Introduction to simultaneous interpreting

1. What is simultaneous?

Simultaneous interpreting is a form of interpreting in which an interpreter, as opposed to a translator (who works with written texts) interprets almost simultaneously, i.e. he/she speaks almost simultaneously with the speaker. Almost is the key word in this case because interpretation, obviously, can not be simultaneous since it is first necessary to hear what the speaker said - generally speaking, more details follow - to then be able to interpret.


2. Why simultaneous interpreting?

Interpreting, which includes several types, officially came into being after the end of World War II, when prominent individuals of Nazi Germany were tried at the Nuremberg trials. As there were four official languages during the trials, real-time interpreting was introduced for fear of slowing down the whole process. Simultaneous was born! One should know that simultaneous is not the only type of interpreting, there are other ones (chuchotage, consecutive etc). But today probably the most notable is precisely simultaneous interpretation because it is the form most commonly encountered in conferences, congresses, summits, etc.


3. Booth people

People often approach us, interpreters, with comments and impressions such as: "I have worked with a number of experts from various professions, but I find yours the most fascinating." There is something appealing (or perhaps mysterious) in the work of interpreters, which is especially noticeable in simultaneous interpreting, probably due to its prevalence. The equipment, which is indispensable for simultaneous interpretation – booth, headsets, console, microphones, etc – contributes to the mystification of our profession, and makes it different from other types of interpreting which use different equipment (such as the popular notepad and pen ). Simultaneous interpretation is a truly interesting kind of interpreting and a great challenge first of all, I would say. Despite the (terrifying) size of the challenge, you should know that most people have the ability required for simultaneous interpreting (proved!). In other words - we are not supermen.