Section 5 - Sight / Consecutive Part 1

Sight translation transforms a written message into a spoken message. It involves reading a text silently in the source language, and then speaking it in the target language.

When an interpreter is asked to sight translate in court, it will likely involve a witness statement or other document written in a language not spoken in court proceedings. The court interpreter is asked to read it in English "for the record," and the translation will be recorded.

When the document is an English document, it is usually a court document to be read to the accused. It could be a sentencing order, bail conditions, conditions of probation, etc. It is vital that the court interpreter provide a complete and accurate sight translation of the document so the accused can understand the conditions imposed by the judge.

When do you sight translate in court?

You may be required to sight translate documents such as informations, indictments, peace bonds, bail and probation conditions, conditional and suspended sentences, etc. either in court or after court.

What will be tested?

Sight Translation - English to Other Language

The English text chosen for the sight translation exercise is about 250 words long and will be broken up into 5 or more segments. It is based on either a victim impact statement or a pre-sentence report.

During the Sight Translation task, which is the first part of the Sight/Consecutive exercise, you will read and translate the document in small segments of about 50-60 words each.

You will be allowed to familiarize yourself with the text. You will then be asked to begin sight translating the text.

The total time necessary to complete this first exercise is about 7 minutes.

Purpose of the Sight Translation

Your oral translation will be recorded and saved for the final part of the English test. You will not be graded on your translation of the initial English text into your other language.

In the second part of the exercise, which you will do during the last portion of the test, you will perform a consecutive interpretation of your own sight translation. You will be graded on your ability to consecutively interpret your sight translation back into English.

Note: It is very important, therefore, that you speak clearly and loudly in this part, so that you can hear and understand your own voice when you are recording the second half.

The second half of the sight translation / consecutive interpretation exercise is explained in more detail in Section 9 of this manual.

Practicing sight translation

This manual contains three practice texts for sight translation, along with a list of scoring units for one of the texts.

The three texts are typical texts that may be sight translated from English into the test language in court. For additional practice in sight translation from English into the test language, you should look for short English newspaper articles (about 250 words), preferably having to do with a court case.

For specific practice in sight translation from the test language into English, you will need short articles or stories in your language. They can be on legal issues or short stories of general interest.

To make the most of your practice sessions, you will need a recording device (a cassette recorder or a hand held digital recorder) to record your sight translations.

To practice sight translating, follow the seven stages (each including several steps) identified below.

Stage 1: Preparation for sight translation

  • Take a maximum of three minutes to read the text. You will not have the time to translate the whole text at this point. What you should do at this stage is:
    • get a general idea of the type and content of the text,
    • identify the main points,
    • pinpoint potential problems,
    • write down any equivalents that come to mind for key words, and
  • Try to segment the text into chunks that are large enough for analysis and comprehension, but short enough for oral translation. The segments can be
    • sentences (if they are short and simple),
    • phrases (if the sentence contains a number of specific details),or
    • clauses (if the sentence contains more than one clause).

Stage 2: Initial sight translation

  • Start the voice recorder at the end of three minutes.
  • Start translating segment 1 and read ahead to identify segment 2.
  • Repeat this step with the following segments, until you come to the last segment, which you translate.
  • Stop the voice recorder and check the time to ensure that you have taken no more than 4 minutes to sight translate 250 words.

Stage 3: Comparison of initial sight translation with source text

  • With the source text in hand, listen to your recorded sight translation segment by segment.
  • Pause the recording after each segment and underline in the source text the words, expressions or entire segments that appear to be incorrect.

    You may repeat these steps as often as you like.

Stage 4: Analysis and resolution of problems

  • Analyse the words, expressions and segments that you have marked as wrong after Stage 3. Try to determine why they caused you problems. Was it because:
    • you did not understand the word or expression?
    • you did not know the equivalent in the target language?
    • you lost track of the beginning of a long sentence?
  • Think of ways you can resolve these problems. Do any basic research required.

    While some dictionary consultation may be necessary, avoid looking up too many words in dictionaries at this point. In an actual situation, you may not have an opportunity to consult a dictionary during sight translation; so you should not rely on a dictionary for too much help during practice of sight translation. Try to understand words and expressions using the context (i.e. the surrounding text). Try to express the concepts using a phrase in your other language if a specific word does not come to mind.

Stage 5: Checking scoring units

  • If you are working on a sight translation text with scoring units indicated on a separate sheet, examine the scoring units at this stage. Listen again to your recorded sight translation, paying particular attention to the scoring units indicated. Note the units you got correct. Determine how to correctly translate those you missed.
  • If you are working on a sight translation text which does not have scoring units indicated on a separate page, examine the text and underline words and phrases that could be considered scoring units. Then listen again to your recorded sight translation, paying particular attention to those words and phrases. Note the units you got correct. Determine how to correctly translate those you missed.

Stage 6: Final sight translation

  • Redo the sight translation (following Stages 1 through 5).
  • Try to perform a more accurate and smoother sight translation than you did before.

Stage 7: Comparison of final sight translation with source text

  • Repeat Stages 3 through 5.
  • Note improvements in comparison with the initial sight translation.

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