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Definition of Simultaneous Interpretation

Simultaneous Interpretation is a process which allows people to communicate directly across language and cultural boundaries using specialized technology and professional interpreters who are trained to listen to one language while speaking simultaneously in another. Simultaneous Interpretation differs from other types of interpretation, and from translation, which refers to the written word.

Background

Simultaneous Interpretation was first used at a conference of the International Labor Organization in Russia in 1927. The general public was introduced to simultaneous interpretation as a communication tool at the Nuremburg war crime trials beginning in 1945. The United Nations is perhaps the best known institution which regularly relies on this form of interpretation to allow its members to communicate in any of the six official languages. Because of advances in technology and the development of special training programs for interpreters over the last 25-30 years, simultaneous interpretation is now available at reasonable cost for international events, conferences and meetings of all kinds and sizes.

How it works

The interpreters sit in small sound isolation booths in the back of the conference room or in a remote setting and listen to the conference proceedings on headsets while simultaneously interpreting into a microphone. The interpretation is broadcast via a wireless system to the delegates who listen on small receivers with earphones. The receivers are multi-channel so the delegates can select the channel that corresponds to the language they wish to hear.

About Simultaneous Interpreters

Simultaneous interpretation is a unique skill that requires far more than the ability to speak multiple languages. Simultaneous interpreters have years of highly specialized education and training, the rare talent of being able to listen to one language while speaking another, and knowledge of terminology in tremendously varying fields. The professional circle of conference-level interpreters is therefore extremely small -- there are only 3000-4000 in the world for all languages and many are employed by international organizations. Many free-lance interpreters are booked for events around the world months in advance.

Why use Simultaneous Interpretation

Simultaneous interpretation has been a key factor in facilitating communication among different cultural and linguistic groups, thereby contributing to the establishment of the modern global economy.The simultaneous interpretation medium delivers a very important message: that the complete involvement of each delegate is highly valued and essential to the success of the conference. Simultaneous interpretation is necessary for effective communication in many situations, and is often expected by conference delegates. (top)