Video conferencing platforms and the ibp Digital Hub (virtual booths)
How can I use different video conferencing platforms with a quality simultaneous interpreting solution? Simultaneous interpreting on one platform can now be coupled with our virtual interpreting booth system.
The multi-platform solution combines an excellent simultaneous interpretation tool, iBridge People’s AudioDesk©, with the video conferencing platform of your choice. Participants find two advantages: they can continue to conduct their exchanges on your usual video conferencing platform while adding an ergonomic interpreting booth system.
iBridge People is a video conferencing solution with simultaneous interpretation. It can be combined with Zoom, GoToMeeting, Teams, etc.
ibp interpretation booths
Interpreting booths play an important role in digital simultaneous interpreting. How important is it? It is true that the participants do not “see” the interpreting booths, nor do they have access to this technical device for interpreters. However, they do hear the words that are translated, and in order to obtain an accurate and precise result, the interpreter is of paramount importance, which relies on a reliable and user-friendly tool. Thus, a videoconferencing system must be effective in more than one way, because in addition to the difficulty of listening to the various participants, there is also the difficulty of translating the words correctly.
So what is the role of interpreting booths? The answer lies in the role of the interpreters. They are the very heart of a multilingual conference, as they seamlessly link the speeches of the participants. And this is true regardless of the language or number of languages in your meeting. It is therefore essential that all the elements are of a high quality in order to express each other’s ideas in a transparent manner.
Two elements are essential for smooth, high-quality simultaneous interpreting: the relay and the handover.
Simultaneous interpretation relay
When a conference is multilingual, even interpreters who work in three or four languages may find themselves at a loss. They will be faced with language combinations that they do not master. To solve this problem, they have to listen to the interpretation provided by another booth. For example, in a meeting with Russian, Chinese or Polish, it is very likely that the interpreters in the other booths will have to listen to the English or French translation of the Polish interpreter. This is called relay work. You can find a more detailed definition of this type of interpreting in the book by Miriam Shlesinger (Bar-llan University) by following this link: https://benjamins.com/online/hts/articles/rel1.fr
Handover: to pass the microphone between interpreters in the same booth
In each booth, the interpreters work in pairs, alternating in 30-minute shifts. When they are in different locations, in order to pass the microphone to each other, iBridge People has developed a system that ensures this smooth transition. This is called handover.
The platform of your choice
Thus, the platform of your choice coupled with the iBridge People virtual booth system is an optimal solution for participants and interpreters.
With our native integration you have a choice that brings together a widely used platform and first-class interpretation technology.
What do the meeting participants have to do? Nothing special, no effort required because our solution is turnkey: users log in to the Zoom session and we manage the simultaneous interpretation in the background.
Why pair Zoom with our Digital Hub? Because our digital booth system has been designed so that interpreters can work in the best possible conditions and fulfil their potential.
Why not use our complete system? Indeed, a good question because our platform is very intuitive and comprehensive. However, if the clients/users are used to a platform, instead of making them change their habits we offer them a system that adapts to them. If the participants are comfortable with a particular platform, it is a perfectly understandable choice.
How does it work? Our system integrates with Zoom, saving users extra effort. Participants receive a single link, speak and listen in the language of their choice. Interpreter connections are doubled to cover any possible failure of their usual connection.
What is included in the offer? It is a turnkey system that provides :
- Video conferencing on Zoom platform
- Digital Pro Studio for simultaneous interpretation (interpreting booths)
- The dubbed interpreter connection
The year 2020 will undoubtedly have been one of the most difficult for the profession. First, the epidemic brought the majority of your missions to a sudden halt.
Then, the professionals that you are, showed resilience by quickly adapting to the RSI tools, allowing you to continue your missions at a distance. It is clear that the interpreters working on our own simultaneous interpretation system offer their clients very high quality assignments.
2021 will be an essential step in the consolidation of the profession! This is why we want to provide you with relevant information through this short webinar, which will allow you to improve your digital skills, get more assignments and anticipate the resumption of face-to-face events.
The main topics we will cover are:
Trends for 2021
Digital for the interpreter
Digital in face-to-face assignments
Why IHR will increase the volume of the simultaneous interpreting market
Digital interpreting expert certification (Free)
Tailor-made IT workshop for interpreters
List of resources to learn more about the web environment
Short presentation of the new interpreter console
How to become an iBridge People partner as an interpreter
Questions and answers
We continue to support you!
Our next webinars: – How to create a cost-effective booth at home or in the office? – What are the essential tools for interpreters in 2021? How to keep in touch with clients and follow up at the right time so as not to miss the resumption of face-to-face meetings and events.
Please feel free to send us your questions and comments to email@example.com
When we think of international meetings, this is what comes to mind: interpreters in soundproof booths with headphones and microphones, translating the participants’ words in real time.
But interpreters sometimes have to do their work in other situations, for example, alongside the participants, without any technical equipment other than a notebook and pencil. This is called consecutive interpreting. Under certain conditions, the interpreter may use “gizmos”, a system of headphones and a micro-transmitter. This is a variant of simultaneous interpreting, with light equipment, used both in rooms and on site visits.
In this article, we will describe five interpreting situations you may encounter, with a brief description to help you understand this demanding profession.
1. Interpretation of links without technical equipment
The first case is visits to sites or facilities. Interpretation is carried out sentence by sentence and the interpreter is free to rephrase the questions and answers in order to provide more details in his or her response.
2. Whispered simultaneous interpretation
The second situation is whispered simultaneous interpretation. The interpreter stands back next to one of the participants and whispers the words spoken during the discussion so that the other participants are not disturbed by untimely interruptions.
Whispering is therefore a method of simultaneous interpretation. It does not require any technical equipment. However, it can be a tiring exercise for interpreters as whispering for a long time is a particularly intense effort.
This method of interpreting can also be impaired by noise disturbing the meeting, either from inside, such as ventilation, or from outside, such as rain or possible construction work that makes listening difficult.
In addition, in this configuration, the time lag to maintain an optimal distance from the original speech can result in so-called “vocal ear spam” between the moment the speaker starts speaking and the moment the interpreter starts translating his words. The greater the gap, the more elements of the speech the interpreter has to retain in his or her short-term memory as he or she listens and processes the information at the same time as interpreting. This requires an enormous amount of concentration.
On the other hand, if the gap between these two moments is too short, the interpreter may unintentionally alter the speaker’s grammar, syntax and original idea; hence the importance for the interpreter to find the optimal interpreting distance, which starts about 2 to 3 seconds after the speech has started.
3. Consecutive interpretation in a diplomatic context
Let us now turn to the third situation, which is an international conference, such as the Paris Conference of 1919, which was the first event at which the need for professional interpretation became apparent. On this occasion, long consecutive was the preferred method of interpretation. The technology was not as developed as it is today, to say the least. The preferred method was therefore note-taking, and interpreters were used to learn their trade “on the job”.
In this sense, interpreters take notes while the speaker is speaking. Then, the interpretation is staggered, as the speaker stops to make room for the interpretation, which is based on the note-taking, before the speaker resumes his or her speech.
This interpretation requires a single interpreter who focuses all his or her attention on taking clear and precise notes, in order to transcribe not only the speaker’s words, but also the essence of the speech, the tone and the conclusion of the speech.
This method of interpreting does not require technical interpreting equipment. However, it should be noted that the intervention time is doubled, as the interpreter has to be expected to speak for about the same amount of time as the original speech.
4. Simultaneous interpretation on digital platforms
The most common form of interpretation uses technical elements such as “gizmos” (headsets and micro-transmitters) or more sophisticated systems that include an interpretation control room with a technician and soundproof booths where the interpreters are located. But this system has just undergone a major change to accommodate video-conferencing or hybrid events that make multilingual meetings with participants from all over the world possible.
Nowadays, you are more likely to experience this fourth situation, due to the consolidation of digital tools, the multiplication of videoconference systems and the limitation of travel. As a result, exchanges between the different points that connect the major companies in the world are maintained through the organisation of international meetings or online conferences that allow representatives from different countries to continue to exchange.
Digital interpreting services are profoundly transforming online meetings and allow all languages to be translated in real time, so that not only the language barrier but also the physical distance between speakers of the same language is eliminated. This means that people who do not speak the same language can still communicate with each other, no matter where they are.
This is made possible by sophisticated remote interpreting technology, coupled with professional interpreters available 24 hours a day, anywhere. During a remote meeting, a virtual booth is set up so that the interpreters can translate what is being said. This allows the meeting to run smoothly for the participants, who do not have to worry about what is going on behind the scenes. They can also have a written chat available to them so that they can express themselves in writing at the same time.
In order to avoid excessive fatigue and the risk of interpretation deteriorating, it is essential to mobilise two interpreters for an event, so that they can take turns every 30 minutes.
Simultaneous interpreting allows for greater fluidity of exchanges, so it is important to maintain this ease of communication by taking care of the interpreters who ensure optimal translation of the interventions during meetings and conferences held online.
5. Simultaneous interpreting in hybrid contexts
At international events and trade fairs, simultaneous interpreting connects the face-to-face event and the remote actors, thus contributing to the success of your presentation. It goes without saying that several different systems can be used. Here we will mention the system needed for hybrid contexts, in which an interpretation system on a digital platform is linked to a digital system to allow interaction with remote actors.
In this context, if you want to plan a trade fair, a seminar or a congress, you can organise a hybrid event to ensure that the physical system and the remote actors are interconnected. Thus, headsets and microphones are available to the participants in the space of your choice, while ensuring the quality of the connections linked to the digital platform. These installations allow you to create a global event that also includes remote participants.
In this sense, there is no obligation to be on site or at a distance, since it is possible to connect participants in the room with others at a distance, regardless of whether they are connected via a PC or a smartphone. The aim is to make it easy for each participant to connect with as little manipulation as possible, no matter where they are.
We have gone from the art of using the consecutive interpretation method with note-taking, to the possibility of connecting a large number of people, at the same time, to a 100% online event, in just a few years.
The technical progress of remote simultaneous interpreting is striking and demonstrates once again the human capacity to face economic and social crises with an uncommon adaptability.
The practice of hybrid events is becoming firmly rooted in the habits of the events sector. This allows us to foresee a way out of the crisis so as to integrate videoconferencing into the development of companies. Employees will now be able to connect with the collaborative work tool that suits them, such as Zoom, Teams or directly via the iBridge People solution. The latter allows everyone to enter a virtual meeting room to listen in their own language and speak in all the others.
Do not hesitate to send us your questions and comments.
The Nuremberg Trials, held by the military tribunals in 1945, are often equated with the advent of conference interpretation as it is practised today.
In fact, there is still some confusion between consecutive and simultaneous interpretation at international conferences and multilingual meetings.
In this article, we will give you some historical background to better understand the fundamental differences between the forms of conference interpretation as we know them today.
The Peace Conference in 1919 marked the beginning of the golden age of consecutive interpretation
The 1919 Paris Peace Conference
This conference was a turning point for two reasons; the first was that it marked the beginning of the end of the French language as a diplomatic language. For French had been a device in the shaping of international relations. Indeed, from the 18th century onwards, the French language replaced Latin in the drafting of international treaties. The predominant use of English at the 1919 Peace Conference thus demonstrates the growing political weight of Great Britain and the United States.
The second reason is that the need for interpretation was clearly demonstrated at the conference, as interpretation was not a regulated profession at the time. Thus, “intelligent people with no other guide than common sense and practice” were used. Interpreters were chosen for their knowledge of languages and cultures; they learned to interpret “on the job” on the basis of a university degree. Some of the interpreters present at the Peace Conference were chosen because they had already done similar work during the First World War, which earned them respect and indulgence during the event. Among them were Gustave Camerlynck, Léon Dostert, Jean Herbert and the most gifted: Paul Mantoux, an example to his peers.
Initially, the long consecutive method was the preferred method of interpretation during the Paris Conference. It consisted of taking notes, on the basis of which the minutes were generally drawn up.
The short consecutive method, without taking notes, was used for sight translation of documents during the successive sessions. The chuchotage method was used to translate the words of the speakers in the commissions.
The first lines of definition of the interpreter’s profession appeared at the Paris Conference of 1919, since it was then that various ethical questions began to be asked about this status, which was little known at the time. Did an interpreter have the ability to nuance the original words or could he or she modify the original register? It was naturally expected that the interpreter would not exceed the speaker’s speaking time, without considering how much time was needed to listen and translate at the same time. The interpreters of the time could not rely on a technical environment to guarantee an ideal transcription of their translation, and the acoustics in particular were not in their favour.
In the rest of this article, we will therefore look at the stages the sector has gone through, starting with the golden age of consecutive interpreting and ending with the birth of simultaneous interpreting.
The golden age of consecutive interpreting
During the inter-war period, the need for interpretation continued to increase at the League of Nations, which became the United Nations. Freelancers were therefore called in as reinforcements, which was a great novelty for the time.
In this context, there was no specialised interpreter training yet, the community thought that interpreting skills were innate. So interpreters came from all walks of life: academics or foreign affairs officials. Most were men, from the European upper middle class. They wanted to enter the profession of interpreter, which was considered superior to the profession of translator, although the entrance exam to the League of Nations was the same for both professions.
Jesus Baigorri, an interpreter who has worked in the field for the United Nations and teaches at the University of Salamanca, clarifies this dichotomy in the perception of this activity. In fact, the profession of interpreter requires a great deal of rigour in the knowledge of protocol and a solid general culture, as well as mastery of the art of oratory, frequent travel and working with respected figures. As a result, interpreting began to attract a lot of interest from people in the field, which naturally led to higher salaries and better working conditions.
As the need for interpreters grew, so did the number of international meetings. In this sense, the first school of interpreters was founded in Geneva by Antoine Velleman in response to the creation of new international bodies such as the Permanent Court of International Justice and the Red Cross.
During the golden age of consecutive interpreting, each interpreter practised his or her own method; some took notes while others relied solely on their memory. However, multilingual consecutive interpreting made the task more difficult and more efficient methods had to be introduced. This was the starting point for the first technical trials to facilitate simultaneous interpretation, which gave rise to the modern simultaneous interpretation system during the Nuremberg trials.
Improved technology supports simultaneous interpretation
Interpreters’ distrust of technical progress
At that time, technical innovation was seen as a threat. For professional interpreters, the advent of simultaneous interpreting meant the disappearance of a certain fascination for the profession, if not its total dissolution.
However, the main problem with consecutive interpreting could not be denied: the lack of spontaneity in the discussions and the lengthening of the exchanges. In order to overcome this problem, the Boston businessman Edward Filene undertook to present a revolutionary idea to the inventors of the time, such as Thomas Edison and Cardy. The project was finally entrusted to Gordon Finlay, who was the first to test the simultaneous technique in a laboratory designed for this purpose in order to interpret shorthand notes. The problem was that one interpreter could not read notes taken by another. Despite the inconclusive initial trials, the results of the experiment show the technical details necessary for good simultaneous interpretation.
Boston Edward Filene therefore invested in optimising the process so that the system could be adopted permanently at the ILO in 1928. The main advantages highlighted were the time and cost savings associated with the use of simultaneous interpretation.
From this experience came important prerogatives for the interpreting world:
- Prefer to work for a maximum of half an hour at a time for each interpreter
- Provide a minimum of two interpreters for a meeting or conference to allow each interpreter to alternate and rest for the duration of the event
- Having the texts available in advance to allow each interpreter to carry out preliminary and additional research on which to base their work
- This new technology has also opened up work opportunities for interpreters from all over the world, who are now judged more on their interpreting skills than on their social background.
The transition from consecutive to simultaneous interpretation at the Nuremberg trial
It was not thought at the time that interpreters could listen and speak at the same time… And yet!
At the Nuremberg trial, the defendants, witnesses and members of the Tribunal did not necessarily all speak the same language, nor were they polyglot. They had to be able to communicate easily and quickly.
In this exercise, the difficulties were as much technical, linked to the adoption of Filene-Finlay equipment acquired by IBM, as they were human. Indeed, many interpreters were reluctant to work with this process, which was unknown to them until then. Most of them were already working for international organisations and did not want to sacrifice a stable full-time job, let alone go and live in a city completely destroyed by the war.
It was therefore up to the delegations of the Military Tribunal to find candidates with very little experience. Moreover, as time was short, the new recruits were given virtually no pre-trial training. Faced with the historical stakes of this event, the interpreters once again learned “on the job” and only the best were able to stand out. In view of all these factors, as well as the poor soundproofing of the booths and the mediocre quality of the acoustics, they benefited from the tolerance of the diplomats who perceived the work of an interpreter in these conditions as a feat.
The interpreting profession has been slow to define its contours. Indeed, it has gone through many practical and technical experiments before its indispensability was established at conferences around the world, at international meetings, and at physical and digital events.
At the 1919 Paris conference, it was the long consecutive with note-taking that played a major role in the development of interpretation methods. This method consists of letting the speaker speak for a long time, while taking notes so as to remember the speech and transcribe it in the most appropriate way.
During the Nuremberg trials in 1945-46, simultaneous interpretation was seen as an indispensable alternative to consecutive interpretation, as it facilitated the work of the interpreters and reduced the length of the proceedings, while allowing more spontaneous communication between participants who spoke different languages. Although the technical and human conditions were difficult at the time, the introduction of simultaneous interpreting was a great success in terms of saving time and money.
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- Baigorri Jalón, J. (2004) : From Paris to Nuremberg: The Birth of Conference Interpreting, translated from the Spanish and edited by Clara Foz, Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, 289 p.