Imagine you are at a conference and a foreign speaker is on stage; moreover, they give a lot of information, including technical terms in their speech. You do not know the speaker’s language well enough to understand an entire medical presentation. However, when you go to such conferences, you are given a headset, and you can listen and understand what the speaker is saying through this headset. Of course, the voice you hear does not belong to the speaker, and the words do not come out of their mouth; however, the important thing is that you listen and understand what they are saying in your own language simultaneously. Another example is when you turn on a foreign television channel, and a politician is on the screen. Still, the voice you hear is not the politician’s, and the language they speak is different. Behind the process in these two examples, translators are listening to the speaker with headphones from inside a soundproof cabin and translating simultaneously into a microphone. This type of translation is called simultaneous translation.
How is Simultaneous Translation Done?
It is challenging to translate a speech into a different language simultaneously: you have to listen carefully to the other person, repeat the same speech in the target language, and listen to yourself. It is important to listen to yourself because sometimes, the words you think and what comes out of your mouth may not be the same. One of the hardest parts of the job is that the sentence sequences of the language combinations you translate can be very different. For example, the syntax order in Turkish is “subject-object/complement-predicate”; but in English it is “subject-verb-object”. Therefore, it is not always possible to translate sentences into a target language as in the source language. In such cases, the salami technique is used: divide and conquer. In other words, sentences are broken down into meaningful parts, and a long sentence is delivered in the target language using shorter sentences without compromising its meaning and message. However, the speaker’s style should not be ignored when using the salami technique because the simultaneous interpreter is expected to remain true to the speaker in terms of style.
To do simultaneous translation, the translator must have a good command of both the target and the source language, but this is not enough. A simultaneous translator must also have a solid grasp of the subject they are translating; knowing the meaning of terms in the target language alone is not sufficient for successful simultaneous translation. In addition, the simultaneous interpreter must be very familiar with the topic; otherwise, they will not be able to do a complete translation, no matter how well they know the language.
Simultaneous Translation Usage Areas
· News channels
· International diplomatic negotiations