How Simultaneous Interpretation Works

Simultaneous interpretation.

Simultaneous interpretation is basically the real-time translation of language. (Image: via Pxhere)

Interpretation is basically the translation of one language to another. Simultaneous interpretation is a process in which the interpreter has to translate what one party is saying into a language that is understood by another party at the same time they are speaking. The interpreter cannot pause for an extended period of time. At best, they should just be a couple of words behind the person who is speaking.

The process of simultaneous interpretation

The process of simultaneous translation starts with first listening to the speaker, comprehending the meaning of the speech, doing semantic analysis, generating the speech in a targeted language, conducting self-correction, and finally speaking the same in the target language to the listener. This process continues in an endless loop in almost real time.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

“Because of this high level of complexity, the education and training of a simultaneous translation are critical. If any mistakes are made during the translation, incorrect information can be given which could have disastrous results… Translators not only need to learn the skills but must also study several languages, customs, history, politics, economics, current events, science and technology, environmental protection, and several other topics,” according to Lighthouse Online.

Headphones may be used during simultaneous interpretation.
Headphones may be used by interpreters in some situations. (Image: Pexels)

The various types of simultaneous interpretation

Basically, there are two types of simultaneous translation — interpreting booth and whispered. If the translation is being done for a large audience, then a simultaneous interpretation booth is required since the interpreter needs absolute silence when performing his job. The booth needs to be soundproof and must be able to hold all the necessary equipment that the interpreter needs.

Whispered interpretation is often used in small meetings where there are only a few delegates present. “In whispered interpretation, the simultaneous interpreter is standing or sitting together with the delegates. The interpreter translates what the speaker is saying directly to the delegates,” according to Day Translations.

In some situations, headphones may be used by interpreters for communication. This is mostly used when the delegates have to move around a place, say during a factory visit. However, the delegates must always be close to each other rather than far apart.

Why is simultaneous interpretation important?

The biggest reason why many people choose simultaneous interpretation is that the delegate can freely speak in the language of his choice. Since the conversation is translated and conveyed in almost real-time, there would be no gap in communication between the parties in the meeting. No delegate will feel left out just because he is unable to speak the common language.

Since communication happens in real time, everything that is talked about is guaranteed to get translated without any loss. It is when things are recorded for some future interpretation that some messages can get lost and the translations get compromised. Plus, simultaneous interpretation has a higher accuracy rate. “Consecutive interpretative really depends on what the interpreter remembers by memory and their notes. It is more of a reproduction of the speech, whereas, simultaneous interpretation is more accurate and better as it is an actual reproduction of the speech as it happens,” according to United Translations.

The audience also tends to be more alive and engaging when a meeting uses the services of simultaneous interpreters. Since these interpreters will constantly be whispering in a person’s ears in a language they understand perfectly, they have no choice but to pay attention. Without simultaneous interpretation, a meeting or a conference can become quite monotonous and confusing if the people participating in it do not understand a common language.

Follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest

Recommended Stories

The Champs Elysées, a 2-km-long road in Paris, France, stretching from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre.

The Champs Elysées: The Most Famous Street in Paris with 300 Years of History

Why is the Champs Elysées so famous? It was built on the order of the ...

Publicity photo of American actress Anna May Wong likely commissioned to promote the movie 'Daughter of Shanghai.'

Anna May Wong: A Pioneering Hollywood Star of Asian Descent

On October 24, 2022, the U.S. Mint released a 25-cent coin with President Washington on ...

Destroyed buildings and rubble from an earthquake.

Nature’s Warning Signs: Bizarre Happenings Before the Tangshan Earthquake

On July 28, 1976, at 3:42 a.m. Beijing time, an earthquake 16 kilometers below the ...

The Longgong Waterfall.

Exploring the Enchanting Zhukeng River Trail in Chiayi, Taiwan 

Nestled in the picturesque Ruifong Scenic Area in central Taiwan’s Chiayi County, the Zhukeng River ...

A boy using a smartphone.

Excessive Screen Time Can Affect Young People’s Emotional Development

A recent Beyond Blue survey of more than 2,000 teachers identified mental ill-health and excessive ...

An example of kintsugi.

Embracing Imperfection: The Art of Kintsugi

In Japanese culture, there is a unique tradition of not concealing the flaws of broken ...

Thomas Dambo on one of his trolls.

Thomas Dambo: Meet the Danish Artist With Whimsical Sculpture Trolls Across the World

Thomas Dambo, or “The Troll Whisperer,” is a Danish visionary artist and storyteller known for ...

A sad young woman.

Overcoming Depression: A Holistic Approach

Depression, often referred to as the “common cold of the mind,” can be a challenging ...

Giant trolls.

Thomas Dambo: The Artist Who Creates Giant Trolls Out of Trash

Thomas Dambo from Denmark has created something unique for the people of Copenhagen to enjoy ...

Send this to a friend