Natalies Aries wrote:
Do the interpreters for conference get the talks ahead of time so they can practice? If not, then I'm just in awe at how they can keep up with it all. Do you just listen or can you read the talk as you are interpreting? I felt for the man that was doing Presidents talk on Sunday and he was listing all the names of various countries. My fingers (and brain) got tired just watching him fingerspell that much.
For many years, talks were not available to ASL interpreters until literally the day of their assignments which made for some interesting shotgun approaches to interpretations. Since ASL interpreting is now supervised by the Translation Department, there is much more emphasis on helping ASL interpreters better prepare for their work.
At this most recent October 2007 conference, over ninety languages were being simultaneously interpreted; in order for those interpretations to not only be linguistically but also semantically and culturally accurate, access to the texts prior to their delivery is vital; ASL interpreters are no different. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule in a live broadcast; of note this last conference, as I looked at the agenda for the Sunday morning session, I were not aware to whom the words "new member of the First Presidency" or "new member of the Quorum of the Twelve" referred. I received texts not long before they were expected to be at the pulpit.
What you're watching the ASL interpreters "perform" is simultaneous interpretation and (depending on the interpreter's preparation) translation. Reading the talk as it is being delivered, however, is, cognitively, an impossibility: listening to the speaker, producing signs, visually following along with the speaker on a teleprompter, and anticipating any ad libbing or deviation from the given text is impossible to do. That is why prior preparation--and this is a general principle for any interpreting assignment, religious or health-related or educational--is important time spent prior to an assignment.
As for the fingerspelling and the interpreter's speed, well, that's just good old-fashioned CGI and movie special effects. ;)