Simultaneous Interpreting Talents


Firstly, the work of best certified interpreters in conditions of simultaneous listening and speaking requires constant concentration of attention and continuous speaking.

There is a situation of split attention, caused by the need to constantly compare two languages ​​and switch from one code to another. This leads to the fact that after 20-30 minutes of translation, the interpreter becomes tired of the articular apparatus, self-control decreases, and serious and sometimes absurd errors appear in the translation text, even in their native language. It is for this reason that the translator must rest after every twenty minutes of work.

The second difficulty of simultaneous translation relates to the speed of the translator’s reaction, or rather, with his reactivity. The simultaneous interpreter is forced to instantly respond every second to the words and phrases perceived by the ear.

Otherwise, a large lag the speaker is very dangerous and can lead to a final breakdown in translation. On the other hand, a translator who, having heard the first two or three words, immediately begins to translate, also runs the risk of making a serious mistake, because phrases constructed on the fly often have clumsy syntax and incorrect grammatical constructions.

A difficult linguistic task is “language compression”, designed to compensate for the lag in translation into a language with longer word lengths and verbose rhetoric. For example, Russian or French words are 7-8% longer than English ones, grammatical constructions are more detailed, in addition, many common concepts transmitted in English in one word require several words in Russian. This is especially true for new, not well-established concepts.

An even more difficult task is translating a report (usually at a purely academic conference), when the speaker speaks in long, complex, and intricate phrases. The translator, however, must make them clear and concise. As a result, in simultaneous translation, the syntax should be simpler and the average length of sentences shorter.

The ability to shorten and condense live speech is one of the main skills in the art of a simultaneous interpreter, especially when translating from Russian, French or any other language into English.

Great difficulty is the mental stress associated with the “irreversibility” of what the speaker said into the microphone (you won’t stop, you won’t ask to repeat) and the “irreversibility” of the translation (you won’t apologize, and you won’t correct it). In other words, there is no feedback from the speaker. And all this happens in front of a large audience of listeners.

It should not be forgotten that translation is complex, without any additional complicating factors. But in real life, unfortunately, such factors take place: the speaker may have a non-standard pronunciation, speak or, even worse, read his report at an unacceptably fast pace, use jargon, slang, or profanity. Trouble for the simultaneous interpreter if a joker comes across. And then the translator must make extra efforts to replace the profanity with the normative one, to explain that the word “grabbing” is a pun, which for Russians is full of irony, and all this under time pressure. those. The already complicated process of simultaneous translation becomes even more complicated.

In addition to all of the above, a translator needs linguistic and speech competence, not only in a foreign language, but also in his native language, oratory and even literary talent, he must have excellent long-term and short-term memory, the ability to concentrate, the ability to improvise, the ability to catch the tone and nuances of speech and adapt to the style of the speaker, he should not have speech defects, be able to remain neutral, and also have linguistic and regional competence, know the culture of the country of the language being studied, without which it is impossible to adequately understand the speech of the people of this country, and much more.

However, even with all the above knowledge and skills, translators – good and bad, experienced, and inexperienced – make mistakes due to the influence of their native language, or the so-called interference. It is the interference that “gives away” the speaker in a non-native language and presents a huge difficulty in translation.

The main mistakes of synchronists include the following:

  • Quality of the translator’s speech in both native and English language.

The richer the vocabulary and style in the native language, the better the translation into a foreign language will be.

  • Mistakes in terminology translation

Such errors can be avoided if translators could get acquainted with the translation text in advance and look up terms they do not know, or better study the topic in advance.

             Interference of the native language (“clumsy” literal translation and literalisms).

             Inability to clearly formulate an idea in time pressure

             The presence in the interpreter’s speech of the so-called speech noise (sighs, “mooing” in    case of difficulties with translation, etc.) and the words of parasites “like it means, so to speak, here, in short”

           Distortion of the meaning of the speaker’s statement

            Incomplete translation


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