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.

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

 

 

You love keyboard shortcuts? Meet GT4T!

GT4T – key shortcuts made for translators and interpreters

(for German and Spanish, scroll down)

If you asked me, everyone should learn key shortcuts at school together with their ABC. Once memorised, they are so convenient to use … unlike buttons on the screen, you just feeeeel them without having to look. It seems like this need for haptic feedback is quite human, by the way, as researchers are working on virtually emulating haptic feedback, and not only on touchscreens, for that matter.

Now, at least for translators and interpreters working with Windows, a new dimension is brought to the world of keyboard shortcuts: With GT4T, Cao Shou Guang (aka Dallas) from China has created a tool which is both simple and brilliant. By pressing CTRL+D, GT4T looks up words in different online dictionaries like Linguee, Glosbe, Microsoft Terminology, Wordreference and others, plus your personal glossary, and shows the results in one small popup window. If you want to see the search results right on the respective website (which is quite nice especially for Linguee with its valuable context display), you simply hit the O key.

Pressing CTRL+Win+D lets you look up the selected word in your GT4T glossary only, or open and edit this glossary – a very simple table indeed – in Excel. You can easily copy and paste your glossaries into this file, and it comes in really handy when preparing for a conference. Translations found with STRG+D (or otherwise) can be added to this personal glossary by pressing the A key, existing glossaries can be copied into this table, and of course the other way around.

What is more, pressing CTRL+J replaces the selected text by a machine translation from a preset source of your choice (e.g. Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, DeepL and others). Or you press CTRL+Win+J to get a list of translations from the different systems. Maybe that’s not exactly the most important feature in the life of a conference interpreter, but still I find it extremely interesting to check and compare the translations of the different machine translation systems from time to time.

GT4T works in any program, be it MS Word, Excel, Access, your browser, Google Docs or Sheets, or a Translation Memory system. This is great for conference interpreters, who have to switch between programs all the time as documentation may come in any possible format the digital world has to offer.

Unfortunately, this tools only works with language pairs, so if you interpret from or into more than one language (or you work back and forth between German and Spanish, but the documents are in English), you have to change settings all the time. It is not much hassle, but I will probably find it distracting when working in the booth. I absolutely missed IATE as an online dictionary option when I first tested GT4T, but when I emailed Dallas about it, it took him very few days to implement muy suggestion. I would also like to be able to look up phrases consisting of more than one word (e.g. “Best Available Techniques” or “Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid”). Theoretically, GT4T can look these up, the problem seems to be rather that not all online dictionaries contain such complex entries. And that’s about all I have to criticise after my first round of testing. After all, CTRL+D comes completely naturally to me – what more could one ask for?

More information and download:

Tutorial

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.

GT4T – Tastenkombinationen für Übersetzer und Dolmetscher

Tastenkombinationen sollten meiner Meinung nach in der Schule gleich zusammen mit dem ABC gelernt werden – einmal verinnerlicht, kann man sie im Unterschied zu einer Schaltfläche auf dem Bildschirm ohne viel Nachdenken blind spüren erspüüüüüüren. Offensichtlich zutiefst menschlich, dieses Bedürfnis nach haptischem Feedback, an dessen virtueller Nachbildung man nicht nur für Touchscreens eifrig forscht (http://www.zeit.de/2018/09/haptik-digitalisierung-forschung-sinneseindruecke).

Nun tun sich es zumindest für die Windows-Nutzer unter den Sprachmittlern in Sachen noch einmal ganz neue Welten auf: Cao Shou Guang (auch Dallas genannt) aus China hat mit GT4T ein so einfaches wie geniales Tools entwickelt – entdeckt im MDÜ 1/2018 –, welches das Nachschlagen in verschiedenen Online-Wörterbüchern und maschinellen Übersetzungssystemen per Tastenkombination in jeder beliebigen Programmumgebung ermöglicht. Egal, ob in Word, Excel, Access, Google Sheets, Airtable, Powerpoint, Browser, oder in einer Translation-Memory-Umgebung:

Mit STRG+D erhält man für das markierte Wort Nachschlageergebnisse aus verschiedenen Online-Wörterbüchern (Linguee, Glosbe, Microsoft Terminology, Wordreference u.a.) oder dem eigenen GT4T-Glossar in einem kleinen Popup-Fenster angezeigt. Möchte man die Ergebnisse direkt auf der entsprechenden Webseite sehen (was bei Linguee mit den Kontextinformationen nicht zu vernachlässigen ist), drückt man einfach die O-Taste.

Mit STRG+Win-D kann man gezielt im GT4T-Glossar nachschlagen. Dieses GT4T-eigene Glossar ist eine einfache Tabelle und in der Dolmetschvorbereitung sehr praktisch, denn dort kann man mit STRG-D (oder anderweitig) gefundene Übersetzungen durch Drücken der Taste A hinzufügen. ­

Richtig nett wird es, wenn ich schon ein Glossar bspw. für einen bestimmten Kunden besitze, das zuvor in das GT4T-Glossar einkopiere und ganz bequem nachschlagen kann. Oder mein mit GT4T erstelltes Glossar den Kollegen schicken oder mit STRG+C und STRG+V in das Google-Teamglossar (link) oder eine andere tabellenartige Datenbank einfügen kann.

Mit STRG+J wird der ausgewählte Text sofort durch eine maschinelle Übersetzung aus einer vorher ausgewählten Quelle ersetzt.

Mit STRG+Win+J erhält man eine Auswahl verschiedener MT-Vorschläge, etwa von Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, DeepL oder anderen. Und wenn dies im Alltag eines Dolmetschers vielleicht nicht das wichtigste aller Features ist, so finde ich es doch spannend, die Varianten der verschiedenen Systeme zu vergleichen.

Leider funktioniert das Tool ähnlich wie ein TM nur mit Sprachenpaaren, d.h. wenn man mit mehreren Ausgangs- oder Zielsprachen dolmetscht oder auch nur das Vorbereitungsmaterial in unterschiedlichen Sprachen vorliegt, muss man die Sprachen umstellen Für den Schreibtisch ein bisschen lästig, aber ok – nur beim Simultandolmetschen wahrscheinlich etwas störend. Ich würde auch gerne nach Ausdrücken suchen, die aus mehr als einem Wort bestehen, so etwa „langkettige mehrfach ungesättigte Fettsäuren“ oder „beste verfügbare Technik“. Aber da liegt das Problem wohl weniger bei GT4T, sondern bei den Wörterbüchern, die nicht immer solche komplexen Mehrwortausdrücke im Angebot haben. Bei der Auswahl der Online-Wörterbücher habe ich beim Testen IATE vermisst. Aber als ich das Dallas schrieb, hatte er die Änderung binnen weniger Tage umgesetzt! Und viel mehr finde ich spontan nicht zu meckern. STRG+D ist mir jedenfalls schon jetzt in Fleisch und Blut übergegangen – und was will man schon mehr?

Mehr Infos und Download:

Tutorial

 

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.

Atajos de teclado hechos para traductores e intérpretes

Según yo, los atajos de teclado se tendrían que aprender juntamente con el abecedario. Una vez memorizados, resultan super útiles … simplemente se pueden sentir a ciegas, sin tener que pensarlo, o buscarlo en la pantalla. Por lo visto es muy humano este deseo de tener un feedback háptico, pues los científicos están trabajando en emularlo de forma virtual en muchas situaciones, y no solo en las pantallas táctiles.

Ahora, por lo menos para los usuarios de Windows entre los traductores e intérpretes, hay buenas noticias: Cao Shou Guang (alias Dallas) de China creó una herramienta tan sencilla como genial: nada más pulsando CTRL+D, el programa GT4T busca la palabra seleccionada, consultando varios diccionarios en línea a la vez, entre ellos Linguee, Glosbe, Microsoft Terminology, Wordreference, y muestra las diferentes traducciones en una pequeña ventana popup. Para abrir la página web respectiva con los resultados de búsqueda (lo que resulta muy útil para ver los contextos en Linguee.com), simplemente se pulsa la tecla O.

Con CTRL+Win+D se puede buscar la palabra seleccionada solo en el glosario GT4T propio, o abrir el mismo y editarlo en Excel. Este glosario es una tabla muy sencilla, y resulta muy fácil copiar y pegar glosarios ya existentes a esta tabla. A la hora de preparar textos para una conferencia es súper útil. También los términos encontrados mediante la búsqueda con STRG+D (o de otra forma) se pueden añadir muy fácilmente pulsando la tecla A. Y claro que también al revés se puede copiar el glosario GT4T a otra tabla, como por ejemplo un glosario compartido. GT4T funciona con cualquier programa, ya sea en MS Word, Excel, Access, el navegador, Google Docs o Sheets, o un programa de memoria de traducción.

Es más: con CTRL+J, el texto seleccionado se sustituye directamente por una traducción automática de un sistema preseleccionado (puede ser Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, DeepL y otros). O se pulsa CTRL+Win+J para ver una lista de posibles traducciones provenientes de diferentes sistemas de traducción automática. Y aunque esta no es precisamente la función más importante en la vida de una intérprete de conferencias, de vez en cuando me parece muy interesante ver y comparar lo que sugieren las diferentes máquinas como traducción.

Desafortunadamente, esta herramienta funciona con pares de idiomas, o sea cuando uno trabaja con más de dos idiomas en una conferencia (o trabaja entre dos idiomas y la documentación viene en un tercer idioma, como el inglés), hace falta cambiar los idiomas en las configuraciones. Aunque no es nada complicado, en cabina sí que es un poco molesto.

Lo que más extrañé en este programa era IATE como diccionario en línea. Pero cuando se lo sugirió a Dallas, ¡pocos días después ya lo tenía implementado! Otra cosa que me llamó la atención era que resulta dificil encontrar expresiones de varias palabras, como por ejemplo „ácidos grasos poliinsaturados de cadena larga“ o „Mejor Técnica Disponible“. Pero, por lo visto,  el problema es que muchas veces los diccionarios no contienen muchas de estas expresiones medio complejas. Y por ahora no se me ocurren más cosas que criticar después de mis primeras pruebas. Al final, ya tengo el CTRL+D completamente automatizado – ¿qué más se puede esperar?

Para saber más y descargar el programa:

Tutorial

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.

 


selection of GT4T shortcuts | Auswahl von GT4T Tastaturkürzeln | selección de atajos de teclado GT4T

CTRL+j – replace text by MT

CTRL+WIN+j – check several MT

CTRL+D – check several online dictionaries

CTRL+Win+D – SimpleGlossary feature

Useful key shortcuts for anyone | Nützliche Tastenkombinationen für jedermann | Atajos de teclado útiles para todo el mundo

CTRL+S – Save/Speichern/Guardar

CTRL+F – Find/Suchen/Buscar

CTRL+Z – Undo/Rückgängig/Deshacer

CTRL-A – Select all/Alles auswählen/Seleccionar todo

CTRL+C – Copy/Kopieren/Copiar

CTRL+X – Cut/Ausschneiden/Cortar

CTRL+V – Paste/Einfügen/Pegar

Alt+Tab – skip to next open program window/ Cambiar entre programas abiertos

Cleopatra: an App for Automating Symbols for Consecutive Interpreting Note-Taking – Guest Article by Lourdes de la Torre Salceda

+++ For Spanish scroll down +++

The perfect symbol has just come to mind! I’ve been racking my brain for ages and I got it, finally! I’ve been inspired! But where should I write it down, now that I’m sunbathing on the beach!

Has something similar ever occurred to you? As a millennial the first thing I did was to look for an app that could help me in that situation. I opened Google Play and… Surprise! Nobody had created it yet! That’s how Cleopatra was born. Born from the daily needs of a future master student in conference interpreting. Though my journey at Pontifical University Comillas hadn’t as yet started, I had already chosen a subject for my MA Thesis. I fondly recall the moment I explained the idea to my MA thesis director, Lola Rodríguez Melchor. With something between curiosity and scepticism, she asked cautiously: “Do you know anything about how to develop smartphone apps?” I answered: “Well, not yet. But if I take into account the huge amount of apps on the market, I don’t see why I couldn’t create one. I don’t think that every creator of an app must be a genius.” Lola helped me a lot to outline my idea for Cleopatra and I’m deeply thankful to her.

However, even before the app idea came to mind, I already had chosen its name. Perhaps you are wondering: but how could you choose a name before you even invented it? Let me explain: Like many others, I sometimes struggle to fall asleep at night; this meme neatly summarizes the problem:

Whenever I cannot sleep, I usually listen to a SER Historia podcasts. On one of those sleepless nights, somebody was talking about Cleopatra and I thought to myself: Cle-o-pa-tra… what a wonderful sonority and what an elegant woman! I should take advantage of her name somehow in the future. Her name is well-known universally and any variation of it in other languages is minimal. While developing the idea for the app, I quickly connected the dots. Cleopatra was polyglot, as are many interpreters, and historically she is linked to hieroglyphs, stylized pictures containing information that is not readable by everybody, just like interpreters’ symbols!

How Cleopatra works

Cleopatra  is the first smartphone app created for consecutive interpreting professionals. It has four main features: symbols storage, saved symbol checking, training mode, and a quiz.

  • CREATING SYMBOLS

The user can store his or her triads here. A triad comprises a concept, a symbol, and an explanation for the symbol. You can define the concept and explain it in the dedicated space via the virtual keyboard, and you can draw the symbols with your finger on the virtual notepad. Easy, right?

  • SYMBLARY or Library of Symbols

In order to look up a triad, users should tap on Selecciona un concepto. A list including all their saved concepts will appear. When selecting a concept, users will view what we see in this picture: in the upper-central part you can find the explanation of the symbol, and in the centre the symbols drawn by the interpreter for the chosen concept. At the bottom of the screen, you see three icons: the first –– the back-to-menu button; the second–– a quick-access button to Crear Símbolo; and the third, with which users can delete either one triad or the whole library of symbols.

  • TRAINING

This is the key feature of Cleopatra. Thanks to this feature, interpreters will be able to automate symbols and so, when needed, write or read them swiftly. Cleopatra has a stable academic basis and targets performance improvement during note-taking thanks to task decomposition and deliberate practice in symbol automation.

According to Gile (1995, 159-195) mental energy is paramount for consecutive interpreters. It is only available in limited supply and where processing capacity is lower than required, saturation can trigger quality deterioration. Furthermore, in his Tightrope Hypothesis, Gile warns that interpreters often work too close to saturation point. In order to protect an interpreter’s mental energy flow, some tasks should be automated.

Ericsson (2000-2001, 195-196) reveals that the secret to reaching expertise level in our field is practice, but it must be deliberate. It should be organised to improve specific aspects that guarantee the durability of the changes required.

Cleopatra is also based on deliberate practice for automating one of the elements that shapes consecutive note-taking (symbols). Regarding task decomposition, Gillies (2013) published a book in which he provided isolated training exercises for the component elements constituting conference interpreting in order to attain a comprehensive improvement in all interpreting skills. Likewise, Gillies (2005, 6-8) adduces that the complexity in the first phase of consecutive interpreting requires a high demand of mental energy, for all mental operations are operating simultaneously. During the second phase, clarity in our notes is crucial because our processing capacity dedicated at decoding them depends on the notes. In order to protect our limited mental energy, we should learn how to perform the same tasks but consume less mental energy; we can attain this goal by automation. Gillies maintains that if we succeed in reducing the mental energy required for those tasks, by automating them, the time and energy spared could be invested in other tasks. He affirms that any attempt to reduce the efforts required in taking good notes will positively impact both phases of consecutive interpreting.

To summarize: thanks to this easy and habit-forming game, interpreters will be able to train themselves to automate symbol with the aim of reducing their efforts during note-taking and note-reading. Consequently, they will be able to spare themselves, for they won’t have to think much about how to write what, and the energy they save can be invested in other tasks and/or of steering away from saturation point.

  • INTERPRETERS’ CULTURE

Can you imagine a Trivial Pursuit specifically for interpreters? Cultura del intérprete is designed with this in mind. It is a quiz with three possible answers, only one of which is correct, about many important issues for interpreters. The questions relate to geopolitics, institutions, political personalities, economy, sports and so forth. Most of the questions are atemporal (where is the Gaza Strip located?), but there are also questions about current circumstances (which country is currently holding the rotating Presidency at the Council of the EU?).

With Cleopatra, interpreters can store their symbols in an organized way, whenever and wherever they want. Of course, jotting down symbols on a piece of paper is also useful, but I think it is now time to draw symbols on our smartphones for storage purposes. For those who like to play games in their spare time, what better way of enjoying it than by revising your out-dated symbols. Cultura del intérprete quiz can be useful for users to learn or consolidate concepts and perhaps even to delve into the questions proposed autonomously. To date, the app has had a huge success, with already more than 200 Cleopatra sets in use around the globe.

Stop noting your symbols on paper-napkins and download Cleopatra now!

Currently, the app is just available for Android and costs only 0,99 €. In September 2017, I became an associate of Interpreters’ Help, and Cleopatra became part of IH. Soon Yann and Benoît (IH co-founders) will develop a version of Cleopatra for iOS. I’d like to take this opportunity given by Anja Rütten to introduce for the first time one of the next Interpreters’ Help features: The Symblary of Alexandria. On this platform, Cleopatra and/or Interpreters’ Help users will be able to contribute to the community through their symbols. With this collaborative space, every time interpreters need inspiration, we will be able to access to the Symblary of Alexandria in order to consult what symbols other community members are using for a given concept. Great feature, isn’t it? For those who may not know, at IH we already have a similar concept with the Glossary Farm. It is a space where interpreters publish and share their glossaries.

To sum up, I’d like to share with you this last picture on Cleopatra so that you know the meaning of Cleopatra’s icons. If you would like to download Cleopatra, or for further information about the app, please follow this link.


Cleopatra, la app para entrenarse en la automatización de símbolos para la toma de notas en interpretación consecutiva

¡Se me acaba de ocurrir el símbolo perfecto! Llevaba muchísimo tiempo buscándolo y, por fin, he encontrado la inspiración, ¡a ver dónde lo apunto ahora que estoy tomando el sol en la playa!

¿Alguna vez te ha pasado algo parecido? ¡A mí también! y yo, como buena millennial, lo primero que hice ante tal situación fue buscar una aplicación que me solucionase la papeleta. Entré en Google Play y… ¡sorpresa, nadie la había creado aún! Así nació Cleopatra, de una necesidad cotidiana de una futura estudiante de máster de interpretación de conferencias. Mi andadura en la Universidad Pontificia de Comillas aún no había empezado y ya tenía escogido el tema para mi trabajo de fin de máster. Recuerdo, con mucho cariño, el momento en que le expliqué mi idea a Lola Rodríguez Melchor, mi directora del trabajo de fin de máster. Creo que con una mezcla de curiosidad y escepticismo, me preguntó cautamente: ¿pero tú sabes desarrollar aplicaciones? yo, básicamente, le contesté: bueno, aún no, pero habida cuenta de todas las apps que hay en el mercado, no sé porqué yo no podría crear una. No creo que todo el que haya creado una app sea un genio. Lola me ayudó muchísimo a perfilar mi idea de Cleopatra y le estoy muy agradecida.

Pero eso no fue lo más precoz porque, incluso, antes de que se me ocurriera la idea, ya tenía pensado el nombre. Quizá te preguntes: ¿pero cómo vas a haber escogido el nombre de la app antes de concebirla?, pues te lo explico: yo, al igual que mucha gente, hay noches en las que me cuesta dormir, este meme resume muy bien lo que me suele ocurrir:

Cuando no puedo conciliar el sueño, suelo escuchar algún podcast de SER Historia y, en una de esas noches de insomnio, en mi programa de radio preferido se habló sobre Cleopatra. Enseguida pensé: Cleopatra, ¡qué sonoridad y qué elegante era esa mujer! Esto lo tengo que aprovechar de alguna manera. Ese nombre es mundialmente reconocido y su variación en otros idiomas es mínima. Así que cuando tuve la idea de crear la app, até cabos rápidamente. Resulta que Cleopatra era una mujer políglota, al igual que muchas intérpretes; además se le asocia a los jeroglíficos, que son dibujos que contienen información que no todo el mundo sabe interpretar, exactamente igual que nuestros símbolos.

Cómo funciona Cleopatra

Cleopatra es la primera aplicación móvil creada para los profesionales de la interpretación consecutiva. Dispone de cuatro funciones principales: almacenamiento de símbolos, consulta de símbolos guardados, modo entrenamiento y juego de preguntas y respuestas.

  • CREAR SÍMBOLO

Aquí es donde el usuario puede registrar sus triadas. Una triada consiste en un concepto, un símbolo y una explicación de este último. El concepto y la explicación se deben escribir en los espacios habilitados con el teclado virtual y el símbolo se dibuja con el dedo sobre la libreta virtual. Fácil, ¿verdad?

  • SIMBOLOTECA

Para que el usuario pueda consultar una de sus triadas, primero, debe pulsar en Selecciona un concepto; después le aparecerá una lista con todos los conceptos que haya guardado y, al seleccionar uno de ellos, verá lo que se muestra en la imagen: en la zona central-superior queda representada la explicación del símbolo y en la parte central, el símbolo que el intérprete dibujó para el concepto previamente escogido. En la parte inferior de la pantalla, se aprecian tres iconos: el primero es para volver al menú de inicio, el segundo consiste en un botón de acceso rápido a Crear Símbolo y, mediante el tercero, el usuario puede borrar o bien una triada, o bien toda la Simboloteca.

  • ENTRENAMIENTO

 

Esta es la función estrella de Cleopatra. Gracias a ella el intérprete podrá automatizar sus símbolos para que, a la hora de la verdad, los escriba y los lea a toda pastilla. Y no lo digo por decir, Cleopatra tiene una fundamentación académica bastante estable, a mi juicio. Con ella se pretende alcanzar una mejora del rendimiento en la toma de notas gracias a la descomposición de tareas y a la práctica deliberada en automatización de símbolos.

Según Gile (1995, 159-195), la interpretación consecutiva es una disciplina en la que los recursos mentales del profesional desempeñan un papel primordial. Estos son finitos y cuando la capacidad de procesamiento disponible es inferior a la necesaria, se produce la saturación, lo que acarrea una pérdida de calidad en la prestación. Además, con su teoría de la cuerda floja, nos advierte de que el intérprete a menudo trabaja cerca de dicha saturación. Para poder salvaguardar el caudal de recursos mentales, con el fin de poder satisfacer las necesidades requeridas, determinadas tareas se pueden automatizar.

Ericsson (2000-2001, 195-196), nos revela que el secreto para alcanzar el nivel experto en nuestro campo no es otro que la práctica y esta ha de ser deliberada. Además, debe orientarse a mejorar aspectos específicos que garanticen la durabilidad de los cambios alcanzados.

Por otro lado, Cleopatra se basa en la práctica deliberada para automatizar uno de los elementos que conforman la toma de notas para consecutiva (los símbolos). Con respecto a la descomposición de tareas, Gillies (2013) ha publicado todo un libro en el que da a conocer ejercicios para entrenarse de forma aislada en los distintos elementos que forman la interpretación de conferencias y alcanzar, así, una mejora de la pericia interpretativa en su conjunto. Igualmente, Gillies (2005, 6-8) aduce que lo complejo de la primera fase de la consecutiva es que supone una gran demanda de recursos mentales, pues todas las operaciones se ejecutan a la vez. Por otro lado, durante la segunda fase, la claridad de las notas es crucial, ya que de ella depende la capacidad de procesamiento destinada a descifrarlas. Para proteger nuestros recursos mentales finitos, debemos aprender a desempeñar la misma tarea, pero consumiendo menos recursos mentales y eso se alcanza gracias a la automatización. El autor declara que si se consigue que dichas tareas requieran menos esfuerzo intelectual, por estar automatizadas, el tiempo y la capacidad se podrán emplear en otras tareas. Gillies concluye que cualquier reducción de esfuerzos que implique tomar buenas notas, tendrá efectos positivos en las dos fases de la interpretación consecutiva.

En resumen: gracias a este sencillo y adictivo juego, el intérprete podrá entrenarse en la automatización de sus símbolos para poder reducir sus esfuerzos durante la toma de notas y la lectura de las mismas. Así, la energía que ahorra, al no tener que pensar demasiado cómo escribe qué, podrá invertirse en otros esfuerzos y alejarse de la saturación.

  • CULTURA DEL INTÉRPRETE

¿Te imaginas un trivial para intérpretes? Pues la Cultura del intérprete es algo parecido. Se trata de un juego de preguntas con tres posibles respuestas para poder estar al día de muchas de las cuestiones relevantes para los intérpretes. Geopolítica, instituciones, personalidades políticas, economía, deportes… las preguntas versan sobre todos esos temas. Normalmente se trata de preguntas que no cambian con el paso del tiempo (dónde se encuentra la franja de Gaza), pero hay algunas que sí son exclusivamente de actualidad (qué país ostenta la actual presidencia de turno del Consejo de la UE).

Gracias a Cleopatra, el intérprete podrá guardar sus símbolos, de manera ordenada, donde quiera y cuando quiera. Creo que lo de apuntarse los símbolos en un hoja también es muy útil, pero ya va siendo hora de aprovechar nuestros teléfonos móviles para almacenar símbolos. Además, para aquellos que utilicen sus ratos muertos para echar una partida a un videojuego, ¿qué mejor que divertirse y refrescar los símbolos? Por su parte, las preguntas de la cultura del intérprete podrán servir al usuario para conocer o afianzar conceptos y quizá para profundizar de forma de autónoma sobre las cuestiones que se proponen. La app está teniendo mucho éxito, pues ya tenemos a más de 200 Cleopatrers repartidos por los cinco continentes.

¡Deja de escribir tus símbolos en servilletas y descárgate ya Cleopatra!

De momento la app solo está disponible para Android y cuesta 0,99 €. En septiembre de 2017 me asocié con Interpreters‘ Help y Cleopatra ha pasado a ser uno de los activos de IH. Dentro de poco Yann y Benoît (los fundadores de IH) desarrollarán Cleopatra para iOS. Me gustaría aprovechar la oportunidad que Anja me brinda para desvelar en primicia una de las próximas funciones de Interpreters‘ Help: La Simboloteca de Alejandría. Se trata de una plataforma en la que los usuarios de Cleopatra y/o Interpreters‘ Help podrán contribuir a la comunidad mediante sus símbolos. Así, cuando los intérpretes necesitemos inspiración, podremos acceder a la Simboloteca de Alejandría para ver qué símbolos se utilizan en la comunidad para algún concepto que nos interese. ¿A que mola?

Para terminar aquí os dejo una última imagen de Cleopatra para que sepáis el porqué de sus iconos. Para saber más sobre la app y para descargarla podéis encontrarla en este enlace.