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Tying the knot

Blogging is quite practical: anything I write down I can look up later. It helps me to keep my memories of pleasant interpreting assignments, interesting translation jobs and amusing every-day experiences from fading. Yet sometimes I almost obsessively want to capture every moment on my iPhone and simply forget to enjoy it. I just recently came across an article according to which just one snapshot could trigger memories of an entire day. Like a knot in the corner of your handkerchief. But when you take a photo of something, you’re counting on the camera to remember for you and don’t engage in any of the emotional kinds of processing that really would help you remember.

The same applies to interpreting. When I take notes in consecutive interpreting, I do not write down every word in shorthand. I try to concentrate on what is being said, I have to picture it in front of me. And every once in a while, I will jot down a symbol, a name or a number as a memory aid. The skill of note-taking is taught at university and forms an essential part of consecutive interpreting. With every assignment we will adapt and individualise our very own symbols. And that’s all we need, together with the setting and our surroundings during the assignment, to fill in the gaps and recall what has been said. I had rather give the speakers my undivided attention instead of frantically writing down every word they say. And I think they prefer that too...