Interpreter Training Resources

t h e     o n l y      d e d i c a t e d      s i t e      f o r      s t u d e n t s      o f      c o n f e r e n c e     i n t e r p r e t i n g


Reformulation ideas

Back to menu


There are as many ways to turn one language version of an idea into target language version as there are ways of expressing the same idea in the target language irrespective of the original. Below are just a few ideas, they are not the only way to do things but rather a limited demonstration of how reformulation can be used as a problem solver by the interpreter.



Reformulation - generative strategies/examples
1 word order

2 parts of speech

3 negative and affirmative

4 editing the irrelevant

5 lists in reverse order

6 easy bits

a) changing word order in a clause

b) changing clause order in a sentence

a) changing word order in a clause

i) hold the first idea in a German sentence and tag it on at the end

Am 15.Nov entschied sich das Parlament fuer… The Parliament decided on 15th Nov that.… .
In Deutschland werden weitere Fortschritte gemacht Further progress is being made in Germany

ii) German prefers the order...


Sie haben sich letzte Woche in Muenchen wiedergefunden.
English prefers the order...


They met up in Munich last week.

iii) unbundling complex german qualifiers...

die am 4. marz an der Sitzung in Rom unterzeichnete Vertrag wurde.... On 4th march a contract was signed in Rome, which was...

iv) English likes compound nouns...

methodes de collectes de donnees data collection methods

b) changing clause order in a sentence

( see also James Nolan on changing the order of adverbial clauses.)

when we met in berlin last week, we ratified the committee’s draft opinion we ratified the committee’s draft opinion, when we met in berlin last week

i) Changing parts of speech

change nouns into verbs keine Vereinbarung failed to agree
change adjectives into verbs sont reeligibles may be re-elected
change nouns into adjectives c'est un probleme de... it's difficult to...
etc. etc.

ii) changing active verbs to passive and vice versa

(this can be a useful when you are waiting for the verb in German.)

wir haben das Parlament anschliessend zu dem am 15. erfolgreich abgeschlossenen Sitzung schriftlich informiert. Following the successful meeting of 15th the Parliament was informed in writing
ca se fabrique en Italie It's made in Italy
wir haben einige sehr interesante Dokumente entwurfen Some interesting documents have been drafted (by our team)

iii) "did" can be used in the normal affirmative sentence in English. It may add potentially undesired emphasis but it can help you when working for languages in which the verb can come very late in the sentence (like German).

The UN did the UN did , at its General Assembly Meeting in Geneva on the 11th May , agree that… Some interesting documents have been drafted (by our team)

Change affirmatives for words meaning the opposite in the the same meaning. (Or vice versa.)

plus que limité less than generous
limité not boundless
es geht mir nicht aus dem Kopf It's always on my mind
Das ist nicht Dein Ernst? Are you serious?
Aucun piste n'a été priviligié nothing has been ruled out



en ce qui concerne les tarifs , nous sommes d'accord

jezeli chodzi o tarify, jesteœmy tego samego zdania

we agree on tarifs

Lists do not always have to be given in the same order as the speaker gives them. Many lists contain 3 elements, as this is an oratorial technique often used, reproducing the list 1, 2, 3, in the order 1, 3, 2 can considerably ease the burden on short term memory


You can do at least three things with stuff like "let me just say " or "in 1998" or "I talked to John about this on Monday"

i) hold onto it to the very end of the section, because it requires almost no effort to remember it

ii) get it out of the way as quickly as possible, because it is not the crux of the intervention

iii) leave it just where it was in the original, risking sounding as inarticulate as the original, if, as is often the case, the phrase has been thrown in mid-sentence.




Top of Page Contact ITR
web hit counter