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OPTIMIZING EFFECTIVENESS OF NOTE TAKING IN CONSECUTIVE INTERPRETING a STUDY IN LEGAL CONTEXTS

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  • OPTIMIZING EFFECTIVENESS OF NOTE TAKING IN CONSECUTIVE INTERPRETING a STUDY IN LEGAL CONTEXTS

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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING HO CHI MINH UNIVERSITY OF LAW DEPARTMENT OF LEGAL ENGLISH GRADUATION THESIS B.A DEGREE IN ENGLISH Major: Legal English OPTIMIZING EFFECTIVENESS OF NOTE-TAKING IN CONSECUTIVE INTERPRETING A STUDY IN LEGAL CONTEXTS Supervisor: LL.M & M.A PHAM THI PHUONG ANH Student: PHAM THI VAN ANH Student ID: 1652202010009 Class: LE41 Ho Chi Minh City, 2020 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT First of all, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my instructor, Mrs Phuong Anh Pham for her dedicated guidance on this graduation thesis She not only continuously assisted me on developing ideas for this thesis but also recommended valuable resources for further references In addition to my instructor, I would like to thank the Management Board of Legal English Department for giving me a great chance to make a research on the subject of note-taking in consecutive interpretation My sincere thanks also go to KPMG Legal Limited (Vietnam) for offering me precious internship opportunity in their company, providing me with diverse legal knowledge and practical experiences, especially through legal translating projects Additionally, I would like to thank all the skillful interpreters and also interpreting students from AKT Company who willingly took part in the survey of this thesis to help create a more detailed and insightful look on consecutive interpretation in general and note-taking skill in particular Lastly, I would like to involve my beloved family and my friends, who always try to provide me with the best conditions to complete the project, without their constant encouragements and supports, this thesis would have never been fulfilled LIST OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 1 The Background to the Thesis The Significance of the Thesis The Structure of the Thesis CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW 1.1 The importance of Note-taking in Consecutive Interpreting 1.2 Interpreting in legal contexts 1.3 Consecutive Interpretation in legal contexts 1.4 Note-taking Process in Consecutive Interpreting 1.6 What to Note 1.6.1 Word meanings 1.6.2 Conjunctions 1.6.3 Data 1.6.4 Verb tenses 1.7 How to Note 1.7.1 Abbreviations 10 1.7.2 Symbols 13 1.8 When to Note 14 CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGIES AND PROCEDURES .16 2.1 Survey 16 2.1.1 The Objective of the Survey 16 2.1.2 Methodology of the Survey 16 2.1.3 Procedure of the Survey 17 2.2 Interview 17 2.2.1 The Objective of the Interview 17 2.2.2 Methodology of the Interview 18 2.2.3 Procedure of the Interview 18 CHAPTER 3: FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 19 3.1 Findings on the Survey 20 3.1.1 The Importance of Note-taking in Consecutive Interpreting 20 3.1.2 Findings on What to Note 21 3.1.3 Findings on How to Note 23 3.1.4 Findings on When to Note 25 3.2 Findings on the Interviews 28 3.2.1 Findings and Recommendations for objective reasons 28 3.2.2 Findings and Recommendations for subjective reasons 29 CHAPTER 4: CONCLUSION .33 4.1 Summary 33 4.2 Limitations and Suggestions 33 REFERENCES .35 APPENDICES 37 INTRODUCTION The Background to the Thesis It is apparent that many Vietnamese lawyers get used to Vietnamese legal system as well as perform technical tasks such as interpreting in Vietnamese style It might be challenging for them to clearly comprehend documents, contracts, speech, etc in another language, such as English It should be well-noted that in accordance with Article 70 of the amended Law on Lawyers No 20/2012/QH13 dated 20 November 2012, issued by the National Assembly, foreign legal practitioners are not allowed to be in court proceedings in Vietnam Vietnamese legal practitioners, who has good command of foreign language, are obviously capable of performing legal interpretation to ensure communication efficiency However, it should not be a reason for them to neglect their main responsibility as the practice of law requires a great extent of concentration Thus, this has opened door for interpreters, especially legal interpreters who possess good knowledge of legal English Although English is not the most spoken language natively, but “it has more than three times the number of non-native speakers than it has natives” – ELT Group, Oxford University Hence, it is objective and reasonable for both local and foreign parties to utilize English for international communication to resolve legal matters Apart from basic requirements of language proficiency and culture sensitivity, there are apparently quite a few skills that need to be mastered for successful interpreting One of them is note-taking skill Note-taking in consecutive interpreting is a skill to be learned There is no abstract theory about the skill, but there are a wide range of practical principles laid down by succeeding generations of consecutive interpreters over time The language students will be the targeted audiences who may wish to read a detailed depiction of some background knowledge about note-taking skill, especially in legal contexts, and may be eager to understand given viewpoints of senior interpreters on the skill Hence, this thesis will hopefully facilitate Vietnamese interpreters or whoever chooses to pursue a career as an interpreter when encountering legal seminars or dispute resolution hearings such as at courts or arbitration centers in the future The Significance of the Thesis Court as well as other legal settings constitute a “highly risky” venue for both foreign and native parties Miscommunication could lead to destructive consequences for those who involved in legal matters Note-taking technique is of paramount importance to provide accurate and meaningful message There have been a variety of articles published in international journals on the study of notetaking technique in particular However, due to the fact that many of the authors are linguistics experts and not legal experts, their works generally just basically set the theoretical background for note-taking skill without integrating with legal knowledge Moreover, unfortunately, there is no information provided in the legal settings, which is adjacent to Vietnamese legal system as this field is relatively new, regardless of its urgency for society As the number of foreign enterprises moving their factories to Vietnam or those who wish to corporate with Vietnamese companies under joint-venture scheme are on the rise, hence, there is an emergence of complex legal matters and many of them require legal interpreting The Structure of the Thesis The thesis is divided into three (3) separate chapters: Chapter ONE: Literature review on Note-taking skill in Legal Consecutive Interpreting Chapter TWO: Survey on Note-taking skill in Legal Consecutive Interpreting Chapter THREE: Interview on Problems and Recommendations The first chapter addresses literature review, which is to thoroughly work on relevant published works about how to effectively take notes when practicing consecutive interpreting from English to Vietnamese It combines both synthesis, summary and analysis The second chapter is a practical analysis drawing on the findings from a survey They are expected to verify the theory of note-taking skill mentioned in chapter one The last chapter is based on an interview with skilled interpreters to gain an insightful and objective viewpoint towards the problems when practicing note-taking skill in all likelihood There are also precious recommendations with the mission of increasing the number of qualified interpreters and advance the field of legal interpreting education Suggestions for futher study will be presented in the Conclusion CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW 1.1 The importance of Note-taking in Consecutive Interpreting During the procedure, both short-term memory and notes should be carried out While memory is of great importance to interpreters, notes can be of specific support “When engaged in consecutive interpreting, note-taking is a best practice that significantly improves the interpreter’s ability to recall details, organize ideas for deep processing and increase the accuracy, meaning, and effectiveness of an interpretation in court and legal settings.” (p 16, NCIEC 2009) Note-taking helps improve the interpreter’s concentration, relieves the pressure placed on an interpreter’s working memory and helps to ensure that details are precise during interpretation This is critically important for consecutive interpretation within the court and legal proceedings where testimony becomes or has the potential to become evidence in a court case According to Cornell University, note taking can be very useful for the interpreter working consecutively: Firstly, notes improve concentration and prevent distraction, thus enhancing the comprehension of the speech Secondly, notes help the interpreter relieve the memory Although the interpreter may have a background ideas of a speech, he or she cannot remember every idea in the speech because short-term memory only keeps information for a limited amount of time Thirdly, notes activate the short-term memory of the interpreter with clues, abbreviations or signals that re-call the whole information of the speech With notes, the main ideas and the links among them become easier for the interpreter to visualize and transfer it into saying Last but not least, the writing will eliminiate subjective factors such as accent, style or external characteristics of the speaker As a result, interpreters can only stay focus on the main information instead of being distracted by the such factors Literature review is intended not only to demonstrate relevant theory on note-taking in consecutive interpreting but also to provide insightful evaluation of the real-life practice Hence, this chapter explains various aspects related to the topic of notetaking in sequence ranging from large-scale view to close-up view 1.2 Interpreting in legal contexts In order to understand the concept of interpreting, it is advisory to draw it to another activity for which interpreting is often mistaken - translation A straightforward explanation of translation given by Catford (1965, p.20), he simply defined translation as an “operation performed on languages, a process of substituting a text in one language for a text in another” Roderick Jones, a European Union senior conference interpreter, stated that interpreting is “immediate oral translation” (2002, p.3) Interpreting, just like translation, is fundamentally the art of re-expressing It is obvious that while translation refers to converting a written text from one language into another, interpreting refers to orally converting method While a translator must be a sharp writer and skilled editor, it is crucial for an interpreter to have extraordinary listening abilities, good memory aided by good note-taking techniques and excellent time-management Interpreting in the legal setting is a long-recognized area of specialization Russell notes, “There is widespread agreement among experts in the field of interpretation that the principle of accuracy of courtroom interpretation is extremely important to the integrity of the legal system and to ensuring non-English speakers have equitable access to justice” (p 57) That means apart from having a background knowledge and understanding of the entire communicative situation, legal interpreters should also be competent in appropriate usage within each language, and in managing the cross-cultural speech when performing in legal seminars or other dispute resolution hearings Moreover, further explanation should be added to better the understanding of the target audience, especially legal terminology 1.3 Consecutive Interpretation in legal contexts As far as the classification of interpreting is concerned, Vietnamese people may ask for clarification between two types of interpreting, consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation (or conference interpretation) According to Russell, the main difference between these two methods lies in how the comprehension phase is separated from the message conversion phase Simultaneous interpretation occurs nearly at the same time as the original utterance of a speech; while consecutive interpretation, with more given time, follows the original speech after one or very few sentences In its most general sense, consecutive interpretation is a method of interpreting in which interpreter starts the interpretation only after the speaker stop talking, then he or she will listen to the next few sentences and wait for the speaker to make a pause again to interpret Listening to a foreign speaker and interpreting to the target language at the same time creates difficulty hearing the following message Especially during interpreting witness testimony or in the direct and cross-examination of a foreign party, Russell’s research (2002) showed that consecutive interpretation has fewer error rates when compared to simultaneous interpretation Russell notes, “While all aspects of a trial The finding clearly show that almost 72.7% of the interpreters surveyed strongly agreed that it is necessary for them to have themselves a customized system of abbreviations and symbols As the interpreter is the only one who uses his notes, he must be the generator of his own system, which then has a logical meaning and maintain consistency Besides, learning by heart some complicated systems of abbreviations and symbols invented by others would lead to an overwhelming effort to memorize, hence, reduce the interpreters’ ability to concentrate on the original Thirdly, according to the article written by Elena M de Jongh on his website: “highlevel proficiencies in the source and target languages and cultures, including an understanding of the legal process and related terminology, the ability to manipulate the various discourse styles used in the courtroom are essential in protecting a nonEnglish speaker’s right to due process” In fact, in the legal contexts, the choice of language used in notes - the source language or the target language - is still questionable 24 According to the survey, nearly a half (45.5%) of the interpreters surveyed can not decide to note in which language This can be a possible reason for this finding: they often flexibly mix their utilization for the target language and the source language, depending on specific situations Therefore in an effort to save processing capability for other functions throughout consecutive interpreting, it is reccommended to take notes in whichever language is more fluent In terms of language used in note, it’s not the matter of the choice of the target language or the source language, but it apparently lies in which language they may feel more effortless to produce 3.1.4 Findings on When to Note Firstly, to achieve an accurate and effective interpretation, it is necessary for legal interpreters to put the adhesion of the interpretation above any tension to perform a speedy, pseudo-efficient interpretation 25 The survey results show that nearly 27.3% of the interpreters surveyed agreed that they would start taking notes as quickly as possible to avoid being left behind by the speaker, while the total of 36.4% of the interpreters did not have the same idea, of which 18.2% relatively disagreed and 18.2% strongly disagreed The fear of not catching up with the speaker seems to be not a significant problem with senior interpreters Being over-hasty could easily cause the interpreter mistakes It is impossible to keep noting every single words because writing speed is much slower than speaking one regardless of how many abbreviations and signs being used In fact, consecutive interpreting in legal contexts such as legal seminars or dispute resolution hearings require active listening, it means interpreters should not totally depends on the notes On the other hand, it is also advisable not to wait for the speakers finish the whole long sentence with several details Listening to comprehend the idea, then noting is of the fundamental principles for note-taking Secondly, comprehension is the prerequisite for meaningful interpretation However, there are times interpreters find it challenging to listen to certain information delivered by the speakers It then comes down to the question, should they skip it or 26 take attempt to fulfill The result indicates that the percentage of interpreters who keep taking notes even when they cannot understand certain words is more than 72.8% For the reason that the interpreters can make up for those missing information by utilizing background knowledge, which requires a careful preparatory process before courts or other legal proceedings In case they cannot grasp the idea delivered by the speaker, it is recommended that the interpreters should stop taking notes, wait until he or she has 27 3.2 Findings on the Interviews While consecutive interpretation does have its application in court and other legal proceedings, and with particular foreign parties, legal interpreters must examine the assumption that it is the status quo approach They must be able to assess the pragmatics of each situation, and determine whether or not the use of consecutive interpretation meets the best practice of meaningful and effective interpretation We can distribute those problems into categories: objective reasons and subjective reasons 3.2.1 Findings and Recommendations for objective reasons (i) Speed of the speakers Although speaking hastily is not necessarily an issue in and of itself, some people so at the expense of clarity, diction, and coherency, which may seriously inhibit effective communication Speaking fast without taking time to pause when appropriate may lead to undesirable effects: lower clarity and articulation or important points in the message may be lost or de-emphasized According to Ms Tran Hoang Tu Linh – Lecturer of Commercial Law Department, if you encounter in such situation, it is advisable to nicely share your issues with the speaker and ask he or she to slow down and/or break into smaller paragraphs When it comes to team interpreting, planning to take-note with your partner can be of great assistance For example, A and B both take notes then either A or B will speak while using both notes and vice versa (ii) Ambiguous Questions or Statements There will be times during a legal proceeding or trial when the interpreters cannot understand questions or statements They will need to request clarification of 28 ambiguous questions or statements from the judge or attorney prior to delivering the interpretation Standard protocol expected by courts is that “legal interpreters use third person, and break from reported speech, when there is a need to communicate directly with the witness”, stated NCIEC, 2009 These negotiations need to occur between the interpreter and attorneys prior to the start of the deposition (iii) Familiarity with Seating, Lighting and Auditory/Visual Needs Particularly in the case of trials or hearings, legal interpreters should be familiar with the courtroom seating protocol and determine whether the logistics of the room will meet the visual and auditory needs of the interpreter to perform the interpretation, especially sufficient lighting for writing Sparing time to carefully consider the various ways to resolve these issues in advance will benefit everyone in the long run 3.2.2 Findings and Recommendations for subjective reasons (i) Comprehension “In the meantime, try to read as much as possible anything related to the topic that you are about to interpret”, stated Mr Huynh Ngoc Thinh – senior freelance interpreter It is important for legal interpreters to review case files, as well as other pertinent legal documents prior to interpreting a court hearing, deposition, or trial Legal interpreters must be familiar with the case details so that they can be able to provide an accurate interpretation Considering legal terminology, not all legal terminologies used in English have been defined in Vietnamese According to Mr Sean Le, lecturer of Legal English Department, “when encountering such problems, the interpreters are expected to give further explanation based on their own knowledge Therefore, it is important for the interpreters to gain legal knowledge, to some extent.” They can conduct small research into Vietnamese criminal charges, penal code, civil law, specific 29 medical or psychological conditions, etc This type of preparation will benefit legal interpreters with being able to consider possible ways to interpret legal, medical, psychological or other information in an accurate, meaningful, and effective way (ii) Missing Information At this point, interpreters may speak somehow subconsciously Therefore, interpreters need to calm themselves and try to skim through the notes, understand the large picture of the context and conduct self-correct when interpreting It is also recommended by Ms Linh Tran that “If you don’t catch up with something, not be panic Just keep moving Not many people recognize your mistakes but they absolutely see your nervousness if you actually are” (iii) Apply Symbols or Abbreviations Notes taken by fledging interpreters have shown that they have a tendency to stick to words and hesitate to free themselves to pay attention to meaning Due to that, their short-term memory will be soon overwhelmed with individual lexical items, which may even confuse them with irrelevant and uneffective abbreviation It requires an intact course of action from getting yourself familiar with a set of simplified symbols while jotting down and still being able to interpret what you have noted Speaking of noting capacity, “you should prepare a lot of blank papers or notebooks for notes so you not have to "save the space" when the speech is longer than you expect”, said Ms Linh Tran (iv) Concentration It is not uncommon for interpreters to experience mental interference while 30 attempting to consecutively process incoming and outgoing messages Many factors can affect the success of an interpreting interaction These factors may include whether or not he or she has a mental illness, is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, takes medical treatment that affects cognitive abilities or vision that may affect his or her ability to perceive and understand the speech As a result, not only increases the risk of errors in the interpretation, but also makes it more difficult for legal interpreters to catch interpreting errors as they occur, quoted from NCIEC 2009 Hence, in order to ensure the successful interpretation, other logistical needs may require discussion such as the need for breaks, the need for preventive medicine, the need to switch interpreters, etc (v) Consistency Speaking of team interpreting in legal contexts, maintaining consistent interpretation of repeated information or legal terminologies for extensively lengthy court trials or proceedings plays a critical role to reach the highest level of accuracy, effectiveness and meaningfulness It means that the same team of interpreters should remain consistent, switching interpreters within the team when necessary and appropriate to provide the consistent interpretation from beginning to end Hence, legal interpreters cope with thorough preparatory steps prior to interpreting a trial, court, deposition or legal proceedings This preparation, along with the detailed knowledge of the case, has a positive effect on the interpreter’s ability to interpret accurately and effectively for a foreign individual or party to a case In general, whether or not consecutive interpretation is successful can also be influenced by a number of other factors, such as the interpreter’s familiarity with the subject matter, the predictability of communication, the amount of prior preparation, the speed at which the interpreter is expected to keep pace, mental 31 and/or physical fatigue, the specific language needs of the foreign party, etc (Russell, pp 154 – 168) Thus, legal interpreters should carefully evaluate all the interpreting-related requirements of the situation to determine the most appropriate method of interpreting 32 CHAPTER 4: CONCLUSION 4.1 Summary The thesis aims at puzzling out the concept of note-taking in legal consecutive interpreting and to present the process of taking notes in the most coherent way It is intended for students of interpreting and junior interpreters who thrive to dig into the practice of note-taking as a vital skill for consecutive interpreters, specifically in legal contexts The review of literature presented is a combination of summary and synthesis of published works which are related to the topic of note-taking, have been written from the viewpoints of both interpreters and linguistic experts Basic requirements of note-taking are classified into following categories: what to note, how to note, when to note The main purpose of the literature review is to provide detailed comprehension of note-taking technique The thesis reports on an empirical study which is developed from the results of a quantiative Survey The Survey is aimed at examining the practice of note-taking technique by interpreters Problems and recommendations on note-taking skill in real-life contexts are drawn from In-depth Interviews The research is aimed at exploring interpreters’ awareness of notetaking skill; their personal difficulties arising from performing this technique and their recommendations to enhance the interpretation Its findings can be very helpful for further study 4.2 Limitations and Suggestions Due to the limitations of accessible materials and time scope fixed for this thesis I would like to narrow down the thesis as follows: - First, this thesis does not analyze all, but only certain important features of the technique in legal settings, such as when to note, what to note, how to apply 33 abbreviations and arrange notes in the most effective way - Second, the interpretations mentioned in this thesis are from English to Vietnamese, and thus, by no means all-embracing, the mission of this thesis is only to directly and effectively contribute to further research, progression and implementation of note-taking in legal consecutive interpreting for Vietnamese interpreters However, this thesis should not be considered a “technical finding” due to the fact that as an undergraduate student, I have not been exposed to any practical experience in legal consecutive interpretation My knowledge of note-taking technique has been majorly gained through previous researches, online references as well as the recommendations by other interpreters who supported me to complete the survey and the interview In conclusion, although the frequency of practicing varies according to interpreters’ expertise experience, the best note-taking is the one the interpreter thrives by himself or herself through disciplined and regular practice 34 REFERENCES In English Barrass, R.- Students Must Write_ A Guide to Better Writing in Coursework and Examination, TJ International Ltd, 2003 Catford, J.C.- A Linguistic Theory of Translation, Oxford University Press, 1965 Dam, V.H.- Interpreters’ notes- On the Choice of Language, n.d Retrieved April, 19, 2006 David, B & Neil, M.- Contemporary Topics (Listening & Note-taking), Longman, 1993 Jones, R.- Conference Interpreting Explained, St Jerome Publishing, 2002 Láng, G Z.- Note-taking in Consecutive Interpreting-European Masters in Conference Interpreting, 2006, from emcinterpreting.net/default.htm Lederer, M.- Translation - The Interpretive Model, St Jerome Publishing, 2003 National Consortium of Interpreter Education Centers – Legal Best Practices, 2009 Raimes, A.- Keys for Writers, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996 10 Rozan, J F.- Principles of Note-taking, Interpreter Training Resources, n.d Retrieved May, 01, 2006 from interpreters.free.fr/consecnotes/rozan7principles.doc 11 Santiago, R.- Consecutive Interpreting: A Brief Review, 2004 Retrieved March, 24, 2006, from home.earthlink.net/~terperto/id16.html 12 University of Rochester, Short Term Memory's Effectiveness Influenced By Sight, Sound, Science Daily, 2004 Retrieved May, 10, 2006, from sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040901092240.htm 13 Wei, H.Z.- Memory in Interpreting, Translation Journal, Volume 7, No 3, 2003 Retrieved March, 24, 2006, from accurapid.com/journal/25interpret.htm 14 White, B.- Dissertation Skills for Business and Management Students, Martins the Printers Ltd, 2002 35 In Vietnamese 15 Vũ Văn Đại- Kỹ Dịch- Cơ sở Lý thuyết Phương pháp Rèn Luyện, nxb.GD, Hà Nội, 2004 36 APPENDICES I’m Pham Thi Van Anh - Legal English student from Ho Chi Minh University of Law Currently, I'm working on a research of "Note-taking Technique in Consecutive Interpreting from legal aspect", this survey is to help create a more insightful look on Note-taking Technique I have narrowed down the scope of this survey to: English into Vietnamese translation If you have time, please help me to spare only minutes for this small survey My research study will only be completed with your precious participation Collected data of this survey is for research purposes only, and will be classified as "Confidential" Assuring my goodwill at all times Thank you very much for your help! - Please tick the appropriate box The most important skill in consecutive interpreting is o o o o o o Note-taking Short-term memory Public speaking Good background knowledge Good comprehension ability Voice 37 Your note-taking buddies (most often used) o Pen/pencil + Paper o Keyboard + Microsoft Word/ Google Docs o Both Please circle the number for each response that best corresponds to your view strongly agree agree undecided It is necessary for interpreters to develop their own systems of symbols, signs, abbreviations, etc I note in the source language - English I start taking notes as soon as the speakers start 5 When I have difficulty understanding what the speaker is saying, I skip that and keep noting down the next part Noting verb is NOT important Your email address for further discussion if you're interested [short answer] 38 disagree strongly disagree ... are analyzed in terms of: the importance of note- taking technique in consecutive interpreting, what to note, how to note and when to note 3.1.1 The Importance of Note- taking in Consecutive Interpreting. .. who involved in legal matters Note- taking technique is of paramount importance to provide accurate and meaningful message There have been a variety of articles published in international journals... precious chapter of the thesis provides an overview of note- taking in consecutive interpreting in legal contexts, drawing on applicable theories, legal- related examples and illustrations from linguistics
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