Simultaneous Interpretation How Does It Work?

For events and meetings that draw different cultures together, like the 2008 Olympics in Beijing or an international company meeting involving members speaking different languages, Simultaneous Interpretation (SI) is the key to understanding the ideas and information that is being shared.

For events and meetings that draw different cultures together, like the 2008 Olympics in Beijing or an international company meeting involving members speaking different languages, Simultaneous Interpretation (SI) is the key to understanding the ideas and information that is being shared.

But how does it work? What are the components involved in creating a system that will allow many different languages to be voiced and understood?

It all starts with the Interpreter. Hiring the actual human interpreter is the most important aspect because all of the fancy equipment is worthless if the human interpreter can”t keep up with the conversation in the meeting. That being said, an interpreter”s job is made much easier through the use of the right equipment.

For whatever the event, the Simultaneous Interpretation system will need microphones for the participants to speak into (more than likely these will already be in the overall audio system for the conference), that audio will be known as the “Floor Channel.” Interpreters listen to that “Floor Channel” through a piece of equipment known as an Interpreter Unit (or Interpreter Desk) which is a device with multiple language inputs and multiple language outputs. Audio from the “Floor Channel” comes to the Interpreter Unit and the Interpreter listens via headphones or a built-in speaker. The Interpreter can then interpret the “Floor Channel” into a different language by using a headset or detachable microphone which will then send the language channel out to a language distribution system.

Distributing the language channels can be done in different methods. If the event is using a Conference System then the Interpreter Unit can send the language channel right back to the participant”s station on the same cable it received the “Floor Channel.” The participant (or Delegate) will simply use a pair of headphones connected to their station and choose the appropriate language channel to listen to.

If there are non-participating members in the event, that need to hear the interpreted languages, a wireless distribution system can be implemented. This system will have a device with multiple inputs to handle the various languages and then distribute them throughout the meeting room via Infrared or RF (Radio Frequencies). The audience members will have a small receiver with a headphone jack and a channel selector, and they too will be able to listen to the Simultaneous Interpretation system.

The important thing to consider when putting together a Simultaneous Interpretation system, or any system, is that the fewer components there are the less likely anything will go wrong (or at least when something does go wrong there are less components to check). This is one of the biggest advantages of using a conference system that includes Simultaneous Interpretation. The components are from the same manufacturer, the cabling is the same, the connectors are the same, and because it is a conference system, all of the features you will need for the rest of the event are already included in the components needed for the SI system.

Just remember to hire an experienced interpreter.

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