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How Simultaneous Interpretation Works

How does a simultaneous interpretation (or simultaneous translation) system work?

First of all, it´s important to clarify that you will need an interpreter, which means that a person, that can be a volunteer or a professional, paid one, must translate the speech of the person speaking (pastor, presenter, professor, attorney, etc.) in real time. Despite the enormous advances in technology, as you need translation of context and meaning of the sentences –not just random words-, there is still no software able to perform a reliable simultaneous interpretation.

This being said, a basic system consists on a set of receivers with their corresponding headphones for the audience, and a transmitter and microphone for the interpreter. The goal is for the audience to understand the speaker while he/she is speaking, without having to stop for the speech to be translated. The interpreter listens to the speaker and carries out the simultaneous interpretation, also called simultaneous translation in real time. The interpreter´s microphone is connected to the transmitter, which sends a signal to the personal wireless receivers, so every person can listen to the interpretation through their headphones in their own language. FM systems require one transmitter per language. FM transmitters can be portable (also called tour-guide or belt-clip transmitters) and run on batteries and stationary transmitters (also called base or table transmitters) are mostly used for events at fixed locations that do not require the interpreter to move around.