Simultaneous Interpretation: the secret ingredient or a recipe for disaster?

Simultaneous Interpretation: the secret ingredient or a recipe for disaster?

 

Your company has a big conference. There will be people speaking at least two languages, but the meetings and information for the conference is already packed to the brim and there is no extra time to do the traditional consecutive interpretation. In a consecutive interpretation environment, a speaker gives their information and then a translator follows it up with the translation. This often works well in a board meeting or a teleconference where information is being passed back and forth between parties. However, for events and meetings where information is being disseminated and possibly to more languages than 2, consecutive interpretation does not work well.

 

Simultaneous interpretation is a highly qualified method of translation whereby an interpreter must translate the information, completely, accurately, and in the same pace as the speaker. There should be only a few seconds of lag time in the translation. It is very difficult for most interpreters to accomplish because it requires the interpreter to be thoroughly knowledgeable about both languages, both cultures, to be able to simultaneously and continuously hear something, translate it and speak out something else. There should be no lags, pauses, or skipping of information.

Language Communication requires more that simple word translation
Language Communication requires more that simple word translation

Interpretation involves the ability to translate ideas, tones, and grammar structure into another language. Interpreters must keep the same idea alive, even among different cultures. One example of this can be seen with through the phrase “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!” That phrase doesn’t make sense to Spanish Speakers. Instead, an interpreter would need to translate to the phrase “Me pica el bagre” which in English literally translates to “the catfish is biting me.”

Additionally, Interpreters need to keep pace with the speaker, portray the tone and intent of the message and accurately communicate the speaker’s intent. Remember, in simultaneous interpretation, there is no time to look up any word or phrases and double check accuracy. If the interpreter doesn’t have the ability or command of both languages to be accurate, then your message will be lost. That can cost you more than just time and hassle- it can cost you money!

Too often, companies make the mistake of hiring lower cost interpreters, but unfortunately, too often they get what they pay for. Someone who has lived in another country or can even fluently speak both languages is not automatically qualified to be a translator or an interpreter. Translation of languages, ideas, and intent takes a qualified professional with skill and education in both languages. Just as you wouldn’t expect a high school student (fluent in English) to write your business proposal, you shouldn’t expect “just anyone” who speaks two language to accurately interpret for you.

Check out our next article on ways to hire a qualified translation specialist or Interpretation guru this week!

*Cesar Duran  has a a Bachelors of Arts in Linguistics from the University of Utah. Additionally, he has over 5 years of simultaneous interpretation experience and extremely happy clients! He has flown all over the United States to translate for events. Call InterepretLing today to schedule your next important event.