Simultaneous Interpreting

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Language interpreting or interpretation is the intellectual activity of facilitating oral and sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between two or more users of different languages. A simultaneous interpreter is – as you can tell by looking at the words – someone who interprets for someone in another language while the speaker speaks without interruption. This is the opposite of consecutive interpreting, because a consecutive interpreter awaits his turn and does not start speaking until the speaker allows him the time to do so. Simultaneous interpreting is one of the most common kinds of interpreting, but also the most difficult one. Very few translators (who are used to getting the time to really think about their translations) can do it, and not even all interpreters can do it well.
Simultaneous interpreting has a number of indisputable advantages over consecutive interpreting: (1) efficiency in conducting international events in which several languages are used; (2) less expenditure of time and money: the event proceeds at its own pace regardless of the language of the speaker — this decreases the time necessary to hold the event and the material resources required; (3) convenience for the listeners: the participants can hear the presentation in the original language without interruption for translation.
It is really a very complex process to interpret simultaneously, one that only very few interpreters can handle well. A speaker is speaking, and that speaker does not stop or pause. He keeps talking. Therefore the interpreter must do the following while the speaker is talking: listen to what the speaker is saying; translate it in his mind; render the translation in his microphone; and (and this is the most difficult part) at the same time listen to what is being said while he is speaking himself.

This requires a kind of mental miracle, and that is why it is an unusually demanding and complex activity to carry out, one that requires an unusual level of concentration, which tires out the interpreter rather soon – which affects his concentration, which, in turn, affects his performance.

Simultaneous interpreting is not only an art, but also a technology. Therefore, there are certain basic principles can be followed during the process of interpreting in order to achieve goals more efficiently. The following principles can be employed to guide our simultaneous interpreting:
A. Syntactic Linearity
According to the original structure of the sentence that a interpreter has heard, he divides the whole sentence into several parts, and then combines them together with various skills to express the entire meaning.

Simultaneous interpreting requests the interpreter to give the target version nearly at the same time with the speaker’s speech, and a qualified simultaneous interpreter should try his best to shorten the time between interpreting and speaking, therefore, the method to interpret based on the original structure is an important feature in simultaneous interpreting.
B. Adjustment
It is a vital step in the interpreting process. The interpreter should adjust structure, correct mistakes and add the missing information with the new content he receives. In English, the adverbial modifiers about time and place are usually placed in the end of a sentence, which is quite different from the Chinese structure.

C. Anticipation
A good simultaneous interpreter should know how to predict what the speaker would say next with his own language ability, knowledge and experience, which can save a lot of time and energy, thus following the pace of the speaker.

D. Reformulation
Reformulation is the overall strategy in simultaneous interpreting. There is a great deal of difference between English and Chinese, so it is impossible to interpret word to word. Reformulation can help interpreter to reorganize the original information according to the convention of target language.

E. Simplification
It asks the simultaneous interpreter to simplify the words to explain, induce and generalize the original content without affecting the convey of main information when he meets some difficulties which he can not handle with the target language or some technical materials which is hard for the listeners to understand.

F. Faithfulness
It is always regarded as the criterion to evaluate translation. But it is hard to follow it in simultaneous interpreting because interpreters have not enough time to think and deal during interpreting. What the interpreter can do is try to deliver all the meaning and most of the information the speaker expresses in the way which listeners can accept easily.

In Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator Training, the famous interpreting professor Daniel Gile (1995:179) generalizes the mode of simultaneous interpreting: SI = L + M + P + C. That is simultaneous interpreting = listening and analysis + short-term memory effort + speech production + coordination. All of that needs the interpreter to spend a lot of time and energy. To be a good and qualified simultaneous interpreter, besides his own gift and experience, a strong will and perseverance, he should receive some training to gain adequate ability and knowledge.
A. Shadowing Exercise
Learners repeat what they have heard such as speech, news at the same pace. The purpose of the training is to cultivate learners’ split of attention and the skill of speaking while listening. It is better to do this training in mother tongue at first, and then other languages. At the beginning stage, learners can repeat immediately after they hear something; little by little, they should delay and then repeat. When training, they should listen, speak and think at the same time. Even after repeating for 10 minutes, they can still retell the main idea. Thus, after 2 or 3 months, they can step into next stage.
B. Outlining Exercise
It is the continuing stage of shadowing exercise. Reading a paragraph after a speaker or someone else, learners should pause to outline its main idea, firstly in mother tongue, then in foreign languages.
C. Simulation Training
If possible, learners can carry out simulation training, which will create a real situation and atmosphere. They set the themes, prepare speeches, deliver the speeches in turn and interpret simultaneously in turn with the related necessary equipments. Of course, if some famous specialists are invited to give assess, it will be more useful. This method not only trains learners interpreting skills but also helps them to master another important skill – public speech.
At present, more and more meetings need simultaneous interpreting in China, and the demand for interpreters has become very urgent. However, simultaneous interpreting is a real difficult task. It has its own characteristics and laws. To perform the simultaneous interpretation well, people are requested to have a good quality and psychological quality as well as being good at grasping the principles and techniques. We believe that with an increasing number of people showing love and interest in the cause, multitudes of first-class simultaneous interpreters will emerge in China.


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