Simultaneous Translation is there such a thing? If there is, please share...
Thread poster: Harry Hermawan

Harry Hermawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 14:30
Member (2005)
English to Indonesian
Aug 16, 2013

Hi all,

A client insist on a need for a simultaneous translation, the job entails the person chosen to do simultaneous interpreting and types-in the result verbatim (if possible) in a subtitle output format for a live audience.

Would anyone assist in more detail if any experiences are there for sharing and possibly in terms of elaboration of difficulties and rates?

Thank you...


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:30
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Two people required? Aug 16, 2013

Although I've never had to deal with such an enquiry, I'd say (from an interpreter's viewpoint) that the person who is interpreting simultaneously would not be capable of typing in the outcome at the same time unless, of course, speech recognition/dictation software is used for this purpose (though this would lead to awkward outputs/mistakes at least in some instances - just like with Dragon Naturally Speaking, for example).

That said, there are other types of text entry systems used for real-time subtitling: see, for example, http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/itc/itc_publications/codes_guidance/standards_for_subtitling/subtitling_4.asp.html (which would, however, still require a separate interpreter). It thus appears likely that two people would be needed for this job.


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Harry Hermawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 14:30
Member (2005)
English to Indonesian
TOPIC STARTER
How? Aug 16, 2013

Steffen Walter wrote:

It thus appears likely that two people would be needed for this job.


I would agree with you on this, but how do you think we go about this to the client? How best to tell the client? Suggestion?


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:30
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Simple explanation Aug 16, 2013

The simplest reasoning/explanation would be that no person performing simultaneous interpreting would be able to carry out an additional task concurrently, such as entering text. (Or have you ever heard of/seen a conference interpreter doing this?)

That said, it would also be helpful to get some more detail on which type of equipment your client intends to use.


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Harry Hermawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 14:30
Member (2005)
English to Indonesian
TOPIC STARTER
True. We are educating the client, right? Aug 16, 2013

Steffen Walter wrote:

The simplest reasoning/explanation would be that no person performing simultaneous interpreting would be able to carry out an additional task concurrently, such as entering text. (Or have you ever heard of/seen a conference interpreter doing this?)

That said, it would also be helpful to get some more detail on which type of equipment your client intends to use.


True, I guess we also need to tell the client this, probably educate them too. Put in context, I guess they will see this and understand. Thanks.

I would like to see more members if they have, share this experience. Please feel free to comment.


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
It is impossible, even for 2 people Aug 16, 2013

I am an interpreter and also very good at typing, having done both activities for the last 20 years (typing actually for the last 30 years). I can tell you it is impossible to type fast enough to be able to transcribe someone else's interpretation in real time. Or maybe whoever types has to be able to summarize whatever is interpreted.

[Modificato alle 2013-08-16 10:30 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:30
Russian to English
+ ...
There is simultaneous interpreting-- this is what the client Aug 16, 2013

most likely meant. Many people call interpreting translation, which is not really the right term, but many do. Confrence interpreting and partially court interpreting, is simultaneous. You have to interpret at the same time as the person is speaking.

What do you mean by "typing in verbatims'? In simultaneous interpreting there is no time to type anything. Verbatim is also the wrong term in reference to interpreting and translation, but it has been used even by some universities in the erroneous form. It only makes sense in reference to court reporting -- word for word. You cannot translate, not to mention interpret, anything word for word. They usually mean 'literally" by it, however so unaware people, including some lawyers, sometimes expect it to be word for word -- verbatim. (a total nonsense)

What you have been implying can be done ("literal translation") from a tape -- like in subtitling. It could never been done straight form a live input. It takes about an hour to translate 10 minutes of audio -- so you see my point. Perhaps if the people were speaking at a six times reduced rate.


[Edited at 2013-08-16 10:49 GMT]


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:30
English to Polish
+ ...
Yup, highly improbable Aug 16, 2013

Steffen Walter wrote:

The simplest reasoning/explanation would be that no person performing simultaneous interpreting would be able to carry out an additional task concurrently, such as entering text.


Yup, that's highly improbable.

Additionally, people just can't type as fast as a fast speaker can talk. Not that it's impossible to reach 200 WPM, but the best of court reporters reach around 120 WPM in English, and 100 is already a l33t 'pro' result. Fluent PC users wouldn't normally exceed 60 (handwriting is around 30). So forget keeping up with a conference speaker even if you aren't translating the words into a different language. There's a reason stenotyping was invented.

Bottom line: you could probably associate a reasonably slow speaker with a fast-typing translator and after some tranining the tandem should be workable enough. But it's absolutely not as easy as the client's requirement makes it sound, and most translators or interpreters would be unable to do it, especially without previous training in that mode of work and with that particular speaker.

[Edited at 2013-08-16 16:50 GMT]


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 09:30
Russian to English
+ ...
For some target languages, there is a possibility Aug 17, 2013

If the speaker has been briefed to maintain a reasonable tempo and there is a "speak slower" feedback signal from the interpreter to the speaker (which is supported by many booth systems but hardly ever installed), then the interpreter will also be able to speak at a steady and reasonable pace, and his voice may then be fed into a speech recognition program (e.g. Dragon Naturally Speaking). The recognition is never 100% correct, but recent versions of Dragon work amazingly well, especially when trained on a specific vocabulary (e.g. a synopsis of the presentation in question). Unfortunately, good speech recognition engines only exist for a handful of languages.

Alternatively, interpreter's voice may be manually marshalled phrase by phrase to a whole team of typists on a round-robin basis. Each typist's incoming voice channel will require voice processing software to stretch the timescale by 40-50%, insert longer pauses between words and provide instant replay on typist's command. This, however, will be a VERY expensive solution, and I can't imagine an economically justified reason to use it.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:30
Russian to English
+ ...
The bottom line is Aug 17, 2013

no, there is no such a thing as simultaneous translation -- only interpreting, otherwise subtitling or transcription but they cannot be done simultaneously from a live event. Transcription yes, but not translation, but then you have to be a professional court reporter and use special equipment, not a regular computer -- a sort of a steno machine.

Some kind of simultaneous translation might be possible if the audience were just pronouncing separate words or phrases as responses to something, within some time intervals. Otherwise, no -- it is not possible.




[Edited at 2013-08-17 14:49 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:30
Russian to English
+ ...
Aug 17, 2013

I am really sorry -- I don't know why they get posted twice when you try to edit something.

[Edited at 2013-08-17 14:52 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:30
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Not verbatim, but gisting is possible Aug 17, 2013

In theory at least, you could find someone to translate simultaneously into a shortened version. You could not expect them to interpret at the same time, however!

At college I used to be able to take down quite complete notes - not verbatim, but a sort of 'subtitling' or summarizing, and when in practice I could get down most of a lecture. It was very useful for revision afterwards.
I can still do it monolingually.

I usually wrote in whatever language the lecture was delivered in, but at one time I could also take notes in Danish from a lecture in French. (Neither is my native language, though Danish is my language of habitual usage.) I can't do THAT any more, unfortunately - my French is too rusty. But with training...

This was before the days of photocopied hand-outs. We were occasionally given a pale purple 'jellygraph' or hectograph, but not often!
So students took their own notes as a matter of course.
Some lecturers were more considerate of note-takers than others, and you would need to brief speakers to allow for the interpreter(s) and gisting translator(s).

It was very low-tech - but I was fussy about my fountain pens, or else I have to have a good supply of sharp pencils. NO ball-points - they give me writer's cramp!


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