Using register

There is always more than one way of saying something!! Be aware of the difference register can make to what you say, and be aware of which register you are using.

If you are interpreting into a foreign language, the correct use of a variety of registers will be one of the most difficult things for you to master. For practical purposes it will often come down to a choice of two registers (formal and less formal) for the non-native speaker.

Have a look at the examples below where you will find pairs of synonymous phrases in the left and right-hand columns. These examples are taken from David Walker’s excellent Committee Guide, a thematic and lexical handbook for interpreters working in the European Parliament.

actively considering thinking about it 
afford an opportunity give a chance 
and indeed and 
as matters stand the way things are 
at an early date soon 
at their earliest conveniencesoon 
bereft of without any 
brought fully to the attention take up with 
came to recognise realised 
carries with it involves 
conspicuous by its absence not there 
consonant with in keeping 
debarred from prevented 
decline their invitation say no 
have an opportunity be able 
don’t think it differs very markedly much the same 
drew a positive response was welcomed 
endeavouring trying 
express my gratitude thank 
far in excess of much more than 
have shown no indication don’t seem to 
fortified encouraged 
have other ideas disagree 
I am reminded I remember 
I have in my possession I have 
in readiness preparing for 
indicate a willingness say they will 
initiate urgent discussionsget on to 
it was for that reason that was why 
it’s my intention I intend 
likely patterns forecast 
little to tell them apart similar 
made statements said things 
make common cause join forces 
make alternative arrangements do something else 
make available provide 
make representations protest 
nigh on nearly 
no dearth plenty 
on day one of accession as soon as they join 
omits to mention doesn’t say
persist in efforts keep trying 
put a statement out issue a press release 
secure an accommodation get an agreement 
seek a response ask for a reply 
set them alongside compare 
7 or 8, no-one really knows 7 or 8 
should acquaint themselves find out about 
some but not all some 
taken in conjunction together with 
that puts one in mind that reminds me 
their phrase for how they describe 
therefore seeks leave to asks permission 
under debate being discussed 
use their best endeavours try their best 
we’re ad idem on we agree 
wishes to wants to 
would do well to ought to 

Oratorical devices

It is useful to be aware of the type of oratorial devices that speakers may use, and when necessary to apply them yourself. The technical term for each technique is, of course only of academic interest, it is the technique itself and the application thereof that is of use to the interpreter. The text below is borrowed from Schott’s Original Miscellany and the examples used are from the speeches of Winston Churchill.

One of the greatest orators of the twentieth century, Winston Churchill understood the power of the tropes of classical rhetoric. The table below gives some rhetorical techniques, and provides Churchillian examples.

LITOTES Deliberate understatement for dramatic or comic effect. 

Business carried on as usual during alterations on the map of Europe.’ 

PARADOX A contradictory, but often revealing, logical anomaly. 

`… decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift solid far fluidity . . . 

PARONOMASIA Using similar-sounding words or phrases for effect.

‘To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war. ‘ 

PERIPHRASIS Circuitously elaborate expression.

`. . . it cannot in the opinion of His Majesty’s Government be classified as slavery in the extreme acceptance of the word without same risk of terminological inexactitude.’ 

CATACHRESIS An unexpected image which stretches normal usage.

`a new Dark Age made more sinister … by the lights of perverted science.’ 

EPIZE UXI S Emphatic repetition.

`… this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never …’

EPISTROPHE / ANTISTROPHE Repetition of words at the end of successive phrases. 

‘… the love of peace, the toil for peace, the strife for peace, the pursuit of peace … ‘

ANTITHESIS Juxtaposition of contrasting idea, with symmetrical phrasing.

‘If we are together nothing is impossible, if we are divided all will fail. ‘ 

OXYMORON The juxtaposition of two contradictory words or images. 

‘…an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.’ 

METONYMY Use of a single term or image to represent a wider concept.

`We welcome Russia to her rightful place … We welcome her flag upon the seas.’ 

CACOPHONY Employment of harsh phrasing. 

‘that hideous apparatus of aggression which gashed Holland into ruin and slavery … ‘

ANTI METABOLE Reversing the word order of a phrase previously employed.

`This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is , perhaps, the end of the beginnings ‘

SCESIS ONOMATON Emphatic synonymous repetition.

`Our difficulties and danger will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement ‘

ASSONANCE & ALLITERATION Repetition of vowel [assonance! and consonant [alliteration] sounds. 

‘Let it roll Let it roll on All flood, inexorable, irresistible, benignant, to broader lands and better days. ‘

BRACHYLOGIA Abbreviated expression.

‘That was our constant fear: one blow after another, terrible losses, frightful dangers. Everything miscarried.’

ANAPHORA Repetition of words or phrases at the start of successive clauses.

‘We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields, and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender. ‘