Memory is one critical aspect in interpreting industry that is not often highlighted. There’s this notion that interpreters are just ‘human dictionaries or walking encyclopaedias’.
But it’s so much more complex than that!
Sure, language skills are the bread and butter, but having a high level of focus, listening skill and short term memory mastery are a must.
Short-term memory plays an irreplaceable role in delivering the accurate and instantaneous interpretation that you see (or rather, hear!) especially when it comes to specific types of interpretation, like consecutive, whispered or simultaneous.
Interpretation memory has three types: namely immediate memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. When I’m in the heat of an interpreting session, there’s no pause button,it’s a real-time, on-the-spot mental exercise.
I am laser focussed, I listen, comprehend, remember, interpret, and convey the message with empathy.
All of this, believe it or not, unfolds within seconds, and most of it is powered by short- term memory. It’s like competing in a mental Olympics, with each successful interpretation marking a gold medal.🥇 I’m often asked how I juggle all this information so swiftly and accurately.
A combination of tried-and-true memory techniques and lots of practice (I.e. Information Visualization and Realization Training)
It’s a daily mental workout that keeps me ready for any interpreting challenge that comes my way.
Given the brain’s sensitivity to imagery I tend to memorize information by actualizing and visualizing information content.
Just as athletes push their physical limits, I, as an interpreter, continually push my mental limits.
So, next time you see an interpreter in action, remember, there’s a whole lot of short- term memory mastery behind those seemingly effortless interpreting. 😉 Just a thought – what techniques do you use to train your memory? I’d love to hear from you all!