Note-taking

Note-taking is one of the most important skills that consecutive and liaison interpreters must possess.

This process consists of writing down the main ideas of the discourse and any necessary connectors, in a manner that facilitates memory support when reproducing the new discourse.  It is important to remember that the interpret should only take down ideas or concepts, not words, and that the notes should serve as memory triggers, but never a substitution.  For this reason, interpreters should not dedicate an excessive amount of effort to trying to write down the entire discourse, but instead, only the necessary ideas or key words that will help them with the reformulation of the speech. 

Although it is more common for interpreters to develop their own note-taking systems based on their own experience and needs, certain common principals as well as certain frequently used symbols exist that generally make it easier to take notes in an efficient manner.

In reference to symbols, Rozan proposes twenty main symbols that may assist in the efficiency of the note-taking process.  However, the interpreter may already be aware of other symbols that can be utilized in different contexts and can be given various meanings depending on the discourse that is being interpreted.  Therefore, we have provided a basic list of symbols that refer to frequently used concepts that have been proven to be useful when taking notes for a long period of time.  This is simply a preliminary list.  Keep in mind that interpreters should develop their own individual note-taking systems that they find helpful and are comfortable with.

It is also necessary to stress that the notes that the interpreter takes should be organized and easy to understand in order to avoid having to decipher them because of the use of too many symbols.  The processing and analyzing of the discourse, which are much more challenging, should have already been done before the reproduction has started.