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In small conferences or biggish discussions (around 30 participants) where right at the beginning there is an introduction round (participant's name, position and so on) I find it more and more difficult to keep track of every single name (even after having received a complete list of participants and studied it in advance). On top of that, Spanish names (especially those from Latin America) can consist of several first names and surnames, maybe adding up to a total of 5 or 6 names, almost unintelligible for me even as a Spanish native speaker. Of course, some participants can also have names deriving from other languages...

I have seen that some colleagues don not repeat the names on purpose, only interpreting the position and other comments said after the name. Is this common practice in simultaneous interpreting? If so, is it worth adding at the beginning something like "during the introduction round, the interpreter won't repeat the participant names"?

Thanks for sharing your experiences. Please answer in English, German or Spanish.

asked 16 Nov '11, 12:55

Delete's gravatar image

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edited 16 Nov '11, 13:34

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

The introduction round is one of the best opportunities to practice teamwork in the booth:

  • 1 interpreter translates,
  • 1 interpreter checks the list of participants and highlights/hits/shows the respective names.

Nevertheless, it usually makes sense to just mention the last name + company/institution. Otherwise the interpreter might lag too far behind, and the listeners hear only one voice, which makes following this exercise difficult anyway.

Depending on the setting one might also ask the host of the first meeting or the session in the briefing before the session, whether he/she plans to have a "tour de table" and have everybody introduce himself/herself. And if so, one might go and adjust the (alphabetical) list of participants to the seating order at the table, if there is a pre-determined one. Otherwise I'd say: play it by ear.

The intro round often is more of a ritual and meant to have everybody in the hall get a rough idea of the participating groups/companies/institutions/countries.

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answered 17 Nov '11, 10:23

LiA's gravatar image


edited 23 Jan '12, 07:14

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Lo que suelo hacer yo como último recurso, es decir, si no cuento con una lista de los participantes y la pronunciación de los delegados es incomprensible, es simplmente apagar el micrófono para que ellos digan sus propios nombres, y luego cuando digan sus puestos o el orgáno que representan, eso sí que lo interpreto. Y con eso, sálvese quien pueda.

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answered 21 Feb '12, 11:50

Jonathan's gravatar image


If indeed there's s list of participants matters will be easier - and it pays to put a number next to each name, if they're not seated alphabetically, Chairs usually go from their right (sometimes from their left, woe is me!) round the table :-). Whenever I can I try to identify the seating plan, either by reading name plates, if any, or by asking one of the staff. Personally, whenever I sense names are coming, in simultaneous, I try to speed up and get as close to the speaker as I can, so that I can turn off my channel right before each name, thus letting participants hear the original (and avoid mangling native names!) switching back on right after each name, for job titles etc.

This being said, one would do well to remember, so as to lessen frustration at a less than perfect job if indeed we attempt to reproduce names, what Lord Russell once said, ie the only name one hears when being introduced is one's own!

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answered 22 Jan '12, 08:02

msr's gravatar image


I let each participant say his/her name and I continue from there. After all, names don't need to be interpreted.

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answered 29 Mar '12, 18:41

Isabel's gravatar image


To me, if you are sure you got the name right, you go for it. Now, I rather leave it out than rebaptize the poor delegate (having said that, let he who is without sin, cast the first stone...)

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answered 30 Mar '12, 10:17

AnaP's gravatar image


I fully agree with LiA: it's the perfect occasion to practice team work if there is a participants list. In small setting sometimes I remember to go round and read and write down the name tags on the table. Otherwise, what I do is just repeat the family name of the delagate and his/her position as complete as I can. These "tour de table" is no fun and very frustrating without a participants list. I fully agree with Fiona.

Switch off the microphone and letting the delegate promounce his/her name is not easy as you always lag behind and I feel it could be confusing or tiresome for the delegates if I start switching on and off the microphone.


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answered 18 May '12, 13:24

Conrado's gravatar image


What I do in small meetings where there are name plates is that I go into the room and draw my own seating plan before the delegates arrive and the meeting starts.

If however it is a big meeting with a list of participants that is longer than one page, I switch off the mike to let them say their name and switch back on immediately to interpret the rest.

"Tour de table" is never a pleasant experience, I fear...

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answered 18 May '12, 05:55

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question asked: 16 Nov '11, 12:55

question was seen: 54,764 times

last updated: 18 May '12, 13:24

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