Unlike consecutive interpreting which is more common for personal occasions, simultaneous interpreting is usually needed for conferences, meetings, and some other public events. In the simultaneous mode, the speakers do not pause, and the interpreters would need to convert sentences in the source language to those in the target language with little delay. Usually the interpreters would sit in a soundproof booth, and the people in need would wear a headphone to have access to the interpretation.
Not all the interpreters can deliver simultaneous interpreting; they not only need to be proficient in both the source and the target languages, they also need to have great memory, stamina, and experience in the industry to perform flawless interpreting. Following are some reasons why simultaneous interpreting can be challenging.
Interpreters can easily get fatigued
When performing simultaneous interpreting, the interpreters need to be highly concentrated, otherwise they may easily miss important words. They also need to keep talking and their throats may get sore. For sign language interpreters, that’s also the case as their arms would get tired. Once they get fatigued, even great interpreters would make mistakes, and the quality of the interpreting may be compromised. For long or highly intensive events, usually more than one interpreter would be needed, and they can take a break in turn so that they would be in great form when interpreting for their clients.
Interpreters don’t have chance to ask for clarification
As it’s simultaneous and the speakers would not pause, the interpreters don’t have the opportunity to ask the speakers questions if they come across something they don’t understand. This requires them to have a good understanding of the knowledge relevant to the events they provide interpreting for. They need to have abundant vocabularies, including the terminologies of the field in both the source and the target languages. They may also need to make preparation prior to the event to make sure the interpreting provided is accurate and precise.
Interpreters need to make the conversion in a very short amount of time
As the speakers do not pause, simultaneous interpreters have very little time to consider how they can convert the sentences from one language to the other. After they hear a sentence, they first need to comprehend it themselves, then do the conversion using the right vocabularies and grammar, and correct awkward parts once the sentence in the target language is generated. These all need to be done in a very short amount of time. simultaneous interpreters need to have great language skills, and they also need to know how to cope with pressure in a highly intensive session.