The “Association Internationale des Interprètes de Conférence” is the only international association of professional conference interpreters worldwide. Set up in 1953, aiic now has over 2,680 members in 88 countries and is recognised by the European Union, NATO, Interpol, the World Bank, the United Nations and many other international organisations.
A bidule is a portable device used for simultaneous interpreting without a booth. The interpreter carries a portable microphone; the listeners wear wireless headsets. The disadvantage of a bidule is that it provides no acoustic insulation from unwanted surrounding sound for either the interpreter or the listeners.
In this mode the interpreter interprets simultaneously while accompanying delegates on a tour of a facility or an exhibition, for example. If more than two persons need to listen to the interpretation, use of a “bidule” is advisable.
Interpreters usually work in soundproof booths but may instead use a bidule, depending on the circumstances of the event. In either case, the interpretation is transmitted via a wireless, infrared system and the listener receives it through a headset. A soundproof booth is always preferable to a bidule because a booth gives the interpreter an undistorted sound feed and the interpretation is heard only by those who require it. A booth should always be positioned so that the interpreters can see both the speaker and any projected visuals. A bidule can be used for whispered interpretation to a small number of listeners or when the interpreter accompanies a small group on an inspection tour. Another conference communication device is a roving microphone, which is used for Q&A sessions. Sound engineers, who are present throughout the meeting, take care of all matters relating to sound quality.
These are needed by the interpreters in advance of the meeting so that they can prepare themselves properly. Especially useful conference documents are :
list of speakers, if possible with a brief CV
list of participants
written speeches which are to be read out
printouts of PowerPoint or other visualized presentations
background information such as annual statements of accounts, press releases, minutes of the last meeting, etc.
any glossary of terms which the organizing body may have compiled.
In consecutive mode the interpreter sits at the table with the delegates or beside the speaker on the speaker’s platform. He or she makes written notes and interprets each section of a speech after the speaker has paused. Because it takes additional time and can become tedious for listeners who understand the original speech, consecutive interpretation is used only for short speeches at ceremonies and for short, round-table business negotiations
Because using the designation “interpreter” or “conference interpreter” is not regulated by law, standards of performance differ enormously. We work almost exclusively with interpreters who are members of aiic (Association Internationale des Interprètes de Conférence), the only international professional association for conference interpreters worldwide and partner of all the major international organizations. Members of aiic normally hold a university degree, they have a peer-reviewed record in interpreting and undertake to comply with aiic’s Code of Ethics and Professional Standards at each interpreting assignment.
Interpreting means explaining in another language the meaning of what is spoken in the language of presentation. Interpreting entails not a literal translation of each word spoken, but the re-rendering, in another language, of the full message which the spoken words convey. Interpreting is often confused with translating (which refers to the written word).
In simultaneous mode the interpreter normally sits in a booth with a clear view of the meeting room and the speaker. He or she listens to and simultaneously interprets the speech into another language. Simultaneous interpreting requires a booth (fixed or mobile) that meets ISO standards for sound insulation, dimensions, air quality and accessibility as well as appropriate equipment (headphones, microphones). Simultaneous mode is suitable for most events. Under certain circumstances (e.g. when the interpreter accompanies a group on an inspection tour or when there are very few listeners requiring interpretation), an interpreter may interpret simultaneously using a bidule.
Translation is the rendering, in writing and in another language, of the meaning of a written text.
Whispered interpretation is a simultaneous interpreting mode whereby the interpreter sits next to one or two listeners and whispers the interpretation of the proceedings. It is suitable only when very few people need interpretation and the meeting is short.