Simultaneous interpreting means that the spoken text is interpreted from inside an interpreter’s booth with a couple of seconds’ delay.
Simultaneous interpreting is a relatively new type of interpreting, which dates back to the Nuremberg trials after World War II, although it was practised earlier than that. The Nuremberg trials were interpreted into four languages, and since then the process has remained largely the same (booths, microphones, headphones, three interpreters).
In a way, simultaneous interpreting is unnatural: it requires tremendous concentration from the interpreter, because people do not usually listen and speak at the same time. Therefore, this job takes training and getting used to.
Interpreters mostly work together with at least one or two colleagues in soundproof booths. The speaker in the meeting room speaks into the microphone, which is heard over headphones by the interpreter, who almost immediately provides interpretation in their own microphone. Event participants in the meeting room connect to the respective channel to hear an interpretation into their chosen language. There are several possible language or language mode configurations.
At multi-language conferences, the interpreters inside the booths interpret into their native language or language pair only. As this type of interpreting requires great concentration, interpreters are substituted every 10–30 minutes.
Simultaneous interpreting is based on listening, comprehension, analysis and rephrasing.
What makes a good simultaneous interpretation:
- accurate “transposition” of the message into the target language
- faithfulness to both content and tonality
- calm, collected and steady manner of speech
- no literal replications of words
- contact with the speaker and the audience