Simultaneous interpretation: a cognitively challenging task.
Simultaneous interpreting is used at events held by international organisations, speeches by heads of state, court hearings, board meetings, major conferences, lectures and presentations. Simultaneous interpreters (also known as simultaneous translators in layman’s terms) have the challenging task of translating what is being said into the target language in real time. This type of interpreting usually requires special equipment.
What does a simultaneous interpreter do?
Simultaneous interpreting involves translating what is being said into the target language almost simultaneously. This makes it ideal for events where several participants need to follow the action live and which are due to last for several hours. So no extra time is needed for the interpreting and you can keep to your planned schedule.
Technique used in simultaneous interpreting
For simultaneous interpreting (or conference interpreting), an interpreting booth is used. It is soundproof and can therefore be conveniently placed in the conference room. This also gives the interpreters a good view of the presentations and speakers, making their work easier.
Simultaneous interpreting is one of the most stressful professions in the world. To ensure optimum performance, interpreters therefore need regular breaks. That’s why two, sometimes even three interpreters work together on assignments, taking turns every 30 minutes (or according to their preference). But this doesn’t mean they then sit back – they continue to follow what is happening, listening to their booth partner and supporting them by making a note of numbers and names, for example.
In addition to a table, two chairs and two lamps, an interpreting booth also contains special interpreting equipment with headphones and microphones for the interpreters. These are available from various manufacturers, but they all work in the same way. Simultaneous interpreters learn how to use this equipment during their studies.
Audio guide systems
At your event, the audience will be guided through different showrooms. If simultaneous interpreting is needed, so-called audio guide systems (also called tour guide systems, TGS) can be helpful in this situation. You have probably already seen them in action on a guided tour of a museum. Using mobile technology, they allow the interpreter to follow the group and translate what is being said as usual.
Here, too, it is important to take breaks. The advantage of a TGS is that there is no need for a booth, interpreting equipment or a lengthy sound check, which saves both time and money.
A special type of simultaneous interpreting is whispered interpreting, which is only really suitable when interpreting for one or two people. It involves the interpreter sitting directly behind the listeners and whispering what is being said simultaneously into their ears in the target language.
This type of interpreting involves a high cognitive load, as the interpreter has to speak in a whispered tone and remain focused despite the surrounding noise.
Language portfolio for simultaneous interpreting
Thanks to our long-standing presence in the Swiss language services market, CB Multilingual has a large network of qualified conference interpreters with diplomas or MA degrees. Over the years, we have gained valuable experience working with them on countless projects for renowned Swiss companies and organisations, from which you can now benefit.
In addition to the most common target languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, etc.), we also offer our interpreting services in other European and non-European languages. Feel free to contact us at any time and we will find the right interpreters for your event.
"We have never had such skilled German-French interpreters as at our autumn conference in 2023, so we must extend our utmost appreciation. Thank you very much for the simultaneous translation."
"We used French-German interpreting services from CB Multilingual (CBM) for our wholesale customer event in September 2022. We found the entire organisation and coordination together with CBM to be very professional and helpful. The two interpreters were very well prepared and also exceptionally flexible when it came to discussions in the plenary. The feedback from our clients from French-speaking Switzerland regarding the interpreting services provided was extremely satisfactory. The use of the equipment was explained to us in detail, so everything worked excellently.
We would like to thank the CBM team again for the great support and service, which met our expectations. We will certainly consider CBM again for future larger meetings."