Simultaneous translation: the importance of interpreters being prepared

July 8, 2024

How specific knowledge can be a deciding factor for good simultaneous translation


When it comes to translation, there are many practices we can talk about. Among them, simultaneous interpreting is one of the most challenging. It entails translating the speaker’s words immediately after they are expressed, while upholding the principles of translation, such as fidelity and accuracy. It is widely requested at international events, where a language know by all attendees is simply not conceivable.


The dynamic s of the process ends up combining two characteristics that aren’t usually paired: speed and quality. It is common in simultaneous interpreting processes to translate the ideas from each excerpt of speech, rather than direct, sentence-by-sentence translation. In this setting, an in-depth knowledge of the subject being translated as well as mastery of spoken translation skills are a must for the interpreter – a translation professional who works in the oral sphere.


Way beyond translation: the interpreter


In addition to fluency in the both source and target languages, simultaneous interpreting professionals need to have specific knowledge of the terminology used in a particular field or profession. Professional jargon, expressions and linguistic constructs are a very specific field that warrants special attention.


Most of the time, each language has its own term for a given situation, which may have an equivalent term in a foreign language, but not necessarily a translation. In the same way, it is common that professionals in different countries use certain terms in their source language instead of translating them, even when other terms in the same context are translated normally.


As such, each profession has a reality of its own, and a cross-the-board standard cannot be defined. The following examples help illustrate how translated or untranslated terms are used alternately, even within a single field of knowledge.


To translate or not to translate?


Each field of knowledge has specific characteristics, either in the way the professionals routine is organized, their practical skills or theoretical knowledge. What may go unnoticed is that all professions have specific vocabulary and particular manners of speaking about certain events.


In Physical Therapy, for instance, the most elementary terms used by professionals are all translated: anatomical names, pathologies and actions such as “rotation” are examples of this category. For other terms, the reality changes according to the situation: manipulation techniques tend to bear the name of their creators, such as Kabat. Some procedures are more often referred to by their original name, such as “thrust” from English and “pompage” from French, which are both terms used to describe physical therapy exercise techniques.


Referring to Gastronomy, the general norm is to keep all technical terms in French, the language of origin, translating only ingredients and names of utensils.


In the field of Law, we find a dynamic mixture of foreign language and translated words. The major distinction in this case is the use of Latin expressions, very common in the speaking and writing of legal professionals, such as: Bis In Idem, Ita speratur justitia and pecunia non olet.


Understanding all of these nuances, anticipating their uses and being prepared to accurately and clearly convey them to listeners are the key skills for simultaneous interpreting.


Always aiming to provide our customers with top quality, ZAUM has highly qualified interpreters who are ready to deliver flawlessly translated speeches to all attendees at corporate events. Lectures, conferences, training sessions, meetings, no matter the situation, ZAUM is at your service!


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