As the term already suggests, it is mainly referring to interpreting at conferences. Nevertheless, this form of interpreting is also used at specialist conventions, congresses, symposia, political discussions and many other events. In most cases, simultaneous interpreting is used on those occasions. This means that the interpreter transfers what is being said by the interlocutors from one language into another in real time. There are, however, speeches that are interpreted consecutively or by whispering. Professional conference interpreting is usually done unilaterally, for example from English into German but not vice versa. This is due to the fact that interpreting requires a high level of concentration. If contents have to be transferred the other way round (from German to English), an additional conference interpreter is required for this task.
Depending on the length and complexity of the contents that are to be translated, the conference interpreters work in teams of two or three. This allows them to take turns in the interpreting booth every 20 or 30 minutes. Moreover, professional conference interpreters ought to take breaks regularly. This form of interpreting is highly demanding because the interpreters must at any time be receptive to complex conversational contents and have a high response capacity while interpreting.
In order to transfer the content spoken during a conversation correctly and precisely into another language, conference interpreters must have excellent command of their working languages and of all interpreting techniques (simultaneous interpreting, consecutive interpreting, liaison interpreting or whisper interpreting, according to what is needed). As with every other type of interpreting, conference interpreters must have an excellent memory as well as proficient knowledge of the specialist terminology that is needed and they have to employ a special note-taking technique. The meaning of the source text must not be lost when it is translated. It is also important that conference interpreters are aware of cultural differences and that they comply with their obligation to secrecy.
In addition, the conference interpreters’ language skills are categorized. There are so-called A, B and C languages. The "A language" is the interpreter's native language in each case, whereas the "B language" is the active foreign language which the interpreter knows at least at C2 level in spoken and written form. The "C language" refers to a passive foreign language which the interpreter can understand perfectly at least at C2 level but does not speak. In contrast to the A and B language, the interpreter can, of course, only translate from the C language but never into it.
All participants at conferences, conventions or meetings must be enabled to understand the speeches. To achieve this, a dedicated conference technology is necessary. The equipment used includes state of the art interpreting and discussion systems, tour guide systems with integrated microphones and headphones as well as additional sound equipment.
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Our publicly appointed and sworn interpreters have successfully completed their studies in translation with a diploma or passed the state exam at a professional academy. They are dedicated language experts with many years of experience, specialized in conference interpreting.
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