You are on page 1of 15

SIMULTANEOUS INTERPRETING Introduction Simultaneous interpreting is when the interpreter renders the message in the target-language as quickly as he or she

can formulate it from the source language, while the source-language speaker continuously speaks. A spoken language, simultaneous interpreter, sitting in a sound-proof booth, speaks into a microphone, while clearly seeing and hearing the source-language speaker via earphones. The simultaneous interpretation is rendered to the target-language listeners via their earphones. Moreover, simultaneous interpreting is the common mode used by sign language interpreters, although the person using the source language, the interpreter and the target language recipient (since either the hearing person or the deaf person may be delivering the message) must necessarily be in close proximity The Importance of the Simultaneous Interpreting A simultaneous interpreter is needed when at least one person attending an event cannot understand what the speaker says, due to the fact that he speaks a different language, and there is no time or opportunity to let the speaker pause regularly. Texture in Simultaneous Interpreting In terms of textuality, simultaneous interpreting concerns mainly on the texture and partially on the structure and the context of the source text. It means that it will always be important to rely the discoursal values of a source speaker text because texture functions as a unity with respect to its environment and there will be certain linguistic features present in that passage which can be identified as contributing to its total unity. In other words, simultaneous interpreting relies mostly on the elements of cohesion of the text. Relating to this, there are several relevant features of simultaneous interpreting, as follows: 1. Divided Attention Speaking at the same time as the source text producer, interpreters have to run several processing activities concurrently; they have to translate the immediately preceding input,

encode their own output and monitor it (the interpreters headset incorporates feedback from microphone to earpiece of his/her own voice so that output can be monitored).
2. Ear-voice span (EVS)

The ear-voice span is the necessary time-lag between reception of source text and production of target text. It is said to vary from two up to ten seconds approximately, depending, for example, on individual style, on syntactic complexity of input and on language combination. Variations in EVS can be taken as rough measure of the size of the stretch of source text currently being processed. In general terms, the shorter the EVS, the closer will translation adhere to the form of the source text. Most importantly, EVS imposes strain on short-term memory and if it is allowed to become too long, breakdown can occur 3. Audience Design According to Bell (1984), it is the perceived receiver group whom the text producer adapt their output to. It is important to realize that the interpreter, as a receiver of the source text, is not the intended addressee, but the speakers accommodate to their addressees in a variety of ways. The interpreter cannot be said to be a ratified participant in the speech event, but rather an over hearer (Bell, 1984: 83). Furthermore, speeches for simultaneous translation tend to be a particular kind. In many cases, the mode of the source text will be written-to-be-read-aloud and the propositional content will be non-trivial with sustained and planned development of a single topic. Indeed, the simultaneous interpreter is in totally different situation from that of the participant in a speech exchange who negotiates meaning with an interlocutor. Therefore, the interpreters response will not be one of interaction with an interlocutor but rather of sympathetic impersonation of a source text speaker with a similar group of addressees in mind to that of speaker. 4. Continuous Response The simultaneous interpreter requires divided attention and immediacy of response as well as concentrates on processing only current input. Contextual clues form an important part of the interpreters understanding of text. Therefore, the simultaneous interpreter relies on textural signals. Context is muted because the interpreter is not a ratified participant in the speech event and because the constraints of immediacy of response and the focus on short units deny the interpreter the opportunity for adequate top-down processing.

Each relevant feature of simultaneous interpreting has its own role to play and they relate to each other, for example, EVS has a role in the choice of strategy. If the span is a long one then the interpreter may hope to delay committing him/herself until the source text syntactic format becomes clear; but, if the span is short, then the immediate output-processing decision must be made. Memory in Interpreting Phelan (2001: 4-5) mentions that the interpreter needs a good short-term memory to retain what he or she has just heard and a good long-term memory to put the information into context. Ability to concentrate is a factor as is the ability to analyse and process what is heard. The idea of short-term memory simply means human is retaining information for a short period of time without creating the neural mechanisms for later call. While long-term memory occurs when he/she has created neural pathways for storing ideas and information which can be recalled weeks, months or even years later. Long-term memory is a learning process. Different from long-term memory (LTM) which lasts for minutes to weeks, years, or even the entire of life, the duration of short-term memory (STM) is very short, up to 30 seconds. Memory in interpreting only lasts for a short time. Once the interpreting assignment is over, the interpreter moves on to another one, often with different context, subject and speakers. Therefore, the memory skills needed to train are STM skills. There are several major characteristics of STM: a. Input of information According to Sperling (1960) and Crowden (1982), it is said that information enters the STM as a result of applying attention to the stimulus which is about a quarter of a second. However, McKay (1973) asserted that unattended information may enter the STM. b. Capacity The capacity of STM is limited and small. Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968) proposed that it is seven items of information. While Miller (1956) said it is seven chunks. Gross (1990:55) stated that the factor is not the STMs storage capacity but it is more to its processing capacity.

c. Modality To store information in STM, it must be encoded. There are three main varieties of possibility in STM: (1) Acoustic (phonemic) coding is rehearsing through sub-vical sounds (Conrad, 1964 and Baddeley, 1966); (2) Visual coding is storing information as pictures rather than sounds. This applies especially to nonverbal items particularly if they are difficult to describe using words. Visual codes may be used by interpreters in conference situations with multimedia.; (3) Semantic coding is applying meaning of information relating to something abstract (Baddeley, 1990 and Goodhead, 1999). In most interpreting contexts, interpreter will depend on acoustic and semantic coding. d. Information loss There are three main theories why human forgets from the STM: (1) Displacement the existing information is replaced by newly received information when the storage capacity is full (Waugh and Norman, 1965); (2) Decay information decays over time (Baddeley, Thompson and Buchanan, 1975); (3) Interference other information present in the storage at the same time distorts the original information (Keppel and Underwood, 1962). e. Retrieval There are modes of retrieval of information in STM: (1) Serial search items in STM are examined one at a time until the desire information is retrieved (Stenberg, 1966); (2) Activation dependence on activation of the particular item reaching a critical point (Monsell, 1979 and Goodhead, 1999) The Process of the Simultaneous Interpreting Giles (1992:191, 1995b:179) proposed Effort Models in interpreting to help the interpreters understand the visible difficulties and select appropriate strategies and tactics. The Effort Model for simultaneous interpreting is as follows: SI = L + M + P a. L = Listening and analysis Includes all the mental operations between perception of a discourse by auditory mechanism and the moment at which the interpreter either assigns or decides not to assign a meaning to the segment, which he has heard.

b. M = Short-term memory Includes all the mental operations related to storage in memory of heard segments of discourse until either their restitution in the target language, their loss if they vanish from memory or a decision by the interpreter not to interpret them. c. P = Production Includes all the mental operations between the moment at which the interpreter decides to convey an idea and the moment at which he articulates the form he has prepared to articulate Memory Training in Simultaneous Interpreting Memory training in interpreting aims to achieve a better understanding of the source language because understanding is the first step in successful interpreting. Therefore, memory training is to be provided in the early stage of interpreter training. Since memory functions differently in consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, the methods of training STM are different as well. According to Giles Effort Model, interpreting is an STM-centered activity, the process is as follows: Encoding of information from source language + Storing information + Retrieval of Information + Decoding information into the target language In simultaneous interpreting, encoding and decoding of information happen almost at the same time. The duration for storing the information is very limited. Therefore, the first step of interpreting, encoding (understanding) information uttered in the source language is the key to memory training. There are several methods recommended in the memory training: a) Retelling in the source language b) Categorisation - grouping items of the same properties c) Generalisation drawing general conclusions from message provided in the text d) Comparison noticing the differences and similarities e) Description describing a property of an object f) Shadowing Exercise a paced, auditory tracking task involving immediate vocalisation in the same language, parrot-style, of a message through a headphone (recommended in simultaneous interpreting especially in the splitting of the attention skills and the shortterm memory)

g) Mnemonic mnemonic to memory in which the basic principle is to use as many of the best functions of the human brain as possible to encode information. Setting of Simultaneous Interpreting The setting of interpreting is divided into two: inter-social and intra-social setting. Inter-social setting is where the contact happens between social entities speaking different languages including: business interpreting, military interpreting and diplomatic interpreting. While intrasocial setting is within heterolingual societies and covers broader areas of setting including: legal interpreting, health-care interpreting, educational interpreting and medical interpreting. Each setting can use one or more modes of interpreting. Simultaneous interpreting can be used in both settings according to the needs and situations of interpreting, as follows: Conference Interpreting Conference interpreting is interpreting in a conference environment - International conferences and official meetings such as intergovernmental. Conference interpreting may be simultaneous using interpreters booth or consecutive although the advent of multi-lingual meetings has seen a massive drop in the use of consecutive over the last 20 years. The toughest job for an interpreter is a formal occasion such as a conference speech or a highlevel governmental meeting, where a highly polished paper, full of information, is read out nonstop and the interpreter is not allowed to interact with the speaker. Simultaneous interpreting using a full booth is often employed, but if the target language audience is small, whispering using a wireless communication device makes economic sense. Conference interpreting is roughly but not exactly split into two types of market: the institutional market and the private market. International institutions (EU, UN, EPO, etc), holding multilingual meetings, often favour interpreting from a number of foreign languages into the interpreters' mother tongue. Local private markets tend to hold bilingual meetings (the local language plus one other) and the interpreters work both into and out of their mother tongue. The markets are by no means mutually exclusive.

Legal/court Interpreting Legal interpreting, or court or judicial interpreting, takes place in courts of justice or administrative tribunals and wherever a legal proceeding is held (such as a conference room for a deposition or the location of a sworn statement). Legal interpreting can take the form of consecutive interpreting of witnesses' statements, for example, or simultaneous interpreting of the entire proceedings by electronic means for one or more of the people in attendance. Depending on the regulations and standards adhered to per state and venue, court interpreters usually work alone when providing consecutive interpreting services, or as a team when simultaneous interpreting is required. In addition to mastery of the source and target languages, an excellent knowledge of law and court procedure is required of court interpreters. Often they are required to have formal authorization from the State to work in the courts and are then called sworn interpreters. Public Service Interpreting Also called community interpreting, this type of interpreting takes place in the following fields: legal, health and local government services, social services, housing, environmental health, and education welfare. In community interpretation, there appear factors which are determinant and affect production, such as emotional content, hostile or polarized surroundings, created stress, the power relationship between the participants, and the degree of responsibility of the interpreter in many cases more than extreme; even the life of the other person depending, in many cases, on the interpreter's work. Medical Interpreting A subset of public service interpreting, medical interpreting consists of communication between a medical caregiver and a patient and/or family members, facilitated by one qualified to provide such a service. The interpreter must have a strong knowledge of medicine, common procedures, the patient interview and exam process, and the day-to-day workings of the hospital or clinic, in order to be able to serve both the patient and the caregiver. Medical interpreters often act as

cultural liaisons for those who are not familiar with, or particularly comfortable in, a hospital setting. Sign Language Interpreting When hearing person speaks, an interpreter will render the meaning of the speaker into the sign language used by the deaf party. When a deaf person signs, an interpreter will render the meaning expressed in the signs into the spoken language of the hearing party. This may be performed either as simultaneous or consecutive interpreting. Skilled sign language interpreters will position themselves in a room or space that allows them both to be seen by deaf participants and heard by hearing participants clearly and to see and hear participants clearly. In some circumstances, an interpreter may interpret from one sign language into an alternate sign language. Technical Interpreting This type of interpreting takes place technically in sophisticated meetings (joint R&D, ISO/IEC working groups). This may be performed either as simultaneous (whispering) or consecutive interpreting. Interpreters are often called for in meetings of experts of a specific field such as medicine, IT, or mechanical engineering. Any materials provided prior to the meeting will be appreciated. A good interpreter will master it on the spot and use the proper term from then on. Business Interpreting This takes place in business negotiations, management meetings and may be performed either as simultaneous (whispering) or consecutive interpreting. In any situation, interpreters are required to have a broad knowledge base in addition to mastery of the languages they work in. This is especially true for business situations. Interpreters must be equipped with a good understanding of the economy and business practices as well as cross-cultural communication in order to be successful facilitators of business. Interpreters are generally evaluated on their accuracy, speed and delivery. In addition, the interpersonal skills of interpreters play a major role in business meetings, since interpreters are

directly involved in the proceedings. Consecutive interpretation is normally employed in this context, but whispering can be a very good option if the meeting is small. Conversation interpreting It uses simultaneous interpreters, but not necessarily. In the marketing research company, it is clear that a simultaneous interpreter is needed to translate the interviews. But if there is time for people to pause during a conversation, and is there no objection to having participants in the conversation wait for the translation each time a sentence is spoken, it is considered using a consecutive interpreter. Equipments Required in Simultaneous Interpreting During international conferences with multiple languages, it is of the utmost importance that all attendees can understand what is being said. Conference interpretation equipment enables interpreters to render the message from the floor language into another language as quickly as possible (simultaneously). International events that require multiple languages also require a wide range of equipment in order to be able to interpret between two languages and reach their target audience with the least amount of hassle. Typically, interpreters will reside in a soundproof interpretation booth which is approximately 6 (1.83m) x 6 (1.83m). Once there, the interpreters receive a live audio or video feed of the speaker and stage and the interpreter speaks into a microphone that is then broadcasted to wireless transmitters or receivers that are distributed to the audience prior to the start of the event or conference. There are several different methods of distributing the interpretation to the audience. The two most common choices of interpretation equipment are radio frequency (RF) which is FM based and Infrared (IR). We will briefly identify some of the benefits and drawbacks to each technology.

IR boasts the following benefits: Secure communications (due to line of sight LOS requirements). LOS limitations allow these units to be used in highly secure/confidential events as the risk of interception is virtually impossible. No chance of radio interference from other sources including wireless microphones, etc. Superior audio quality. No interference from lighting systems. Up to 32 separate channels can be transmitted simultaneously.

The drawbacks of IR include: Inability to transmit between solid objects. Difficult to setup and position for optimal operation as well as sound distribution. Indoor operation only. Labor intensive. Not portable.

Alternatively, RF radio transmitters have the following benefits: Ease of setup and flexibility in various environments. Ability to transmit through objects (no line of sight issues). Can be used indoors or outdoors. RF units help to ensure that public venues meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) or National Persons with Disabilities Act in Canada. Transmitters can be placed virtually anywhere. Portable units can be used for: Factories Sightseeing Tours Tradeshows Employee meetings Museums

And FM has the following drawbacks: Insecure communications. Chance of radio interference from outside sources (depending upon frequency). Limited simultaneous transmission in North America: 72 MHz can transmit up to 6 languages (including the floor). 216 MHz can transmit up to 3 languages (including the floor). Limited range: 72 MHz broadcast range is up to 1,500 feet (457.2m). 216 MHz broadcast range is up to 3,000 feet (914.4m).

Whatever you do, do not be afraid to ask questions of your language interpretation partner. Find out as much about them as you can. Feel free to ask how long they have been in the conference interpretation profession and how many conferences they have interpreted during. If they have experience in the city, state or even country you are working in, it going to makes a huge difference. Similarities and Differences between Simultaneous, Consecutive and Liaison Simultaneous the speaker the same time Consecutive Liaison the a speaker says something and can be done after a short speech, or pauses said while into the consecutively, what sentence another sentence-byinterpreter they language Use special equipments for consecutive interpreter will very few notes are taken and the simultaneous interpreting have pen and paper and do not translation is largely spontaneous have any special equipments and communication-oriented interprets


interpreter are speaking at then

Large number of people Big conferences, seminar

Small number of people business meetings,

Small number of people (not more than 5 persons) press Trading, one-on-one interviews,


interviews, small scale negotiation

teleconferences, or any type simultaneous of one-on-one exchange interpreters consecutive interpreters consecutive interpreters normally work alone

almost always work in normally work alone

teams of two or more Formal situation Formal situation Informal situation uses short-term memory uses long-term memory Uses short-term memory Rely mostly on the texture Rely mostly on the structure Rely mostly on the context of the of the source text of the source text source text

The Problems in Simultaneous Interpreting The problem in simultaneous interpretation stems not from the technique used, but from a series of other problems. Simultaneous is too often considered as a simple word-for-word translation, with a certain number of words stored in the memory (probably to avoid the trap of false cognates and not translate actual by actual) and then repeated in the target language. During the time lag, which separates the speakers words from those of the interpreter, the interpreter had better things to do than memorize the words he/she has heard, because the speaker relentlessly continues to deliver his idea and the interpreter must do the same to avoid sputtering out snatches of ideas. Even memorizing half dozen words would distract the interpreter, whose attention is already divided between listening to his/her own words and those of the speaker. It would be impossible for him/her to memorize ones in another language. It is humanly impossible to listen attentively to one thing while saying another. The interpreter listens and says the same thing. By avoiding the pitfall of word memorisation, the interpreter manages to understand the thought, which will produce his next words. Thus, the simultaneous interpreter is an analyst or mindreader, not a parrot. His/her memory does not store the words of the sentence delivered by the speaker, but only the meaning which those words convey.

Suggestions for Simultaneous Interpreters Simultaneous interpreting employs the same cognitive processing skills, with the only difference being the amount of time that elapses between the delivery of the source utterance and the delivery of the interpretation. However, due to the time allowed for comprehension and analysis of the source text consecutive interpretations offer greater accuracy and equivalence than do simultaneous interpretations. Thus, the speaker who addresses an audience for which interpretation has been requested must have a speech as clearly structured as possible considering a good quality of the interpreted speech which should be independent from the semantic, lexical, and emotional quality of the interpretation. He or she should have a domain in memory, listening, and note-taking skills. Interpreter should also be familiar with the topic and transmit an accurate speech. This work might be useful for students, professional interpreters and translators, beginners in these fields and instructors. Here are some suggestions during the SI: 1. Get the important resources before doing the SI Handouts, speakers note and power point presentation will help the interpreter know more about the topic in the conferences in advance. The more information interpreters have in advance the more successful interpreting will be. This will allow the interpreters to look up some technical words and phrases before the process of SI. 2. Tell the guest speakers that their session will be interpreted Suggest that they speak a little slower than usual and use sort and concise sentences as much as possible. Remind the speaker to minimize the use colloquialism because the interpreters will not interpret this expression literally but will interpret the speakers meaning instead. 3. Try to make a contact between speaker and interpreters. In order to notify the speaker that she/he speaks too fast a contact is needed between speakers and interpreters in the conferences. 4. Interpreters may interrupt the speakers for a clarification on word 5. Remind the speaker that the interpreters will not be able interpret when two individuals are speaking at the same time.

References Pochhacker, F. 2004. Introducing Interpreting Studies. London and New York: Routledge. Hatim, Basil and Ian Mason. 1997. Translator as Communicator. New York: Routledge. Zhong, Weihe. 2003. Memory Training in Interpreting. In Translation Journal and the Author. URL: URL:


By: Group 6 Ngakan Nyoman Andi Wijaya Ni Komang Yohana Wandira Putu Yos Kriyanatha Komang Tri Sutrisna Agustia 1190161009 1190161018 1190161033 1190161040