Interpreting while the speaker is speaking
Simultaneous interpreting at the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
How it works
Simultaneous interpreting is the translation of the spoken word in real time. The interpreter sits in a booth wearing headphones and immediately relays what is being said via a microphone to those in the audience listening through headsets.
It is the type of interpreting most often associated with professionals working at the European Commission or Parliament and at the United Nations. It is appropriate for use in bilingual or multilingual meetings and has the advantage of not prolonging the meeting. This type of interpreting therefore encourages a lively discussion and more spontaneous contributions.
As it is extremely demanding, interpreters have to work in pairs, each taking it in turns to interpret for 30 minutes. Interpreters require a very high level of concentration due to having to do several things at once:
- Listening and speaking
- Analysing the structure of what is being said in order to reflect the speaker’s argument
- Listening to his/her own interpretation to check for accuracy
- Referring to glossaries while interpreting
- Noting down any numbers or names quoted
By way of example, I provided simultaneous interpreting at the following events among others:
- The 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, United Nations Palais des Nations in Geneva
- The International Tribunal on Evictions in Venice
- 7th International Conference of La Vía Campesina in Bilbao
- Getafe Negro crime fiction festival, in Madrid, for John Banville and other bestselling authors
- At IAMZ-CIHAEM in Zaragoza for several Master’s degree programmes in agri-food marketing and animal nutrition, on specialised short courses for professionals in the agricultural sector and during technical field visits to olive crops, fisheries and vineyards.