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A Closer Look at Whisper Interpretation

In addition to simultaneous and consecutive interpreting services, Translators USA language specialists are also available for whisper interpretation. Even though it offers several advantages over both simultaneous and consecutive interpretation, we have noticed that many clients decide either for simultaneous or consecutive interpretation without even considering whisper interpretation as an option. We have therefore decided to take a closer look at whisper interpretation and both its advantages and disadvantages.


The Basics

Also known by its French name 'chuchotage', whisper interpretation doesn't really involve whispering. Instead, the interpreter who sits or stands close to the person(s) requiring conversion from one language into another speaks normally using only a lower volume. The main goal is to break the language barrier without interrupting the speaker and other participants. Sometimes, the interpreter provides a two-way communication by interpreting for the client but whisper interpretation is usually used only to translate the spoken into the target language.

Pros and Cons

As mentioned earlier, whisper interpretation offers several advantages over both simultaneous and consecutive interpretation:

  • No special equipment needed. Unlike simultaneous interpretation which requires high-tech interpreting equipment, whisper interpretation doesn't require any special equipment. The interpreter stands or sits very closely to the client and translates what is being said loudly enough for the person to be able to hear yet quiet enough to avoid disrupting the speaker and other participants.
  • No interruptions or prolongations of the event. In a way, whisper interpretation can be defined as a type of simultaneous interpretation without all the expensive equipment. The event involving a whisper interpreter proceeds normally as if all participants would understand the language or being provided with translation by an interpreter sitting in a booth. Consecutive interpretation doesn't require any special equipment either but since the speaker has to make pauses in order for the interpreter to convert the source into the target language, events with a consecutive interpreter last at least twice as long as those involving simultaneous or whisper interpretation.
  • Flexibility. Since no special equipment is needed, whisper interpretation can be provided just about anywhere including site visits and other events involving movement of the participants as well as meeting sites where installation of simultaneous interpreting equipment isn't possible and consecutive interpretation is impractical.

Cons? A few:

  • Appropriate only for bilingual events. Theoretically, it is possible to provide whisper interpretation in multiple languages but since this would require an interpreter for each language, whisper interpretation isn't the best choice for multilingual events.
  • Suitable only for a very small number of participants requiring interpretation. Since whisper interpretation requires close proximity of the interpreter and the person requiring translation, it is appropriate only for events where only one or two participants need an interpretation.
  • Risk of distraction for the speaker and other participants. Whisper interpreters are trained to speak loudly enough for their client to be able to hear them clearly but quietly enough to avoid distracting the speaker and other participants. But in meetings and events involving a very small number of participants, whisper interpretation might be distracting.

Need an Advice on the Selection of the Right Interpreting Service? Translators USA is Happy to Help

If you need an advice on the selection of the right interpreting service or would like to know more about your options, you can always turn to Translators USA. We are available 7 days a week.

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Tuesday, 16 January 2018
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