The "backstage" of simultaneous interpreting

For most people the translation is divided into written and oral, especially, if someone did not need to use the translation services.

The case is, however, a little more complex. Translations can be divided into:


written translations:

  • regular
  • certified by a sworn translator (certified translations)
  • specialized (e.g., technical, medical, sociological, legal, etc.)

oral translations:

  • whispered
  • consecutive
  • simultaneous
  • liaison (sentence after sentence)
  • a vista (translation of a read text)

In this article we will correspond to simultaneous translation. As the term implies, simultaneous interpreting is live translation, occurring only with a slightly delayed relative to the translated speech. In this case, the speaker does not have to make breaks for the interpreter, but can concentrate on the transmission.

In connection with the above, simultaneous translation is applicable during all kinds of  conferences and symposia, where are speakers from different countries and there is a need to ensure translations for the larger group of people, without affecting  the lecture (time is important- on large conferences usually the time of a single lecture is limited. Consecutive translation where a speaker makes a break for translation may affect the actual time of the lectures by shortening it. Also it may adversely affect the content of lectures).

During simultaneous translation the interpreter works in a sound-proof cabin. In the headphones he hears the voice of a person giving a speech and translates "in real time" it to the microphone. Then his translation reaches the listeners in the conference room, who hear it in the headphones. Multilevel of such solution allows translation for many languages at the same time.

Simultaneous translation is always a big challenge for the translator, mainly due to the fact that at the same time many processes take place: listening, understanding, translating (in mind), reproduction of the message in the target language.

Moreover, the translator may encounter unforeseen difficulties in translation:

  • speaker's speech impediment
  • topic change of the lecture
  • grammatical differences between languages (e.g. the presence of the verb in Polish and German means that the interpreter translating form German into Polish has to wait till the end of the sentence)

In addition simultaneous interpreter must be resistant to stress, should have attention divisibility, ability to concentrate, good reflexes and diction.