Conference interpreting is generally understood to be the communication of messages which have been delivered in one language into another at formal and informal conferences and conference-like settings in either the simultaneous or consecutive mode (cf. AIIC, 1984; Pöchhacker, 2013). Conference interpreting thus refers to the setting where different modes of interpreting are carried out to enable communication between interlocutors who do not speak the same language. These settings are typically international conferences, multilateral meetings, and workshops, but can also include official dinners, press conferences, parliamentary sessions and a wide range of other gatherings. The most prevalent mode used in conference interpreting is simultaneous interpreting

(see ‘Facts and figures’, p.179 below, as well as Chapter 5 in this volume). In the simultaneous mode, the interpreter gives an interpretation of the incoming speech quasi-simultaneously with the speaker. There is generally a minimal time lag of only a few seconds between the presentation of the original speech and its rendition in another language. Simultaneous conference interpreters working between spoken languages use soundproof booths which are equipped with a simultaneous interpreting system, which allows interpreters to hear what the speakers say while simultaneously transmitting the interpreted version of the speeches to the listeners who are wearing headsets. In this mode, interpreters tend to be in the same room as the conference participants, but typically are not directly visible to the interlocutors. Occasionally, simultaneous interpreting can also be done without a booth. One means of

doing this is whispered interpretation (chuchotage) and the second is interpreting via a mobile interpreting system (bidule). In whispered interpretation, the interpreter sits next to or behind one or two participants and provides simultaneous interpretation in a quiet voice. When working with a bidule, on the other hand, the interpreter sits in the same room together with the participants and quietly speaks his/her interpretation of the speech into a hand-held microphone which transmits the interpretation to listeners who are wearing headsets. In that sense, working with the bidule is more or less like whispering except that the interpreter does not need to sit right next to the participants who requested interpretation. Working in the absence of a proper simultaneous interpreting system with soundproof booths, however, can be very taxing for interpreters. Interpreting in a proper booth gives interpreters control over the amplitude of the

incoming sound and this enables them to strike an optimum balance between listening, speaking and monitoring their output. When whispering, however, the interpreter has no control over the incoming sound and can face serious difficulties hearing the interlocutors, especially because the interpreter’s own voice tends to interfere with what she or he can hear. Furthermore, when whispering or using the bidule, the interpreter must control his/her voice and keep it low at all times to avoid distracting the other participants in the room. For these reasons, these modes of interpreting incur additional strains and are generally regarded as exceptions to the common practice of interpreting in soundproof booths. In addition to working between two spoken languages, interpreters can also work simulta-

neously between a spoken and a signed language or between two signed languages. Signed languages used by the deaf deploy the visual-gestural medium (see Chapters 7 and 8 in this volume). Therefore, booths and interpreting equipment that are critical in preventing an ‘acoustic’ overlap when interpreting between spoken languages are unnecessary in the simultaneous interpreting of signed languages. For signed language interpreters, being seen by all deaf participants in the room is critical, which is why they tend to choose a highly visible location when they work. Consecutive interpreting is the other mode used at conferences and conference-like settings

(see Chapter 6 in this volume). In consecutive interpretation, the interpreter waits until the speaker finishes his/her speech, or a part of it, and then renders it in another language. The interpreter is generally in the room and sits or stands quite close to the interlocutors. Consecutive interpretation can take the form of short or long consecutive. Short consecutive tends to be the preferred mode for bi-or multilateral discussions where speakers take quick turns exchanging views. Long consecutive is used where one speaker takes the floor for a longer period of time, and this allows for a train of thought to continue in an uninterrupted manner. In long consecutive, the interpreter can wait up to 20 minutes and even longer before starting to interpret, and this requires strong note-taking skills. In this process, interpreters generally make use of their notes to reconstruct the speech in another language. Although consecutive interpreting requires more time, its use extends to all conference settings,

from the most formal to the most informal, depending on the preferences of the conference organizers, the number of languages used, logistical issues, cost concerns and so on. Consecutive interpreting is often used during lunch or dinner speeches, and during bilateral talks and missions in which delegations travel from one site to another. In large conferences, both modes can be used for different reasons. For example, while simultaneous may be the preferred mode during the main sessions of a conference, consecutive may be used at an opening dinner where the host delivers a short welcome speech.