Simultaneous Interpreting

Written by Amy Hall
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Simultaneous interpreting involves the person who is doing the interpreting to translate at the same time the speaking that is going on. This often requires special interpreting equipment that makes this very challenging process a bit easier. Interpreting and translating are two very different things, as translation allows the person time to review what was said and then put it into a written document.

However, a person involved in simultaneous interpreting must speak the words in the language of choice as they are being spoken, without time to think. This obviously requires that the person doing the interpreting be fluent in the two languages being spoken. Big meetings require a sound-proof cabin or booth for the interpreters to sit in, as well as transmitters and receivers. This is an expensive venture and companies that handle transcription services will be able to help you decide if this is your only option.

Simultaneous Interpreting Isn't Cheap

If it has been decided that simultaneous interpreting is the only solution to your dilemma, than it makes sense to meet with the person who is going to be doing the interpreting prior to the meeting. You want to get a sense of the person's style and personality in order to gauge how well he or she will be able to successfully interpret the topics being discussed. It helps if the interpreter is familiar with the subject matter, since he or she won't be able to stop and think before translating the information.

Remember, there is always the option of using consecutive interpreting, which is when the interpreter listens to the person speaking, and then makes the translation once the person has stopped speaking. This is considerably slower but it is also considerably less expensive. This method is used at business meetings as well as international conferences.


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