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Bureau de Coordination des Interprètes de Conférence

Simultaneous, consecutive or whispered

The different modes of interpretation

Simultaneous interpretation in a booth

Simultaneous interpretation is carried out in a soundproofed glass booth. The interpreter receives the speaker’s words through headphones and translates them simultaneously into a microphone.

The listeners also hear the interpretation through headphones connected to a receiver that allows them to choose the language and adjust the volume.

Because of the need for concentration, the interpreters (2 to 4 depending on the length of the assignment) take turns every 30 minutes.

This mode of interpretation is preferred at large conferences, especially those attended by participants of different nationalities. For example, when interpretation is provided in six languages at a conference, everything that is said in one of these languages is interpreted almost simultaneously into the other five languages, so that participants speaking six different languages are able to follow and participate in the discussions.

Simultaneous interpretation offers significant time savings compared to consecutive interpretation.

Simultaneous interpretation with a tour guide system

The equipment, also called “device”, is lighter than simultaneous interpretation in a booth. When the configuration of the room or meeting does not allow for the installation of a booth, the device allows for simultaneous interpretation without a translation booth.

The system consists of a case with a micro-transmitter for the interpreter and HF receivers for the delegates requiring interpretation.

The system is portable and requires very little space.

It is used, for example, during visits to industrial sites or small committee meetings.

Thanks to the portable system, participants are free to move from one point to another while listening to the original commentary interpreted in another language.

Remote simultaneous interpretation

The evolution of simultaneous interpretation platforms now offers the prospect of an interpretation service completely separate from the conference speakers. New software allows interpreters to work remotely, either from studios (hubs) or, exceptionally, from home.

The physical presence of interpreters in interpretation booths remains the preferred solution for remote interpretation. For this type of interpretation, the interpreters work in a studio, or hub, equipped with ISO-compliant interpretation booths and all the necessary equipment. During the meeting, a technician trained in this mode of operation is available on site to assist the interpreters, as well as the delegates who participate remotely.

In exceptional cases, interpreters can work from home if they have the necessary equipment (good internet connection, headset, microphones) and provided that the videoconference participants are also well equipped. A technician can be present virtually to test the configuration in advance with the delegates and interpreters, as well as during the meeting to ensure that it runs smoothly. A test is always scheduled before the meeting.

Remote interpretation is easier to plan in a short time frame. It allows to do away with the organization of travelling and accommodation for interpreters.

Consecutive interpretation

Consecutive interpretation consists in rendering the speaker’s words into the other language after he or she has spoken. During the original speech, the interpreter takes notes that will help him or her reproduce the speech faithfully and completely in the other language. The term “speech” is used here in a broad sense (any oral intervention) and is not limited to formal speeches.
The length of the “pieces” interpreted varies greatly: from one minute to 15 or even 30 minutes. A good average is to let the interpreter speak every 5 to 10 minutes: this way, the audience is not bored and the interpreter can work from well-structured passages, which is useful for a good consecutive interpretation.

For small group meetings, consecutive interpretation may be more suitable when only two (or three maximum) languages are used.

With this mode of interpretation, the time of the interpreter is added to the speaker's time. This additional time must be planned for in the course of a meeting.

Whispered interpretation

The interpreter “whispers” in the ear of one or two listeners at most, simultaneously translating what the speaker is saying. The listening conditions for both the listener(s) and the interpreter are often uncomfortable.

Whispered interpretation, usually called “chuchotage”, is often used in combination with consecutive interpretation. The interpreter whispers for one or two delegates, but when one of them speaks, the interpreter takes notes and then translates his or her words aloud for the other participants.

Whispered interpretation is easy to set up because it does not require any special equipment.

It is important that the interpreter is positioned close to the listeners and can see everything that is being projected for the participants.

Whispered interpretation is not appropriate when there are many participants or when more than two participants need interpretation.

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