This book "fills the unquestionable need for a comprehensive and up-to-date handbook on the fast-developing field of pragmatics" and "includes contributions from many of the principal figures in a wide variety of fields of pragmatic research as well as some up-and-coming pragmatists."
Date: Wed, 08 Jun 2005 21:51:23 +0200 From: Ingrid Mosquera Gende Subject: Interpretation: Techniques and Exercises
AUTHOR: Nolan, James TITLE: Interpretation SUBTITLE: Techniques and Exercises SERIES: Professional Interpreting in the Real World PUBLISHER: Multilingual Matters YEAR: 2005
Dr. Ingrid Mosquera Gende, Department of English Philology, University of A Coruña, Spain
The book includes an introductory section of Acknowledgements in which one can already notice the importance of the didactic function in the elaboration and structure of the book, present from the very subtitle: "Techniques and Exercises" – a very relevant aspect to take into consideration due to the central position of the issue of practice in the chapters, as we will comment on later. Therefore, one can say that the main readership of this book would be composed of professionals within the field of Translation and Interpretation Studies, as well as students and teachers for which this book could provide a basis for a course on Interpretation Studies.
After this, there is a brief Introduction, four pages long, subtitled "Frequently Asked Questions". In this section the author poses major questions about interpretation, opening a great range of possibilities that he develops in the subsequent chapters. As a course book would, this text opens with questions related with the way of using the book, explaining its structure and intrinsic necessity, as well as its mainly intended audience: "It is meant to serve as a practical guide for interpreters and as a complement to interpreter training programs, particularly those for students preparing for conference interpreting in international governmental and business settings" (1). Therefore this first section is divided in several subsections in the form of questions which are central and common when confronting the subject of interpretation from different perspectives: Why this book? How to use this book? What is interpretation? How does interpretation differ from translation? What is the difference between consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation? Is it useful to specialize in a particular subject area? Are some languages more important than others for translation and interpretation? Are there any formal professional requirements? Is it advantageous to be bilingual? Is simultaneous interpretation a stressful occupation?
The answers are concise and clear, providing the perfect basis for beginning the reading and understanding the meaning and differential features of Interpretation in few words.
The body of the volume comprises eighteen chapters: 1. Speaking 2. Preparation / Anticipating the speaker 3. Complex syntax / Compression 4. Word order / Clusters 5. General adverbial clauses 6. Untranslatability 7. Figures of speech 8. Argumentation 9. Diction / Register 10. Formal style 11. A policy address 12. Quotations / Allusions / Transposition 13. Political discourse 14. Economic discourse 15. Humor 16. Latinisms 17. Numbers 18. Note-taking.
These titles are very explicit in content and ideas, so that with just one quick look it is possible to get an idea of the themes dealt within each of them, giving us an overview of the aspects in which Nolan wants to make a point, either due to their relevance or to their difficulty when undertaking the task of interpreting. At the same time, each of these chapters is divided into two main sections, the first one is an introduction to its theme, about one to two pages long, even just one paragraph in some cases, whereas the second one is dedicated to Exercises and is far more extensive, underlining, once more, the practical approach of the book, which makes it easy to read and follow the text.
The languages used in the examples and in order to propose the exercises are English, Spanish and French. Examples in other languages are presented through English. For instance, in the chapter entitled FIGURES OF SPEECH, proverbs from very different linguistic sources are presented in English, we have Italian, German, Malay, Latin-American, Egyptian, French-African, Indonesian, Arabic, Russian or Chinese proverbs, among others. Therefore, the sole usage of the three languages mentioned above does not prevent Nolan from citing many other languages from all around the world. However, when providing the typical linguistic example of the snow and its different types, in the chapter entitled Untranslatability, he includes vocabulary from Finland or Alaska, one of the few points in which we find other languages directly reflected in the book.
The book undergoes a development from the very beginning to the end, from general points to take into account, such as preparation or speaking, to detailed aspects such as the treatment of numbers or Latinisms. Apart from that, there are several chapters devoted to specific kinds of speeches and tones: political, economic and humorous.
Although the introduction to each of the chapters is short, as it was stated before, the so-called practical part, the exercises, are much more than a simple enumeration of activities. They include theory - sometimes in form of rhetoric / non rhetoric questions - examples, interpretation tips and the possibility of widening our knowledge and vocabulary, apart from a considerable number of exercises on translation, based on English, French and Spanish, as well as many role-playing type activities on interpretation.
At the end of the book there is a extensive bibliography, including many titles published recently, divided into seven sections (non-numbered): Works consulted Illustrative materials used Speeches Books Articles Other Resources
Under Resources, the author includes "suggestions for further reading, study and reference" (308), under the following headings: Articles and documents Books Collections of essays, monograph series, and conference proceedings Dictionaries, glossaries and thesauruses Handbooks of usage Directories and guides Periodicals, journals and series Web sites
The titles and authors included in the bibliography are very various, interesting and practical from several points of view, they can serve to convince a political reader or an academic one, to deepen further in the subject matter, to undertake self study and research or to serve as a complement to practical courses, for students and teachers, and many other kinds of readers would be delightful with this thorough bibliography. Some of these subsections are even introduced by a line or two explaining their contents. Special remark can be made on the subsection of web sites, very practical and necessary nowadays, as well as to the subsection of Speeches, where we can find the accurate reference to relevant political speeches, such as the ones of Fidel Castro, Hillary Clinton, Alberto Fujimori, Felipe González, Mikhail Gorbachev, John Paul II, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln or Yitzhak Rabin, among many others, in concordance with the objectives shown in the very first page of the book, in relation with international political and commercial relations.
Although it could be taken for granted, it is also important to underline the presence of an Index by which one can easily find references to techniques as well as to relevant themes and concepts dealt within the book.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Nolan is Deputy Director of the Interpretation, Meetings and Publishing Division of the United Nations as well as Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service. He studied Translation and Interpretation at Geneva University and at New York Law School.
Some minor criticism and personal opinions were made in the synopsis of the book. On the whole, the book is a great, original, necessary and quite novel approach to interpretation studies from a linguistic and an academic point of view. Its structure is perfect from a pedagogical perspective, and its practical basis and approximation seems logical in relation with the theme treated. The exercises presented are numerous and varied in methodology and objectives. The only possible drawback I could find would be related to its form, not to its content, having to do with possible complements in order to enrich the book. The languages used as a basis are English, French and Spanish, but the examples and proposals are not given in the three of them, and sometimes these translations could be useful, perhaps they could have been included at the end of the book. More important than that would be the inclusion of some more languages as basis of the book in order to widen its direct usage by teachers and students.
In this same way, I would appreciate the inclusion of the original examples cited from other languages, for instance in the examples of the proverbs before mentioned, I think that the inclusion of the originals would enrich the multilingual approach of the book, a relevant perspective due to the subject matter of the text.
James Nolan effectively introduces the subject of Interpretation, differentiates it from Translations, explains its main characteristics, develops its techniques and exposes its concepts. We cannot talk about a practical part of the book since the book is all practice in itself achieving the best way of significant learning which is practising. I would use this book both as a text book and as a reference book for my university classes without doubt.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Ingrid Mosquera Gende teaches at the University of A Coruña, Spain. Her Ph.D. is in English Philology; her Doctoral Thesis is about Edwin Muir: "Early Poetry of a Late Poet: Analysis of First Poems". She has had several research stays in Germany, Canada or Scotland, among others, supervised by specialists such as Professor Cairns Craig and Robert Crawford. She is a researcher of projects related to Translation Studies, Literature and Education. She has many publications and contributions about Translation, Scottish Literature, as well as other fields of study, including Education, Irish Literature, and Spanish Literature. She teaches courses via the internet in collaboration with The University of Islas Baleares, Spain, and is a reviewer and translator for various universities.