interprète de conférence

The conference interpreter is essential for a successful international event

Conference interpretation should not be seen as an expensive and unnecessary service for an event. It is an investment which can generate great benefits.

Two weeks ago, we discussed conference interpretation (also called simultaneous interpretation), but it is good to know that there are several types of interpretation. This profession has been broken down in order to adapt to different situations better in order to guarantee the comfort of all.

An overview of the different types of interpretation

As a reminder, simultaneous translation consists of translating from one language into another in real time, without the speaker of the source language having to stop. Conference interpreters usually work from interpreting booths. It’s the most popular form of interpreting because it’s the most comfortable for the speakers and the participants. From the speakers’ point of view, they can express themselves freely and without being interrupted. All the participants must do is switch their head phones to the channel of the language that they want to listen to in order to follow the discourse. Simultaneous interpreting is mostly used in international conferences or summits. A small downside to this type of interpreting can be the equipment needed to be able to conduct a simultaneous interpretation. If the conference hall isn’t already fitted with interpretation booths and the sound system that is needed, they would have to rent it (mobile booths, interpretation stations, headphones and microphones). Instead of using interpreting booths, there is always the option of using bags(??) or whispering. If the interpreting session is being held in a small group, a bag (??) could be used instead of a booth. In this case, the conference interpreter moves to the opposite side of the room to the speaker and the participants listen to the interpreted content through headphones that are connected to the interpreters’ microphone. If out of a large group of people, only a small number need the discourse to be interpreted, the interpreter can adopt the “chuchotage” method, or, in other words, whispering.  This involves whispering the content in the target language directly to the participant as it is being spoken. For this method to work well, it’s recommended that the interpreter interprets for a maximum of 3-4 participants at one time.

When it comes to consecutive interpretation, the interpreter takes notes of the spoken discourse, and translates it when the speaker pauses. This type of interpreting tends to be cheaper because the interpreter doesn’t need any equipment to be able to do their job, although consecutive interpreting is very time consuming. It’s advised that the speaker pauses around every ten minutes to give the interpret time to translate what has been said. Consecutive interpretation is usually used in interviews or in business meetings.

Liaison interpreting, as the name indicates, allows the interpreter to liaison between two speakers that are expressing themselves in different languages. This type of conference interpreter usually sits between the two speakers and translates after each language is spoken. The world of diplomacy usually relies heavily on this type of interpreting, for example in interactions between two heads of state. Liaison interpreters also work in the social sector, mostly in hospitals and police stations.

Why do we need interpreters?

Having come to terms with the different types of interpreting, you’ll probably have some idea of which type of interpreter will meet your needs and be appropriate for the nature of the task. One thing might still be bugging you, though: why do I need an interpret, if, at the end of the day, everyone knows how to speak at least a little bit of English?

Simultaneous interpretation is synonymous with saving time, communicating well and transmitting information efficiently. As well as this, in using an interpreter, your listeners and your audience will feel more relaxed. The participants will be able to follow the conference without any ambiguity or misunderstandings and they’ll be able to concentrate on the information rather than have to use their energy to understand a foreign language. The speakers, in turn can express themselves more precisely, knowing that they can count on the interpreters to translate the discourse. In other words, they know that what they’re saying will be understood by the other party. Even if they speak the target language well, the speakers tend to prefer to express themselves in their mother tongue in order to avoid language mistakes. This makes it seem as though they are more confident and know what they are talking about. On top of this, it is much easier to persuade an audience or to get a message across in their mother tongue, rather than in a foreign language. To summarize, whether it is a conference interpreter or a liaison interpreter, they are not only responsible for translating the content but also for guaranteeing that the interpreted discourse has the same impact as the original, because they will bear in mind the cultural differences that are at play and choose the most relevant vocabulary to engage the target audience.

As you may have gathered, interpreting is a job that’s a little different to most, that involves a lot of different peculiarities. For example, it’s interesting to note that conference interpreters always work in pairs in the booths. One conference interpreter will work for around half an hour, and then the second interpreter will take over. During the half an hour of “rest” time, the first interpreter will help their colleague by making a note of any figures, that might be difficult to remember, or to do some research on their behalf. Another interesting fact about interpreting is that the interpreter always puts themselves in the shoes of the speaker, and even expresses themselves in the same way as them, regardless of the type of interpretation.  This can lead to some funny situations, like hearing a male interpreter say that he is “pregnant”.

In conclusion, interpretation shouldn’t be considered as an expensive and dispensable service. It is an investment that has many benefits. Interpretation is the key to a successful international event, which is why it is essential that you hire professionals that have experience in this area. Cultures Connection can help you along this process: from the choice of interpreter to the organization and the follow-up of the service through the hiring of the material.

Translation into English: Chloe Findlay

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This article has been written by Amandine Borlon

After her Master in Interpretation at the Marie Haps Institute in Brussels (Belguim), Amandine has lived in Ireland for a year before coming to work for Cultures Connection, under the Buenos Aires sun.