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The problem of dragoman exhaustion
From;  Author:Stand originally

Note From The Editor: These Are The Notes Taken 10 Years Ago By A Coleague When Attending Short-term Free Courses On Interpretation Given By AIIC Members In Rome. And He Came Across This Note About The Fatigue Everyone Of Us Often Experiences. Thingking This Message By Seleskovitch (from Late 60s) Still Holds True Even Today, he Wants Me To Put It On My Webpage And Solicite Comments From Anyone Interested In This Issue.

Fatigue (experienced By Interpreters)

If We Add Up The Number Of Working Hours Involved In A Day Of Simultaneous Interpretation, we Will Thus Find That Productive Work Accounts For Two Or Three Hours A Day, or 20, 000 Words Of Message, and That Listening, just As Exacting And Responsible A Task And As Tiring For The Interpreter As It Is For The Participants At A Meeting, accounts For Three Or Four Additional Hours. Finally, there Is The Preparation Which Conscientious Interpreters Do The Night Before, or Even A Few Days Before, by Studying The Working Documents Of The Meeting.


If One Considers, on Top Of This, that Booths Have Often Been Designed On The Assumption That The Interpreter Will Spend Very Little Time There When In Fact They Spend Entire Days There, and That They Are, for The Most Part, poorly Ventilated, uncomfortable And Difficult To Get Out Of For A Breath Of Fresh Air;that The Interpreter's Earphones Are Often Of Poor Quality, which Means The Sound Must Be Turned Up So High That It Causes Headaches And Acoustic Traumas, it Is Hardly Surprising That Simultaneous Interpretation Often Yields Poor Results. It Is Hardly Surprising, either, that Most Interpreters Seek To Recuperate As Best As They Can, leave The Booth When They Are Not Working Instead Of Following The Discussions, fail To Prepare Sufficiently, and When Fatigue Sets In, as Is Inevitable After The Meeting Has Been In Progress For A Couple Of Hours, give Up Trying To Understand Altogether, and From Then On Mechanically Recite Words That Are Suggested To Them By Those They Hear In The Other Language, or Even Refuse To Try And Understand (a Very Understandable Tactic Of Self-preservation) .


We Will Not Improve This State Of Affairs By Moral Exhortation; No Human Being Is Capable Of Maintaining Over A Long Period Of Time The Effort That Good Simultaneous Interpretation Requires. The Problem Will Be Solved Only When Satisfactory Working Conditions Have Been Established. This Means, first And Foremost, significantly Increasing The Number Of Interpreters Hired For A Conference And Therefore Reducing The Working Time Of Each Interpreter By At Least A Half. It Would Follow Thus That, at The Very Least, the Number Of Interpreters Would At Least Be Doubled, that A Much Greater Part Of The Individual Interpreter's Working Day Would Be Devoted To Preparation And Listening, and That The Amount Of Speaking Time Would Be Reduced Proportionately.
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