Translation and interpretation are two very different skills. Of course interpretation includes the “translation” from one language into another, but there is a special feature to it. Here, translation is synonymous with transmitting a “message”. Conference interpreters sit in the front row of the event. They can perceive the intonation, the common thread of the speech, the emotions conveyed by voice, the mood, the tension, and even the speaker’s and the audience’s relief. They have to store these fine details in no time to render the quintessence of the message to the audience who, without the help of an interpreter, would not be able, to understand the message being conveyed.
An interpreter works in a sound-proof booth that allows the interpreter to remain in eye contact with the speaker, whose speech is transmitted through headphones. With a slight delay, the interpreter speaks at the same time as the speaker. The audience can follow the translated speech through separate earphones fitted to the tables in the conference room.
Consecutive interpreting is particularly recommended for communication in small groups. The interpreter is placed near the speakers and takes notes for the whole duration of the talks. The interpreter then conveys the message.
Advice for students wishing to become conference interpreters