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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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The Interpreter's Challenge

December 3, 2013, 11:16 AM

The skills of an oral translator - what we today call an interpreter - are very special and it’s not enough to know the two languages.  You have to know what the subject is really rather well.  You have to have a very quick mind and you have to have this peculiar ability to speak whilst you’re listening. 

Obviously some people who are well trained to an international career know how to speak in chunks and to leave little gaps for the interpreter to catch up.  It was once my great privilege to interpret for Prince Charles. He, of course, basically from birth has been trained to speak in that way with gap, but most of the time with most people it’s really very difficult because speech flows.  It doesn’t have gaps that correspond to the gaps in the other language and the interpreter has to pay 100% attention to what’s being said and at the same time be able to speak without that affecting or interrupting his ability to listen. 

That is a skill that not many people have, even people who are very, very good at two or three or four languages and finding people like that is quite difficult and today there are real problems of recruitment and staffing for the big international organizations that employ and need consecutive and simultaneous interpreters.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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The Interpreter's Challenge

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