Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Barry Olsen: We are professors of translation and interpretation. Laura Burian: We're also practicing professional translators and interpreters, as you can see. BO: We're here today to tell you that it takes more than words to interpret from one language to another. In fact, there's a misconception out there about translation and interpretation. Many people just call both of them, erroneously, translation. Well, translation is written, and interpretation is spoken. So now you know the difference. Please spread the word. LB: Here at TEDxMonterey, we have a pretty special situation in that our students of conference interpretation are in booths in the back of the auditorium providing simultaneous interpretation of everything being said on stage and this is going into Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish, out onto the web being live streamed. BO: Interpreters work in two different modes: consecutive and simultaneous, and we're going to have you watch our interpreter, Mr. Miguel Garcia, as he interprets what I say in Spanish into English, but he'll do it consecutively. Simultaneous interpretation will pause for this demonstration. So... (Spanish) En la consecutiva, el intérprete escucha al orador y luego toma notas. El orador termina y luego el intérprete dice en el otro idioma lo que ha dicho el orador principal. Pero, fíjense en las notas que él está tomando. No son como las notas que nosotros usamos para la memoria a largo plazo. Tampoco son como la taquigrafía que solo sirve para anotar palabras especificas. Él usa estas notas para concentrarse en el flujo de las ideas del orador. Y luego, él usa su memoria a corto plazo junto con sus notas para poder interpretar al otro idioma lo que ha dicho el orador. Ésto es de muy baja tecnología, pero uno necesita tener cientos de horas de formación y de practica para hacerlo bien. Miguel Garcia: Can you hear me? Great. So, in consecutive interpretation, the interpreter first listens to the speaker as he delivers his speech and uses notes for an aid. After the speaker is done speaking, then the interpreter uses these notes and what he heard to interpret into the other language. However, if you look at the notes that are here on the board, you see that these notes are different from the notes that one would take, for example, for long-term memory, or the kinds of notes that we take for stenography for example, when we need to remember specific words. He then uses these notes to concentrate on the flow of ideas that he is hearing, and then he uses his short-term memory with the notes as an aid to interpret into the other language. Now, this is very low-tech, but the interpreters need hundreds of hours of training and practice in order to be able to do a good job. Thank you. (Applause) (Voiceover interpreting Chinese into English) Thank you Miguel. Thank you for demonstrating what consecutive interpretation is. Now I would like to talk about simultaneous interpretation which is very important to many international organizations because in international organizations many speeches need to be interpreted into in multiple languages. You may have noticed now I'm speaking in Chinese instead of English, but in your headsets I'm a guy. (Laughter) There you go. Of course, I am not a man, my interpreter is a guy. He is interpreting my Chinese speech into English, and the other interpreters are interpreting from his English into French and Korean. So, simultaneous interpreting can provide us with convenience. Sometimes people think that being bilingual is enough, but it is not enough. First of all, you must have a lot of background knowledge and second, you must be a good multitasker. Why? Because interpreters are continuously listening to what the speaker is saying, understanding the speaker's intended meaning and then redelivering the message into their targeted languages. At the same time, the interpreter is constantly listening to the other information and checking to be sure that the interpretation is correct. Many people believe they are good multitaskers, especially young people, but think of how many multitaskers have caused car accidents. (Laughter) It is impossible for them to send short text messages while driving. But don't worry. Fortunately, our interpretation booths don't have wheels, so you don't have to worry. (Voiceover interpreting Spanish into English) Well, I would like to share something else with you about simultaneous interpretation, a little bit of history. Simultaneous interpretation has only been around as a profession, as a professional activity, for about 60 years, after its great debut at the Nuremberg War Crime Tribunals after the Second World War. And it was interesting to see that in these trials, participants were able to speak and listen in English, German, French, and Russian at the same time. Now, we have heard, and very acceptably so, that without simultaneous interpretation these trials could have never come about. So we can see the importance of simultaneous interpretation. Now, I would like to ask you is this kind of interpretation really simultaneous? I wouldn't say so, because if this was simultaneous, we would have to be psychic in order to guess the future. So I will show you an example. If you can understand me please raise your hand right now. It was like a wave in this room as you could see, because those of you who understand Spanish immediately raised your hand, but as Laura explained, those of you who are listening to the English interpretation were listening to the interpreter, and they told me I have a more feminine voice when being interpreted. (Laughter) So, as you listened you laughed, but you had to wait for a while. What I'm saying is that my interpreter has to listen to the message, process the ideas, and then reformulate these ideas into the other language. (Voiceover interpreting Chinese into English) I know many of you are thinking there are so many good tools today such as Google Translate. Is it good enough to take care of our translation needs? You don't have to wait for Google Translate to deliver. Well, in some circumstances, these tools can help us, but they have their own problems. They only process words, not ideas. They cannot think or predict. They have no cultural sensitivity or emotional intelligence. So we cannot depend on them. We need to hire humans to help us translate and interpret. (Voiceover interpreting Spanish into English) Now this takes me to the next question. Why doesn't everybody just speak English? This is a question that everybody has posed in the English-speaking world. But I would answer by saying, why don't we all speak Chinese like Laura? Or Russian? Or Spanish? Well, I think the best answer to this question comes from the words of Nelson Mandela who said: "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. But if you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." So, that is why we need translators and interpreters, and we also know that words matter, and that true communication is much more than words. That's where translators and interpreters bridge the gap between cultures and languages. And we are happy to have our interpreters here at TEDxMonterey. LB: (Spanish) Thank you. BO: (Chinese) Thank you. (Applause) A big round of applause for Miguel Garcia, please! (Applause) LB: Thank you.