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Translation and innovation: the respeaking technique


Exactly like all other practical and theorical practices, translation is continuously evolving. With the technological progress made by humankind over the last few years, the translation techniques used have also changed drastically, to such an extent that today, one of the last frontiers of translation, known as respeaking, is closely related to the use of highly sophisticated translation software.

And the figure of the translator? Although recent technological progress appears unstoppable, the translator is still an essential figure, and will certainly continue to be crucial for a long time to come.

What is respeaking and when is it useful?

During conferences destined for an international audience, the listeners generally find themselves perceiving the speaker’s speech through one of two methods: consecutive translation, or in-ear simultaneous translation.

With consecutive translation, a translator translates the section of the speech or just delivered by the speaker for the audience. At the end of the translation, the speaker reads a new passage, waits for the translator to translate it, and so on.

This technique can be applied to short conferences, lessons, or  speeches with excellent results, but is not suitable for longer events as it effectively doubles the duration of the speaker’s intervention.

The second option is in-ear simultaneous translation: each listener is provided with earphones, through which they can listen to the simultaneous translation by an interpreter working in a cabin, broadcast via a radio system.

This technique is also useful for very long conferences or extensive speeches, as it does not affect the duration of the event. However, there is one disadvantage: the listeners cannot hear the speaker’s voice since it is constantly spoken over by that of the translator.

Respeaking is an extremely innovative and versatile technique, which makes the written translation of the speaker’s speech available to the listeners as it is delivered.

When initially developed, it was mainly used in the institutional and academic fields, then subsequently for subtitling television programmes of public utility. Over time, this technique has become even more sophisticated and today it is used in many different areas.

The translation is projected onto a giant screen so that it can be read by all the listeners, like an instant captioning service.

How does respeaking work?

Respeaking is performed using a sophisticated kind of voice recognition software that transcribes the interpreter’s words as they are pronounced, corrects them grammatically if required, and finally, projects them onto the screen.

This is a technique that adapts perfectly to the requirements of communication between a speaker and a formal audience, composed of people with at least one language in common, which is used for the written translation.

The interpreter works in a soundproofed cabin within which he or she only hears the speaker’s voice and so cannot be disturbed in any way by the outside environment.

Now, given the evolution of digital tools, respeaking can also be performed remotely, with the interpreter not necessarily present in the same physical location where the conference takes place.

When working remotely, the interpreter can operate in real time from any location worldwide, provided he or she has a stable internet connection and, obviously, the required specific software.

Redazione Eurotrad

March 11, 2021

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