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Section 7

Doing research on a given Forum topic. Super-specialising.

Some Forum speeches are super-specialised. This is why ad-hoc interpreters at Social Forums should know how to prepare for them.

7.1 Creating lexicons using the Forum programme

Here is the "programme" of the 2008 ESF. Please remember programmes often keep changing until the last moment, so consult them every so often to make sure you do not miss important information:

If you don't study the programme in depth, you lack your Forum ABCs. If you are an ad-hoc interpreter for the next Social Forum please dedicate at least one hour this week to have a look at the programme and the links to other webpages that it provides.

When deciding which glossaries to translate or create first, please use your common sense; some topics appear more often than others. For example (find a similar example in your own language), if you interpret from/into Polish/English, and you see that the "Grupa EFTE Warszawa" is in the programme, you can go to their webpage and find any specific vocabulary. Ask yourself whether you can say it all in English/Polish. Then, looking at the programme, you can guess more or less which topics might interest activists from the "Grupa EFTE Warszawa". These will probably be the same topics they will discuss during the Forum. In other words, you will probably have to interpret from English into Polish discussions on these topics.

Please create a lexicon while you do your research, otherwise you will forget the vocabulary. Tell your lexicon coordinator about the topic first; it would be useless to repeat work if a lexicon on a topic already exists for your language. You may also want to look for actual speeches, and not only general information, by the "Grupa EFTE", for example, from their webpage, Google or YouTube. It is also a good idea to complete or revise existing lexicons.

Last but not least, please bear in mind that by the start of the Forum you will need to become familiar will all the vocabulary in your language combination. For the most common language combinations in the ESF, every topic is important and will need interpreting. If your language combination is a popular one, make a list of the recurrent topics you know the least about and treat one each week. Becoming familiar with so many specific words is not a quick task to accomplish, so I recommend that you treat one specific topic a week, i.e. this week you could focus on Ecology, Climate change, etc. If your language combination is less common, you may decide to start with specific vocabulary on, let's say, the fight against imperialism in Turkey, if the participants you believe might need your interpreting skills and language combination are from the 'Kurdish Democratic Society Coordination', for example. Or you might begin with the topic of Fair Trade if you believe you will have to interpret for activists of the 'Grupa EFTE'.

Start working on specialised lexicons this week, after having gone through the whole programme, looking for what you think is essential for your language combination.

At this point, it is important that you make a list of your priority topics for the coming weeks.


a) Choose a specialised Forum-related topic for which interpreting is likely to be needed in your language combination.
b) Find real speeches on that topic in your language combination(s). Remember to focus on Forum speeches.
c) Find ready-made glossaries on that topic in your language combinations(s).
d) Compare b) and c) in order to create your own specialised glossary on the topic.
e) Find the speakers who are most likely to attend a seminar on that given topic and read their biographies.

Case Studies

Prepare for each of the following subjects BEFORE interpreting the videos. Do searches on the Internet, find any documents or lexicons that may be of help. Share your lexicons and documentation with your classmates.

  1. You have volunteered to interpret an African fisherman who will speak in English. That is all you know. You have no access to the programme or the abstracts because the web server is down. Your colleagues have lost their lexicons and you interpret in two hours. Fortunately, you have your laptop and you can find an Internet connection. What do you do?
  2.  You have volunteered at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre (Brasil) at a seminar entitled 'Strategies for the Democratisation of the Media'. You will be working from and into your mother tongue, as there will also be questions and answers at the end of the seminar. How do you prepare for it?
  3. You will be interpreting at a conference entitled 'Principles and Values, Human Rights, Diversity and Equality: for Full Access to Water, Food and Land'. You were supposed to have volunteered for another conference, but a colleague has been taken ill and you are the only person available. It is 10am, you will interpret at 12:15, half an hour away from where you are. This means you have to leave at 11:15am. Explain the steps you will follow to find information on the conference.

Copyright 2008, de los Autores de los Cursos. Cite/attribute Resource. Section 7. (2009, March 10). Retrieved February 17, 2020, from OCW-USAL Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Creative Commons License