Interpreting research

Books

Introducing Interpreting Studies 

Franz Pöchhacker

A very readable summary of the trends and developments in Interpreting Research since its inception not so very long ago.

Read a review of this book at AIIC

The Interpreting Studies Reader (Routledge Language Readers)


Franz Poechhacker and Miriam Schlesinger (editors)

A compilation of the most significant papers in the field of Interpreting Research. 

Read a review of this book at the Journal of Specialised Translation Studies

Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies 
by Franz Pöchhacker (Editor)

The ultimate book about interpreting research! Clear explanations of what research has shown about hundreds of interpreting-related headwords. Great book! But prohibitively priced!

Research papers from China

Consecutive Note-taking and Interpreter Training

Yasumasa Someya

Includes very interesting history of training in Japan (a system that is agency-run with graduates tied to the agency and yet a system that is very successful – imagine suggesting that in Europe!) and a summary in English of Michaela Albl-Mikasa’s very important PhD on Note-taking as an inter-language.

…in welchem Maße die zunehmend besser werdenden Leistungen der sich zu „Experten“ entwickelnden Studierenden auf eine weitere Verfeinerung der Notation zurückzuführen sind

To Know How to Suggest …: Approaches to Teaching Conference Interpreting

Dörte Andres & Martina Behr (eds.)

Great book for interpreter trainers, or anyone looking for a basic introduction to the history of interpreter training and research.

Read a review here

Journals & compilations

Interpreting Research Bulletin – CIRIN (compiled by Daniel Gile)

Meta 
(new issues under password, back catalogue free to view)

Reading about language

On this page you will a selection of texts that will help you to understand and improve your use of language as an interpreter. This is just a small selection of the books available about any of the languages below and is meant to encourage you to go out and find more rather than be an exhaustive list. There are also plenty of books worth reading in the hundreds of languages that are not listed here.

This page is also work in progress, so if you have found something you think should be here drop us a line.

Language acquisition

Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator training

Gile, Daniel, 1995, Benjamins.

Quite technical and aimed at teachers. Students will still find the book very useful – particulary the chapters on Fidelity and Language Acquisition

Read a review of this book in The International Journal of Interpreter Education

Polyglot: How I learn languages

Kato Lomb

This book was originally written in Hungarian by this pioneer of the interpreting profession in Hungary. It is a mixture of extremely useful ideas, homespun linguistics and entertaining, if outdated, anecdote.

The Art and Science of Learning Languages

Gethin & Gunnemark

A polygot (40+ languages) explains how to go about language learning effectively

 One of the 3 parts of this book is devoted to high-level language acquisition for conference interpreters.

Read a review of this book by The Interpreter Diaries

Lesen Sie ein Rezension dieses Buches bei der MDÜ – Fachzeitschrift für Dolmetscher und Übersetzer

Maintaining Your Second Language

Maintaining Your Second Language:
practical and productive strategies for translators, teachers, interpreters and other language lovers

Eve Lindemuth Bodeux

English

Metaphors we live by

Lakoff and Johnson.

A standard text in linguistics this is a great insight into the metaphor of the English language. Time is not money….until you say it is.

The English Verb

Michael Lewis. LTP Brighton.

English grammar and that of its verbs has always been described using the structures and terminology of Latin, which is totally unsuited to the task. Lewis takes an empirical look at how verbs are used and rewrites the rules so we can understand what verbs actually mean. Brilliant.

Mother Tongue

Bill Bryson

A jovial wander through the language and its vagaries.

The English Language

David Crystal

English in its many guises, where it comes from, where its going. Fun pop-linguistics

The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English

An absolute masterpiece of a dictionary of collocations in English.

English & Français

La Stylistique comparée du français et de l’anglais

Vinay et Darbelnet

One of the definitive texts of French-English translation for over 50 years.

Also available in English

Français

A Linguistic Handbook of French for Translators and Language Students


Paul Boucher

“in-depth contrastive study of French and English based on recent theories of linguistics and discourse analysis.”

Ainsi parlent les Français

Julie BARLOW (Auteur, Traducteur), Jean-Benoît Nadeau

An English woman (who learnt French) and her francophone Canadian husband offer an incredibly insightful look at French… as only someone outside looking in could!

Tu parles bien la France

Julien Barret

“Il n’est pas question de se lancer dans un énième livre pour stigmatiser les usages de l’époque, il s’agit de décrire la langue d’un point de vue de linguiste et de faire entendre qu’elle doit servir sans asservir. “

Petite histoire de la langue française

Karin Ueltschi,

“Aujourd hui, dit-on… le bon usage se meurt, le respect n’est plus, le cancre se rebiffe et fait école, la décadence est à nos portes… Mais, nous rappelle Karin Ueltschi, notre prestigieux français…. n’a jamais cessé d’engendrer inquiétudes et polémiques. et constamment, les disputes … ont resurgi au gré des modes et des générations qui se sont succédé durant des siècles.”

Deutsch

Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod

Bastian Sick

“…Doch es geht nicht nur um Genitiv oder Dativ, sondern noch um viele andere Zweifelsfälle im Gebrauch der deutschen Gegenwartssprache; denn das Büchlein versammelt die Sprachglossen der wöchentlich erscheinenden SPIEGEL-ONLINE-Kolumne »Zwiebelfisch«.

Was ist deutsch?

Hans-Dieter Geleert

 “Hans-Dieter Gelfert geht in diesem Buch den Formkräften der deutschen Mentalität nach, die sich in der deutschen Sprache und der kulturellen Überlieferung über lange Zeiträume hinweg niedergeschlagen haben”

Polski

Successful Polish-English Translation: Tricks of the Trade

Aniela Korzeniowska, Piotr Kuhiwczak

“Niezastapiony podrecznik dla wszystkich osób, pragnacych rozwijac swe umiejetnosci translatoryczne.”

O przekładzie na przykładzie : rozprawa tłumacza z “Europą” Normana Daviesa

Elżbieta Tabakowska

“Autorka omawia po kolei poszczególne kategorie trudności, jakie napotykała jako tłumaczka; z zadziwiającą dbałością o szczegół wyjaśnia, w jaki sposób roztrząsano i rozwiązywano liczne językowe zagadki”

Jezyk Trzeciego Tysiaclecia

Zbior referatow o wspolczesnym stanie jezyka polskiego. (Np jezyk w reklamach)

Ojczyna Polszczyzna

Jan Miodek

Rozbawia i informuje uczacych sie polskiego cudcoziemcow, przestrasza polskie dzieci. 

Ciekawostki gramatyczne i ich wyjasnienia z jezyka Mickiewicza.

Coping tactics

This extract is taken from pages 191-201 of Daniel Gile’s excellent Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator training, 1995 & 2009, Benjamins of Amsterdam.

Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator training 1995 & 2009

Coping Tactics in Interpretation

Introduction

In spite of interpreters’ preparation strategies, problems do arise in interpreting situations (see Gile 1989) because of processing capacity limitations (as ex­plained in chapter 7), errors in processing capacity management, and gaps in the interpreters’ Knowledge Base. Many of these problems can be said to be unavoidable, as shown by the fact that they are encountered regularly even by interpreters with a solid reputation and long professional experience. Interpre­tation has been referred to by some professionals as “crisis management,” and in the light of interpreters’ daily experience, these are apt words to describe an aspect of interpreting which is virtually unknown to the public at large.
Difficulties affect both comprehension and production, often through failure sequences as explained in chapter 7. When interpreters are aware of such problems, they tend to use a rather small set of tactics to limit their impact.
Coping tactics are a very fundamental practical skill in interpreting. Basically, they are taught within the framework of practical exercises. In most training programs, this is done by trial and correction, with trial on the student’s part and corrections from the instructor. Such corrections are gener­ally normative; instructors sometimes refer to the communication impact of the tactics in order to explain their preferences, but are not necessarily aware of other factors which influence them.
This chapter attempts to provide instructors with a list of basic coping tactics for a general view of the issue. It also presents a conceptual framework which spells out the advantages and drawbacks of each tactic, and discusses a few rules which may help explain what makes interpreters prefer one tactic over the other beyond their individual merits.

Tactics in simultaneous interpretation

2.1 Comprehension tactics

The following are the main tactics used when comprehension problems arise, and when they threaten to arise under time-related or processing capacity­related pressure.

a. Delaying the response
When a comprehension difficulty arises, interpreters may respond immedi­ately with one of the other tactics presented below. However, they may also delay their response for a while (a fraction of a second to a few seconds), so as to have some time for thought while they receive more information from the source-language speech. After a while, they may have solved the problem entirely, or else they may decide to resort to another tactic.
Because of its very nature, the Delay tactic involves an accumulation of information in short-term memory, and is associated with the risk of losing speech segments in a failure sequence as outlined in chapter 7.

b. Reconstructing the segment with the help of the context
When interpreters have not properly heard or understood a technical term, name, number, or other type of speech segment, they can try to reconstruct it in their mind using their knowledge of the language, the subject, and, the situation (their extralinguistic knowledge).
The reconstruction process is an integral part of speech comprehension in everyday situations as well. It is defined as a tactic in the present context when it becomes a conscious endeavor, as opposed to an ordinary, subconscious process.
If successful, reconstruction can result in full recovery of the information. However, it may entail some waiting until more information is available and require considerable time and processing capacity. Like the Delay tactic presented above, it is associated with a high risk of saturation and individual deficits. Reconstruction from the context can therefore not be considered a high-priority tactic.

c. Using the boothmate’s help
In simultaneous interpretation, there are theoretically at least two interpreters in the booth at all times. One is active (producing a target-language speech), while the other is passive (listening, but not speaking). The passive colleague, who can devote full attention to listening, has a better chance of understanding difficult speech segments than the active interpreter, whose processing capac­ity is being shared by the three Efforts. Moreover, on the production side, the passive interpreter can consult a glossary or another document, which takes up much time and processing capacity, and then give the information to the active colleague, generally in writing. The presence of a passive interpreter in the booth is therefore a major asset to the active interpreter.
The active interpreter can ask for the passive colleague’s help with a glance or a movement of the head. In teams that work well, the passive interpreter will sense a hesitation in the active colleague’s speech and under­stand there is a problem. He or she can also anticipate problems and write down names, numbers, technical terms, etc., without even being asked for help. When the problem is terminological, the boothmate will generally indi­cate to the active interpreter the target-language term if possible, so that it can be used for reformulation. When the problem lies with a single word, name, or number, the passive boothmate can also write it down in the source language for the benefit of the active interpreter who did not hear it correctly. It is much more difficult, however, to explain an idea efficiently, because the active interpreter does not have time to read a long explanation.
This tactic is a very good one because it does not cost much in time and processing capacity, and pooling the knowledge and intelligence of two per­sons, one of whom does not have to divide attention between listening and other tasks, provides a better chance of finding the information than using the resources of only one person.


However, in order for the tactic to work, the passive interpreter must be not only physically present in the booth, but also available and willing to make the effort and help the active colleague. This situation does not always occur:
• Because of the intense effort involved in interpreting, interpreters strongly feel the need for rest. In teams composed of two members per target language, when conditions are difficult, interpreters tend to leave the booth as soon as they have finished their active duty and only return when they are on again, or else they may stay in the booth but shut themselves out and rest.
• In conferences in which papers are to be read, documents are often given to the interpreters at the very last moment, and presentations are allocated individually to each member of the team. In such a case, all interpreters are busy reading their paper or interpreting, and no help is available to the active interpreter from other team members.
• For psychological and sociological reasons, including the awareness of one’s weaknesses and some associated frustration, interpreters may feel vulnerable and not want other colleagues to sit with them and listen while they are working.
It is important for teachers to point out the practical value of cooperation between interpreters, as well as its importance in the framework of profes­sional ethics aiming at offering clients better service. The practical aspects of such cooperation, involving in particular large and legible handwriting, should also be stressed.


d. Consulting documents in the booth When there is no passive colleague in the booth, interpreters can look for solutions in documents they have before them.
The efficiency of this tactic varies greatly: looking for a term in a com­mercial dictionary may require much time and processing capacity, but finding an important word in a document that was read and marked before the confer­ence can be very fast. This is why it is important to pay attention to both the preparation of documents and their management in the booth. Instructors should show students how to make important names and terms stand out for quick reference, using highlighters or other means. Writing important techni­cal terms and names on a sheet of paper in front of the interpreter (beside the glossary prepared for the conference) is another way of making them readily available. In particular, documents should be laid out in the booth, sorted, and marked in such a way as to minimize the time needed to access them and to recognize their identification numbers or titles, possibly with different stacks for each language, sorted by numerical sequence, type of document, etc.


2.2 Preventive tactics


The following tactics are used when time or processing capacity pressure is such that the interpreter believes a problem may arise or is about to occur. The idea is to limit the risks of failure.


a. Taking notes When the speech contains figures and names that interpreters feel they may forget and that they cannot reformulate right away for syntactic reasons, they may take them down in notes. While affording greater security as regards the items which are taken down, this tactic entails a high cost in time and process­ing capacity, which increases the risk of losing other items of information that come before or after those written down (this is an interference phenomenon, as explained in section 3). The risk is reduced significantly when it is the passive colleague who writes the information for the active colleague.

It is interesting to note that when translating in simultaneous from and into Japanese, some Japanese interpreters take down not only numbers and names, but also other information which Westerners generally do not write (in this case, it is often the passive interpreter who takes down the information for the active colleague). The reason given by them is that syntactic structures differ greatly between Japanese and other (mostly Western) languages, which leads to much waiting before the reformulation of any specific part of a sentence, hence a possible overload of short-term memory and an increased risk of losing information (see chapter 9).


b. Changing the Ear-Voice Span
By changing the Ear-Voice Span (EVS), that is the time lag between compre­hension and reformulation, interpreters can control to a certain extent the processing capacity requirements for individual Efforts. By shortening the lag, they decrease short-term memory requirements, but deprive themselves of anticipation potential and run the risk of misunderstanding a sentence and driving themselves into target-language sentences which will be difficult to complete. By lagging further behind, interpreters increase comprehension potential, but may overload short-term memory.
Teachers sometimes advise students to try to lengthen or shorten their EVS in specific cases, but there does not exist a clear-cut, consistent theory or set of operational rules on the subject. It seems that EVS regulation is learned with experience; I believe that this is the single largest benefit derived from practice in simultaneous interpretation during initial training.


c. Segmentation
When faced with potential overload of memory, as with a source language and a target language that are syntactically very different, with embedded structures in the source language, or with unclear sentence structures, interpreters may choose to reformulate speech segments earlier than they would normally do, sometimes before they have a full picture of what the speaker wants to say. In such cases, they may resort to neutral sentence beginnings or segments in the target language that do not commit them one way or another. For instance, in a source-language sentence expressing a causal relationship such as:


Because of the complex character of equation (2) as shown above, com­pounded by the difficulty of finding a unique solution to equations (3) and (4) which correspond to a steady state system

the interpreter can say in the target-language something like:


Equation (2) as shown above is complex. Equations (3) and (4) describe a steady system. It is difficult to find a unique solution to them.

While interpreting these segments, he or she will keep in mind the causal nature of the relationship, which will eventually be expressed by “Therefore ….” Segmentation can save short-term memory capacity requirements by unloading information from memory faster. On the other hand, the very formulation of several grammatically complete short sentences instead of one may involve higher processing capacity requirements in the Production Effort. Recommendations should be given on a case-by-case basis.


d. Changing the order of elements in an enumeration
Enumerations are high-density speech segments that impose a high load on short-term memory. One tactic often observed consists of reformulating the last elements first so as to free memory from the information, and then to move on to other elements. To my knowledge, no analysis has yet been performed as to why this should reduce Memory Effort load. One possible explanation is that by reformulating the last elements first, it is possible to pick them up before they have been processed in depth and integrated fully into the semantic network, thus saving processing capacity. This tactic may work best with names, which can be reproduced from echoic memory (memory of the sound), or with terms which are easily transcoded; it may not be very effective if such elements cannot be transcoded or reproduced phonetically and require more processing capacity anyway.

2.3 Reformulation tactics

Gile includes reformulation tactics as part of coping tactics. They are detailed here

Reformulation tactics

This extract is taken from pages 197-199 of Daniel Gile‘s excellent “Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator training”, 1995, and is reproduced here without the kind permission of Benjamins of Amsterdam.

Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator training

2.3 Reformulation tactics

The following are tactics used in reformulation in order to eliminate the potential consequences of production problems or short-term memory problems. The first three are the same as presented in section 2.1 on comprehension tactics. 

a. Delaying the response

This is the same tactic as used in comprehension, the idea being that the waiting period is used for a subconscious (or conscious) search for the missing term or sentence structure. As with the case of comprehension, the waiting entails a risk of short-term memory overload, as well as a possible increase in processing capacity requirements in the Production Effort when the informa­tion is eventually reformulated-because of the backlog that has accumulated in the meantime. 

b. Using the boothmate’s help 

As can be inferred from the descriptions in section 2.1, the boothmate’s help is more often given in the form of indications for reformulation than as explana­tions of what was said, which is reasonable in view of the strict time constraints involved. 

c. Consulting documents in the booth

Whenever possible, documents are used in the booth for reformulation, in particular where glossaries and dictionaries are concerned. 

d. Replacing a segment with a superordinate term or a more general speech segment 

When interpreters find themselves incapable of understanding a speech seg­ment or reformulating it in the target language, one possible solution is to reformulate the message in a less accurate manner by using a superordinate in the case of a single word, or by constructing a more general segment in the case of a whole clause or sentence: “la streptokinase” may be reformulated as “the enzyme,” “Monsieur Stephen Wedgeworth” as “the speaker,” “deux cent trente trois millions” as “about two hundred and thirty million,” “DEC, IBM, Hewlett Packard et Texas Instruments” as “a number of computer vendors,” etc. 

This tactic, which requires little time, implies loss of information in the target-language speech. This, however, does not necessarily mean that the information is lost for the delegates; it may be repeated in another sentence in the speech, or be already known to the delegates. 

e. Explaining or paraphrasing

Interpreters may understand a term but not know the appropriate equivalent in the target language, in which case they can explain it. For instance, in one conference, the data processing term “tableur” (spreadsheet) was interpreted as “the program which defines rows and columns and allows calculations to be made.” 

This tactic can be efficient informationally but has two drawbacks: one is the large amount of time and processing capacity it requires, and the other is the fact that it may draw the delegates’ attention to the fact that the interpreter does not know the proper term in the target language, possibly lowering his or her credibility and reducing the impact of the speech accordingly. 

f. Reproducing the sound heard in the source-language speech 

When encountering a name or technical term which is not known or recog­nized, the interpreter may try to reproduce the sound as heard. This is not an “intelligent” tactic insofar as it does not call for complex cognitive operations, but it can be efficient: if they know the name or term, delegates may hear it as it should have been pronounced, without even noticing that the interpreter has a problem. On the other hand, the approximation may also be heard and perceived as a distortion of the information, which may not only generate loss of information, but also discredit the interpreter. 

g. Instant naturalization 

When interpreters do not know the appropriate term in the target language, they may naturalize the source-language term, adapting it to the morphologi­cal or phonological rules of the target language. For instance, in a conference, the term “télédétection” (remote sensing) was rendered in English as “telede­tection.” Similarly, the English computer term “driver,” as applied to a soft­ware program that helps operate a device such as a printer from a computer, or as applied to the physical unit that runs floppy diskettes, was translated into French as “driver” (pronounced “dreevair”), and into Japanese as “doraibâ.”

This tactic may prove very effective in three cases: 

1. When the source-language and target-language lexicons are mor­phologically similar, as for example is the case in English and French medical terminology.2. When there is much borrowing of terms in the particular field from the source language to the target language. This is the case in particular of data processing, where English is a loan language for most other languages. In these first two cases, the tactic often results in terms that actually exist in the target language, as such naturalization may have been conducted previously by experts who needed the terms for their daily activity (as in the case of the naturalized French version of “driver” cited above), and may have produced the same target-language creation. 3. When delegates read much material in the source language. In such a case, they often recognize the naturalized terms, which are likely to sound similar to the way they pronounce the words in the source language when reading. 

h. Transcoding

Transcoding consists of translating a source-language term or speech segment into the target language word for word. For example, in the field of accounting, the English term “maturity date,” the equivalent of which is “date d’échéance “, was interpreted as “date de maturité”. 

This tactic can be very efficient in the same cases as naturalization. Like naturalization, it can also lead to existing target-language terms; in various fields, many terms have been created by such transcoding by experts, just as many terms have been created by phonetic naturalization. Even when trans­coding does not lead to an existing target-language term, it may facilitate comprehension for the delegates because of the semantic indications the newly created term carries. For instance, in the field of dentistry, the English term “mandibular block” (a type of anesthesia) was interpreted as “bloc mandi­bulaire”, whereas the appropriate term was “tronculaire”. Delegates said afterward they had no trouble understanding “bloc mandibulaire”, even though it bore no similarity at all with the appropriate French term.

Frequently asked questions

On this page two interpreters and interpreter-trainers, Daniel Gile and Mikołaj Sekrecki, answer your questions. For details of who they are have a look at the contributors page. In the meantime, a big thank you to Mikołaj and Daniel.

Daniel Gile

Mikołaj Sekrecki

Is it possible to be a good translator and a good interpreter at the same time ?

The skills are not exactly the same, and some authors in the literature have claimed that it is not possible, but there is no incompatibility between the skills of translators and interpreters, and many people do both, especially, but not only, in countries where there is little interpreting work.

Yes but in this job juggling moderation is strongly advised; one must have priorities and strive for a balance between the two. Translation no doubt makes an interpreter more versatile as for subject matters and more assured in handling a given language.

What language should one take notes (in consecutive) ?

The essential point to remember is that note-taking takes up attention and time at the expense of listening. One should therefore take notes in the language in which the notes come to the mind most easily, be it the source language, the target language or a third language. If it takes a fraction of a second more to find the appropriate target-language word or idiom when reformulating the speech in the target language, it does not really matter, because at that stage, you pace yourself, and do not run the risk of “losing” anything.

No pattern. As long as they are a boon and not a beast to an interpreter, they may be in any language or no language at all but cognitive representations (symbols). Key concepts, though, should be noted down in atarget language, even in full words, so that they stand out, as they are bound to appear in the interpretation

Is it useful to learn consecutive, while there is less and less work in consecutive ?

Firstly, it is not quite true that consecutive is disappearing from the market. Not only is it still strong in many areas, but it may become stronger as budgets shrink, and people become unwilling to pay for two or three interpreters plus a booth. Secondly, mastering consecutive is a good way of acquiring the proper approach to interpreting, including analysis of the source speech and separation between the two languages. While all consecutive-interpreting skills are not directly useful in simultaneous, some are, and are very important.

Yes, the big way. It keeps the brain working, facilitates text analysis, which is vital also outside interpreting (e.g. preparation for meetings often requires extensive reading), and is an intellectual challenge, which is always welcome. There are few better kicks out there than that stemming from an interpreter’s satisfaction with a good performance in long consecutive.

Must interpreters have a good memory ?

Not in the usual sense of the word. This is the myth. What they do is listen very carefully and very analytically, and can thus recall much more than people with the same memory abilities, but who listen in a less intense way.

That is highly recommended but a lack of it may be compensated by reliable notes. However, interpreters must be acutely aware of where they are, for whom they are doing a job, as well as what the purpose of communication is here and there. All this calls for remembering, for example, names of people and institutions. Generally, good memory also helps immensely in preparation for meetings, which is less time-consuming.

My interpreting performances vary greatly and am not sure that I am really improving. Is there something wrong with me ?

These fluctuations are experienced by many students, and probably have to do with the fact that interpreting stretches your cognitive abilities to the limit, so that any transitional weakness shows. Nevertheless, over time, with practice, you will find that your skills have improved.

Not necessarily, you are only human. However, if interpreting is your trade, you are supposed to be professional, i.e., among other things, good, so you should regularly take stock of your non-improvement and revise your strategies, which might have to be attuned to your individual profile. You will improve with true dedication and practice in place

Contributors

Webmaster at Interpreter Training Resources, Andy is a freelance interpreter, member of AIIC, who works at EU and European institutions as well as for private market clients. Based in Paris he has been involved in training interpreters in Poland, France, Canada and Germany, at the European Parliament and has written a number books for student interpreters. He teaches at ISIT in Paris. He is also creator and curator of the Interpreters CPD Resources website.

A big thank you to colleagues who have offered material for the site so far, and in alphabetical order…..

Benoit Cliquet aka Clic!

Munich based colleague Benoit Cliquet, aka Clic!, has created a book of entertaining cartoons, lampooning some of the traits that working interpreters will recognize in themselves and their colleagues. He’s kindly allowed ITR to use some of the cartoons here. Proceeds from Clic!’s book go to the AIIC Solidarity Fund.

Alex is half of the excellent TechforWord team and a founding member of the Troublesome Terps and can also be found in several training films from the EU Commission. He’s lending his technical and training know-how to ITR as an admin.

Chris Guichot de Fortis

…is senior staff interpreter at NATO and teaches interpreting at several Belgian interpreting schools. He is also one of the organisers of the renowned Cambridge interpreting course for interpreters. He has volunteered a number of excellent guides, in FR and EN:  acquiring and maintaining a B language;  shadowing for delivery skills ; a guide to practising; and difficultés psychiques de l’apprentissage. You’ll also find more of Chris’ training material at CCIConline.

Leading light in the world of interpreting research, curator of the CIRIN research network prolific author and experienced trainer of student interpreters Daniel offers some answers to students most frequently asked questions. You can also find an extract from Daniel’s excellent “…Concepts and Models” book here: The Gravitational Model of linguistic availability

Former head of the Polish booth at the European Parliament and senior member of the European Parlament’s interpreting Directorate General Anna is an experienced member of test juries at the EU institutions and she has offered a few pointers on getting through exams on the EXAM TIPS page

Guy Laycock

Guy is a staff interpreter at the EU Commission and has offered help and advice on a number of parts of the site but is too modest to claim the fame. Guy is a regular member of test juries at the EU institutions, so it is well worth checking out his very useful EXAM TIPS

Claudia Monacelli

Author of scientific papers but also a couple of very user friendly books on interpreting Claudia has volunteered a very useful set of questions aimed a getting to know your speaker

A teacher in a former incarnation, Jean-Jacques has taught at ESIT in Paris and is currently a staff interpreter at the Council of Europe. Jean-Jacques has compiled a list of tips for improving your knowledge of your working languages, loosely based on the Paris school, ESIT’s, well known booklet, Perfectionnement linguistique.

Lou is the brains and energy behind the fabulous A Word in your Ear interpreting vlog. She’s kindly donated some of the better photos that you’ll find on the ITR site.

Mikołaj Sekrecki

Mikołaj is based in Cracow Poland and has also taught at the Jagiellonian University’s interpreting school. He works from English and offers some answers to frequently asked questions.

Valerie worked for the UN and other international institutions from her base in Geneva before she moved to Australia where she has become a leading figure on the interpreting market there. 
She has written a book for student interpreters, Conference Interpreting – Practice and Principles”, extracts of which she has contributed to this site.
They deal with Booth Etiquette, a subject not always addressed on training courses, and Preparation. You can also visit Valerie’s home page.
Valerie has also offered a range of Tips for novice interpreters.

David Walker

David has been a staff interpreter at the European Parliament for the best part of 40 years, works from 5 EU languages including Greek.

He has compiled an invaluable preparation resource, his thematically ordered Guide to the Committees of the European Parliament which you can download here.
He has also shared some ideas of the use of register in interpreting and his latest offering is a ten part series on language learning – the Dekalog.

Alex Williams

Started out as a freelance interpreter in Geneva a few years ago and generously shares with us a few tips for finding your feet, and work, at the international institutions there.

Martin Wooding

…is a former staff interpreter of the European Parliament. Martin was editor of the EP’s interpreter bulletin, Lingua Franca, and was Head of Unit responsible for Enlargement and Multilingualism at the EP. He has reviewed Andrew Gillies’ book, Note-taking for Consecutive Interpreting, for this site.

Thanks too, of course, to the many colleagues who have included links to ITR on their own websites, who have offered suggestions and ideas on improving the site, and also to those whose material has been borrowed or summarized elsewhere on the site.

Language acquisition (Daniel Gile)

This extract is taken from pages 213-225 of Daniel Gile‘s excellent “Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator training”, 1995, and is reproduced here without the kind permission of Benjamins of Amsterdam.

Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator training 1995. Benjamins

3. The Gravitational Model of linguistic availability 

The exercises described above deal mainly with the active component of language mastery. Moreover, because of time constraints, they only involve a small part of the relevant vocabulary. When students are told to spend some time in a foreign country or to read for linguistic enhancement, they are generally not gi’ven detailed instructions on how to proceed. They are therefore often inefficient in their endeavors because their progress is left to chance. The Gravitational Model provides a conceptual framework for comprehension of phenomena and assessment of learning strategies. 

3.1 The baseline 

Student interpreters who are admitted into interpretation schools do have a “good knowledge” of all their working languages, although this knowledge is more often than not inferior to theoretical requirements as defined in section 1 of this chapter. Their initial level of language proficiency’ includes good command of basic rules of grammar, which are few in number (not more than a few hundred, depending on the language), although students may make occasional mistakes, especially due to interference from other working lan­guages and to high processing capacity requirements during interpretation. Lexical command, however, is highly variable. This is not surprising in view of the fact that an educated person’s vocabulary consists of several tens of thousands to more than a hundred thousand different words (see Aitchison 1987: 5-8). A small fraction of this vocabulary is encountered daily and a larger proportion rarely, depending on the individual’s living environment and professional and personal activities (see section 3.7). 

3.1.1 The lexical component 

In international conferences, speakers select their own words and language structures on the basis of choices determined by the grammar of the language concerned. Because of the relatively small number of rules involved, at least in the types of discourse heard in international conferences, speakers tend to use the same structures, except for some rare poetic or literary speeches. These structures are also familiar to interpreters. Lexical choices are much wider, however, and word preferences tend to vary. Hence significant lexical prob­lems, in terms of both comprehension and retrieval from long-term memory for speech production. It is important to note that in view of the extremely large and ever-increasing number of technical terms used in conferences, the lexical issue (in its terminological subset) remains important throughout a conference interpreter’s career.

More specifically, two types of lexical comprehension problems can arise in interpretation: 

Incoming source-language words are unknown to the interpreter, who therefore needs to perform a contextual and phonological and/or morpho­logical and/or etymological analysis in order to understand them. The analysis may result in full, partial, or no understanding. 

Incoming source-language words are known to the, interpreter, but are not familiar enough to be understood immediately and spontaneously, that is, fast enough and without conscious effort (see chapter 4). and their mean­ing may be misinterpreted. 

Similarly, two types of lexical production problems can occur in interpreta­tion: 

The target-language word required to express a concept is unknown to the interpreter, who therefore has to resort to another term or to a paraphrase. 

The required word is known to the interpreter, but is not available enough, that is, it does not surface fast enough or easily enough.

3.1.2 The syntactic component 

On the syntactic side, similar problems arise:

In comprehension, there should theoretically be no syntactic rules un­known to the interpreter in a working language. However, the speed of comprehension may vary, depending on knowledge of the language’s transitional probabilities (the probability that a certain type of word or group of words will be followed by another given type of word or group of words). 

In production, interpreters also know all the syntactic rules necessary to express themselves. but there may be significant differences in the avail­abilin, of these: it may take the interpreter more or less time and effort to make the appropriate syntactic decisions to start, continue., or finish sentences. 

3.2 The interpreter’s position as a speech producer and listener

In both comprehension and production, these problems are associated with an increase in protessing capacity and time requirements, which, as shown in the Effort Models M chapter 7, may lead to serious impairment of interpretation quality; hence t,~e importance of availability. This point is critically important, because a number of factors make speech production and speech comprehen­sion more difficult under conference interpretation conditions than in everyday life. 

3.2.1 Listeners and interpreters As explained in chapter 7, interpreters are generally in a position less favorable to comprehension than are listeners in most usual situations. 

In particular, during interpretation, attention-sharing reduces the capacity available for speech comprehension, and interference between between source language and target language also makes comprehension more difficult. 

The interpreter’s effort is therefore more intense than the delegates’ while it lasts; it is also longer lasting, since interpreters cannot rest as long as they are interpreting, while delegates may spend much of their listening time at a low level of attention. 

3.2.2 Speech producers and interpreters In simultaneous interpreting, the interference issue is more problematic in production than in comprehension. It requires an additional prevention and control effort (see inter alia Dejean Le Feal 1978 and Lederer 1981 a), which is another difficulty faced by interpreters and not by ordinary speakers. 

One point made earlier about interpreters’ position as listeners also ap­plies to their position as speakers: speakers in conferences talk about subjects they are familiar with, use terms that are part of their daily professional life, and often give a presentation they have prepared with ideas they have thought about carefully for hours, days, or even months or years; the interpreter knows less about the situation and the subject, and is also less familiar with the specialized terms and the speaker’s ideas. 

On the other hand, interpreters are professional speakers, and public speaking is part of their professional everyday life. Many conference partici­pants only rarely speak in public and are not used to the exercise. Moreover, interpreters use by definition working languages they know well, which is not always the case of speakers. Except for some stage fright, which interpreters learn to overcome with experience, they are generally not subjected to the same pressures as many speakers, who may have much at stake when they take the floor. There are cases where stage fright is strong for interpreters as well­important summit conferences, live interpretation on television, consecutive interpretation before a large audience-but these are generally not regular working conditions; when they are, interpreters develop more tolerance for the stress involved. 

Last but not least, technically sp eaking interpreters do not have to per­form the same speech-planning operations as speaker, since they follow the 

speaker’s speech. Not only do they not have to think about what ideas to express and in what order, or what linguistic style and register to use, but even syntactically and lexically they can often follow the speaker’s lead (which has both positive and negative implications, as discussed in section 2.2 of chapter 7).

It follows that on the whole, contrary to comprehension, which may be considered easier for the delegate most of the time, production may be either easier or more difficult for the interpreter, depending on the particular circum­stances. If for example the speaker is experienced, using his or her native tongue, speaking on a subject he or she knows well, and expressing well­rehearsed ideas, and if he or she takes the floor without much to gain or to lose, it may be assumed that the interpreter’s production task is more difficult. If, however, the speaker is taking part in an international conference for the first time, using a language he or she does not know very well, speaks on a subject he or she is not very familiar with, has not had time to prepare the presentation thoroughly, and knows his or her future may depend on the speech, his or her task can be more difficult than the interpreter’s. 

3.3 The Gravitational Model of linguistic availability In view of the importance of the lexical component of language skills in interpretation, an essentially lexicon-oriented model of language proficiency was developed. However, the Model is also applicable to syntactic and other linguistic rules. The Model represents the status of an individual’s oral or written command of a language at a particular point in time and in particular circumstances, by describing the relative availabiliy of lexical units and linguistic rules. 

The Model consists of a variable part and an invariable part. The latter refers to language elements the availability of which is assumed to be constant or to vary very slowly. This applies to the most basic rules of grammar (basic conjugations, the formation of plurals, etc.) and to a small number of the most frequently used words in the language. The variable part is larger by several orders of magnitude, as it includes at least dozens of rules and many thousands of words and idioms. 

In the diagram (Figure 1), the invariable part is represented by a Nucleus. The variable part is made of Words and Rules revolving on Orbits around the Nucleus. The term Words (capitalized) refers to lexical units such as individual words and idioms, as well as to frequently used phrases (“Thank you, Mister Chairman” and “Mister Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen” are typical exam­ples). Rules are all the linguistic rules that apply when words are selected, modified, and combined when linguistic utterances are constructed. Because of the general nature and intended didactic use of the Model in the classroom, I do not consider it useful to define Words and Rules further: the Model deals with tens of thousands of words and the general dynamics of the System rather than with precise, quantitative rules, and is used to character ize the interpret­ers’ language skills and requirements rather than measure them. If the Model is to be used for lexicometric purposes, Words and Rules { hereinafter Words ) will have to be defined more precisely, depending on the particular study it is used for.

Orbits represent various degrees of availability of the Words: the more distant an Orbit is from the Nucleus, the more processing capacity and the more time are required to access Words on that Orbit. 

Orbits belong to one of two concentric areas: the Active Zone, directly around the Nucleus, and the Passive Zone, which surrounds the Active Zone. The Active Zone is composed of Words which are available to the speaker (or writer) for Text production. The closer the Orbit is to the Nucleus, the easier and quicker the Words it carries are available to the speaker. The Passive Zone is composed of Words which the speaker understands, but which are not available for speech production. The closer an Orbit is to the Active Zone (and to the Nucleus), the faster and easier the comprehension of the Words on it. 

The distinction between the Active Zone and the Passive Zone may seem artificial, if only because active Words can generally also be understood and because any Word that has been understood can also be repeated, and can therefore be considered “active.” However, the dual System is helpful in representing dynamic trends of Words as outlined below, and can be quite accurate in representing situations in which there are Words which can be understood if used by another speaker, but are not available for expression. This may for instance be the case of Words that the subject has not learned, but can understand when they are first encountered because of their morphology or their similarity to Words he or she does know in another language (see the discussion of the Escort Effect in section 3.4). Another ease is that of Words which the speaker knows, but is reluctant to use for one reason or another. He or she: may not be sure that the Word is appropriate for the particular situation as regards style, level of politeness, etc.; may not be sure of the precise meaning of the Word; may fear that the Word that comes to mind is a faux ami (`false friend’, i.e. an unwanted intruder from another language which looks similar to a Word in the language intended to be used).

The Model or System as a whole thus represents the full set of Words and Rules available to a subject for comprehension and/or active use at a given point in time. When the focus of interest is a subject’s command of words in a given field, say technical, scientific, or literary, a Sector can be defined by way of two straight segments going from the Nucleus to the most distant Orbit in the Passive Zone (see Figure 1). A Sector thus accounts for the full set of Words available to the subject for comprehension and/or active use in a particular field or in a thematic subset of the total System. 

Alternatively, one may be interested in a subset of the Words available to the subject within a certain range of processing capacity values. For example, those Words which are highly available, that is, in the innermost Orbits in the Active and/or Passive Zones, are the most relevant ones in interpreting, as explained in section 3.5. 

3.4 Dynamics of the Gravitational Model

As mentioned above, any given Model is a snapshot of the situation for a given individual at a given point in time under given circumstances, although aver­age values may theoretically be computed for a whole population or for an individual over a period of time. A very important feature of lexical and syntactic availability is its dynamic nature: Words are learned, become more or less available, are forgotten. These dynamics can be described by a small set of rules. 

These rules were derived intuitively, from observation. Some are sup­ported by psycholinguistic studies, which are quoted in the following sections, but many have not been tested empirically. Moreover, no quantitative assess­ment of their actual manifestation in linguistic performance seems to be available. They are therefore only presented here as trends, to be used for explanatory purposes and to support the selection of linguistic enhancement strategies as explained below. 

Rule 1: The Centrifugal Principle 

IF NOT STIMULATED, WORDS AND RULES TEND TO DRIFT OUTWARD (AWAY FROM THE CENTER OF THE SYSTEM). 

What is meant by stimulation here is either active use in speech or writing, or passive exposure, when words and rules are heard or read (and identified) by the subject. 

Rule 1 refers to the phenomenon that when Words are not used, they tend to become less active (if in the Active Zone), then become passive only, then less available as passive entities, and then disappear from the subject’s System. Though no precise quantitative assessments can be made, the process is generally rather slow. Under ordinary conditions, it may take months or years for a Word to be forgotten. In a speaker with a good command of the language, the process is much slower for Rules than for Words (one- reason being that they are much smaller in number, and most of them are stimulated much more frequently). 

A corollary of this rule is that, all other things being equal, the more recently a Word or Rule has been acquired, the closer in it is (see Matthei and Roeper 1985: 184). The reason is that the Centrifugal Effect has had less time to act on recently acquired entities. 

Rule 2: The Centripetal Effect of stimulation 

WHEN USED, WORDS AND RULES TEND TO MOVE INWARD. 

When a Word or Rule is heard or read (passive stimulation), or used by the subject in oral discourse or in a written text (active stimulation), it becomes more available for passive and/or active use. This migration is very rapid as compared to the centrifugal effect: a newly learned Word can become very active within minutes. On the other hand, it is quite possible that the outward migration of Words which migrated inward rapidly is faster than that of Words that became more available in a long, slow process. This sequence, comprising a rapid centripetal progression followed by a slower centrifugal migration, is often found in terminological preparation for conferences: interpreters achieve within hours or even minutes high active and passive availability for technical terms they had never encountered before; this lasts for the duration of the conference, after which they may forget these terms in a few days to a few weeks. 

Rule 3: Stimulation frequency and the Centripetal Effect 

THE MORE FREQUENTLY WORDS AND RULES ARE USED, THE STRONGER THE CEN­TRIPETAL EFFECT. 

Words used very frequently tend to become more available than Words or Rules used less frequently. 

I have found no direct description of this process in the literature, but the dependency between frequency of stimulation and ease of perception is well documented, with statements to the effect that: 

the frequency of occurrence of a word in a language affects the time it takes to gain access to that word in the mental lexicon (Matthei and Roeper 1985: 182); 

frequently used words are perceived more easily and read more rapidly (Miller 1956: 272-273); 

word frequency plays an important role in coding and decoding (Leeson 1975: 116); 

rare words are “more difficult to process” (Clark and Clark 1977: 56); 

the more frequent a linguistic element, the more “deeply it is rooted in the psyche of the individual and the community” (Mahmoudian 1982: 189). 

However, frequency of stimulation should not be regarded as the only impor­tant factor affecting the Centripetal Effect. In particular, automatic repetition without a context and without cognitive operations does not appear to be very efficient. It seems that some processing has to be involved for the Centripetal Effect to occur, as is the case in actual comprehension or production circum­stances. It is also possible that there are particular repetition intervals that produce the strongest Centripetal Effect, rather than an ever-increasing repeti­tion frequency. Nevertheless, for practical purposes in the context of linguistic skill enhancement for interpretation purposes, the frequency-in-context rule seems to be the best approximation. (See, for example, a study reported by Biderman and Ravazzi 1984, in which the frequency of word repetition was found to be a very strong predictor of memorization in students.) 

Rule 4: The Centripetal Effect of active vs. passive stimulation 

ACTIVE STIMULATION OF A WORD OR RULE HAS A STRONGER CENTRIPETAL EFFECT THAN PASSIVE STIMULATION. 

Using a Word or Rule when speaking or writing pushes it more strongly toward the Nucleus than reading or hearing and decoding it. This rule is well known in foreign language teaching and provides justification for the numer­ous active drill exercises in language classes. Combined with Rule 5, it has strong implications in professional practice, as explained in section 3.7. 

Rule S: The Escort Effect and Interference Effect 

THE CENTRIPETAL MIGRATION OF A WORD OR RULE GENERATES THE CENTRIPETAL MIGRATION OF OTHER WORDS OR RULES ASSOCIATED WITH IT. 

When a word becomes more available, other words that sound or look similar, or that have been associated with it psychologically (through a learning situation, an emotional situation, etc.) also tend to become more available. The phenomenon is also noted in the linguistic literature (see Costermans 1980: 20). This rule is very important with respect to both lexical acquisition and lexical maintenance: it suggests that although the initial acquisition of one particular Word may take some time and repeated active or passive stimula­tion, the initial acquisition of other Words closely related to it (for instance grammatical variations thereof, or other Words having the same etymological root) will be much faster; it also suggests that the use of one Word will not only push it toward the Nucleus or slow down its centrifugal drift, but will also have a similar effect on other Words associated with it. 

Another important fact is that the Escort Effect crosses interlinguistic boundaries. For instance, in the group that escorts the inward migration of the French Word “controleur”, one can expect to find Words such as the English “control” and “controller”, the German “Kontrolle ” and “kontrollieren “, etc. In particular, the Escort Effect accounts for the comparative speed at which adults can learn foreign languages, especially as regards scientific and techni­cal Words, which often have common roots in each family of languages. Conversely, it also explains why persons who have achieved a high level of proficiency in a language related to their own in a very short time may struggle for years with an unrelated language and show relatively little progress (see Gile 198$b for the case of Japanese learned by a Westerner). 

The negative side of the Escort Effect is linguistic interference, already mentioned several times in this volume: linguistic interference may induce the interpreter or translator to use a Word incorrectly as regards its meaning or connotation; to distort its meaning, sound, or spelling; or even to use a Word from the wrong language in the middle of a speech or text. For instance, in the ongoing experiment mentioned in section 1 of chapter 7, one interpreter translated “They think you’re stupid or you’re foolish” (third example given in section 1) into “ils peuvent penser que vous etes stupide ou fou” (stupid or insane). The error is most probably due to the phonetic similarity between “foolish” and ` fou”. 

Interference phenomena in interpretation and translation are not the same as in foreign language learning. Conference interpreters and professional high­level translators, are well-educated individuals with a very good command of their working languages. Furthermore, by training, they are very much aware of the dangers of linguistic interference and constantly endeavor to avoid it. It follows that although some gross interference may occasionally be found in the booth or in translations, most of it is subtler and less salient. In particular, what might be called silent interference may be frequent and is very difficult to detect. Silent interference, as defined here, is interference not manifest through a visible, significant alteration of the lexical or syntactic output in the target language. It can involve some slowing down of speech production due to increased processing associated with the filtering out of possible interfering language Words and Rules. It can also narrow the range of Words and Rules used by speakers, as they are eliminating those which they suspect may be due to interference. Silent interference is difficult to detect not only because its symptoms are not very salient, but also because other factors may induce similar phenomena. For instance, according to Meier 1964 (quoted by Hormann 1972), lexical restriction occurs under stress. Finally, anti-interfer­ence control as it is practiced by professionals during interpreting undoubtedly increases the processing capacity requirements of the production component, and may induce more fatigue and related effects (see chapter 7) that are difficult to ascribe directly to linguistic interference. 

3.5 The Gravitational Model and interpretation An obvious requirement of interpreters is that they have enough Words, in both the Active and the Passive Zones, to comprehend and produce speech in a conference situation. With respect to standard general language, this condi­tion is, at least theoretically, always met in competent conference interpreters. Problems may arise in nonstandard general language (regional dialects, slang, etc.), literary language, or specialized language. The latter category is particu­larly important, as it makes up much of the vocabulary of conferences and cannot be learned once and for all, both because of its extent (hundreds of thousands to more than a million lexical units in each language in the various scientific and technical fields), and because it is constantly changing (see chapter 6). 

Second, since interpretation is performed under heavy time pressure, only highly available Words are useful. As a rule, Words encountered occasionally and understood or available for speech production only after a comparatively large amount of processing (which may only take a second or a fraction of a second, but still involves a significantly longer process than the retrieval of highly available Words) cannot be used in interpretation, as they may take up valuable processing capacity and time and dead to serious problems i see ) chapter 7 ,. 

This means that interpreters in the booth do not use a11 their vocabulary, but only a elevant sub of the Words they know. This in turn may lead to further polarization of their System as compared to that of an ordinary speaker: in both the Active Zone and the Passive Zone, a number of highly available Words may be maintained in close Orbits by frequent stimulation, while the number of Words of medium availability is smaller than in an ordinary speaker (because most Words are either pushed inward by frequent repetition because they are relevant, or drift away because they are not used often enough ); and the number of low-availability words may be somewhat higher m the inter­preter than in the ordinary speaker. 

This polarization may not be very significant in the language of the country the interpreter lives in, because in that language, the environment offers natural and balanced stimulation similar to that which non-interpreters are exposed to. In a working language not spoken in the interpreter’s country of residence, however, the phenomenon may be more significant. Some inter­preters who are known to have a solid B language in the booth seem to use only basic vocabulary plus technical terms in that language (for the time being, this remains an impression, as it has not been investigated empirically). Beyond the professionally relevant Sector of their vocabulary, the availability of Words, and even the knowledge of Words in such individuals, may be significantly lower than what could be expected from educated adults displaying an appar­ently good command of the language while interpreting. 

The relevance of Words to the needs of interpreting is an important question, in terms of both initial vocabulary acquisition and maintenance. Although there are countless glossaries of technical terms, no study of the basic non-technical vocabulary used in conferences has ever been published. Interpreters reading books, newspapers, and magazines in non-native working languages with which they seem to have no difficulty in the interpreting booth, do encounter words unknown to them but familiar to native speakers. This suggests that the theoretical requirements for native-like command of working languages may be highly exaggerated, on the one hand, and non-optimized on the other: an ordinary native-like System (a native-like System not specifically representing the case of conference interpreters) may contain a significant proportion of Words which are not useful in interpretation, while useful Words may not be available enough. This also has some implications for language acquisition and maintenance methods, as explained in section 3.7. 

Another important point is that linguistic availability for written language is generally not the same as availability for oral language. The two systems are obviously correlated, both because they reflect the same root language and because of the Escort Effect between them, but: 

The vocabulary and Rules of written language differ from those of spoken language. Differences are more or less marked depending on the language and on the verbal habits of the speaker, as a function of sociolinguistic factors (professional occupation, socio-economic class, etc.). This means that Words are not stimulated equally in the oral and written Systems, depending on their relative frequency in spoken vs. written language. 

Word recognition in speeches is based on sound, while Word recognition in texts is based on images (although mental sound reconstruction may be involved in visual recognition and vice versa). In languages having a phonetic writing system, this may not have a very strong effect. In languages using ideograms and pictograms, however, the situation is quite different, because the association between meaning, visual aspect, and sound is not as strong. In particular, in Japanese it is possible to understand written words without knowing how to pronounce them. Thus the Escort Effect may play no role in the stimulation of the oral System from passive exposure in the written system, which is one of the reasons for the rather slow progress of Japanese vocabulary acquisition for oral use in a foreign learner (as discussed in Gile 1988b). 

Another characteristic feature of the vocabulary of conference interpreters is the richness and high volatility of its technical component: interpreters en­counter and use many thousands of technical terms in the course of their careers at a rate of a few dozen to a few hundred at each conference. Subjects cover an extremely wide range of human activities, virtually limitless: no activity is theoretically excluded if it involves people who do not speak the same language but want to communicate, provided some money is available to pay for the service. It follows that interpreters have a much wider technical vocabulary than most individuals, but with a large volatile component, as technical terms tend to be forgotten rather rapidly (which may be due to infrequent stimulation because of the long intervals between conferences on the same subject).

(Read an update on the Effort and Gravitational Models by Daniel Gile here)