Conference interpretation is the art of translating or interpreting a spoken message instantly and accurately. Usually, conference interpretation is applied during a formal setting such as delegate meetings, multilingual seminars, legal proceedings, or business meetings with international businessmen. Simultaneous interpretation is the most common form of interpretation where the interpreter interprets just as the speaker speaks. In the form of consecutive interpretation, the interpreter speaks after the speaker is done. Whispering is another form of interpretation that is used in smaller settings.
A conference interpreter is a person who has command over several languages as well as his mother tongue and usually translates the message spoken in another language into his mother tongue. Not only do they translate the message but conference interpreters also identify the tone, intentions, and meaning of the message spoken. They are bound by an oath of secrecy and the information that they receive will be for their ears only.
Difference between a translator and an interpreter
Being a translator and being an interpreter may require a set of skills and knowledge that may overlap but they are two completely different fields. A translator most commonly works with a written text and has plenty of time to translate the message. Vocabulary and command over the language are the different skills that are needed in a translator.
On the other hand, an interpreter stands or sits between different parties and has to convey the message as precisely and quickly as the speaker says the words. Conference interpreters need to have certain skills such as:
- Command over languages
- Ability to think under pressure
- Nerves of steel
- Ability to read and translate tones and impressions
- Power of synthesis
- Presence of mind
- Communication skills
The skills needed to become a conference interpreter are gained after thorough post-graduate training. Having command over several languages is just the first step toward the long process of becoming a conference interpreter.
The need for conference interpreters
English is the most common language in the world and everyone can understand it but that does not mean that there is no need for conference interpreters. Being able to understand English is only good for basic communication but when serious discussions or negotiations are carried out at a bigger level, having a conference interpreter is a necessity.
Where do conference interpreters work?
Conference interpreters work for government and non-government organizations. They can be used for any conference, meeting, or seminar where international members speaking foreign languages participate. Although most of the conference interpreters work for international organizations such as the EU or UN, they can also be found at product launches, international associations, and business meetings. Some even freelance and they are called upon when their services are required.
Conference interpreters usually stand or sit in the same room as the delegates but they can also work remotely from a different room or even a different country through conference calls.
How to recruit a good interpreter?
When hiring a good interpreter, look for The American Association of Language Specialists (TAALS) or AIIC membership seal. Being an accredited interpreter at the UN or EN also indicates eligibility and quality. The best way to recruit good interpreters is to go through all the possible options. A consultant interpreter can present and validate all the options and can hire good interpreters.