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Simultaneous Interpretation Bridges Language Barriers

Aug 21, 2008
Simultaneous Interpreting is the most difficult of translation tasks. Someone who is a simultaneous interpreter listens to a speaker talk in a certain language, and without any significant pause, relays that speakers message to a listener in a language that he or she understands. There are many people who are able to translate, but only a small percentage of those translators can do it simultaneously. While some of those people can relay information from English to Spanish and from Spanish to English, for example, many others prefer to translate only from their native tongue.

These special interpreters often work in teams of two, switching with another team during an event or conference every ten to fifteen minutes or so. They must work in short shifts due to the high concentration demand that the line of work demands. Interpreters must not only be fluent in the language(s) that they are interpreting, they also must have an understanding of the topic that is being presented. Special equipment is used diligently by interpreters, and comes in a variety of systems. These systems are the FM system, the infrared system, wired systems, and wireless push to talk microphone systems. These hi tech systems are manufactured by companies such as Williams Sound, Taiden, Interkom, and others. These systems can transmit signals in all different ways, broadcasting according to FCC regulations.

Equipment capabilities range from broadcasting to an arena full of thousands of people to tiny whispering earpieces for quiet jobs. While more and more companies continue to expand their commercial market towards a global status, there is steadily a growing need for simultaneous interpretation, many times to assist with conferences to save time, money, and frustration. Small, informal gatherings can also benefit from the quieter, simpler, more low key services, and on the other end of the size spectrum, the United Nations, the United States government, and other major countries around the globe benefit from the systems with larger, more complex capabilities.

There are other kinds of interpretation as well, such as consecutive interpreting. This is a bit easier than simultaneous interpretation, because after a sentence is spoken, the speaker pauses and waits for the interpreter to relay his information in the listeners language. This less expensive method is generally cheaper than the other, but also makes the duration of conferences, meetings, and gatherings twice as long while guests listen to the dialogue not once, but twice!

Individuals who do this type of interpreting spend much time training, learning, preparing, and being educated about the equipment that is needed, the languages involved, and also becoming familiar with the content of the event they will be working at. It is a stressful, intense job, and the demand for these services is increasingly rapidly from day to day.
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