Have you ever thought about how difficult the profession of translator is? It may seem that all that is needed is to be fluent in a foreign language and the work itself is easy and pleasant. However, there are types of translations that require not only language skills but also a number of essential predispositions.

Among different kinds of interpreting, which is the most difficult category of linguistic service, simultaneous interpreting is a real challenge.

What is simultaneous interpreting?

Simultaneous interpreting is a kind of interpreting in which the text is heard by the interpreter for the first time, the translation is conducted smoothly, in real-time and at the same time as the source content is being pronounced by the speaker.

This category of interpretation is an indispensable element of all kinds of international meetings and conferences. Without help of simultaneous interpreters, it would be difficult to reach a precise communication in organisations such as the European Parliament.

Why is it so difficult?

The difficulty is, first of all, that there are no breaks in the speech translated on the spot. There are always a few words of delay between the speaker and the interpreter. At the same time, he or she has to listen to successive fragments of the text, analyse the meaning of the words already spoken and translate everything into the target language.


Abilities and skills

It’s a challenge which requires many predispositions from the translator. It requires him or her to be able to listen and understand, as well as to have an impeccable diction so that listeners are not misled. A person who takes up this job must first of all have a unique ability to concentrate on many things at a time, a maximum concentration and an excellent reaction time as well as a high resistance to stress. Without these skills, it’s impossible to focus on listening, analysing the meaning of speech and translating the text into another language at the same time, all that while rapidly operating the console.

Of course, it’s also necessary to have a perfect knowledge of the target and source languages. Very often, it’s impossible to translate the meaning of a sentence literally. It suffices that the sentence is a proverb, for example. Then, it’s necessary to have some knowledge of the proverbs in both languages and to be able to select them quickly and logically. For example, the English sentence: “My home is your home” can be translated into Polish literally: „Mój dom jest twoim domem.“ However, it is better and more elegant in such a case to use an appropriate proverb, which in Polish sounds completely different, but has a similar meaning: “Czym chata bogata, tym rada”. As you can see, a quick reaction is essential here.

Check if you can

If you still don’t find this task a particular challenge, you can easily test your skills and see if the work of a simultaneous interpreter is a job you can do. All you need to do is to take a microphone and headphones and find any video on the Internet in the language you want to translate from. Then, after the film is launched, record your instant interpretation. Of course, stopping or rewinding the film during playback is forbidden, and it must be the first time you hear the content. Then listen to the recording and judge for yourself whether its content is consistent, comprehensible and meaningful, and whether the entire text has been translated. Perhaps you have a talent for it. Good luck!

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