Learn More About Conference Interpretation


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Simultaneous Interpretation (SI) is a type of conference interpretation that uses specialized technology to allow professional interpreters listen to one language as they speak in another, enabling seamless communication across cultural boundaries. SI differs from consecutive interpretation, where an interpreter speaks after the source language speaker, segmenting the presentation and translation -- which is the process of translating words or text from one language to another. Many events include both simultaneous and consecutive modes of interpretation, collectively known as Conference Interpreting. 

Interpreters work from 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 CONFERENCE Interpreters

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Conference interpretation is a unique skill that requires far more than the ability to speak multiple languages. Conference interpreters have years of highly specialized education and training, the rare talent of being able to listen to one language while speaking another, and are able to listen for a period of time and repeat accurately what was said conveying the complete meaning. They must have knowledge of terminology in tremendously varying fields. The skills and talent required to perform these feats cannot be understated: there are very few people on the planet who are capable of true Conference Interpreting. Conference Interpreting is very different from other fields of interpretation, including medical, legal/court and community, all of which require different skill sets and are more common than Conference Interpreting. The professional circle of conference-level interpreters is extremely small -- there are only 3,000-4,000 in the world for all languages and many are employed by international organizations. Many freelance interpreters are booked for events around the world months in advance. The International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) provides an overview of the profession in greater depth. Learn more about AIIC here. 

Why Use Simultaneous Interpretation



Conference interpreting has been a key factor in facilitating communication allowing for an interconnected global economy. With conference interpretation you can reach a broader audience, allow your audience to engage and connect, scale your business internationally and collaborate on a global level. There is an interpretation solution to meet every budget and objective.

An evolving industry

With the advent of new technologies and mobile digital platforms, conference interpreting is changing and becoming more technologically advanced. The need for highly skilled interpreters, however, continues to be the foundation of the industry due to the complexities of languages and content provided at international events and meetings and the need for simultaneous communication. For an overview of the industry and technological advancements, read Naomi's article, Current Trends in the High-End Conference Interpreting Market, published on the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) website. GALA is a global, nonprofit trade association for the language industry. Learn more about GALA here.

Simultaneous interpretation at the Nuremberg Trial.

Simultaneous interpretation at the Nuremberg Trial.

history of simultaneous interpreting 

Simultaneous Interpretation dates back to the 1920s when two pioneers in two different countries developed similar concepts around the same time. One of the first documented uses was in 1927 at an International Labor Organization conference. The general public, however, had to wait until 1945, when simultaneous interpretation was used for the Nuremberg war crime trials. Now, the United Nations is perhaps the best known institution that regularly relies on simultaneous interpretation.  Because of advances in technology and the development of special training programs for interpreters over the last 50 years, simultaneous interpretation is now to the broader market. Simultaneous interpreters, however, remain an elite bunch. There are simply very few of them around the world, due to the skill level involved to perform this type of interpretation.  Click the buttons below for links to other sites about the history of simultaneous interpretation, courtesy of Cyril Flerov of Interstar Translations.