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A bit of a tower of Babel of languages this week in Hangzhou, China, where Heads of State from 19 nations, plus the EU, are meeting. With Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and European Union represented there’s at least 18 languages to translate from and to. That’s counting only one language for India and one for the EU – it should be a real festival of translation and interpreting!

As well as interpreting during the main conference, a lot of the work at the summit will be in smaller meetings. Leaders of each country take advantage of the summit to have face-to-face meetings with their counterparts – thrashing out bilateral issues. For the interpreters it is a real challenge!

The G20 requires a big input of interpreting – a lot of it simultaneous interpreting to aid natural conversational flow. Simultaneous interpreting is particularly intense and tiring, so you need teams, and the number of language combinations is daunting – Russian and Korean, Japanese and Arabic, Portuguese and Turkish – and plenty more!

It’s a real skill to interpret all day in the intense atmosphere of a business or political conference. During the conference speeches the interpreters listen to the speech coming in via headphones and prepare to translate them, and simultaneously are voicing a correct translation of the previous phrase, heard moments earlier.  If they’re lucky, they may have a chance to see the speech in advance, but that may differ from what the speaker actually says on the day, so the interpreter dare not relax. As one sentence goes into their ears say in Korean, another comes out of their mouths in Spanish, Russian or German, for example.  The process is very odd (this article is being written by a qualified interpreter, who has personal experience of doing this), almost an out-of-body experience, as your brain processes all the conflicting information. It’s exciting, fast-moving, and vitally important – you don’t want to get the nuances wrong when major world leaders are discussing bilateral issues!

Accutranslate’s team has a wide variety of interpreting experience, including at commercial and political events. When the G8 Summit was held in Dublin we provided interpreting services. With 8 nations rather than 19 plus the EU the logistics were not quite so daunting as the G20. Nonetheless the experience was incredible as large teams of professional interpreters did their thing.

Planning a multi-national conference or event?

All our interpreters have current, high level skills in at least two languages, along with specialised knowledge of particular sectors. Let us know what you’re planning and we’ll be happy to organise professional, experienced interpreting for you!