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Spanish Interpreter Series: The Conference Interpreter

The conference interpreter, according to the European Commission website, is one who “renders a message from one language into another, naturally and fluently, adopting the delivery, tone and convictions of the speaker and speaking in the first person.”

As the name implies, conference interpreters work mostly at international conferences, seminars or meetings which are attended by people from various backgrounds and cultures.

The role of an interpreter is to help attendees communicate with each other, and this is not necessarily done by literally translating every word they say. More importantly, the conference interpreter conveys the message.

There are several terms commonly used by a language interpreter.

An active language is a language spoken by interpreters and listened to by delegates. A passive language is a language understood by interpreters and spoken by the delegates.

There are also different kinds of language regimes. A reduced regime means that the interpretation is provided from less than the full number of official languages. A symmetric regime refers to the situation wherein the delegates can speak and listen to interpretation from the same languages. In an asymmetric regime, the delegates may speak more languages but interpretation is only provided in a select number.

A conference interpreter has what is called a language combination which is the “number of languages the interpreter works from or into in simultaneous or consecutive mode.”

Here are the different kinds of conference interpreting.

·      Consecutive. Interpreting after the speaker is finished.

·      Simultaneous. Interpreting while the delegate is speaking; simultaneous conference interpreters work in a soundproofed booth.

·      Relay. Interpreting between two languages via a third language.

·      Retour. Working from the mother tongue into a foreign language.

·      Pivot. Using a single language as a relay.

·      Cheval. Refers to an interpreter working alternately in two booths in the same meeting.

·      Whispering. Simultaneous interpreting in a whispered manner.

·      Sign Language. Simultaneous interpreting into sign language.

·      Asymmetric. Refers to interpreting wherein delegates listen to an interpretation into only a few languages.

Qualities of a Conference Interpreter

Of course, the conference interpreter must be able to demonstrate complete mastery of their second or third language, in addition to having a strong grasp of their mother tongue. According to, other essential skills and traits of a conference interpreter include:

·      Analytic capacity;

·      Flexible intellect;

·      Good general education;

·      Ability to concentrate despite external stressors;

·      Good memory;

·      Pleasant voice and good diction;

·      Physical and mental stamina;

·      Willingness to travel;

·      Punctuality; and

·      Capacity for professional confidentiality.

Conference Interpreting Service in San Diego

The Spanish Group offers Spanish translation services for businesses and individuals.
The group’s professional translation services focus on Spanish to English and vice versa to ensure that a high level of quality is maintained. There is no minimum word count or fee, and revisions are packaged into the price with an optional notarization service. The Spanish Group also employs field specialized translators to handle various types of documents, be it technical, marketing, legal or medical.

To find out more about professional translation services call (800) 460-1536 or visit

Interested clients can also follow The Spanish Group on Twitter ( or on Facebook (

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