Just like the word indicates, in simultaneous interpretation the source and the interpreter speak at the same time. The interpreter converts words as they are being uttered. He/she does not wait for the source to pause or stop. The source continues to speak as if everybody in the room understands the same language.
Sometimes speakers will adjust their pace to allow the interpreter to keep up with the flow of words. Other times speakers will talk without stopping or even pausing. At times they may speak at a pace of 160 words per minute or even faster, making it difficult for the interpreter to follow. In those situations, the interpreter can either ask the speaker to adjust his/her speed in order to allow him/her to keep up with the pace. If that is not possible, the interpreter will just need to brace himself/herself up and go with the flow. This is a very challenging task because the interpreter is listening to what is being said and at the same time rendering the message while still listening to what is being said next.
Challenges of using simultaneous interpretation
There are some challenges though with simultaneous interpretation:
- The rate of accuracy is not as high as in consecutive interpreting: In simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter may at times skip words if he/she cannot remember a particular word. In a normal situation, the interpreter would stop and look up the word. However, there are instances where this is not possible. In those situations the interpreter needs to keep going unless it is a crucial part of the statement, then he/she may ask the judge for a break to look up a certain word.
- The level of fatigue is very high: The interpreter renders everything he/she hears. If someone interjects while the statement was still going, the interpreter will need to figure out how to render the message from the other person as well. He/she could be jumping back and forth between two different individuals’ statements. That can be tiring. That is why most trial cases schedule more than one interpreter to limit interpreter fatigue.
This mode of interpretation is very useful because it helps save time. The court official speaks freely and is able to deliver his/her message in a short time without any interruption.