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How Does a Simultaneous Interpretation System Work?

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Simultaneous interpretation is now used by governments, international organizations, companies, educational institutions, and healthcare providers among others. If you’re thinking about using simultaneous interpretation services, a natural question would be, how does it work?

As more and more people and organizations from different first languages interact with each other, there’s a greater need for credible simultaneous interpretation providers. If your organization or institution engages with individuals with different language proficiencies, it helps to know how simultaneous translation works and the best practices for simultaneous interpretation. 

What is Simultaneous Interpretation?

In simultaneous interpretation, a speaker’s speech is simultaneously translated into another language. Unlike consecutive interpretation, the speaker doesn’t have to pause for simultaneous translation to happen. Although it was used previously, it’s considered that the Nuremberg Trials brought to light the benefits of simultaneous interpretation and made it popular. 

Simultaneous interpretation allows for people from different nations to seamlessly communicate with each other without having to learn the other’s language. For example, in the European Parliament, members have a right to speak in their mother tongue. Simultaneous translation is what helps it reach others from different first languages.  

How simultaneous interpretation works

Since simultaneous interpretation happens in real-time, the interpreter would need to be either physically present at the location of the event or have access to it remotely in real-time. The speaker would speak without pauses and those in the audience can choose to listen to the translated version in any of the available languages. 

If the interpreter is seated at the venue, they would be in a soundproof booth. They would have a hardware console and headsets to listen to the speaker and a microphone to translate it simultaneously. The audience members would have headsets with options to select the language in which they want to listen to the translated speech.

On-site simultaneous interpretation requires a control unit, interpreter’s console, Infrared radiant panels, recharging unit, an Infrared receiver headset, and a soundproof booth. In simultaneous interpretation, the soundproof booth isn’t required and there will be an integrated dashboard for all participants including the interpreter to participate.  

How can you start working with simultaneous interpretation?

It’s important to understand that even with the best of software and hardware, simultaneous translation requires people. You would need the services of a simultaneous translation provider with trained and experienced interpreters. 

You should make sure that the service provider has experience in similar events or conferences with the same language requirements. Organizations and event managers can also meet with the interpreters before the event to brief them in detail and listen to their requirements. 

Tips for an Efficient Remote Simultaneous Interpretation Workstation

To make remote simultaneous interpretation efficient and productive, it would help to have an interpreter-friendly workstation. Ideally, the interpreter would need access to an RSI platform that also has all the information and meeting materials. The computer should have enough RAM and processing speed to facilitate seamless simultaneous translation. 

The headset and microphone should be top-notch and easily controllable. If the soundproof booth has noise-absorbing material in the form of rugs, curtains, etc., it will help achieve better audio transmission. The lighting should be sufficient, and a high-quality external camera should be installed if it’s remote simultaneous translation. 

In short  

Simultaneous interpreting need not be challenging if you’re trying it out for the first time. With attention to the best practices and prior discussions with the service provider, simultaneous interpretation can help deliver more engaging and successful events.