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Conference Interpreters and Simultaneous Interpreting (SI)

Making proceedings flow

Simultaneous Interpreting can help meetings and hearings flow as smoothly as if they were in a single language. Skilled interpreters and good equipment quickly become part of the background – but poor quality interpreters or equipment can ruin a carefully planned meeting or hearing.

Simultaneous Interpreting (SI)

The type of interpreting usually used in conferences, complex international litigations and diplomatic proceedings is Simultaneous Interpreting.

  • Simultaneous interpreters are sometimes called UN-style interpreters, conference interpreters or simultaneous translators.
  • It is ideal for situations where people speak many different languages.
  • Interpreters work in teams of two or three in sound-proof booths. They interpret what the speaker is saying while they are saying it and the delegates listen to the interpretation through wireless headsets.
  • Through our Westminster Sonus division we are the UK leaders in simultaneous interpreting and we can supply all the equipment necessary to make the event run smoothly.

Where there is only one language in addition to English, Consecutive Interpreting may be used.

How does Simultaneous Interpreting work?

If there are many languages at a conference, the simultaneous interpreters use a “relay”. The source language interpreter renders the speech into a language common to all the interpreters (usually English), who then relay it into their various target languages.

As an example, imagine a conference where the languages are French, German, Japanese, and English. When a delegate speaks in German, the German interpreters render the speech into English. The Japanese and French interpreters listen to the English “relay” and render the speech into Japanese and French.

Simultaneous interpreting is extremely complex and requires a great deal of skill and expertise on the part of the interpreters. It also requires good quality equipment – booths, microphones and headsets – and a high standard of professional coordination.
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