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Interpreting: Two Quick Memory Exercises

Interpreting: Two Quick Memory Exercises
Posted on the Weblog of Translation Times
During last week's amazing 54th Annual American Translators Association Conference, several colleagues commented on the fact that we had good memory, as we tend to remember spouses' names, pets' names, and anecdotes that colleagues told us the previous year. We do think that we have decent memory, as we are both working interpreters, but just like all interpreters, we constantly work on it. Please read on for two simple exercises that we've been doing for many years. They seem to work, so we will continue doing them.

A - Movie previews. This is an exercise we've done since long before we became interpreters. It's very simple and consists of memorizing, in their correct sequence, any movie previews that are shown at the movie theater before the actual movie starts. In the US, that's usually a total of five previews, and remembering them in their correct sequence after the movie (120 minutes or so) is a lot harder than you think. And no, we don't cheat and write them down, but we do silently repeat the titles of the movies back to ourselves a few times during the movie.

B - Reading and remembering. We are both voracious readers, but we read so quickly (to the tune of up to two books a week per person) that occasionally we don't pay too much attention to what we read and hence can't remember what we just read. In an effort to change that (nice side effect: memory training!), we started forcing ourselves every few pages to read a sentence that has a list of say, nouns (could be adjectives, too) and then continue reading for a few more sentences. After that, we stop and try to remember all the words in the list that we have just read. You can also try to remember a complete sentence if you prefer, but with fiction, that can be more difficult. For instance, a typical list could be: "She had been to New York, San Francisco, Zagreb, Crete, Oslo, Frankfurt, and Rome." Can you remember all these cities in the correct order after a minute or two? It's a bit of a challenge, but it's good for your brain and for your memory.

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