FAQ

Conference interpreting is a complex task.
Below you will find frequently asked questions and our answers.
The UNISONO Team will of course be happy to answer any other questions you may have.

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What is the difference between a translator and an interpreter?
A translator works with written texts, an interpreter with the spoken word. This means that the interpreter translates talks, lectures and discussions into another language while they are being held or are taking place. This can either be simultaneously with the interpreter sitting in a booth or consecutively.
How do I recognise a professional conference interpreter?
There are many titles in the interpreting field: graduate interpreter, conference interpreter, state-qualified interpreter, court interpreter, sworn interpreter, authorised interpreter, state-approved interpreter or simply just interpreter. This is because the occupational title “interpreter” is not legally protected. At UNISONO, we are all professional conference interpreters. We have all completed a university education and have a degree as graduate interpreters (“Diplom-Dolmetscher”) or a comparable international degree. In the course of our studies, we have enjoyed comprehensive training in conference interpreting and can guarantee highest quality. A further indication of professional qualification is membership in an acknowledged professional association. The UNISONO team are members in various national and international professional associations.
What are the different types of interpreting?
We differentiate between simultaneous, consecutive, whispered and liaison interpreting.
  • In simultaneous interpreting, we convert practically instantaneously the spoken word into the other language. Colloquially, this interpreting technique is often wrongly called simultaneous translation or synchronous interpreting.
  • In consecutive interpreting, the speaker talks in sections and we take notes with the aid of which we then interpret what the speaker has said into the other language.
  • Whispered interpreting is a special form of simultaneous interpreting where we whisper the interpretation to one or two listeners. In liaison interpreting, we interpret consecutively into both languages for two or more participants.
When is conference technology required?
For simultaneous interpreting, we require a soundproof booth in which we hear the original sound with the aid of headphones. We speak into a microphone which transmits our interpretation to the headphones of the conference participants. There is therefore little background noise disturbance for the participants in the conference hall. Simultaneous interpreting is also so much less time-consuming than consecutive interpreting.
Why do we need conference documents and background material before the event?
We must understand the content and subjects and familiarise ourselves with the specialised vocabulary in order to be able to provide a good and correct interpretation. Each company and each organisation has its own technical jargon and uses certain, often subject-specific terminology. We make every effort to always use the terms with which the listeners are familiar. With the aid of the conference papers, we can prepare accordingly in advance for the event. We of course guarantee that your documents are treated with strict confidentiality.
Why do we not work alone when interpreting simultaneously?
Simultaneous interpreting calls for a great deal of concentration and this cannot be maintained for long. In order to guarantee consistently high quality, we therefore alternate every 20 – 30 minutes when interpreting simultaneously.
How many interpreters do I need for my event?
This very much depends on the duration of the event and the interpreting technique selected. For example, when simultaneous interpreting is required for up to a period of 5 hours, we work in pairs. If the event is to last longer, a third colleague joins our team. When using whispered, consecutive and liaison interpreting, the individual situation determines whether we work alone or in pairs. It is important that we have enough breaks. Only then, can we guarantee the consistently high quality of our interpreting.
Why do we need interpreters at all?
Everyone can speak English! Today, it is increasingly the case that all participants of an event have to speak in one language. When conference participants are asked to speak English and they are not familiar with all nuances of the language, they have to concentrate more on the terminology used than on the actual content. The participants say only what they can say and not what they want to say. Important information could, under such circumstances, remain unsaid.
What is the AIIC?
The International Association of Conference Interpreters, known under its French abbreviation “AIIC”, is the association in which interpreters from around the world get together to strengthen their professional interests. The members are conference interpreters who work freelance or are staff interpreters in international organisations, governments and in the private sector.
The AIIC is:
  • The only recognised international association of our profession.
  • The professional association of conference interpreters which sets the standards worldwide for professional interpreters.
  • The central contact point for interpreters and interpreters‘ customers as regards specialized knowledge, information, resources and orientation.
  • The AIIC accepts only competent, experienced interpreters as members. Its members are bound to abide by the association’s Code of Professional Ethics and by certain professional standards. They can thus provide competent and reliable interpreting services of the highest quality.
We at UNISONO are all committed to the standards and Code of Professional Ethics of the AIIC.
How do we calculate our fees?
We work on the basis of daily rates. This may, in the first instance, perhaps sound strange but it does have many advantages for our customers. Not only does our daily rate cover our actual presence at the venue but also the travel time involved on the day of deployment and a thorough technical and terminological preparation of the subject. In general, this time of preparation goes far beyond the actual interpreting time. In our fees, we also differentiate between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. As we often have longer deployment hours alone when interpreting consecutively, the fees here are slightly higher.
Why do we charge travel expenses?
In order to be able to provide an excellent interpreting service, we must be rested on arrival at the venue. If an event should begin very early in the day or if we have a long journey to the event, we often arrive the evening before the event takes place. In this case, travel expenses and daily allowances are charged in addition to the interpreting fees.
Are we bound to confidentiality?
Of course. In the course of our work, we often come into contact with very sensitive material (e.g. at works council negotiations, board meetings, ministries and authorities). Not only are we bound to absolute confidentiality by the codes of professional conduct of the professional associations, it would also be fatal for us if our confidentiality was ever questioned. You can therefore rely on your documents being entirely safe with us.