We’re back with a new interpreting exercise for interpretation students and professionals who are looking for a speech for practice, either consecutive or simultaneous interpretation. This one is about whales, and it’s considerably rich in terms of terminology, so please make sure to study the term list below before doing the exercise. Note: The Speech starts STRAIGHT AWAY!
Topic(s): Zooogy, Animals, Whaling
Terms: The Royal Society, revered, sperm whale, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, whaling, sperm oil, waxy liquid, extant animal, commodities, oil lamps, petroleum, kerosene, whalers, logbooks, harpooning, harpooners, dialect pattern, sonar clicks, defensive behaviour, defensive formations
Also check these books to learn and practice interpreting.
Good For Practicing:
- Interpreting note-taking or simultaneous interpretation practice
- Non-standard accent
- Zoology and energy terminology
Also available on Speechpool.
If you’ve found this post helpful or think it could be useful to a friend who perhaps is – or is planning to become – an interpreter, please kindly consider buying me a coffee by using the button below:
I put all my heart and soul into the content I produce in order to help my fellow linguists set foot in the industry. Most of what I do is available to everyone for free.
Donating is 100% optional, but greatly appreciated. A short espresso will do! ☕
*Please check the script only after you’ve done the note-taking exercise, otherwise that’s cheating! 🙂
‘In 2021, The Royal Society published what is likely to be one of the most interesting studies about one of the most mysterious and revered animals on Earth: the sperm whale.
It may be due to its massive size (with some individuals reaching more than 20 metres in length and weighting up to 80 tons) or due to the fact it is the main character in one of the most iconic novels ever written (I am, of course, talking about Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’) – but regardless of the exact reason, the truth is: it’s hard not to feel fascinated by these wonderful creatures.
It’s a well-known fact that sperm whales have the largest known brain mass of any extant animal, averaging 7.8 kg in mature males and measuring 8,000 cubic centimetres. So it’s no surprise they’re regarded as one of the most intelligent animals on the planet. And there’s a new study to prove even further just how notoriously intelligent they are.
You may already know that whaling was once a major industry. For centuries, sperm oil (a waxy liquid obtained from sperm whales) was one of the most important commodities in the world, because it was essential to produce oil lamps: people were able to light their houses thanks to whales. Eventually, it got replaced by petroleum (more specifically kerosene, a petroleum derivative) – although that shift only started in 1854.
Back in the day, whalers used to sail for prolonged periods – sometimes for years – in order to hunt whales to extract their oil. But here’s what the researchers have found: the data from logbooks of American whalers in the North Pacific found that the rate at which whalers succeeded in harpooning sighted whales fell by about 58% over the first few years of exploitation.
Were harpooners just getting sloppier at their job as the years went by? The researchers don’t think so. Their main conclusion is the following: whales were quick to learn effective defensive behaviour. Not only that, they could probably sense and coordinate behaviour over ranges of several kilometres.
In other words, through the dialect pattern of their sonar clicks, different groups of whales were passing information about the new dangers (that is, whalers) to one another. They adopted new methods to escape by abandoning their usual defensive formations, a surprising new behaviour that can be understood as a cultural evolution, a swift reaction to a new predator: humans.
As a result, they became harder to hunt, which explains the staggering drop in harpooning accuracy in just a matter of years. Humans stayed the same; whales got better. It’s another wonderful example of Nature finding a way.’