Simultaneous interpreting is suitable for large meetings, seminars, workshops, round-table discussions and conferences, especially for an event that lasts the whole day or for a multilingual event. Two interpreters are always required. They sit in a soundproof booth and interpret into a microphone as the presenter is speaking. The participants who do not understand the source language listen through a headset. Speakers can present without thinking about the translation, and the delegates who understand the source language do not have to listen to the translation.
Advantages of simultaneous interpreting
– it does not prolong the duration of the event
– speakers can speak naturally at a reasonable speed and do not have to stop for the interpreter
– delegates who understand the source language do not have to listen to the translation
– it allows for more dynamic communication
– it does not interrupt the flow of the discussion
Things to consider
– additional equipment is required (booths, sound system, headsets, microphones)
– at least 2 interpreters are always needed
– speakers must speak into the provided microphones because the interpreters are in soundproof booths.
Advice to organisers
When organising an event with simultaneous interpreting, you will need to make sure there is room for the booths (unless they are already available in the venue) and equipment. The booths must be situated in such a way as to allow the interpreters to see the speakers and, if necessary, the screen where a presentation is projected. If this is not possible, printed material with the presentation should be delivered to the interpreters in the booth. It is also desirable to forward all available material to the interpreters a few days in advance so that they can prepare, especially if the topic involves specialist terminology. Naturally, such material will be treated with the utmost confidentiality and, if required by the organiser or the presenter, it will be returned to them after the conference.
It would also be useful to mention in advance that the event will be simultaneously interpreted and to inform the speakers of the tips for speakers below.
Tips for presenters/speakers
When a presentation is interpreted simultaneously, speakers may speak at normal speed, without stopping. However, speakers have to be aware that the presentation is being interpreted and that the interpretation accuracy greatly depends on the manner of speaking. Therefore we would like to give the following tips:
· whenever possible speak in your mother tongue
· always turn on the microphone when you wish to speak, and turn it off when you have finished. Although you think that your voice is loud enough for the audience, the interpreters are in soundproof booths, and cannot hear you if the microphone is turned off
· take off or turn off the headset when the microphone is on, and do not put the headset near the microphone because this causes interference. Similarly, please make sure that mobile phones are not placed near the microphone
· do not bang the microphone or the “bug” to check whether it works. If you need to cough, please cover the microphone or turn it off for a moment. Try not to shuffle through paper near a working microphone
· speak naturally, and avoid reading. If you have a written speech, it is very important to give a copy of it to the interpreters, and not to read at great speed
· if you mention numbers, names or acronyms, pronounce them clearly and more slowly
· if you wish to read something from the material that was previously distributed to the delegates (and interpreters), state clearly the page or part of the text where the paragraph you are going to read is, and wait a few seconds for everyone to find it
· feel free to come to the booth before the beginning of the meeting, or during a break, and talk to the interpreters. We will be grateful for all the assistance and feedback you can give us.
Consecutive interpreting is suitable for smaller meetings, tours, visits, lunches and dinners where the assistance of an interpreter is needed. It can also be used in workshops when the facilitators want to have direct communication with the interpreter(s). It is not suitable for long lectures and seminars, or for multilingual conferences, where simultaneous interpreting is the better choice.
No special equipment is necessary for consecutive interpreting. The interpreter may make notes while the speaker is speaking. When the speaker pauses, the interpreter will give a summary of what has been said in the target language. If the meeting or speech lasts longer than 2-3 hours, two interpreters will be needed, changing on average every half an hour.
Advantages of consecutive interpreting
– no additional equipment is needed
– the interpreter may accompany a group of people on a visit or tour
– the interpreter can ask for clarification if he/she has not heard or understood something
– while the interpreter is interpreting, the speaker can use the time to think about what to say next
Things to consider
– consecutive interpreting prolongs the meeting, thus this time must be calculated in the programme
– it may be tiring for the audience in longer meetings because even those who understand the source language have to listen to the translation
– speakers must pause after every few sentences
– while the interpreter interprets what has been said, the flow of discussion is interrupted
Whispering interpretation (chuchotage) is a technique whereby the interpreter is seated next to one or two meeting participants and interprets by whispering. This technique is used mainly when only very few people need interpretation. Whispering is not recommended when there are more than two listeners or when several interpreters need to work in the same room. It is only suitable for short meetings where only 1 or 2 persons do not understand the source language. It is not suitable for long meetings because it is very hard on the interpreter’s vocal chords. It is usually done in combination with consecutive interpreting.
Tips for organisers
When you organise an event where consecutive interpreting will be provided, take into account that the interpreter(s) will have to sit or stand in a place where he or she can hear well all the speakers, and see any presentations. If this is an event where there are only 1 or 2 foreigners, and you want the interpreter to whisper to them, secure a place for the interpreter (and a glass of water) near the person who needs the interpretation. It would be a good idea to plan a pause every hour and a half. Even when the participants wish to continue with the meeting, the interpreter has to concentrate and speak all the time, so a break is really needed.
Sometimes it happens that all the participants know the context of what is being discussed and know all the related acronyms and abbreviations, although the interpreter might be less familiar with these. In order to ensure successful interpretation, it is important to send material to the interpreters in advance, or to explain the context to them before the meeting begins. Again, we guarantee that all the material supplied will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. Naturally, this applies to all the information presented during the meeting.
Tips for speakers
When your speech is consecutively interpreted, it is important that you pause after one or two sentences and allow the interpreter to interpret what you have said. Speak loud and clearly enough for the interpreter to hear you. If you need to read something, please tell the interpreter where to find the text that you are reading, or pass him/her the text after you have read it. If you mention an acronym or abbreviation for the first time, say what the letters stand for, unless you are confident that the interpreter already knows this information. As in the case of simultaneous interpreting, any form of assistance or feedback is very welcome. Feel free to talk to the interpreters if you have any questions, or if you wish to suggest a particular translation of a specific term.