Simultaneous interpreters receive the speaker’s audio into their headphones and translate in real time into the language of the audience, who hears the translation through infrared receivers equipped with headphones. This way, unlike consecutive interpreting, the translation does not affect the duration of the event since the speaker and interpreter are talking at the same time.
This happens through various simultaneous processes:
- listening to and understanding the speaker
- formulating the translation mentally
- enunciating the translated words
- controlling the vocal output so that the speech is coherent, grammatically correct and easy on the ear
This process takes place in a continuous flow, so while interpreters are translating a sentence (all the while making sure it is correct and fits nicely into the speech), they are already listening and mentally processing the next sentence.
These complex mental gymnastics require years of study and practice, which is why you should always rely on professional interpreters for simultaneous translation.
Simultaneous interpreters usually work in pairs, switching places every 20-30 minutes to ease the mental load and provide terminological support as their partner works, thus guaranteeing a high-quality service throughout the entire event, whether it lasts two hours or an entire day.