Home / Whispered Interpreting

Whispered Interpreting

What is Whispered Interpreting?

Also referred to as chuchotage, whispered interpreting is a form of simultaneous interpreting which involves whispering of the translation to the client by the interpreter who is sitting or standing very nearby. The interpreter isn’t really whispering but speaking normally, using a low volume to avoid distracting the speaker and other event participants.

Advantages of Whispered Interpreting

Unlike ‘classic’ simultaneous interpreting, whispered interpreting doesn’t require any specialised equipment because the translation is rendered directly to the client. This makes it ideal when simultaneous equipment isn’t available or when there is not enough time to have it installed. And because translation is rendered in real time, whispered interpreting doesn’t extend the duration of the event. Consecutive interpreting that is also an option when interpreting equipment cannot be installed for any reason, on the other hand, extends the duration of the event by at least twice as long as it would normally last.

Disadvantages of Whispered Interpreting

Because chuchotage involves interpreting without the use of interpreting equipment and because the translation is rendered directly to the client, it isn’t appropriate when interpreting is required for multiple people or multiple languages. Because the goal is to translate for the client without distracting the speaker and other participants, it can be provided to at most two people under condition that both understand the target language. Theoretically, multiple interpreters can be hired to provide interpreting to all event participants requiring a translation but this would cause too much disturbance for the speaker and other participants. Whispered interpreting also isn’t appropriate when participants are expected or wish to join the discussion.

Whispered or ‘Classic’ Simultaneous Interpreting?

Both whispered and ‘classic’ simultaneous interpreting involve rendering of the translation in real time, allowing the event to proceed at its normal course, as if no interpreting would be required at all. But while whispered interpreting doesn’t require any equipment whatsoever, ‘classic’ simultaneous interpreting does.

In addition to considering whether you have the ability to install interpreting equipment, you are also recommended to consider the factors below when deciding between the two types of simultaneous interpreting:

Number of target languages. If you need interpretation into multiple languages, you will obviously need multiple interpreters to cover all language combinations. Since having multiple interpreters whispering interpretation can seriously distract the speaker and other participants, whispered interpreting isn’t appropriate when translation into multiple languages is required.

Number of event participants requiring interpretation. Even if all participants requiring interpretation share a common language, whispered interpreting isn’t appropriate if translation needs to be provided to more than two participants for the same reason why chuchotage isn’t appropriate for events requiring translation into multiple languages.