Interrelation between public speaking and interpretation
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №4 - 2012
Mechsheryakova Tatyana, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Novitskaya Yuliya, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Nothing in life is more important than the
ability to communicate effectively.
Gerald R. Ford
speaking has gained importance in the course of time due to the economic and
social development of the world. The development predetermined increased number
of job interviews, various types of meetings (business, interpersonal, public,
etc.), product presentations, workshops and other types of purposeful
interaction. It is now important to be able to express your thoughts
professionally and to persuade people to act and think in a certain way. More
and more leaders and people concerned with their future now realize value of
good interpersonal communication skills. Therefore, communicative competence is
one of the most essential traits a successful person needs to have in order to
speaking is very stressful activity. Many people experience so-called “stage
fright”, or “glossophobia”, which is a common fear of public speaking. However,
we should not confuse common nerves and anxiety with the phobia . While
public speaking is formidable and frightening process itself, dealing both with
translation and speaking simultaneously is ever harder. The reason is that the
interpreter has to stay calm and be able to process what was said, to find
appropriate equivalents, combine the words into grammatically structured
sentences and to enunciate the result with confidence and smile, as if it was
easy and pleasant.
reason we believe it is necessary to teach students studying Interpretation
Science and Foreign Languages to combine these types of activity to be more
competitive and satisfy speakers and hearers. Lack of scientific resources is
the main obstacle that prevents scholars from teaching students two disciplines
in combination and even at the first stage of the entire educational process, when
the curriculums are being drawn. However, a lot of attention had been given to
the processes of interpretation and public speaking separately. Therefore, let
us begin the journey of exploring and integration of these two processes.
speaking is a process, an act and an art of making a speech before an audience”
. Every person at some point of his/her life faced inevitability of performing
in public. Only to some people it was limited to simple sharing of information,
while others had persuasion as their primary goal. It is not a secret today
that giving a speech publicly is an assiduous and onerous work. Even brilliant
speakers, not to mention the beginners, ask themselves the following question
quite frequently: How to do it? Many techniques and methods were developed and
suggested by famous speakers and scholars since ancient times. We can
confidently use those rules developed in Ancient Greece today, as it did not
lose its relevancy and value with ages. Let us observe how the tips and techniques
of public speaking have been developing in the course of time.
first public speaking work, “Three Basic Parts of Persuasion”, was created by
the Greek philosopher Aristotle over 2000 years ago. The parts mentioned in
this creation are ethos (credibility or the speaker), logos (logic), and pathos
researchers of the matter were Romans, as they copied and modified rules
developed by Ancient Greek. Marcus Tullis Cicero, who was a politician and
philosopher using his public speaking abilities to gain power in a society and
lead people, wrote the “De Oratore” treatise with “Five Canons of Rhetoric” explanation.
He believed in five main steps constituting the process of successful public
speaking: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery .
Later, in America, public speaking was a powerful tool of revolution and renovation. Intense speeches
of persuasive colonial speakers forced American colonists to take action.
Public speaking contributed greatly to end slavery in the United States when Abraham Lincoln gave his famous “Gettysburg Address” speech in 1863. Dale
Carnegie was the first who taught public speaking in America in the XX century.
There were a series of radio and television broadcasts with powerful and touching
speeches. The most remembered one, which is still used as an example of oratory
and human will, is “I Have a Dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King .
speeches are used for various reasons: to sell the product, to represent
certain item or a person, to share findings of a particular research, and
others. Most of the modern speeches consist of five basic elements, which can
be expressed as “Who is saying What to Whom using what Medium, with what
Effects?”  We believe that no component of this chain can be omitted if one
wants to have the material represented successfully. Moreover, the question
represented as a table or a figure should be used as somewhat a checklist when
preparing for the speech.
three major types of speeches used in modern world: impromptu, manuscript, and
extemporaneous speeches . The first type is very common, as any person can
be asked to share information or express opinion at the event or meeting.
Usually, there is very little time available to prepare the speech. In such
cases speakers rely on their ability to organize themselves and calm down, as
well as on sufficient amount of information to present. Manuscript speeches are
not that common and usually used at the political events when high officials
have to give a speech on a very important issue, which can touch on interests
of other officials and countries. Due to the seriousness of the events, this
type of speeches is given special consideration. Very frequently speakers use
manuscripts written by other people for them and read it word by word, avoiding
periphrasis and omitting. The last type, extemporaneous, is the most common
one. Confident and trained speakers only can succeed in such type of public
speaking, as it involves unlabored use of information, easiness of expressing
what one has to say, and flexibility.
But what is
the biggest obstacle the speaker faces when it is time to mount the rostrum?
Fear, and this fear is even bigger than fear of heights, spiders and even
death, according to national surveys and research results . What is the
nature of the public speaking fear? Firstly, it is for fear of being rejected
by so many people in the audience that makes us feel so nervous. Secondly, it
is fear of embarrassing ourselves, if our nervousness interferes with the
course of speech. It is necessary to overcome the stage fright, because
sometimes one’s entire future and career depend on the particular performance.
There are five ways suggested, which could help you fight with the fear and not
to be a prey to it.
First of all,
breathe deeply, because our breathing rate is directly connected to our
emotional reaction. This is the fastest and the most reliable method to take emotions
under control and regain confidence . Secondly, focus on your message, not
on physical aspects of your performance, i.e. shaky hands, butterflies, etc.
Next, visualize your successful performance. The method has been proved to work
for athletes, while recent researches showed it may be useful in the field of
communication, public speaking, and education. Take 10-15 minutes every day
prior to the day when you are giving a speech to relax and imagine yourself
speaking confidently to the audience, smiling and moving across the stage. Also
focus on facts, not fears, i.e. think of all the preparation that you have done
to get the speech delivered well, rather on the fear of forgetting certain
points or speaking too quiet. Finally, do not add complexity to your speech, although
it may be tempting if you want to show everyone how smart you are. Focus on
three main points and sort them out thoroughly instead. That will bring easiness
to your performance and lose fear of complexity and you not being able to handle
Next let us
explore what oral translation is. Interpretation is the facilitation of oral or
sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between
two, or among more, speakers who are not speaking, or signing, the same language
. Interpretation emerged long before written language was created, as people
of different languages, sign systems, and dialects had to communicate somehow.
Only after the advent of written language, translation originated. Theory and
practice of translation first were discussed in the antique world. Ancient
Greeks distinguished between metaphrase (literal translation) and paraphrase.
This distinguishing was further developed into the definition of the
translation itself by English poet and translator John Dryden: “Translation is
the judicious blending of these two modes of phrasing when selecting, in the
target language, “counterparts”, or equivalents, for the expressions used in
the source language .
interpreters only relied on their mastery of languages, memory capacity, and
broad background, as they were not specifically trained for entering this
profession. There are several legendary interpreters known in the history, who
serviced high officials: Jean Herbert, Andre Kaminker, and Prince Constantin
Andronikof. With development of the society and international community,
setting up of international organizations in particular, there was a growing
need for a much larger number of trained interpreters with excellent knowledge,
what is more important.
There are two
types of interpretation usually mentioned when it is classified: Consecutive
and Simultaneous. The first one represents oral translation of the speech
during the speaker’s pauses. It is used in the business field, at the meetings
and public events. The second one is when the speech is being translated during
the discourse without any pauses. This type is used at the multilingual
official events. It saves a lot of time, since the speaker does not have to
make pauses. Simultaneous interpretation is certainly the most difficult one,
and those who can perform this type are highly appreciated. Furthermore,
scholars and practicing interpreters also distinguish relay (when
interpretation between two languages is conducted with the help of the third
language), retour (when interpreting from your mother tongue into a foreign
language), pivot (using a single language as a relay), cheval (an interpreter
working alternatively in two booths in the same meeting), sign language
(simultaneous interpreting into sign language), and others .
operate the following concepts when describing how many languages and to what
extent one can speak: language regime and active/passive languages. An active
language is the one the interpreters speak that hearers can listen to. A
passive language, on the contrary, is the one the interpreters understand that
is spoken by the speakers. For example, when during the official meeting 12 nations
participate in hearings, it means there are 12 passive and 12 active languages,
i.e. all the official languages are interpreted into all the official
languages. Such regime is called complete and symmetric. When interpretation is
provided from less than the full number of official languages, the regime is
called reduced. In an asymmetric regime, the interpreter can speak more languages
than he/she can listen to. For instance, when it is said, that a meeting has an
8-4 regime, it means that delegates may speak 8 official languages, while interpretation
is only provided into 4 languages .
translation and interpretation are quite wanted professions nowadays, due to
globalization and international communication development. Hence, high quality
professional education in this field is required and theoretical basis has to
be set. In reality, little attention is given to the theory of interpretation
as a subject when the Interpretation Studies are taught in higher education
institutions. One can see that there are all sorts of disciplines related to
the translation, with rules, suggestions, guidance, practice, etc. However,
when it is time to learn oral translation, students only receive limited
knowledge on the subject-matter and a lot of practice. We agree, that a
constant, never-ending practice is essential for successful speaking, not only
interpretation, however, having learnt some principles, instructions, and tips
on how to do interpretation would play a significant role in developing required
skills in students.
above, both public speaking and interpretation are crucial types of activities
in modern world. The ongoing development of those makes proper education
required and essential. But how do these activities correlate?
First of all,
high grade conference interpretation is impossible without adequate training.
Say, the interpreter speaks fluent target language with the correct equivalents
to idioms and different stylistic devices. However, when it is needed to
perform consecutive interpretation in the official meeting or a conference, the
interpreter might be so nervous and anxious, his speech would be of a low quality
with mediocre use of lexical devices, wording, etc. Thus, great knowledge and
excellent interpretation skills may be hidden by the “stage fright”.
On the other
hand, good public speaking skills may sometimes save situation and help in
delivering interpretation. When a person is aware of necessity to keep the tone
confident and positive, of using clichés and wording choice which is
usually used at the similar events, knowing this may help conceal the gaps of
the content understanding, if the interpreter lacks specific knowledge, for
example, greetings, professional field vocabulary, etc.
consideration everything aforementioned, it may be concluded that public
speaking and interpretation are interrelated. Public speaking skills determine
the quality of interpretation when performed publicly and its essence in whole.
Oratory can be considered as a tool for improving and perfection of the text
produced during the process of translation. Not being confident speaker
yourself can disserve all the efforts for making good quality translation.
The fact that
there is little useful and relevant information given to students makes the
necessity to scrutinize the point of integrating public speaking into the interpretation
science is of a key importance and actuality. Only by combining these two
disciplines can we achieve required level of preparation of future
interpreters. On the other hand, neglecting the importance of using both skills
can bring harm to the interpreter’s competence and efficacy. We believe that
new discipline has to be designed and included into the curriculum of higher
education institution. A thorough research of the students’ needs, wants, and
lacks, as well as environment has to be conducted in order to include all the
required information in the course to make it of the most use. We can be assured
that after studying this course successfully in combination with general progress
on other courses required for the Interpretation Science major, the graduate
will be a professional who is ready to go out to the world and perform
excellently to honor his/ her Alma Mater.
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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №4 - 2012