3 things you should know about simultaneous interpretation in South America

 | Interpretation best practices

Planning a conference, event or a global meeting in South America? Verónica Pérez Guarnieri gives her advice on the best months of the year, the most common language combinations for interpretation, and aspects of the Spanish language to take into account. 

Peak months for conferences and events

The September equinox marks the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from north to south. The delicate jacaranda trees are blooming in Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Lima, as are the fragrant magnolia trees in Santiago de Chile.

The temperate weather provides a welcome escape from chilly, grim late autumn days in the northern hemisphere, so September, October and November are ideal months for holding your event in South America. Indeed, conferences and international events abound during this period.

The 2015 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, for example, took place in Lima in October 2015. At the same time – and for the first time in the Americas – the International Federation of Translators (FIT) held the Twelfth International Forum on Legal Translation And Interpreting in that city. Preparations are already underway for the Summer Youth Olympic Games, which will take place in October 2018 in Buenos Aires.

Simultaneous interpreters are generally recruited well in advance for these events. Hotels also get booked up fast. Buenos Aires hotel occupancy rates, for example, tend to exceed 90% from September to November. In short, if you’re organizing your event in South America during those months, it’s a good idea to start planning early.

Sourcing “exotic” or “rare” languages for simultaneous interpretation

While two-way interpretation is quite standard in South America, language needs beyond Spanish and English can present challenges. Italian and French are considered “exotic” in this region; Russian, Chinese and Arabic are even more difficult to source. In Argentina, for example, there are very few highly experienced Arabic or Chinese interpreters, and they work from Spanish only.

If the language combination required is Arabic, Russian or Chinese into English, interpreters are generally brought in from North America or Europe. This is an important consideration when planning your event in South America because it will likely impact the budget. It is often difficult for European event organizers to understand that the Russian-English, Chinese-English or Italian-English combinations are extremely rare or simply nonexistent in South America.

Spanish uses around 20% more words than English

Did you know that Spanish and other Romance languages require on average around 20% more words than in English to convey the same message? This difference can have significant implications for simultaneous interpretation. If English-language presenters talk fast, interpreters need to talk even faster!

Speakers must be prompted ahead of time to slow down their pace so that interpreters have sufficient time and space to do their job. This will help ensure that interpreters are able to communicate the speaker’s intended message as faithfully, accurately, and completely as possible.

Calliope-Interpreters can help you maximize the quality of your event in South America while staying within your budget. Get in touch with us today to discuss your event.

Jacarandas blooming in Buenos Aires in November.

Verónica Pérez Guarnieri, Member of AIIC. Responsible for the South America region, except Brazil. Verónica is the Calliope-Interpreters member based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


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