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Hi all,

I watched Xi Jinping's presentation ceremony on Thursday and was surprised to see that the proceedings were interpreted into English in (short) consec rather than in sim (I was watching Chinese state media coverage). I've done some research online but haven't been able to find out whether this is standard procedure for official Party events or was a one-off for 'the big day'. Can anyone think of a reason why the Chinese government would favour consec over sim? Thanks!

asked 16 Nov '12, 01:34

Louise's gravatar image


edited 16 Nov '12, 01:44

Delete's gravatar image

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I've discussed this with a couple of Chinese colleagues this week, as I was working in GuangZhou, and posted their comments on the Calliope FB page.!/pages/Calliope-Interpreters/151222118235298

Here is their opinion:

It's standard procedure for the Central Government to use consecutive on very important occasions. Press conferences held by high-level state leaders in China are interpreted in consecutive, not simultaneous.

Simultaneous may be used for addresses - i.e. when a formal speech is delivered from a prepared script. (The interpreters most of the time have a pre-translated English version to read out.) But if there is Q&A afterwards, it is almost always in consecutive. Every year, during the National People's Congress sessions, all the press conferences of the Premier and his ministers are provided with consecutive interpreting.

Consecutive is considered more accurate and reliable; it gives a more serious and even solemn feeling; it is easier to monitor (and correct if necessary); and consecutive is the focus of in-house training in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The MFA interpreters' daily work is mostly consecutive.

From the TV broadcasting angle it also works better - the interpreter's voice doesn't get superimposed on top of the leader's.

Needless to say, for the interpreter, consecutive at such high-profile events is nerve-racking!

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answered 20 Nov '12, 04:39

Danielle's gravatar image


Hi Danielle!

Thanks so much for your answer - really interesting and informative. I met a Chinese interpreter working here in Shanghai but we didn't get around to discussing consec v sim. It could be interesting to compare and contrast in-house training at the Chinese MFA with 'regular' interpreter training courses, since so much emphasis is placed on sim (I feel like) in most schools.

(20 Nov '12, 06:11) Louise

I suggest you talk to Andrew Dawrant who is both a trainer and an AIIC colleague based in Shanghai.

(20 Nov '12, 06:35) Danielle
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question asked: 16 Nov '12, 01:34

question was seen: 2,946 times

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