How Interpretation Services Work During Conferences

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The phrase translation services probably conjure up a certain image in your mind. Like many people, I’d guess that you will think of a large assembly like the United Nations where there are people from different countries speaking dozens of languages. You’d not be wrong with this image. The United Nations assembly is an excellent example of how important simultaneous translation services are.

So what are simultaneous translation services? Here’s a description from the European commission, another body where simultaneous translation is vitally important. The interpreter sits in a soundproof room and,

“The speaker in the meeting room speaks into a microphone, the interpreter receives the sound through a headset and renders the message into a microphone almost simultaneously. The delegate in the meeting room selects the relevant channel to hear the interpretation in the language of his/her choice.”

Simultaneous translation is not a science. It’s very much an art. Translators must be able to listen to what a speaker is saying and, for all practical purposes, translate immediately what is being said into another language. This is a very demanding, highly skilled job. You can imagine in assemblies like the United Nations, accuracy is all important. But of course with any act of translation there is room for subjective interpretation. It’s difficult to eliminate this.

I say that translation is for all practical purposes immediate. To be technically accurate translation cannot be simultaneous and certainly cannot be immediate. There has to be some delay. The translator has to hear what is said and only when the general meaning of the sentence is understood can she start to translate. Some sentences – especially those where there is a large gap between the subject and verb – only make sense when the sentence is concluded. This gives an idea of just how challenging it is to be a simultaneous translator.

It’s not just political assemblies that will use simultaneous translation services. You are likely to find translators employed at industrial conferences, international sales and training seminars, trade shows and legal conferences. Events like these could not run without simultaneous translation services. As uniVerse Language Solutions explains,

“In every case, the use of simultaneous interpreters is pivotal to the success of the event, since among all the specific goals on the agenda, one of the prime objectives is to achieve an effective and accurate communication.”

In a world where there are hundreds of different languages, simultaneous translation services will always be important.


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We solve language and transportation needs. For more information about simultaneous interpretation for conferences, please send us a message or call 800-726-9891.