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FAQ – Interpreting

What exactly is interpreting?

While working, interpreters are actively listening to the speaker, then analyzing and mentally restructuring the original message. The final product is the faithful oral reproduction of the message in the target language. This requires interpreters to use their short-term memory to prioritize and organize information in real time. In simultaneous interpreting these processes are all taking place at the same time, often requiring interpreters to anticipate what the speaker is going to say next. This is particularly important when interpreting from German into English, for example, because German verbs often don’t come until the end of the sentence.

What makes for a good interpreter?

Interpreters have exceptional language skills (in both source and target languages), and they have usually acquired these skills from a university or college degree program. Broad-based knowledge in a wide variety of areas, refined intercultural skills and a high level of concentration are also important job requirements. Good interpreters are also highly resilient and are able to keep their cool even in high-pressure situations.

How are interpreting fees calculated?

Interpreting services are generally charged on a half-day basis (up to four hours of working time) or a full-day basis (up to eight hours of working time, including the breaks that are customary at full-day conferences). It should be noted that interpreters are entitled to hold the copyright and exploitation rights to their own interpretation. For this reason, any sound recording of the interpretation for future reference (e.g., on a website) is subject to a separate fee.

What kind of conference interpreting equipment do I need?

We are experts in interpreting. That is why we leave conference interpreting equipment to the technical experts. We would be happy to recommend an equipment company, who has been our reliable partner for many years, upon request.

What kinds of interpreting are there?

Simultaneous interpreting
Simultaneous interpreting, often called conference interpreting, is a highly complex process in which speech is transmitted into another language in near real time. During simultaneous interpreting, interpreters are actively listening while analyzing, restructuring and reproducing the original information in the target language. This process requires the utmost attention and concentration, which is why two simultaneous interpreters usually sit in a soundproof interpreting booth and work in turns.

Whispered interpreting
Whispered interpreting, also called chuchotage, is a special form of simultaneous interpreting for one to two listeners at most. The interpreter sits or stands in the very close vicinity of the person for whom the interpretation is being provided and whispers the interpretation to that person. The biggest disadvantage is that interpreters are unable to hear the original speech very clearly. (They work without a headset and are unable to block out all the background noise in the room, which they hear in addition to the speaker and their own voice.) The other participants in the meeting/conference also often find the interpreter’s constant whispering distracting and bothersome.

Simultaneous interpreting with a tour-guide interpreting system (bidule)
This form of interpreting is suitable for city tours, factory visits or museum visits for smaller groups. With these mobile equipment solutions, the listeners wear headphones with small receivers and the interpretation is spoken into a wireless microphone. By no means should a tour-guide interpreting system be used as a substitute for interpreting booths at larger events. The disadvantages are the same as for whispered interpreting (background noise, bothersome distractions for other participants).

Consecutive interpreting
Consecutive interpreting is the oral transmission of a speech following the delivery of the original text, usually with the help of notes. The interpreter’s note-taking technique serves as a memory aid and is ideally not language-related and therefore not to be confused with shorthand. The number of consecutive interpreters required depends on the level of difficulty and the duration of the assignment. Consecutive interpreting is primarily suitable for table speeches and welcoming speeches, weddings, bilateral negotiations, etc. The interpreters are more noticeably involved in the communication process as they are also present on stage or at the negotiating table, etc. The biggest disadvantage, however, is the time factor: As the interpreting process takes place separately from the original speech, interpreting in consecutive mode effectively doubles the time required for the event.

RSI (Remote Simultaneous Interpreting)
RSI is the term used for conference interpreting in simultaneous mode via special video conference interpreting platforms. Participants, speakers and interpreters do not all have to be in the same place. They can be distributed across a number of locations, making possible a variety of solutions. If the entire interpreting team is working in the same place in conventional booths and is supervised by conference interpreting technicians, this is called a hub. This is the most reliable solution and also the most secure (in terms of data protection). However, another possibility is having the team interpret via RSI platforms from their home offices. A number of aspects must be taken into account to ensure the success of interpretation using RSI platforms. When in doubt, we would be happy to advise you.

FAQ – Speech-to-Text

What is speech-to-text interpreting?

Speech-to-text interpreters simultaneously translate spoken language into written text. Non-verbal elements as well as everything else that the hearing audience perceives are also transcribed.

It looks something like this:
(Moderator) It is my pleasure to introduce the next speaker, Ms. Jane Doe. 
(Jane Doe) Thank you very much for the invitation! (laughs)

Users can read along in real time. If desired, the transcript can be edited to produce a live transcript

Who needs speech-to-text interpreting?

Speech-to-text interpretation is suited to a wide variety of audiences. The text can be displayed for individual, most often deaf or hard-of-hearing users on their screens, enabling them to read along in real time and actively participate in an event. The written interpretation can also be projected on a large screen as subtitles or supertitles for all participants to see. Speech-to-text interpreting facilitates barrier-free communication, especially at educational institutions, during appointments with public administration officials and doctors, as well as at business meetings and conferences.

How do speech-to-text interpreters work?

Speech-to-text interpreters primarily work with speech recognition software (which is known as “respeaking”). In some cases, the conventional method, i.e., typing on a conventional keyboard with the aid of a system of shortcuts, is also used. With both methods, the interpreter adds to the text everything else that the hearing audience perceives, thereby enabling equal, barrier-free participation in the event. As with spoken language interpreting, speech-to-text interpreters always work in pairs, or in threes for longer assignments. One interpreter interprets, while another verifies the output, corrects any speech recognition errors or typos and adds information if needed. After 15 minutes, they take turns, as speech-to-text interpreting requires a very high level of concentration. Users receive a link to a special speech-to-text interpretation platform where they can read along. Speech-to-text interpreters work online, on site and also in hybrid settings (one interpreter is on site, the other online).

What do intralingual and interlingual mean?

In most cases, speech-to-text interpreting is intralingual, i.e., within only one language. Spoken German is interpreted into German text, spoken English into English text. Depending on what is needed, interpreting can be done word-for-word, summarized or simplified from the spoken language into the written language. FF-Translations also works interlingually, whereby spoken German or English is simultaneously interpreted and transcribed into the other language.

What is an edited live transcript?

Speech-to-text interpretation is used to enable participants to follow an event or lecture in real time. Afterwards, the text is deleted again for data protection reasons. However, if the client wishes to use the transcript after the event, it is possible to create an edited live transcript. Here, any typos and omissions are corrected. The client must first obtain consent from all of the speakers and participants before creating such a transcript.

FAQ – Translating

How are the fees for technical translations calculated?

The price of a translation is calculated on the basis of a line rate per standard line of the translated text (target text). One standard line consists of 55 characters including spaces. The line rate depends on various factors such as the subject matter, the degree of difficulty and the urgency of the assignment. The cost of proofreading by a native speaker language expert is included in the line rate. In some countries, it is customary to charge by the word rather than by the line. However, the length of the composite words frequently found in German technical texts make this method less suitable for translations from or into German. An exception is PowerPoint presentations, where billing is on a per-word basis or by the hour. Additional services, such as the reading of proofs, are subject to an hourly rate.

What makes for a good technical translation?

The basic prerequisite for a successful translation is the translator’s exceptionally high level of linguistic competence (in both the source and target languages). Translators have usually acquired these skills from a university or college degree program. Broad-based knowledge in a wide variety of areas, refined intercultural competence and thoroughness in research are also key job requirements. Even before the translation project begins, translators must clarify basic aspects of the project, such as technical terminology, target audience, purpose (for example, a working translation or for publication) and other requirements with the client. Ideally, translators and clients remain in contact throughout the project. Translations into languages that are not the translator’s mother tongue are, of course, checked by expert native-speaking proofreaders.