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Remote simultaneous interpretation platforms

October 18th, 2020

6 months into the pandemic and by now, all the interpreting assignments have moved online in a form of webinars, videoconferences, online trainings etc.

How does it work and which platforms are used for RSI? Here is a brief overview.

The most popular platform is without any doubt – Zoom. User friendly, affordable, intuitive. 99% of my work is done through Zoom these days: two language channels, mute button, mic on/off, participants list, chat –once a mic is on you can barely notice you are working online. All those advantages come at a price, unfortunately, and this price is security. Zoom conferences have been hacked countless times with inappropriate content suddenly popping up on everybody’s screen. It is for this reason that many international organizations stay clear of Zoom.

There are other, interpretation specific difficulties in Zoom –it is impossible to hear your booth partner while interpretation is on. Meaning handover is quite a challenge. Different interpreters solve this issue in different ways – some prefer logging into the conference using a second device (another computer, tablet or ever a smartphone will do) and a second pair of headset; others make a parallel video/audio phone call. It is also possibly to rely on exchanging ready- steady – go -it’s your turn – kind of messages in Zoom chat (always privately!) or regular messengers.  Either way, it is a bit of an inconvenience but interpreters make do because really that is what the clients mostly prefer.

There are other platforms that are used less frequently, mainly due to their high price: KUDO, Speakus, Interactio, Verspeak and others. Some (but definitely not all) organizations are ready to pay a higher price in exchange for a secured online meeting.

From the simultaneous interpreters’ point of view it’s important to keep in mind you have to be certified by some of these platforms (or get a brief onboarding training) before you are allowed to work on these as an interpreter.

Fortunately, the variety of RSI platforms is quite big and one can choose a solution that meets their requirements.  

Simultaneous Interpreter for the Islamic Conference of the Minsiters of Environment Protection

May 25th, 2012

On May, 17-18th  the fifth Islamic conference of the Ministers of Environment Protection was held in Astana where I was providing  simultaneous translation services.

The conference touched on the issues such as Islamic agenda for green development, strategy for disaster risk reduction, green economy in Islamic countries and many others.  During the discussion there was prepared a draft Islamic Declaration on Sustainable Development within the framework of the Islamic world’s participation in the Rio+20 Summit that will be held next month in Brazil.

The conference was very specific from the translation point of view: there were three interpreter’s booths with working languages being Arabic, English and French. As it is quite difficult to find Arabic-French or Arabic-English interpreters in Astana, Russian was used as the language “in between” which means that when there was an Arabic speaking presenter, first the speech was interpreted into Russian and then from Russian into both English and French. This setting resulted in interpreting mainly our colleagues-interpreters which is a big responsibility because it is one thing to provide translation to the “end user” and it is a different thing to say the words that will further be interpreted into other languages.  It is also true the other way around: interpreting a speaker directly is a challenge in itself but interpreting the translation is a double challenge: we had to rely completely on our colleagues because we had no idea what the speaker actually said in Arabic and if the Arabic-Russian translation was wrong or came with the delay, we repeated mistakes, too. In other words, welcome to the broken phone game!

Another difficulty was that each speech was started with the reference to Quran or with the prayers which we weren’t exactly familiar with so we had to quickly learn that, too.

But apparently things didn’t go wrong as they could have, the delegates understood one another, signed  the documents that they prepared and left our city to meet again in Rio in June.

Russian interpreter for Deutsche Welle in Aktau

October 25th, 2010

Not much time passed since I worked as an interpreter for Deutsche Welle in Karaganda and I am already on my way to Aktau (a city by Caspean Sea) to perform English-Russian translation of the technical workshop again.

English-russian interpreter Deutsche Welle Aktau

The workshop was conducted by Marc Seidel at the „West“ radion station mostly for the sound engineers and DJs. Journalists and news readers were also willing to participate, so Marc tried to „make everybody happy“ and cover as many topics as possible.

The radio station is quite new, so most of the staff is young, energetic and excited about learning new things. First we had quite a technical introduction including the digitalization of the sound, bitrate impact on sound quality, sampling frequency, MP3 etc. Then we had more practice: participants learned about different types of microphones, they got to work with the digital recorder, they even produced a story by using various ambient sounds and also they did a vox pop by recording different people’s answers to the same question. They also dealt with some post-production software which seemed to be a lot of fun for the participants.

The newsreaders also had a chance to benefit from a workshop: on the last day of the seminar we did some exercises in order to train newsreaders to select the most important items for the news and to present the news in a professional way.

The participants and the management of the radio station were so friendly and so genuinely interested in the workshop that it was a real pleasure to work with these people. Our week long seminar is finished and they  have already requested for more seminars in the future, so I guess it was not the last trip to the Caspean Sea!