redundancy of the message for the simultaneous interpreter.” Van Besien (1999, p. 252) argues that since interpreters are better than others in anticipation skills, “It follows that anticipation ability is an important goal in the training of interpreters.”
Improvisation is an exercise which is aimed at improving the quality of public speaking, making appropriate use of the vocab, grammar, experiential, world knowledge already at the disposal of the individual. Therefore it can be classified as a production technique.
The trainees are asked to speak in front of a group of people on a topic that is given to them ‘off the cuff’. An enhanced form of this is to provide a topic (preferably a controversial one) and ask them to improvise a speech in favor of it, then immediately afterwards, to do so against it. This is a really effective technique as interpreters should be able to follow someone else’s (speaker’s) thread of thought and argument. This requires the ability to get away from one’s own line of reasoning and try to place oneself in the shoes of someone else and try to follow their line of thought.
Memory-enhancement or memory-retention skills are underscored in all interpreting modes, but more significantly in consecutive interpreting. However, there is reason to believe that they are vital in simultaneous interpreting as well. Gile’s (1995) ‘Effort Model’ of interpreting is basically centered on short-term or working memory. Any memorization technique could be used here. Nonetheless, it is advisable to work with texts (both written and spoken). Playing long stretches of texts for the trainees and asking them to try to remember certain points (whether main points or specific information), giving them texts to speed-read and memorize certain points, etc. In what follows we will take a look at some of the relevant theoretical issues.
Memory is one of the major elements influencing the process of storing and conveying information. Therefore any mental operation that, one way or the other, draws on information processing can be said to rely on memory capacities. Interpreters working in all different modes are basically dealing with information and since they are always ‘pressed’ for time, only through taking advantage of a good memory can they fulfill their job satisfactorily.
Short-term memory is of particular interest to interpreters. STM is that part of memory which stores a limited amount of information for a limited amount of time. Zahner (1990, cited in Lee, 2002, p. 603) says “human short-term memory can store a limited amount of information and needs to be refreshed at regular intervals.” In line with this is the following observation:
According to Miller (1956), the number of units of capacity in the short-term memory is fairly constant – seven plus or minus two items – regardless of the information each unit contains. For instance, the number of unconnected words that we can hold in immediate memory is about the same as the number of unrelated digits, even though a word contains much more information than a digit. (Wu & Wang, 2009, p. 402)
As stated before, Gile’s (1995) ‘Effort Model’ of interpreting revolves around STM. He emphasizes that the memory effort can be assumed to result from the need to store the words of a proposition until the hearer receives the end of that proposition or enough of it to start interpreting. This storage of information is particularly demanding in SI, since both the amount of information and the speed of storage and retrieval are dictated by the speaker’s manner of presentation. Osaka (1994, as cited in Mizuno, 2005, p. 739) states that “It has been established that […] interpreting performance is influenced by working memory.”
Moreover, “Preserving coherence between larger information chunks in a simultaneous task also has a strong bearing on memory capacity. Undoubtedly, both short- and long-term memory are efficiently activated in these subjects.” (Russo & Pippa, 2004, p. 422) A weaker memory for an interpreter means that he will be able to concentrate on and process shorter stretches of texts, which can deteriorate the overall quality of interpretation. A strong STM is necessary because the interpreter has to retain what he has just heard while a good LTM is necessary in order for him to be able to put all that information into context and derive meaning from it.
When the interpreter is faced with a comprehension difficulty in the course of SI, he may decide to delay the response for a while (a few seconds), so as to have some time for using STM to revise information while they receive more information from the source-text. This means lengthening the EVS. A longer EVS naturally involves an accumulation of information in STM, which may result in an overload and thus failure of SI. In order for the interpreter to be able to work with a longer EVS, he needs to enjoy a strong STM. Mahmoodzadeh (1992, p. 233), too, stresses the fact that a good interpreter is expected “to have a powerful memory.”
To improve one’s memory capacity, there are a number of different exercises which we will briefly explain here. Before doing so, however, it is important to note that any kind of memory-enhancement exercise that suits the trainees would be recommended. Yet, it is preferable to use those techniques which draw on textual material rather than other forms.
The first technique is known as ‘comprehensive listening’. An audio text is played and the trainees are expected to remember the text with as much detail as possible. The subject matter, length, level of difficulty, etc. shall be adjusted to fit the trainees’ needs and capabilities.
The other listening-based form of exercise is ‘intensive listening’ which focuses on listening to specific information and subsequently repeating it with the highest level of precision possible. For instance an audio text containing certain events at certain time periods is played for the trainees who then, will be expected to recall the events and the corresponding times preferably in the order they appeared in the text.
There are also certain games that can help improve the trainees’ memory. One typical game is played as follows: one of the trainees starts a sentence like ‘I bought some bananas’. The next one has to repeat the same sentence and add an appropriate item ‘I bought some bananas and apples’. The sentence is then taken by a third one adding a third item ‘I bought some bananas, apples, and cherries’, and so on.
Memory capacity is, naturally enough, one of the important skills tested in the interpreter selection practices implemented worldwide (Moser-Mercer 1994, quoted in Russo & Pippa, 2004, p. 422)
2.4.8 (Simultaneous) Paraphrasing
Paraphrasing, as a reformulation strategy (Ribas, 2012), is one of the most important exercises present in almost all interpreter training programs. The most obvious reason for this being “its similarities with the interpreting process” (Moser, 1983; Lambert, 1989; Malakoff & Hakuta, 1991; Anderson, 1994; Danks et al., 1997, as cited in Russo & Pippa, 2004, p. 410). Déjean Le Féal (1997, p. 618), too, admits that “Paraphrasing is a useful introductory exercise because it is a good simulation of the SI while being easier to perform. Consequently it is a good way to help students build self-confidence and get used to working in the booth.”
A quick look at Kim’s (2006, p. 259) account of SI makes clear an important aspect of this similarity:
Simultaneous interpretation is a multi-tasking process in which a speaker’s words continuously ring in the interpreter’s ears, while at the same time the sense of those words must be caught and then uttered in the target language. (my emphasis)
Seleskovitch (1994, quoted in Kim, 2006, p. 258) points out that “the interpreter does not remember words, only their sense.” This is the essence of what is widely known as the concept of ‘deverbalization’. This idea of getting rid of the linguistic form of the original, catching its sense, and producing it in a different form (the TL) very closely resembles what happens when one paraphrases something. When paraphrasing, one actually tries to catch the sense behind a certain form, get rid of the form, and render the same sense in a different form. The only difference here is that paraphrasing is an intralingual transfer whereas SI is interlingual. In other words, simultaneous paraphrasing or phrase shadowing is the intralingual counterpart for SI. When the “translation variable” (Lambert, 1988, p. 378) is introduced, simultaneous paraphrasing turns into SI.
Chrnov’s (2004, p. 200) observation points to the significance of paraphrasing skills in interpretation training programs:
As to simultaneous interpretation skills proper, their development requires a great deal of training, especially in mastering the ability to paraphrase or express the same idea in several synonymous ways.
Not only is paraphrasing used in classroom as a technique to improve the trainees’ performance in interpreting, but also it is utilized “as a comprehension and production evaluation tool” (Mortara Garavelli, 1979; Marinetto, 1998; Lumbelli & Mortara Garavelli, 1999, as cited in Russo & Pippa, 2004, p. 410). Moser-Mercer (1983, as quoted in Russo & Pippa, 2004), who observed that those students of her performing poorly in paraphrasing obtained the lowest final score in the introductory course to SI, suggested the validity and fruitfulness of paraphrase as a promising diagnostic tool. Moser-Mercer (1985, as quoted in Russo & Pippa, 2004, p. 410) later on “published data on paraphrasing as an item of a promising multi-task aptitude test.”
Russo and Pippa (2004, p. 423), who suggest that “interpreting aptitude manifests itself especially in the