How Does Simultaneous Interpretation Work?

Last Updated on October 27, 2021

A few years ago, before the pandemic hit, multilingual institutions and organizations were the primary users of interpretation services. Even if it always was a powerful tool, not all of us could realize its importance and how it works. However, many events shifted online, and interpretation became a buzzword in the whole events industry.

So, what exactly is interpreting?

Interpreting is similar to translation, but there are a few key differences. In general, interpretation is a process of transforming a speech in a spoken or signed form from one language to another. It’s all about precisely understanding and analyzing the message, keeping the original meaning, and delivering it to any language of your choice.

Just imagine the possibilities of breaking down the language barrier without any previous knowledge. Well, it is absolutely possible and easily accessible right now – you just have to know where to look (and how to use it!) 

That’s why today we are going to discover a few things that you can use in any event, whether it is remote or on-site:

  • Types of Interpretation
  • The Importance of Interpretation
  • Use-cases of Simultaneous Interpretation

Types of Interpretation

Close up of podium with speaker in auditorium

Let’s start with the different types of interpretation. Generally, there are many ways to deliver interpretation, and when you start looking for it, it might seem confusing. But don’t worry – first, we will explain the main three modes of this tool: from simultaneous interpretation to consecutive interpretation and, finally, whispered interpretation.

Simultaneous Interpretation

Simultaneous interpretation is one of the most advanced ways of interpreting. It is also quite challenging for the interpreters – they have to listen to the speaker and deliver the interpretation in the preferred language in a matter of milliseconds. You’re right – instantly! Language service providers often name it conference interpreting, and the reason for it is pretty simple.

Simultaneous interpreting services are in high demand in various conferences because they save a lot of time. Below are a few reasons why simultaneous interpreting is becoming much more widespread:

  • Speakers don’t have to make pauses while delivering their talks
  • Participants can immediately hear all the information in their preferred language
  • The audience can observe the body language of the speakers as they talk 
  • No interruptions happen during such conferences

Even though the native languages of the participants and speakers can be different and distant, simultaneous interpretation makes such events flawless. All the beauty lies behind the scenes:

When the speaker starts his presentation, the interpreter usually sits in a specific place called an interpreting booth. There, interpreters use interpreting equipment – receivers let them hear the speech in original languages through a headset. They immediately start talking to a microphone (in the target language of the audience), and transmitters send the speech to the participants’ headphones.

But of course, remember that conferences are not the only way to use simultaneous interpretation. Most governmental institutions, such as the European Commission or the United Nations, also use simultaneous interpretation services.

Consecutive Interpretation

How much does it cost to hire a speaker for an event?

The technological aspect of consecutive interpretation is similar to the previous one. However, consecutive interpreters bring the pauses into the whole process. It doesn’t happen immediately, and when the speaker starts talking, interpreters usually take notes. After a few sentences, the speaker has to make a pause, and participants then can hear an interpretation. 

??In this case of interpretation, professionals have to be near the presenters. Interpreters have to let the speaker know when to stop and when to resume the talk. That is why this type of interpretation is not perfect for conferences – it takes a bit more time, and the schedules are usually very tight. On the other hand, consecutive interpretation can be an ideal solution for smaller events.

Whispered Interpretation

Just like it sounds, whispered interpretation involves whispering! There are no interpreting booths or other equipment required for this type of interpretation. First of all, the language professional has to be close to the speaker. The process looks like that: when someone talks in their primary language, the interpreter listens, understands, and delivers the speech to the client.

It is also very similar to the simultaneous interpretation as everything happens instantly. However, customers use such interpreting services in other cases, such as negotiations or small business meetings.

Why is Simultaneous Interpreting Important?

From now on, we will focus on simultaneous interpretation and its importance. Below is a list that unravels the benefits of simultaneous interpretation:

  • It breaks down the language barriers. It is essential for multilingual communities. Besides that, no barriers increase inclusivity and accessibility, and simultaneous interpretation can make meetings accessible to cultural and linguistic minorities.

  • It happens in real-time. It means that event organizers don’t have to extend their events, which also saves money. They can instead use the time for additional speakers and different activities.
  • Simultaneous interpreters can provide their service remotely. This is where the term remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI) comes in. Since most of the events are now virtual, different remote meeting platforms offer RSI services. But we will talk about that in the upcoming section!
  • It fosters new connections. Let’s think about it from this perspective: when you are communicating with someone, body language plays a massive part in the process, right? With simultaneous interpreting, you can understand people who don’t speak your language and correlate it to their body language as well. Get ready to meet new people without any barriers!
  • The future is multilingual, after all. Researchers constantly mention that different languages preserve both art and culture, so let’s not push towards one global language. Interpretation services can help us keep all these different languages and cultures alive.

When is Simultaneous Interpretation Applicable?

If we’re talking about the application of simultaneous interpretation – the list could become long and broad. 

In short – you can benefit from it on most occasions. Simultaneous interpretation is prominent at conferences, business meetings, and governmental sessions. You can expand it to press conferences, educational meetings, church services, non-profit events. Anything that pops up in your head!

Since the pandemic, there is also a rise of remote simultaneous interpretation platforms. Uprising language service providers like Interactio open access to all of these perks remotely. You can now connect participants and speakers together from any country, in every corner of the world. All they need is an internet connection, a laptop, headset, a platform of their choice, and a comfortable location.

Knowledge hidden behind an unlimited number of languages is now just a few clicks away, so let’s start exploring!

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