Oral translation of a spoken message


Advantages Disadvantages
Time-saver because it's "simultaneous" More expensive
Greater flexibility and comfortable listening Interpreters' booths act as a barrier
Quality of understanding the original
Improved meeting discipline
Full and very faithful translation
Presence of a technician
Typical uses: conferences, colloquia, seminars, assemblies, press conferences

Advantages Disadvantages
Cost saving Piecemeal delivery and extended speaking time
Space saving Limited to a single language of translation
More limited choice of service providers
Typical uses: bilingual meetings, small groups, launches

Advantages Disadvantages
Cost saving Not as accurate or as complete
Time saving Limited to two listeners
Several people speak at the same time
Original often difficult to understand
Typical uses: negotiations, visits, when only one or two people need a translation



Why are there always two interpreters per language?

Interpreting is a discipline that requires enormous concentration and mental effort. Brain scans have established that interpreters have the second most intense mental activity after air traffic controllers. Consequently, an interpreter generally works in 20-30-minute segments before passing the job on to a colleague. The resting interpreter must nevertheless remain attentive because, whenever needed, she or he will help her/his partner by jotting down numbers, names and specialised vocabulary.

What equipment is needed?

Simultaneous interpreting requires equipment. A sound-proofed booth will be needed for each target language. Each booth will house the two interpreters for the language along with their consoles and microphones. Interpreting is transmitted by infrared signals to the listeners with receiver headsets with dials for language selection. Consecutive interpreting and whispered interpreting do not require any special equipment but the performance of these depends strongly on the quality of reception of the original to be translated. Amplification and sound reinforcement in the room or mobile equipment may prove indispensable in this case.

Why not use mobile equipment, since it is much less expensive?

With the mobile system (aka infoport, bidule or tour guide), interpreters are not isolated from the participants. Imagine long meetings where in addition to the speaker, we hear the whispering of all the interpreters in their respective languages. Also, if the speaker does not have a mic, the interpreters often have to get up to get closer to the speaker to hear properly, which disrupts the meeting.

Is it possible to record or broadcast the interpreting?

Translating and interpreting are explicitly protected by copyright (Directive (EC) No 2001/29, Berne Convention, and Belgian Law of 30 June 1994). Any recording or broadcasting of the interpreting beyond the explicit or implicit use provided for in the contract for provision of services or on the accepted order form, that is, beyond the meeting itself, must be the subject of a written agreement with the interpreter. Sometimes, the recording of a language is requested to help the secretariat with its work. The interpreting is also sometimes distributed via streaming. In the latter case, interpreters generally ask for approximately 30-50% more.

How do I choose my interpreter?

Each interpreter has working languages: one language known as the A language, which is the main target language, one or more so-called B languages, or secondary target languages, and one or more so-called C languages, or passive languages. Interpreters do not all master the same techniques, either. Most interpreters don't work in all fields, but many have more experience and expertise in certain specialisations, such as technical fields, medicine, finance, etc. The Chamber's directory lists service providers according to their techniques, working languages and specialisations.

Why call on the services of a high-quality BCTI Consultant Interpreter?

You may of course simply consult the Chamber's directory to find your interpreters, but unless you are familiar with their profession, you will benefit from calling on the services of a consultant interpreter certified by the Chamber. They know all the tricks of the trade and respect the rules of conduct that give equal protection to both customers and service providers. They will advise you on the kind of interpreting that will ensure the best price/quality/service ratio. Thanks to their knowledge of most of the service providers on the market, they will be able to select the best for you. As they generally do "bespoke" work for a reduced number of clients, they may offer you attractive prices because their general costs are limited.

Can interpreters translate everything?

By definition, interpreters normally translate spoken discourse. The translation will be all the better if the quality of the original and the technical means provide them with very comprehensible source material. If the speaker is reading written texts, it is essential for the interpreter to be able to prepare them in advance. Videos are not normally interpreted unless the interpreter has had the opportunity to see and prepare them before the meeting.

Can a video-conference be interpreted?

Technological advances (5G), professional camera and sound recording crews and properly-equipped remote interpreting rooms will allow correct, good-quality remote interpreting for translating a CEO's speech to a company's employees around the world, for example. However, the interpreter may have difficulty decoding the non-verbal language or the atmosphere of a meeting, regardless of the type of event, if s/he is not on site. Nowadays, people sometimes turn to remote interpreting in social or legal interpreting, despite the still unreliable technical quality.

What are the working hours of an interpreter?

Interpreters work by full days of around 6 hours worked, or 8 hours with breaks. Beyond these hours worked, the majority of interpreters bill for additional hours. Nevertheless, on the Belgian market services provided for a short duration are common practice, particularly for local authority council meetings, sessions of the Belgian Parliament or Senate or the executive boards of companies. In special cases, and at the request of the client, some interpreters agree to apply a half-day fee. The time spent in preparation remaining unchanged, this fee is generally calculated to be two-thirds of the full-day fee. This favourable rate is only applied on condition that the other half-day is effectively available for another assignment in taking into account transport times, in other words for meetings of a maximum duration of 3.5 hours concluding before 12.00 or starting after 14.00. As far as services provided in the evenings are concerned (starting after 18.00), if the interpreter returns home after 22.00 s/he is not able to accept an assignment for the following morning, and the half-day fee is thus generally not applied. In addition, the majority of interpreters add an extra charge for services provided outside of office hours. Fees by the hour, or even by the minute, are not applied for interpretation, whether it is for on-site or remote work, taking into account the time required for travel or technical preparation (onboarding for remote interpretation), preparation and the cognitive load.