Whispering: an alternative form of interpretation

 | Interpreter insights

If a maximum of two persons need interpretation into a given language, or if your foreign delegation wants to move around and attend different sessions, it may not make sense to put up booths and install audio equipment for simultaneous interpretation. Another simple solution to consider is whispered interpretation.

Whispered interpretation, in essence, is a form of simultaneous interpretation. The interpreter whispers the translation into the ear of one or two meeting participants, rather than working from a soundproof booth via earphones.

Benefits and challenges of whispered interpretation

Whispering is a simple, straightforward interpretation solution for small meetings of short duration. It is easy to implement, as there is no need for booths or audio equipment.

However, there are some limitations. Whispering only works for a maximum of one language pair per interpreter. The interpreter’s voice may disturb other participants that don’t need translation. And often the interpreter is not able to hear the original speaker as well as through a headset.

Additionally, the whispering mode of interpretation can be quite tiring both for the interpreters and the listeners. For assignments exceeding 45 minutes, interpreters have to take turns.

Ask us if your next short meeting with few participants requiring translation may lend itself to this form of interpretation.

Calliope member Christoph Renfer whispering to British author Ken Follett at Basel Book Fair.

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