Simultaneous interpreting

Simultaneous interpreting is one of the most complicated modes of interpreting, but, thanks to the use of specialist equipment, it can be performed without interrupting the speaker. Such simultaneousness (synchrony) of the speech of the interpreter and the speaker is the main distinguishing feature and source of complexity in simultaneous interpreting. Simultaneous interpreting is an extremely challenging intellectual task. Therefore, in accordance with international standards, two conference interpreters, working jointly, replace each other every 15-30 minutes (depending on the format of the event).

Types of simultaneous interpreting

1. Remote simultaneous interpreting

The development of modern telecommunications technology has made possible, both remote simultaneous, and remote consecutive interpreting. In the former case the interpreter’s speech is transmitted to the simultaneous interpretation system via the internet. This technology can save money for our customers, especially in the case of short events, or those involving less common languages, where it might otherwise be necessary for our client to pay for an interpreter to travel from a different location.

2. Chuchotage (whispered interpreting)

A particular form of simultaneous interpreting is chuchotage (from the French word “chuchotage” meaning to whisper). In this case the translation is whispered to a single listener without the use of any special audio equipment.

3. Simultaneous interpreting performed with the aid of a written text, which should normally be provided 5-10 minutes before the start of the conference.

Advantages of simultaneous interpreting

• the duration of the event is not extended, unlike the situation with consecutive interpreting;
• there are no pauses which could distract the audience so it is easier to interact with the listeners;
• the interpreting can be carried out in several different languages at the same time;
• those listeners who already understand the speaker’s language do not have to wait during pauses to allow interpreting to be carried out

Interesting facts about simultaneous interpreting:

• The simultaneous interpreting equipment in the hall of the Kremlin Palace of Congresses makes it possible to provide interpreting into 29 languages at the same time. At the United Nations in New York and Geneva simultaneous interpretation is carried out in only five or six languages at the same time.
• The most requested language combinations are simultaneous interpreting from Russian into English, German and French.
• A patent for simultaneous interpretation was issued to the IBM company in favour of the radio engineer Finley Gordon in 1926, but the first use of simultaneous interpreting anywhere in the world, was in 1928, in the USSR, during the sixth Communist International Congress.
• It is believed that simultaneous interpreting became widespread after its use at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals.