The concept of simultaneous interpretation might be new to your business but chances are you’ve seen this type of linguistic support in action. One area where simultaneous interpretation is needed is in diplomatic settings, where leaders of the world converse with the assistance of well-trained and experienced interpreters. From diplomatic meetings between two or three world leaders to large conferences like the United Nations’ General Assembly, leaders depend on a trove of expert linguists to help understand one another.

Despite a commonplace in world politics, simultaneous interpretation can be found in a number of settings. Multinational corporations need simultaneous interpreters for conferences and symposiums. International medical societies and other global organizations representing an array of industries need them, too.

So, what is simultaneous interpretation exactly?

Simultaneous interpretation involves linguists interpreting the speech of a source language into target languages for its listeners. This form of interpretation is performed in real-time to facilitate understanding and conversation between speakers of multiple languages. Professional simultaneous interpreters will listen to the speaker and begin to interpret their words vocally into the target language as the speaker continues to talk. As the interpreter begins to relay the conversation into the targeted language, there are only a few seconds of lag between what the speaker is saying in the source language to the interpreter’s vocalizations in the target language. To accomplish this feat, an interpreter must be extremely fluent in both the source language and the target language. These kinds of interpreters must be able to multitask, too so that their interpretations are accurate. Within half an hour, these kinds of linguists could interpret upwards of 4,000 words.

The majority of simultaneous interpretation involves language service professionals working in teams of two.  This is done so that each interpreter can take turns every half hour or so. Teamwork helps maintain the accuracy and speed of simultaneous interpretation since this line of work requires rigorous concentration, this is normally applicable when it comes to American Sign Language (ASL) interpretations.

How does technology play a role in simultaneous interpreting events?

Technology has greatly improved the accuracy of simultaneous interpretation and the work environments of interpreters. When interpreters are working on-site during an event, they will work from a sound-proof booth and interpret the source language into the target language through a microphone system that is relayed to the listeners that wear headphones.

Not all simultaneous interpretation happens on-site, however. Some interpreters might work through telephonic communication or through live streams of events. With webcasting and improved telephonic technology, these interpreters can work remotely. They can interpret source languages and transmit their interpretations of it to the target languages without having to work at the event. To accomplish remote simultaneous interpretation, the technology used must be of the highest quality for clarity and to avoid interruptions in service.

Technology has also improved the working conditions of simultaneous interpreters. Industry reports have found that remote interpretations are less stressful and tiring for interpreters.

Where do companies and organizations find linguists to perform simultaneous interpretation?

Companies and organizations can have difficulty vetting the capabilities of linguists they find themselves. While some corporations or groups find interpreters based on recommendations, many clients choose to work with language service companies. A language service company helps match its team of linguists to events with which they have experience. They also provide the technology necessary to perform simultaneous interpretation.

Our company has provided language services including simultaneous interpretation for over 30 years. We work with certified and experienced linguists who speak hundreds of languages—many of whom are native speakers. Our mission is to provide high-quality linguistic support to businesses and organizations throughout the United States. We have worked with clients in an array of industries.

Contact our New York City-based headquarters to learn more about how our company can serve your language service needs.