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What is simultaneous interpreting?
Simultaneous interpreting is a mode of interpreting in which the interpreter, equipped with a headset and microphone, and, if at a conference, in a soundproof booth, listens and renders the oral interpretation at the same time as the speaker, producing the target language version only seconds after the speaker provides the original source language.
In sum, simultaneous interpreting requires a special ability to listen and assimilate simultaneously the information in one language, analyze it, and render it in another language within a few seconds.A remarkable feat!
Why do I need two interpreters per language booth?
Simultaneous interpreters work in teams.The effort and concentration required in simultaneous interpreting is enormous and exhausting. After a half an hour of simultaneous interpreting, the quality begins to suffer and interpreters are more prone to make mistakes. Whether in a federal court setting or at a conference, in order to prevent or keep interpreter error and burnout to a minimum, professional interpreters will not work alone.
In fact, international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the United States Department of State require three interpreters in each booth. Businesses and universities use at least two interpreters per language to ensure quality.
Why do I need a soundproof booth?
Simultaneous interpreters must listen and speak at the same time. In large settings such as conferences, the soundproof booth serves to keep the interpreter from being distracted by outside noise and sounds other than the speech being interpreted. Additionally, the soundproof booth prevents the sound of the interpreter’s voice from interfering with the conference audience’s ability to hear the speaker. Very often, the conference is being interpreted into multiple languages. Without a soundproof booth, the noise would render it impossible for the speaker, the audience and the interpreters to concentrate on what is being said.Furthermore, the interpreter must use headsets to prevent his own voice from interfering with his ability to concentrate.
In smaller settings, such as the U. S. Courts, booths are not made available for simultaneous interpretation. Therefore, in order to keep to a minimum the interference caused by the sound of their voices, court interpreters must resort to the whisper mode of interpretation while performing simultaneous interpretation in the courtroom.