Interchangeable Translation & Interpreting Techniques 贯穿套用笔译及口译技巧

Under immense pressure from a tight client rush job deadline, my speed shot from 250 source words per hour to 800 words an hour translating a news opinion for the People's Daily yesterday. Of course, the topic of international trade relations, economic growth and oil trading were not contexts unfamiliar to me after years of sales trading in investment banks and other financial institutions. And after all, I was once a trained media practitioner and vaguely still recalled the laws of journalistic writing. Still, it was a personal best in record timing that surprised myself. There had to be a reason, other than duress. 


在客户临时赶工时限的巨大的压力下, 我昨天给人民日报的一篇新闻社论做笔译时, 翻译速度竟然从每小时250的原文字数飙到一小时译800字。 当然, 所涉及的国际贸易关系、经济成长、石油贸易等课题并不是我所陌生的语境内容。 再者, 我毕竟曾经受过大众传播媒介训练, 对于媒体撰写的文法还是有点儿模糊的印象。 不过, 这个笔译速度上的个人最高纪录还是让自个儿都吃了一惊。 当中肯定蕴含什么理由吧, 压力的胁迫除外。

Of course, I am but an interpreter-in-training. But I thought I'd share some thoughts on the relationship between translation and interpreting techniques that I have observed thus far. Not so much acquired - no, there is still far more training that I require. But whilst I may not be a fully qualified interpreter now, I'd say I do have the habits of critical thinking and scrutinizing others. It doesn't always work out well in my interpersonal relationships (nobody likes to be pointed out on every minute detail all the time, even if it is meant as constructive feedback, trust me), it has always been an anchor for my journey in learning. 


当然, 我不过就是实习中的口译员。 不过我想分享一些我至今观察的笔译与口译技巧之间的关系。 并非我已练就的 - 不,我需要的训练还很多呢。 而是, 虽然我目前还未成为合格的口译员, 不过我自认我有批判性思考及观察入微的习惯。 这在人际关系上往往适得其反 (相信我, 没人喜欢在每个小细节上都时刻被提醒, 即便是建设性反馈), 不过在我个人的学习旅程却是靠谱的压舱石。



Translation requires a lot more finesse than interpreting. People misunderstand the concepts all the time, often thinking that any bilingual can translate or interpret. Not true. Bilingualism is merely the entry level to translation and interpreting. A proper, quality translation involves mass amounts of decision making from syntax, lexical or word choices, to corpus-based research for the right register. A piece of translation will never be the same given to two translators, and of course, writing in itself being an art form, is subjective when it comes to critiquing on the final product. The decisions made by a translator on how and why he or she chose to translate this way reflects his or her prioritization and translation strategies. Translation can be a carefully crafted process, if you have the luxury of time. But in the realistic commercial world, time is money and speed is often directly proportionate to your income. Especially in this real-time world that we live in today, clients expect swift responses and timely delivery with minimal sacrifice on quality. 


笔译相对口译更讲究「信、达、雅」。 人们时常误解翻译为任何有双语能力的人就能够胜任笔译或口译工作。 其实不然。 双语不过是笔译与口译的入学门槛。 一篇正规、有质量的译文, 是蕴含了大量的决策 - 从文法、架构、措辞的选择至研究语料库查证适当的语域, 每一篇原文到了不同的译者笔下都会呈现出不同的译法译文。 当然, 写作本身就是一门艺术; 译文的评价因人而异, 是主观的。 译者在决定怎么译、为何这样译, 反映了译者的优先考量与翻译策略。 笔译可以是匠心过程 - 前提是你有「时间」这个奢侈品。 不过在现实的商业世界里, 时间既是金钱, 而速度往往和收入成正比。 特别是在我们这个即时的现今世界 - 客户要求迅速的回复以及适时达成却不牺牲质量的完成品。



Interpreting on the other hand, is verbalized and instantaneous. Meaning, what is translated is more often than not... gone with the wind, literally. Unless you have the misfortune of being taped on the job, which is another matter and usually happens only when you are that good, you're famous or interpreting for a very privileged person that somebody actually wants to turn on the camcorder for. 


口译则是即时用说的来「交货」。 换言之, 译文往往「随风而逝」。。。 除非您不幸被录了下来, 那就另当别论。 这种情况一般只发生在有知名度的译者身上, 或是您在给大人物当口译才会有人费事操作摄像机来拍您。



Therefore, whilst translating and interpreting share similar traits and basic principles such as accuracy, optimal and complete transfer of source meaning in a coherent manner, and preferably, in native target language fluency, there is a different set of priorities between the two. 


因此, 虽然笔译与口译有许多相似之处与基本导则, 例如精准性、尽量将原文意思完整清晰地以流利顺畅的目的语表达出来,两者之间还是本着不同的一套优先因素。



Due to the very nature of interpreting having to be performed almost instantaneously, requiring keen listening, lightning-fast comprehension, transfer to target language and organizing your delivery before you verbalize it all within split seconds (for simultaneous interpreting), I'd noticed some tricks whilst observing my seniors at a school-organized mock conference. Their cheatsheet, was an arsenal of phrases ready to be coined in specific contexts, and to throw out as much information as soon as the incoming utterances made sense, so as to maximize space (be it time for delivering the subsequent interpreting or brain processing capacity) to receive new information. For example, if you hear the below




as an interpreter, upon hearing “首先要指出的是”, it should be natural instinct to spit out "firstly, it should be pointed out that...". In fact, on hearing "首先", it should almost be like a reflex action to go "firstly". Hearing the next “迄今为止”, we should be mumbling "till date..." and so on and so forth. The trick, or rule of thumb is, once coherence is possible with that utterance, you convey and throw it out so that it's out of the way. 


由于口译的本质便是「即时翻译」,需要强化的聆听技巧, 神速的理解分析能力, 在数秒间转换到目的语并加以整理再译(同步传译便是), 我倒是观察到了学长姐们在校内举办的一次模拟会议中所运用的应对技巧。 她们的法宝, 便是犹如小叮当八宝袋的一箩筐惯用词汇, 应不同语境直接套用, 一旦原文信息明确便立即「丢出去」, 以最大量化腾出空间(不论是给自己腾出转述译文的时间空间或是腾出脑容量处理信息的空间)来接收新信息。 举例而言, 如果听到以下原文:




身为口译员, 一旦听到 “首先要指出的是”, 自然反应应该就是立马吐出 "firstly, it should be pointed out that..."。 甚至说, 一听到“首先” 的反射性动作应该就是说出 "firstly"。听到下一段“迄今为止”, 我们应该就是在呢喃着 "till date...", 以此类推。 其技巧, 也可以说是经验法则, 就是: 一旦信息理解成型, 立即译 - 「丢出去」, 让其不阻碍你接收新信息。



So how did I pull off an F1 race speed on my translation job yesterday? Subconsciously, I'd applied my interpreting training upon my translation process - I speed-read and translated whatever I could as soon as it made sense. Of course, this was only possible because I already had fundamentals in translation techniques - trained to make split second decisions on why I chose to translate this way. I proofread as I translated, and as a daily habit, I am always conscious of my grammar and spelling so that it does not become my stumbling block when translating.


所以, 我昨天是怎么像F1赛车速度一样地译文呢? 原来潜意识中我把口译训练出来的技巧套用在笔译的过程中了 - 速读中一旦有信息成型, 我便进行翻译。 当然, 能这么做是基于笔译技巧有一定的成熟度 - 我已被培训为瞬间能做出翻译抉择。 我边译遍校对, 而平日里惯性注意文法与拼写, 培养这种自觉性, 让文法与拼写不成为翻译时的绊脚石。



Even as I was speed-translating, I was consciously aware of my word choices, register and strategies, such that I could confidently justify my translation effortlessly to the client anytime - a key demonstration to clients that you are a professional and know what you are doing. 


即使是在速读, 我也很明确自知措辞、语域及策略上的选择。 客户随时问及,我也能答辩自如, 解释我为什么这样翻译。 这点对于展示专业度至关重要 - 体现给客户的是, 您明确清楚自己在做什么。



So, I completed a 1,207-word assignment for a big client on a technical topic on a 1.5-hour deadline, with 6 minutes to spare. Yes, I'm happy about it. 

就这样, 一个大客户的技术性原文, 1207字, 一个半小时的时限, 我还提早6分钟交货了。 没错, 感觉很好。






Jes Chan 陈欣慧 (捷思)

Principal Consultant | 首席顾问






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