Since spoken language originated, we humans have done our best to circumvent language barriers using interpretation services. Interpretation is the mental translation of a source language into a target language in the mind of the interpreter, conveyed to the listener in real time. Today, interpretation can be accomplished in different ways depending on the situation, setting, and equipment involved. Today we want to concentrate on simultaneous interpretation, often known as conference interpretation. We’ll look at some examples of how simultaneous interpretation and its sibling methods have been used in the past, what is happening now, and what might happen next.
Simultaneous and consecutive interpretation have been regularly used throughout global history. In fact, interpretation precedes the written word, linking cultures through detailed oral accounts, songs, and stories. Royalty, clergy, and military leaders used the services of interpreters, who relayed messages that would change the course of the world. In these cases that pre-date our modern equipment, simultaneous interpretation could be done using the whisper technique, where the interpreter stands or sits close to the listener and conveys the message in a low tone.
The Nuremberg Trials of 1945-1946 saw the first official use of simultaneous interpretation in such a setting. This proved effective for the scale and diversity of such an event. For heads of state who were not well studied in languages other than their own, like British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, it was a necessity and a relief. Simultaneous interpretation changed the look of the industry; interpreters now sat in small, soundproof cubicles and served their listeners with a headset and microphone.
The use of simultaneous interpretation got a fair amount of pushback from the establishment, which favored consecutive interpretation as more reliable and elegant. This debate continued until 1951, when simultaneous interpretation became the standard for such high-profile events. 1951 saw the number of languages used by the United Nations grow from French and English to include Spanish, Russian, and Chinese. Continuing to use consecutive interpretation would take far too long. Though simultaneous interpretation is fast-paced and difficult, it holds the advantage over consecutive interpretation in large, non-intimate settings, hence calling it “conference” interpretation. Consecutive interpretation is more effective for exchanges between a small number of people.
Conference interpretation is challenging work. The interpreter has almost no time to consider context or work out an unfamiliar word. Professional conference interpreters need to have such a level of skill at their craft that they will deliver only the most accurate interpretation of the source language to the listener in the target language. Other skills and talents of simultaneous interpreters are:
Simultaneous interpretation can take minutes, hours, or days. Interpretation work can be done in a quick chat on Skype, or last for weeks during high-stakes conferences with several different languages spoken. Selecting the right resources is key for the success of the language interpretation service.
Selecting the appropriate setting and providing the right equipment goes a long way in setting up a successful multilingual conference. Work with an experienced language translation company that will help you define and execute your need for a bilingual or multilingual simultaneous conference. You will need simultaneous interpretation equipment, a booth for the interpreters to work in, and technicians to plot the logistics of the event.
Today, simultaneous interpretation meets more needs than ever, offering access to information and facilitating communication. Several of the industries that use simultaneous interpretation services are listed here:
What Does This Mean to You?
Take time to explain your need and ask questions to learn about conference interpretation so you can make an informed decision. Work with a knowledgeable and resourceful translation agency that will have you covered from the planning to the closure of your conference. Conferences are complex and can take months to plan. Adding a multilingual aspect to such an event adds even more complexity and needs to be handled with finesse, knowledge, and enough time to coordinate all the elements appropriately. Hire a Translation company that has the experience to handle the details of conference interpretation. Like a conductor guides an orchestra, a professional translation and interpretation agency will coordinate all processes for a successful multilingual conference.