What is a conference interpreter and what they do?


Conference interpreters are professional language and communication experts who, at multilingual meetings, conveys the meaning of a speaker’s message orally and in another language to listeners who can’t understand. The work of conference interpreters is an oral intellectual exercise which is quite distinct from written translation and it requires a different training and qualifications. Conference interpreters often use consecutive interpretation for smaller and more intimate affairs as well as for a certain teleconference. These interpreters are majorly known for providing simultaneous interpretation services at conferences, corporate-level meetings, top level events and summits.

This level of interpreting skills requires hours of training and practice, which is very mentally strenuous. It demands that the interpreters do their work consistently with very few breaks, for a long period of time. In most cases, conference interpreters work as part of a team, with a shift of 30 minutes or so. This enables them to get back from their rigorous act of continuous interpretation. Conference interpreters works in various modes:

  • Simultaneous: The interpretation takes place when the person is still speaking. Interpreters communicate with the use of special instruments like, microphone, earphones, booths, etc.
  • Consecutive: This type of interpretation takes place after the speaker has finished talking, usually with the help of notes.
  • Cheval: An interpreter working in two booths in the same meeting.
  • Sign language: This type of interpretation is done using signs used by people who are deaf or have difficulty in hearing.
  • Retour: It involves interpreting from your mother tongue into one of your passive languages.
  • Relay: This type of interpretation is sometimes referred to as indirect interpretation. The interpreter works from a language they do not understand through bridging language.
  • Whispered: This type of interpretation involves the interpreter interpreting simultaneously into the participants ear.

Conference interpreters usually work in the heat of debates, thinking as they speak. The technique used by conference interpreters is very different from those that are used by community interpreters. There are some words that are not required to be interpreted in international summit or conference. Conference interpreters makes use of some of this terminology during interpretation.

  1. Passive language: This is the language from which the interpreter interprets.
  2. Active language: This is the language into which the interpreter interprets
  3. Symmetric regime: This simply means that the delegates can speak and listen to interpretation from the same language
  4. Reduced regime: This is when interpretation is provided but from less than a full number of official languages.
  5. Asymmetric regime: All participants speak in their mother tongue, but the interpretation is not provided into all languages.

Linguist Point aims to bridge the linguistic gap between businesses, cultures and people across the UK and Beyond. We enable businesses to engage and communicate with global audience efficiently in more  than 100 languages. Contact us today and navigate in the international waters safely 020 8523 5791