilitaron una entretenida panorámica de los gadgets, programas y demás tecnologías útiles para los intérpretes, como para digitalizar notas, transcribir videos, de interpretación remota etc. Me tuve que ir en medio del taller para alcanzar mi vuelo de regreso … y me fui de México con una sensación de „No me canso, ganso. ¡Volveré prontito!“


La autora:
Anja Rütten es intérprete de conferencias autónoma para alemán (A), español (B), inglés y francés (C), domiciliada en Düsseldorf/Alemania. Se dedica al tema de la gestión de los conocimientos desde mediados de los años 1990.

What do conference interpreters‘ booth notes tell us about their information management?

First of all, a big thank you to all of you who followed my call and provided copies of their booth notes for my little study – I finally managed to collect booth notes from 25 colleagues! Now, what was this study all about? The purpose was to see what interpreters write down intuitively on a blank sheet of paper, i.e. with no given structure like a terminology database, supposing that what you find on these notes is what is really relevant in the booth. What I was interested in was

1. to see if these notes possibly confirmed what research says about knowledge management, or terminology management more in particular,

2. to check if this information can be mapped to the structures of booth-friendly terminology managmenent systems.

I was also hoping to get some inspiration about the more general question of how (or if) computers could best support conference interpreters in their work.

As the information on the notes might be confidential, the first thing I decided to do was create a mock set of notes reflecting the statistics of my sample notes:

– Average number of terminological records per set of notes: 20 (10 nouns, 4 phrases, 6 acronyms)
– Of all terminological records, 99.6% were technical or specialised terminology.
– 14 records were in one language only (2 in source language, 12 in target language), 5 records in two languages, 1 record in three and more languages.
– Non-terminological records: 6 numbers; 1 context information like names of legal acts, persons, positions; graphic illustrations (1 drawing, 1 underline)

My self-made model notes look like this:

Of all the things I observed in the notes, I was more surprised by what I did not see than by what I saw:

– Hardly any verbs and adjectives
– not really many drawings illustrating conceptual relations
– 72 % of all „terminological records“ found were made in one language only, and each interpreter wrote down terminology in one language only at least once.

Overall, it looks like the „deeper“ information about content and semantic relations is rather dealt with during preparation while information work in the booth is more about having  crucial context information and the right technical term in the target language (almost all terminological records were of technical nature). In short, this filling of personal knowledge gaps in the booth is the tip of the iceberg of a conference interpreter’s information and knowledge work. This confirms what research says, but makes me wonder whether a terminology tool that – in booth mode – displays key terms in the current target language only (possibly in word clouds) might be more efficient as a word-finding trigger than bilingual, glossary-style lists. Or is cognitive overload the only reason why simultaneous interpreters would note down their terms in one language only in the booth?

Luckily I was even able to collect one team sample, i.e. the notes of 5 interpreters working at the same conference. It was interesting to see that there was indeed some overlapping in the terms noted down and that these „shared“ terms were mainly written at the top of the respective sheets. In particular, 2 acronyms were written down by all 5 interpreters, another 2 acronyms by 4 of the 5 interpreters, and one technical term by 3 of them. Just like the complete study, this is by no means representative, but at least it indicates that it might be possible to provide key terms for certain meetings which are useful to all interpreters.

Beyond statistics and hard data, this study made me think a lot about the possible reasons that put interpreters off going paperless in the booth. It also inspired me to discuss this question with colleagues. It appears that there are several factors that tend to work better on paper than on a computer:

– Screen space: There is only so much information you can display on a computer screen. With agenda, meeting documents, glossaries and online ressources, it is hard to squeeze everything onto a display not much bigger than a regular sheet of paper.

– Exchange plattform: Simultaneous interpreters in the booth like to use a sheet of paper as a kind of exchange platform to ask for coffee, write down when to change turns and note down difficult terms, numbers etc. to support each other.

– Permanent visibility: Once written down on paper, information doesn’t usually disappear from our view easily, something that may well happen on a computer.

– Document handling: When working with different documents (original and translation of speeches, draft agreements, legislative texts), they can be arranged on a desk (if not too small) in a way to find one’s way through them and/or share them with the colleague who is busy interpreting in order to find the right page or line for her o him.

– Input: The input function of pen and paper is just very intuitive.

These were my main conclusions from this lovely little study. If you want to know all the details, I encourage you to read the full article, which was published in the Proceedings of the 40th Conference Translating and the Computer, London, UK, November 15-16, 2018, p 132-144. All the slides are also available for download.


About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

Honorarkalkulator für Dolmetscher – Excel-Datei und Video Tutorials aus #aiicDfD2018

Grundhonorare, Projekthonorare, Vorbereitungshonorare – nicht immer funktionieren Tagessätze“ – laut Inés de Chavarría (der ein megagroßes Dankeschön für die Orga gebührt!) eine zentrale Erkenntnis aus den Diskussionen des AIIC-Workshops Dolmetscher für Dolmetscher 2018 in Stuttgart.  In diesem Sinne nun also ran ans Kalkulieren!

Hier zum Herunterladen im Excel-Format der Kalkulator Zeit&Geld Dolmetscher

Das Video STUNDEN UND HONORARE (11 Min):

Das Video PROJEKTKALKULATION 6 Min:

Das kleine Einmaleins (eigentlich eher Plus und Minus) für Dolmetscher in Kurzform findet Ihr noch einmal in diesem Beitrag.
Rückmeldung und Fragen gerne über die Kommentarfunktion oder auf Twitter!
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Über die Autorin:
Anja Rütten ist freiberufliche Konferenzdolmetscherin für Deutsch (A), Spanisch (B), Englisch (C) und Französisch (C) in Düsseldorf. Sie widmet sich seit Mitte der 1990er dem Wissensmanagement.

Nicht für Geld – kleines Einmaleins für Dolmetscher

Zur Einstimmung auf den bevorstehenden Dolmetscher-für-Dolmetscher-Workshop, wo es unter anderem um betriebswirtschaftliche Themen gehen wird, möchte ich heute ein paar Gedanken zu einem meiner Lieblingsthemen, dem lieben Geld, mit Euch teilen. Denn den schönsten Beruf der Welt macht man zwar nicht nur des Geldes wegen, aber ohne wäre irgendwie auch schlecht. Und wenn Dolmetscher auch alles wissen – was das Leben (und das Arbeiten) kostet, wird mitunter vergessen. Als kleine Denkhilfe also im Folgenden ein paar finanzielle Faustregeln (inspiriert durch die jahrelange Arbeit mit den „Rentabilitätern“ von AIIC Deutschland):

Regel 1: Die Untergrenze – Kosten kennen.

Wieviel Geld brauchen wir im Jahr? Grob gesprochen und ganz ungefähr

– 10.000 EUR für Altersvorsorge
– 10.000 EUR für Versicherung
– 20.000 EUR für Betriebsausgaben (Auto, Büro, IT, Fortbildungen, Verbandsbeiträge, Steuerberater, Werbung)
– 5000 EUR als Rücklage für schlechte Zeiten („Arbeitslosenversicherung“)
– 5000 EUR zum Vermögensaufbau
– 30.000 EUR „zum Leben“ einschl. Urlaub (die privaten Konsumausgaben in Deutschland lagen 2016 bei 19.000 EUR für 1 Person, 34.000 EUR für 2, 40.000 EUR für 3, 45.000 EUR für 4, 51.000 EUR für 5)
– 20.000 EUR Steuern

In Summe: 100.000 EUR Umsatz

Regel 2: Nicht die Zeit vergessen.

Bei einer 40-Stunden-Woche mit fünf Wochen Urlaub (oder Auslastungsschwankungen) und zwei Wochen Krankheit arbeitet man 1800 Stunden pro Jahr, davon etwa 600 Stunden, die nicht direkt zu einem Auftrag gehören (Verwaltung, Werbung, Netzwerken, Fortbildung). Es bleiben also rund
1200 Stunden zum Geldverdienen (sprich Dolmetschen plus Vorbereitung, Reisezeit, Warten und Bereitstehen), das macht 83,33 EUR pro produktiv gearbeiteter Stunde.

Abweichungen in beide Richtungen gibt es natürlich je nach Lebenssituation (Single vs. vierköpfige Familie) und Kostenstruktur, aber möchte man ein einigermaßen allgemeingültiges Honorar zugrunde legen, sind 85 EUR/produktiv gearbeiteter Stunde gewiss ein Wert, mit dem man bei einer überschlägigen Projektkalkulation einigermaßen verlässlich operieren kann. Ein Dolmetscheinsatz zu 850 EUR ist also rentabel, solange er einschließlich Beratung und Planung, Vorbereitung, Abwicklung und Reisezeit nicht mehr als zehn Stunden „kostet“.

Regel 3: Mehrwert kennen.

Andersherum betrachtet lässt sich das Honorar natürlich auch über den Mehrwert beziffern:
– Dieselbe Schulung kann für mehr Personen angeboten werden.
– Eine Konferenz ist für einen um ein Vielfaches größeren Teilnehmerkreis interessant.
– Kooperationen laufen glatter.
– Partner verhandeln auf Augenhöhe.
– Verzögerungen in Projektstarts werden vermieden.
– Ausländische Kunden fühlen sich besser aufgehoben,
– Mitarbeiter weltweit einem Mutterkonzern stärker verbunden.
– Neue Konzerngesellschaften werden reibungsloser eingebunden.

Kurz gesagt: Mit den drei Faktoren Kosten – Zeit – Mehrwert im Hinterkopf kann bei der Dolmetschprojektkalkulation eigentlich nichts mehr schief gehen!

Zum Nachlesen empfehle ich den Artikel der Rentabilitäts-AG von AIIC Deutschland und natürlich nach wie vor Julia Böhms legendärer Artikel Wer wird Millionär, der auch 13 Jahre nach seiner Veröffentlichung im MDÜ nicht an Relevanz eingebüßt hat.

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Über die Autorin:
Anja Rütten ist freiberufliche Konferenzdolmetscherin für Deutsch (A), Spanisch (B), Englisch (C) und Französisch (C) in Düsseldorf. Sie widmet sich seit Mitte der 1990er dem Wissensmanagement.

Green Season’s Greetings | Grüne Weihnachtsgrüße | Saludos navideños verdes

 

Neurophysiologie des Simultandolmetschens | Neurophysiology of simultaneous interpreting – by Eliza Kalderon

+++ for English, scroll down +++

Etwa eineinhalb Jahre nach Beenden der Promotion freue ich mich über die Möglichkeit, im Blog meiner Kollegin, die das Projekt „Neurophysiologie des Simultandolmetschens: eine fMRI-Studie mit Konferenzdolmetschern“ von Anfang an voller Begeisterung und Engagement unterstützte, eines der spannendsten Ergebnisse vorstellen zu dürfen.

Die drei nachfolgenden Abbildungen stellen sogenannte Render-Bilder dar, d. h. dass die 3D-Bilder jeder einzelnen Versuchsperson zu einer Bildsynthese zusammengefasst wurden, da der wiederkehrende Wert sowie die Suche nach übereinstimmenden neuronalen Mustern in den untersuchten Leistungen im Mittelpunkt des wissenschaftlichen Interesses standen.

In den Bedingungen wurden Masken, sogenannte regions of interest (ROI), angewandt, in denen das Simultandolmetschen im Vergleich zu einer weiteren Aufgabe stand – in unserem Fall im Vergleich zum Shadowing. Durch diese Masken kann die Kalkulation der Gehirnaktivierung auf eine definierte anatomische Region eingegrenzt werden. Anhand der verwendeten Maskierung konnte also die Aktivität bestimmter Aktivierungscluster, die zum Broca- bzw. zum Wernicke-Areal gehören, bestimmt werden.

Abbildung 1 – DE>ES

In Abbildung 1 wurde die Mehraktivierung beim Simultandolmetschen aus dem Deutschen ins Spanische und das Simultandolmetschen aus dem Spanischen ins Deutsche ohne Maskierung kontrastiert, das heißt mit Abbildung der Aktivierung über das ganze Gehirn.

Beim Vergleich der Dolmetschrichtung wird die vom Simultandolmetschen aus dem Spanischen ins Deutsche hervorgerufene Gerhirnaktivierung von dem Simultandolmetschen aus dem Deutschen ins Spanische subtrahiert. Unter diesen zwei getesteten Bedingungen haben die Probanden eine Rede aus ihrer Muttersprache Deutsch in ihre aktive Fremdsprache (B-Sprache, Spanisch) gedolmetscht beziehungsweise in der anderen Bedingung eine Rede aus dem Spanischen ins Deutsche gedolmetscht. Die Abbildung zeigt, dass beim Simultandolmetschen in die spanische Sprache das Gehirn der deutschmuttersprachlichen Konferenzdolmetscher beidhemisphärisch im primären motorischen somatosensorischen Kortex aktiviert wurde.

Das bedeutet, dass deutschmuttersprachliche Dolmetscher für die Artikulation im Spanischen mehr Mundmotorik aktivieren als beim Simultandolmetschen in ihre Muttersprache. Das bedeutet wiederum, dass sie für die Performanz in der spanischen Sprache mehr Kontrolle über die Sprachmuskulatur brauchen. Zu beobachten war weiterhin eine Aktivierung im medialen superioren Frontallappen. In diesem Areal ist das strategische Denken (prospective memory, BURGESS et al. 2011) angesiedelt.

Abbildung 2 – ES>DE

In Abbildung 2 ist der umgekehrte Kontrast dargestellt, die Mehraktivierung beim Simultandolmetschen aus dem Spanischen ins Deutsche, das heißt, von der neuronalen Aktivität beim Simultandolmetschen aus dem Spanischen ins Deutsche wurde die neuronale Aktivität aus dem Deutschen ins Spanische subtrahiert. Sie zeigt eine Aktivierung des inferioren Temporallappens, in dem visuelle Informationen verarbeitet werden.

Es ist auch die Aktivierung eines Areals im medialen präfrontalen Kortex zu beobachten, der mit dem prospektiven Denken in Verbindung gebracht wird (vgl. BURGESS et al. 2011). Dort legt man sich Handlungsstrategien zurecht. Bei der Verdolmetschung ins Spanische sind sie sprachlich-motorischer Natur (beansprucht wird also das motorische Arbeitsgedächtnis; ein analoges Ergebnis findet sich bei TOMMOLA et al. 2000: 162).

Abbildung 3 stellt eine Zusammenfassung der beiden vorherigen Abbildungen dar. Hier wurde das Simultandolmetschen in beide Sprachrichtungen in einem Bild gegenübergestellt. Die rot markierten Areale stellen die Mehraktivierung beim Simultandolmetschen aus dem Deutschen ins Spanische dar, die blauen das Simultandolmetschen vom Spanischen ins Deutsche.

Abbildung 3 – Vergleich

Wie man sieht, wurden beim Simultandolmetschen ins Spanische besonders die motorischen Areale beansprucht. In der umgekehrten Sprachrichtung dominieren eine rechtsseitige Aktivierung im inferioren Temporallappen sowie ein aktiviertes Cluster im medialen Präfrontalkortex.

Diese Bilder lieferten uns ein überraschendes und unerwartetes Ergebnis: Dass selbst das trainierte Gehirn von Konferenzdolmetschern eine immense Menge an Kapazitäten für die Artikulation in der Fremdsprache benötigt.

Wer das komplette Studiendesign sowie alle Ergebnisse nachlesen möchte, kann gerne den folgenden frei zugänglichen Link anklicken.

Und last, but not least, möchte ich mich noch einmal bei Anja Rütten und all den Kolleginnen und Kollegen herzlich bedanken, dass sie die lange Fahrt nach Homburg (Saar) auf sich genommen haben, um die Studie und die beeindruckenden Ergebnisse zu ermöglichen.


+++ English version +++

About one and a half years after the project’s completion, I am particularly pleased to present one of the most fascinating results of my doctoral research about neurophysiological processes in simultaneous intepreting on the blog of my colleague, who provided enthusiastic and committed support to this research project from the outset.

The three images below are what is referred to as “render images”: They represent a 3D synthesis of each individual subject in a single image as this research primarily focussed on recurring values and identifying neuronal patterns in the performance analysed.

Masks were applied to the different tasks to outline what is known as regions of interest (ROI). This served to contrast simultaneous interpreting and a second task – shadowing in our case. With the help of these masks, it became possible to limit the calculation of brain activation to a defined anatomic region. This allowed to specify the attribution of an activation and its localisation. It was thus possible to determine the activity outlined after masking of certain activation clusters attributed to Broca’s area or Wernicke’s area.

Figure 1 – DE>ES

Figure 1 shows the contrast in activation between simultaneous interpreting from German into Spanish and simultaneous interpreting from Spanish into German without masking. In other words, it shows the activation of the entire brain.

For a comparison of interpreting directions, the brain activation caused by simultaneous interpreting from Spanish into German was subtracted from that caused by simultaneous interpreting from German into Spanish. In the two tested settings, the subjects were asked to interpret a speech from their mother tongue (German) into their active working language (“B language”, Spanish) and, for the reverse setting, from Spanish into German. The image shows bi-hemispheric activation of the primary motor somatosensory cortex of the brain of a German native conference interpreter when interpreting into Spanish.

This implies that a German native conference interpreter requires stronger activation of mouth movement when articulating in Spanish than when simultaneously interpreting into their mother tongue. This in turn implies that they need stronger control of the muscles in their vocal tracts for a performance in Spanish. Furthermore, activation in the medial superior frontal lobe was observed. This is the area were strategic thinking (prospective memory BURGESS et al. 2011) is located.

Figure 2 – ES>DE

Figure 2 shows the reverse contrast, namely the stronger activation linked to simultaneous interpreting from Spanish into German. This is the result of subtracting the neuronal activity related to German into Spanish from the neuronal activity caused by interpreting from Spanish into German. It illustrates an activation of the inferior temporal lobe which is where visual input is processed.

We can observe an activation of the medial prefrontal cortex, which is associated with prospective memory (BURGESS et al. 2011). This area is responsible for developing strategies for action. These strategies are of motor-linguistic nature when interpreting into Spanish (it is the motor working memory which is responsible; TOMMOLA et al. 2000:162 draw similar conclusions).

The final image summarises the two previous images. It contrasts the process of simultaneous interpretation in both language directions. Areas marked in red represent stronger activation during simultaneous interpretation from German into Spanish. Areas in blue mark simultaneous interpreting from Spanish into German.

Figure 3 – Comparison

It is evident that simultaneous interpreting into Spanish particularly engages the motor brain areas. The dominant activation areas in the reverse language direction are in the right inferior temporal lobe and a cluster in the medial prefrontal cortex.

These images provided a surprising and unexpected finding: Even a practiced conference interpreter uses large amounts of capacity for articulating in the foreign language.

If you are interested in reading the complete research design and all other findings, you are welcome to follow this link (free access).

Last but certainly not least I would like to thank Anja Rütten and all other colleagues for taking the long journey to Homburg (Saar) to participate in this experiment and making these impressive results possible.

References

BURGESS, B.W.; GONEN-YAACOVI, G.; VOLLE, E. (2011): „Functional neuroimaging studies of prospective memory: What have we learnt so far?”. Neuropsychologia 49. 2246-2257
TOMMOLA, J.; LAINE, M.; SUNNARI, M.; RINNE, J. (2000): „The translating brain: cerebral activation patterns during simultaneous interpreting”. Neuroscience Letters 294(2). 85-88

Macht mehr Monotasking?

Ich kann es ja eigentlich nicht mehr hören: „Wir fummeln viel zu oft an unseren Handys herum! Wir sind immer abgelenkt. Wir müssen mal wieder ein Buch umarmen! Und in ein Geschäft gehen!“ Hallo? WIR sind erwachsen und lieben Computer und Handys auch, weil sie einen Ausknopf haben. Den haben nämlich weder Aktenberge noch vollgestopfte Schaufenster oder Fußgängerzonen. Also.

Eine Frage in dieser Wir-sind-viel-zu-abgelenkt-Diskussion finde ich allerdings doch interessant: Können wir chronischen Multitasker denn überhaupt Monotasking? Nicht wir im Sinne von digital-verdorbene Mitglieder der Gesellschaft, nein, wir als Simultandolmetscher. Wir verstehen, speichern und formulieren Inhalte ja fortwährend gleichzeitig, in zwei Sprachen, und es wurden sogar schon Kollegen gesichtet, die währenddessen (!) noch Vokabeln recherchieren, Flüge buchen oder Sudoku spielen. Selbst, wenn wir gerade nicht aktiv dolmetschen, hören wir … sorry, höre ich oft mit einem Ohr dem Redner zu und schaue mit dem anderen Ohr Dinge nach, die mich interessieren, lese Zeitung oder schreibe Mails. Erst am Nachmittag reiße ich mir dann auch schon mal die Kopfhörer ab und schließe die Augen oder starre  vor mich hin.

Bei dieser Frage nach dem Monotasking bin ich vor einiger Zeit auf einen sehr interessanten Artikel gestoßen, der die umgekehrte Frage stellt: Kann der Mensch überhaupt Multitasking? Laut dort zitierter Studie sind tatsächlich weniger als drei Prozent aller Menschen  wirklich multitasking-fähig. Alle anderen hüpfen nur mehr oder minder geschickt zwischen den verschiedenen Aufgaben hin und her und büßen dabei an Leistungsfähigkeit (hier simuliertes Autofahren und Merkaufgaben mit zwischengeschalteten Rechenaufgaben) deutlich ein (Strayer and Watson 2010). Nun sind sicher weniger als 2,5 % der Weltbevölkerung Simultandolmetscher, deshalb können wir uns einfach einbilden, wir fallen alle in diese 2,5%-Gruppe. Wer es aber genau wissen möchte, für den gibt es tatsächlich einen web-basierten Test, bei dem Ihr herausfinden könnt, ob Ihr ein „supertasker“ seid oder nicht.

Nun sind wir Menschen aber nicht nur mehrheitlich nicht fürs Multitasking gemacht, nein, es beeinträchtigt uns offensichtlich auch in unserer Monotasking-Leistungsfähigkeit. In einer Studie von Ophir, Nass und Wagner 2009 zum Thema „macht Multitasking blöd“ wurden „heavy media multitaskers“ und „light media multitaskers“ verglichen und es war festzustellen, dass HMM leichter abzulenken waren, wenn sie sich auf eine Aufgabe konzentrieren sollten, gleichzeitig waren sie beim Wechseln zwischen verschiedenen Aufgaben schlechter als die LMM.

Drastischer noch drückt es Sandra Bond Chapman in ihrem Artikel Why Single-Tasking Makes You Smarter aus: „Multitasking is a brain drain that exhausts the mind, zaps cognitive resources and, if left unchecked, condemns us to early mental decline and decreased sharpness. Chronic multitaskers also have increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can damage the memory region of the brain.“

Warum tun wir uns das Multitasking denn dann überhaupt an, wenn es Stress verursacht und die geistige Leistungsfähigkeit beeinträchtigt? Ganz einfach: Neben den Stresshormonen sind auch noch die Glückshormone im Spiel. Beim Multitasking wird Dopamin ausgeschüttet, wir werden quasi für die ständige Erledigung kleiner Aufgaben belohnt. Was ein Grund dafür sein könnte, dass man sich den Stress des Multitaskings überhaupt freiwillig antut bzw. das Monotasking eventuell verlernt. Oder während des Dolmetschens Sudoku spielt.

Stellt sich die Frage, ob diese Erkenntnisse – die vorwiegend aus dem Blickwinkel des Medienkonsums zu sehen sind – sich auf das Simultandolmetschen übertragen lassen … Sucht vielleicht jemand noch ein Thema für eine Masterarbeit?

Über die Autorin:
Anja Rütten ist freiberufliche Konferenzdolmetscherin für Deutsch (A), Spanisch (B), Englisch (C) und Französisch (C) in Düsseldorf. Sie widmet sich seit Mitte der 1990er dem Wissensmanagement.

 

 

 

Word Clouds – much nicer than Word Lists

I have been wondering for quite some time if word lists are the best thing I can come up with as a visual support in the booth. They are not exactly appealing to the eye, after all …

So I started to play around with word cloud generators a bit to see if they are of any use. Here comes a short summary of my conclusions:

The tool I liked most was WordItOut by Enideo from the UK. You can copy and paste text or tables easily and create nice word clouds in no time.

I tested it with three kinds of documents:

  1. My personal glossary
  2. Plain text
  3. Term extraction results from SketchEngine

Personal short glossary

I like to create a shortlist of my most-important-to-remember terms and have it on display permanently in the booth. Usually, there are no more than 10 to 20 terms on this list. So I copied in a short sample glossary with numbers from 1 to 10 added behind the terms (indicating frequency but meaning importance) and the result was this:

OK, it’s monolingual, but why not add some colour to the booth and print a second one?

Of course it does not help if you don’t know the equivalents. But especially when working mainly into one target language, some colleagues tend to write down terms in their target language anyway (more insight about this subject to be published in autumn!).

And if you really like a fancy booth decoration, you can always do some manual work and create a table with the equivalents in your working languages in one field

and get your bilingual word cloud:

By the way, you can choose the font and colour or simply press the „regenerate“ button again and again until you like what you get.

My conclusion: I love it! Easy enough to use from time to time as a nice booth decoration – or use it as a desktop wallpaper, for that matter.

Plain text

When using plain text, words are displayed in varying sizes depending on their frequency in the text. While this is not as useful as term extraction, where terms are extracted based on much more complicated algorithms, it still gives you an idea of what the most frequent words in the text are. This can be useful, for example, for target language vocabulary activation (or when learning a new language?).

One downside, however, is that multi-word terms like “circular economy” are torn apart, so you would need to post-edit the list of words adding a ~ between the words you wish to be kept together.

Another problem is that when using any language other than English, no stop word list is pre-determined (you can add one, though). This means that, for example in German, you end up getting a cloud of der, die, das, und, er, sie, es, aber, weil, doch.

My conclusion: A lot of potential but little real use cases.

Term extraction results

The nicest thing is of course to have an extraction tool with a built-in word cloud generator, like SDL Trados Studio has.

But if you use other term extraction tools, you can still copy the extraction results into the word cloud generator. I used a term list extracted by SketchEngine,  copied in the list of extracted terms plus scores and the result was this:

Multi word terms are no problem at all, and the size of the terms varies according to the scores calculated by SketchEngine for each term. Much more relevant than frequency in most cases …

My conclusion: Very nice!

PS: If you are interested in terminology extraction for interpreters, Josh Goldsmith is conducting an interesting study on this subject. First results may be expected to be presented in November at the 2nd Cologne Conference on Translation, Interpreting and Technical Documentation (CGN18).

 

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

How to measure the efficiency of your conference preparation

Half of the time we dedicate to a specific interpreting assignment is often spent on preparation. But while many a thought is given to the actual interpreting performance and the different ways to evaluate it, I hardly ever hear anyone discuss their (or others‘) preparation performance. However, if we want to be good information and knowledge managers rather than mere information and knowledge workers, we need to close the management cycle and put extra effort into checking if our work serves its purpose and making possible adjustments to optimise it.

Efficiency being the ratio between input and output (how much do you spend to make a dollar?), the question now is what to measure in the first place. Admittedly, the efficiency of information and knowledge work is not the easiest thing to measure. Apart from the fact that whilst interpreting we have other things to worry about, it is hard to tell the difference between the way we actually interpret and the way we would have done without the most essential part of our information work, i.e. preparation. Strictly speaking, previous work experience and knowledge acquired outside the interpreter’s professional life also count as „preparation“ and can even be more helpful than preparation in the stricter sense.

To put the concept of efficiency of information and knowledge work in conference interpreting into measurable terms, it could be reduced to the following question:

How much time do you spend to make a useful information unit?

As it happens, back in 2006 I conducted a case study to check exactly this: a conference interpreter’s preparation effort in relation to its usefulness. As a baseline, I decided to use the terminology prepared for a technical meeting, assuming that this is what comes closest to a quantifiable amount of information. Even if preparation is not all about terminology (or glossaries), it is an important part, and if it is well done, it covers semantics and context information as well.

So in order to get a number representing the output, I simply counted all the terminological units prepared for one meeting (376) and afterwards had the interpreter count those units that actually came up in the meeting (197) so that the terms prepared „in vain“ could be deducted. I then calculated the percentage of the used terms in relation the total amount of elaborated terms, the so called usage rate. In the case study the overall usage rate at the conference at hand was 52%. The usage rate of terminology from a previous conference of the same client about the same subject was 48 % (81 out of 168 terminological units). This has of course no statistical significance whatsoever, but it can surely be a useful indicator for the individual interpreter. And interestingly, when repeating this exercise with my students from now and then, the results are usually of a similar order of magnitude.

Once the output (terms used) has been determined, it can be related to the input. Assuming that the input is mainly the time spent on preparing the terminological units that came up in the conference, this time is divided by the terms used in order to obtain the relative or average time spent per terminological unit. This value can be considered an approximation to the efficiency of the interpreter’s information work. In the case study the average time spent per term used was 5 minutes (9.5 hours for 113 terms). When repeating this exercise with students, this value usually ranges roughly from 1 to 10 minutes.

Such numbers of course merely serve to quantify the information work we do. In order to really complete the management cycle and find out in how far preparation could possibly be optimised, a closer look needs to be taken at the quality of information and knowledge gaps that occur during the interpreting assignment at hand and how they are or could be handled – which is a different story altogether.

References

Informations- und Wissensmanagement im Konferenzdolmetschen. Sabest 15. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. [dissertation] www.peterlang.net

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C) and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

About Term Extraction, Guesswork and Backronyms – Impressions from JIAMCATT 2018 in Geneva

JIAMCATT is the International Annual Meeting on Computer-Assisted Translation and Terminology, a IAMLAP taskforce where most international organizations, various national institutions and academic bodies exchange information and experience in the field of terminology and translation. For this year’s JIAMCATT edition in Geneva, I had the honour of running a workshop on Tools for Interpreters – and idea I found absolutely intriguing, as the audience would not necessarily be interpreters, but translators, terminologist and heads of language, conference and/or documentation services. So I chose a hands-on workshop setting called „an hour in the shoes of a conference interpreter“. Participants had to prepare a meeting using different tools and would then listen to a 10 minute sequence of this meeting and see how well they felt prepared.

The meeting to be prepared was a EP Special Committee on the Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides on April 12, 2018. Participants could work in two possible scenarios:

Scenario 0: Interpreters haven’t received any documents and hardly any info about the conference. They have to guess and prioritise more than those working under Scenario 1.

Scenario 1: Interpreters have received all the documents one hour in advance (quite realistic a scenario, as Marcin Feder from the EP pointed out).

The participants were free to choose to work either alone or in a team. They were encouraged to test/evaluate one of the tools presented:

InterpretBank, a Computer-Aided Interpreting tool that covers many elements of an interpreters‘ workflow, like glossary creation, multi-dictionary search, term extraction, document annotation, quick search in the booth and flashcard learning.

InterpretersHelp, a cloud-based Computer-Aided Interpreting tool that allows online shared glossary creation, glossary sharing with the community, manual term extraction and flashcard learning, as well as document and job management.

OneClickTerm, a browser-based term extraction tool

GT4T, a plugin for looking up words in several online dictionaries or machine translation sites

Sb.qtrans.de, a toolbar for consulting several online dictionaries and encyclopaedias

At the end of the exercise, the participants watched the EP Special Committee on the Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides on April 12, 2018 of the committee meeting. What followed was a lively and inspiring discussion, where each group described their workflows and how efficient they thought it was.

Those who had the relevant documents and ran them through the OneClick term extraction found that most critical terms that came up in the speech were in the extracted list. Others found the relevant documents by way of internet research and did the same.

Quickly installing programs or creating test accounts didn’t work out as easily for everyone, so some participants reverted to creating glossaries – common practice in the „real world“ – and felt well prepared with that. Ten terms of their glossary were mentioned in the 10 minute video sequence. Others spent so much time familiarising themselves with the new tools that they didn’t feel well prepared but were very happy with what they had seen of InterpreterHelp and OneClickTerm.

When it comes to preparing for an EU meeting – at least when working from and into EU languages – there is an abundance of information available on the internet. It became clear once more that EU interpreters, in terms of meeting preparation, live in paradise. The EP legislative observatory, IATE and Eurlex were the main sources of information mentioned. I was happy to learn from Mariangeles Torrent (SCIC) that Prelex has not disappeared, but simply has turned into a tab within Eurlex named „legislative procedures„.

A short discussion about the pros and cons of Eurlex led to the conclusion that for interpreters it would be wonderful to have more than three languages displayed in parallel, and possibly a term extraction feature or technical terms highlighted in the text. Josh Goldsmith had the news that by adding a hyphen plus the language code in the url of the multilingual display, a fourth, fifth etc. language can indeed be added, although the page layout is far from perfect then. For the moment I have decided to stick to the method I have been using for over ten years, which consists of copying and pasting the columns into an Excel spreadsheet.

I was very glad to hear one participant mention the word „thinking“ in the context of conference preparation. He looked at the agenda and the first thing he did was think about what the meeting might be about. He then did some background research in Wikipedia and other sources and looked up product names, which actually were mentioned in the speech. He also checked who were the members of the committee, who didn’t appear in this part of the meeting, but would otherwise have been useful.

While terms and glossaries were clearly the topics most intensely discussed, it became clear that semantic and context knowledge is crucial for interpreters to get a grasp of the situation they are working in. For as much as I appreciate a list of extracted terms from a meeting document as a last minute preparation, there is no such thing as understanding the content people are referring to. Hence my enthusiasm about the fact that the different semiotic levels (terms, content, context) did come up in the discussion. And indeed the notes I took while listening to the speech reflect the same thing: sometimes my doubts or reflections were simply about terms (how do you say co-formulant or low risk active substances in German), some about the situation (Can beer and talc be on the list of basic substances? Is the non-native speaker sure that this is the right word?) and some about meaning (What exactly is a candidate for substitution?).

It was also very interesting to see how different ways of preparing a meeting turned out to be useful in the meeting. Obviously, there is not just one way to success in meeting preparation.

Among the software features participants would like to see to support the information and knowledge work in conference interpreting, there seemed to be a wide consensus that term extraction and markup of glossary terms in meeting documents – like InterpretBank and Intragloss offer – are extremely useful. Text summarisation was also mentioned. Several participants found InterpretBank’s speech to text integration (based on Dragon) very interesting, but unfortunately, due to practical restraints we couldn’t test this.

When it comes to search functions, it is crucial that intuitive searching is possible in the relevant (!) documents and sources. Relevance seems to be an important factor in conference preparation. What with the abundance of information available nowadays, finding out what is really useful is key. However, many of the big international organisations like EU, UN and WTO do have very useful document management systems in place which help to find one’s way around.

From a freelancer’s perspective, I think that organizations should rather go for browser-based, i.e. device-independent systems to support their interpreters. This lowers the entry barrier of having to install something on each computer, apart from facilitating mobile access and online collaboration. Although I must say that I do also fancy the idea of a small plugin that works in any software, like my most recent discovery, GT4T. At least as freelancers, we change settings so often (back and forth from personal computers to mobile devices, Excel sheets, shared Google docs, paper, institutional information management systems etc.) that a self-contained environment for conference interpreters is maybe too clumsy and unrealistic. After all, hotkeys seem to be back in fashion: I also heard from the WTO colleagues that they have developed a tool quite along the same lines, creating special hotkeys for translators.

And finally, my favourite newly learnt word: Backcronym

Backronyms are acronyms that used to be normal words and were re-interpreted later. While translators have a chance to think twice or recognise the word as a backronym because it is written in capitals, interpreters may struggle much more with this. It may take us a moment or two to figure out that the sentence „we need to do what PIGS do“ refers to a „Professional Interpreters‘ Gymnastics Society“ rather than an animal.

Further reading:

Workhop Presentation (pdf) JIAMCATT 2018 Tools for Interpreters

Teresa Ortego Antón (2015): Terminology management tools for conference interpreters: an overview. In: Eleftheria Dogoriti  Theodoros Vyzas (editors): International Journal of Language, Translation and Intercultural Communication, Vol 5 (2016), Editors: Technological Educational Institute of Epirus, Greece. 107-115.

Hernani Costa, Gloria Corpas Pastor, Isabel Durán Muñoz (LEXYTRAD, University of Malaga, Spain): A comparative User Evaluation of Terminology Management Tools for Interpreters. In: Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on Computational Terminology, 23 August 2014, Dublin, Ireland. 68-76
Anja Rütten (2017): Terminology Management Tools for Conference Interpreters –
Current Tools and How They Address the Specific Needs of
Interpreters. In: Translating and the Computer 39, Proceedings, 16-17 November 2017, AsLing, The International Association for Advancement in Language Technology, London, England. 98 ff