Either in a conference, or in a meeting where participants speak different foreign languages, the Conference Interpreter plays the role of trait-union among the participants, interpreting their speeches to properly put people in touch. Indeed to be effective, verbal communication has to comply with very precise rules. Conference Interpreting has three modes: Simultaneous interpreting, Consecutive and Whispered interpreting (also called chuchotage).
- Simultaneous Interpreting
The interpreter works in a soundproofed booth with at least one colleague. The speaker in the meeting room speaks into a microphone, the interpreter receives the sound through a headset and renders the message into a microphone almost simultaneously. The delegate in the meeting room selects the relevant channel to hear the interpretation in the language of his/her choice.
- Consecutive Interpreting
The interpreter sits with the delegates, listens to the speech and renders it, at the end, in a different language, generally with the aid of notes. In the modern world consecutive interpreting has been largely replaced by simultaneous, but it remains relevant for certain kinds of meetings (e.g. highly technical meetings, working lunches, small groups, field trips).
- Whispered Simultaneous Interpreting
The interpreter is seated or standing among the delegates and interprets simultaneously directly into the ear of the delegates. Whispered interpretation can be used only for very few delegates sitting or standing close together. It is used mainly in bilateral meetings or in groups where only a few delegates do not share a common language. Whispering is often used instead of consecutive in order to save time. Sometimes, the whispering interpreter will use a headphone in order to get the best possible sound from the original speaker.¹
1: Unione Europea, 2013
- Teams of Interpreters