Simultaneous interpreting

Simultaneous interpreting

Find out about the simultaneous interpreting, whispered interpreting or chuchotage services we offer.

Simultaneous interpreting for F.C. Internazionale Milano - Shareholders' Meeting and press conference

Simultaneous interpreting – Nobel Lecture by Prof. M. Karplus,Università degli Studi, Milan, 8 April 2016


Simultaneous interpreting

In simultaneous interpreting the interpreter translates while the speaker in the source language is still speaking.

Normally, in simultaneous interpreting the interpreter sits with a microphone in front of them in a soundproofed booth, if possible with a clear vision of the speaker (direct or via a camera and screen), listening to the speech in the source language through headphones. The interpreter translates the speech into the target language into the microphone, so listeners hear the translation via headphones.

Simultaneous translation is not strictly speaking "simultaneously" because, if we exclude when the interpreter correctly anticipates what is going to be said, there is always a brief gap between the source language being spoken and the target language being heard. This is known as décalage.

Because of the high level of concentration required, it is indispensable to work in pairs - and sometimes with a third person.

The translation booth contains three interpreters when the meetings are expected to run over 7 hours, or when the topic of the meeting itself requires it because of technical reasons.
There are as many booths as languages, apart from Italian. The interpreters (2 or 3 per booth) can translate simultaneously from other languages into each other (English ⇒ French, for example) or by taking a relay (via Italian: English ⇒ Italian and Italian ⇒ French).

Regardless of the number of speakers or people attending the meeting, then, simultaneous translation allows us to reduce the time needed to do the job, compared to other techniques of translation (see Consecutive translations).

Whispered translation, or chuchotage

(from the French word for whispering: "chuchoter") This is a variant of simultaneous interpreting: the interpreter stands or sits next to the listener(s), translating simultaneously in a low voice. This type of translation can be accomplished without any technological assistance (unlike simultaneous), but can only be employed when the listeners are few in number (generally not more than two or three). Moreover, because of the effort of whispering the translation, keeping one’s voice artificially low, often in a situation where the acoustics are less than perfect, an interpreter can only translate in chuchotage mode for relatively brief periods.

Conference held by Facebook - Milan, June 2017