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Conference interpreting

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The interpretation allows people who do not speak the same language to communicate, in the context of an informal meeting, conference, court, administrative procedure, etc.

Unlike translators working on writing, interpreters must return as soon as possible fugitives messages, with little time for reflection and looking stylish.

Methods of interpretation

  • In consecutive interpreting, the interpreter reproduces the full speech after the intervention ended, possibly used as single notes, often signs (pictogram type) if possible secondment of a linguistic system. Due to time constraints, it is rare that this technique is used when there are more than two active languages.

  • In simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter installed in a soundproof booth equipped with a special console, hears through headphones while translating the speech orally using a microphone.

    • Whispering is a variant of simultaneous interpreting without technical device. The interpreter follows interventions and translate into whispering in the ear of his or her delegate(s).

    • Some language combinations present particular difficulties. For example, the essential information to start a sentence in French often comes at the end of a sentence in German (verb, negation, etc.), which makes it necessary to speak with an offset whole sentence compared to the original, which is not necessarily the case between two Romance languages.

  • The interpretation of “linkage” is characterized by its informal approach (business meetings, visits …). The interpreter works most of the time without taking notes, memorizing short passages and restoring them in the target language.

The interpretation in sign language is used for communication between deaf and hearing people. It is done simultaneously or consecutively.

Skills of the interpreter

The interpreter provides as faithful as possible restitution of interventions in different languages. It must be flexible, culture, analytical skills and a mastery of the concerned languages.

As translator, the interpreter must understand both languages in which it works and the secondary meanings of their utterances. It can not limit the text (oral or written) in its literal sense, but should faithfully keep hidden meanings of the original, without introducing unwelcome parasitizing associations in the language of translation.

In every speech, part of the message is not stated but is implicit. The interpreter must give equivalent based on a solid cultural and inserting here and there specific parts of the topic. Even more important is the ability to grasp the intention of the speaker beyond simple words. In a multilingual environment, this requires intimate knowledge not only of language but of cultures represented and their differences.

Even under normal conditions, this task is relatively difficult. If we add the difficulties of the subjected matter, the texts read in the highest possible speed, foreign speakers speech at the approximate syntax, technical device incidents such as noise and shock around the microphone of speaker or system control accidents that disrupt the intelligibility of what he hears, it becomes an extremely challenging exercise.

Due to the intense level of concentration required, interpreters work in pairs and take turns every 20-30 minutes. A good team will share the work, the paused interpreter preparing such documents processed in session for his colleague.

Generally, the interpreters translate from at least three languages into their native language. In some cases, they also provide interpretation from their own language to another language.

Contexts and working languages

In a meeting, participants can express themselves in a passive language from which interpretation is provided. They can follow the proceedings through a broadcast system on headphones on one or more channels corresponding to the active languages into which interpretation is provided. When the number of passive languages is different from that of active languages we speak of asymmetric language coverage.

Meetings take place almost always in rooms equipped with simultaneous interpretation booths. Interpreters will work in teams of at least two per active language, three in a meeting with at least six passive languages. In some cases, they provide bi-active interpretation into their own language and “return” to another language.

When interpretation can not be live, we use the relay, that is to say the interpretation through a third language: the source language (eg Japanese) is to First performed to a target language (eg English) called pivot language, and interpreting it to one or more target languages (eg French, Spanish etc.), working with the help with the pivot language.

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