Whispered Interpretation

Alexandra Hambling providing whispered interpretation at the Singapore Youth Olympics

Whispered interpretation

In this form of simultaneous interpretation the interpreter whispers the interpretation in the ear of one or two individuals. Whispered interpretation only works in certain specific situations, since the interpreter’s voice may disturb other participants and, depending on the seating arrangement, the interpreter may be too far from the speaker to be able to hear them properly. No equipment is required but, depending on the duration of the meeting, two or more interpreters may need to take turns.

Whispered interpretation, commonly referred to by its French name “chuchotage”, is often used in combination with consecutive interpreting. The interpreter whispers for one or two delegates, but when those delegates take the floor the interpreter takes notes and, once they have finished speaking, conveys their remarks to the other meeting participants in consecutive mode. It is important for the interpreter to be positioned next to the person(s) listening to them, and to have an unobstructed view of any visuals being projected. Whispered interpretation is not suitable for large groups or when more than one or two participants require interpretation. For larger groups it is preferable to use a tour-guide system (or an ISO-compliant interpreting booth).

Calliope can

  • help you choose between whispered and other modes of interpretation
  • select the most suitable interpreters for your meeting, taking into account their university training, relevant experience, CPD and specialisations
  • organise the logistics of the interpreting team


Examples from our portfolio


Livia Cais provides whispered interpretation for surgeons in the OR

Children’s HeartLink partnership with Hospital da Criança and Hospital de Messejana, Brazil

Of the one in 120 children who are born with congenital heart disease worldwide, 90% do not have access to adequate medical care. To save the lives of children with heart disease, Children’s HeartLink partners with organisations in Brazil and other countries to train medical teams, provide education and transform health care.

Since 2009, twice a year, Lívia Cais, Calliope member for Brazil, has managed teams of between two and six highly skilled interpreters in the medical field to enable team members to communicate effectively in the OR, PICU, Cath lab and during lectures. Different modes of interpretation are used: whispering and consecutive in the Operating Room, and simultaneous with a tour-guide system during medical rounds.



Claudia Ricci provides whispered interpretation for Mr P. Panzeri, member of the European Parliament

European Parliament missions

Many of the members of Calliope-Interpreters are accredited at international organisations such as the UN and the EU, which also provide interpretation during high-level missions. Whispered interpretation is often used for itinerant missions, when logistical constraints make simultaneous or tour-guide interpretation impossible. In such cases, the interpreters whisper if they have one or two listeners and interpret consecutively when addressing a larger audience.

Claudia Ricci, Calliope representative for Italy, is pictured working for Mr Pierantonio Panzeri, Italian MEP and chair of the European Parliament Human Rights Subcommittee Delegation to Bangladesh and Myanmar. To Claudia’s right is Swedish MEP Ms Soraya, a member of the same delegation. The mission included visits to three Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, meetings with the authorities and representatives of civil society in both Bangladesh and Myanmar, and briefings with the EU representation and local communities. This assignment proved to be both professionally challenging and very rewarding.


Centenary of the First Dáil in 2019

Centenary of the First Dáil

On 21 January 2019, the Republic of Ireland commemorated the centenary of the First Dáil, the first sitting of a representative assembly for the country, claiming the right of Ireland to self-government. Back in 1919, Irish Gaelic, English and French had been the languages used for the various declarations. 100 years later, the presidents of more than 30 national parliaments were invited to listen to the commemoration ceremonies in Dublin and interpretation was provided into many additional languages. Interpreters whispered the emotional and impassioned speeches in the languages of their respective parliament’s representatives. Alexandra Hambling, Calliope representative for Ireland, whispered for the Vice-President of the French National Assembly.

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