Here comes my first-AI written blog post

I was feeling a bit lazy today, so I thought I might give Artificial Intelligence a try. And here we go, this is my first blog post written by an AI writing assistant:

How to Use the Best Interpreting Technology

Translation and interpreting services are crucial for business success. If you’re a business owner, it is important to know the importance of these services and how to use them. Interpreters can help bridge language barriers and make sure your company's message comes through loud and clear. But how do you find the best interpreter for your needs? How does interpreting technology work? Where can I learn more about these topics?

This blog post will answer all of your questions about translation, interpreting, and using the latest technology to do it well. We’ll also provide some handy resources to help you on your journey of finding the right interpreter for your needs.

Translating vs. interpreting

Before we delve into how to find the best interpreter for your needs, let's take a  moment to explore the difference between translation and interpreting.

Translation is a process by which you convert information from one language to another. This conversion may include converting words, sentences, or even whole texts. Translation of a text can be done by a human translator or a computer programme.

Interpreting is a process that involves translating spoken messages from one language to another simultaneously, usually in real time. Most often, interpreters work in medicine, law enforcement, education and business dealings with people from other cultures.

What is Interpreting?

Interpreting is the act of facilitating communication between people who speak different languages. Interpreters translate spoken language, written texts, and sign language into another language to help bridge the communication barrier.

There are many different types of interpreting services that can be utilized in various scenarios. For example, there are conference interpreters who work to facilitate communication at business conferences or other events. There are also medical interpreters who provide an important service in hospitals and doctors' offices.

Types of interpreting 

When it comes to interpreting, there are two main types: simultaneous and consecutive.

Simultaneous interpreting is a type of interpretation where the interpreter listens to a speaker and then speaks in a language that someone else can understand. The interpreters repeat everything that is being said by the speaker which allows the other person to follow along with what is being said. This type of interpreting needs to be done quickly as well as accurately so as not to lose the message from one party

Consecutive interpreting is different because it involves an interpreter listening to what someone says and then paraphrasing it back in their own words. With this method, the interpreter does not have to do as much work as simultaneous interpreters since they are not struggling to keep up with words being spoken at a high speed. However, they must be able to listen carefully and express themselves clearly when translating for the person who does not understand that language.

The importance of interpreting in business 

Translation and interpreting are crucial for business success. Interpreters do more than just translate the spoken word. They help bridge language barriers, so your company's message can come through clearly.

This is critical for any company that does business internationally. Businesses need to have a clear understanding of what they want to say before they get on board with an interpreter service. It can be easy to overlook this detail when you're in a hurry or feel like it's not necessary. But taking the time up front to plan out what you want to say will save you time and frustration later on.

Before choosing your interpreter, make sure you know the following:

-What languages are they fluent in?

-Do they specialize in certain fields? -Do they have experience interpreting business meetings?

-Do they have the background or certification necessary for your industry?

How Does Technology Impact Interpreting?

Technology has made it easier to find interpreters for your business needs. Gone are the days of having to call all over town to find a professional interpreter. You can do so right from the comfort of your office with just a few clicks on your computer.

But, how does technology impact interpreting? As said before, technology has made it easier to find qualified interpreters without having to leave your desk or cell phone. You can even use Skype or FaceTime with video calling for interactive interpreting services.

This is perfect for attendees who prefer not to stand in front of a large group and speak in front of them, but would rather express themselves more through body language and facial expressions. It's also perfect for situations where the interpreter will be speaking in front of a group via microphone or speakerphone while video conferencing with the original speaker at the same time.

Where Can I Get the Right Resources to Keep Learning About These Topics?

If you want to learn more about the power of language and how interpreting can help your company, we recommend these sources:

Myths About Translation –

Language Barrier –

The Importance of Translation Services –

The above text is what Writesonic’s AI Article Writer 2.0 has generated based on the following keywords: simultaneous interpreting, glossaries, terminology, machine translation, voice recognition, speech-to-text, video conferences, collaboration

Once you have provided about 200 characters worth of keywords, the system takes you through different steps (“come up with ideas”, “generate an intro”, “get an outline”, “generate your draft article”). All I did along this process was to delete references to translators/translation in the intro and outline to narrow down the content to interpreting rather than translation. Other than that, the article above is the unmodified work of the AI writer.

At first sight, I was rather impressed by the result, both in terms of language and content (if “content” is the right word for what an AI writes?). Although, from an insider’s point of view, the content is a bit on the shallow side… But then why not try the “sentence expander” function to see if we get more out of it?

So I copied the following paragraph into the “sentence expander” (selecting the tone of voice “excited”) just to see what happens:

But, how does technology impact interpreting? As said before, technology has made it easier to find qualified interpreters without having to leave your desk or cell phone. You can even use Skype or FaceTime with video calling for interactive interpreting services.

And this is what the sentence expander made of it:

An interpreter is a professional trained in a foreign language who facilitates communication between two or more people who don't share a native language. The interpreter has to have an understanding of the cultures and languages being spoken in order to effectively mediate between them. They also have to be on the same page as the speakers, so they must keep up with everything being said.

There are various benefits to using technology for interpreting. Not only can you find an interpreter instantly, but you can use the video call to ensure that the interpretation is consistent with what is being said. You can also find interpreters that speak your language or dialect, which is not a problem with a video call.

Yet, even with all of these benefits, technology cannot replace the human element of interpreting. A key part of this human element is an interpreter's background and culture. The more you know about your native language and your native culture, the better interpreter you will be.

While the “witty” and “funny” tones of voice didn’t bring much of a change,  the “dramatic” version did indeed add a bit of drama:

As technology advances, it will likely change the way interpreters work. Who knows what the future holds? One thing is for sure, though: interpreting is currently experiencing a digital revolution.

Technology has changed the way we interpret. With a few taps or clicks, you can find perspective interpreters, have them come to you, and even see them through a video link. Technology is also making it easier to find interpreters for difficult languages. Computers can now translate Spanish into English with a speaker-to-speaker interpreter who only speaks Spanish! So, the answer is yes, technology has impacted interpreting! [...]

But still, my impression is that the system avoids “diving deeper” content-wise. The subject of terminology or glossaries, for example, was omitted altogether. Maybe quite wisely so – after all, it is always better not to engage in conversations about topics one has no understanding of (although I didn’t expect this kind of thoughtfulness from an Artificial Intelligence). And I am really not sure whether I would naturally say something like Computers can now translate Spanish into English with a speaker-to-speaker interpreter who only speaks Spanish!

When I tried the system in German, the result was a mixture of German and English text blocks. Some general content on what interpreters and translators are were there in German, whilst all the rest came out in English, and the conclusion was all about the importance of Search Engine Optimisation!

The Spanish version was much better – delivering a text completely in Spanish, for a start. It focused a lot on automatic translation rather than interpreting.

La Nueva Inteligencia Artificial traduce voz, texto y vídeo para ayudar a las empresas a conectar con sus clientes

Una de las características más útiles de la Inteligencia Artificial para los negocios es su capacidad para traducir vídeo, texto y voz. Este proceso se conoce como "traducción automática" y permite a las empresas interactuar con los clientes en una amplia variedad de idiomas. Como esta herramienta se convierte en cada vez más popular, sin duda ayudará a las empresas a acercarse más a sus clientes. Aquí hay algunas ideas sobre cómo la traducción automática podría beneficiarles.

¿Qué es la traducción automática?

La traducción automática es un proceso de traducción que utiliza la Inteligencia Artificial (AI) para convertir el texto y el vídeo de un idioma a otro, así como la voz. Por lo general, esta herramienta permite que las empresas interactúen con los clientes en una amplia variedad de idiomas sin tener que contratar a personas para hacerlo.

Cómo aumenta el alcance de las empresas

¿Qué significa traducir automáticamente? Cuando se traduce automáticamente, los usuarios pueden interactuar con su marca en su idioma nativo. Por ejemplo, si tu empresa tiene un sitio web en inglés y sus clientes están principalmente en España, pero también en México, traduciendo automáticamente es un buen paso.

La traducción automática es una ventaja para las compañías que requieren servicios internacionales ya que no hay ningún costo adicional para competir internacionalmente. Sin importar lo que estés vendiendo o cuanto estés cobrando por él, la traducción automática ayuda a ampliar tu alcance mundial.

Para qué sirve traducir vídeo, texto y voz

La Inteligencia Artificial es una herramienta muy útil para las empresas, que podrían traducir los vídeos, textos y voces de sus clientes. Esto se conoce como "traducción automática" y permite a las empresas interactuar con los clientes en casi todos los idiomas.

Como esta herramienta se convierte cada vez más popular, sin duda ayudará a las empresas a acercarse a sus clientes. Aquí hay algunas ideas sobre cómo la traducción automática podría beneficiarlas:

1- La Inteligencia Artificial les permitiría entender mejor lo que sus clientes quieren y necesitan. Los procesadores neuronales permiten la traducción automática y la comprensión natural del lenguaje humano. Sin embargo, no pueden simular el pensamiento complejo ni el arte dialéctico, sino que sol

Cuáles son las ventajas para las empresas de utilizar traducción automática

La capacidad de traducir vídeo, texto y voz es una característica útil para las empresas. Hoy en día, muchas personas están buscando productos y servicios en lenguajes que no son el inglés. Ya sea que usted necesita entrar en el mercado internacional o simplemente ser más accesible para sus clientes nacionales, la traducción automática es una herramienta que no puede faltar para su negocio.

La traducción automática tiene varias ventajas para las empresas, incluyendo:

- Aumento del número de seguidores. La mayoría de la gente no se siente cómoda usando Google Translate porque los resultados pueden ser inciertos. Con la inteligencia artificial, todavía podemos ofrecer a nuestros clientes con idiomas diferentes

Cómo saber si necesitas traducciones automáticas

Las compañías que se encuentran en el mercado internacional o que tienen una presencia global pueden experimentar con las traducciones automáticas para aumentar sus ventas.

Este proceso toma mucho tiempo y es costoso traducir texto, vídeo y voz manualmente. Sin embargo, los servicios de traducción automática ofrecen una manera más rápida, económica y efectiva de llegar a los clientes potenciales en otros idiomas.

Qué pasaría si tuvieras traducciones automáticas para todos tus productos?

El beneficio más obvio de la traducción automática es que podrías tener tus productos traducidos para cualquier idioma. Los clientes potenciales tendrían acceso a los mismos productos y servicios, independientemente del idioma en el que residen.

La traducción automática también sería útil si te encuentras con una nueva categoría o regiones de mercado. Por ejemplo, si quieres expandir tu negocio a la India, significaría que puedes hacerlo sin necesidad de contratar a un traductor profesional o existe la posibilidad de que proporcionarías los productos directamente en español.

Fortalecerás tu marca a nivel mundial 

La traducción automática es una excelente opción para ampliar la presencia de tu marca a nivel mundial. Tanto las empresas como los consumidores pueden beneficiarse de esta herramienta.

Al traducir tu material de marketing, por ejemplo, podrás ofrecer información más fiable y accesible a los consumidores en otros países, lo que les permitirá mantenerse al día con toda la información sobre ti y tus productos. Además, las personas que no hablan inglés o cualquier otro idioma podrán explorar con mayor facilidad el contenido que hay en tu sitio web.

La traducción automática también tiene ventajas para las empresas: puede ayudar a comprender mejor a los clientes y comprender qué está pasando en sus vidas y necesidades. Por ejemplo, puede ser ú

Ubicación de la empresa

En la actualidad, las empresas están tratando de expandirse para llegar a una audiencia más amplia. Esto se traduce en que muchas compañías necesitan establecerse en nuevos mercados.

Sin embargo, las empresas tradicionales se encuentran con el problema de llegar a los clientes potenciales. A veces es difícil entender lo que están preguntando los clientes, lo cual los hace inaccesibles para las compañías.

Pero ahora, la inteligencia artificial está permitiendo que las compañías traduzcan vídeo y texto para atraer y satisfacer a sus clientes internacionales. La tecnología puede ayudar a los negocios a expandirse sin importar su ubicación geográfica o el idioma del mercado en el que operan.

So all in all, the technology is impressive, and it can certainly be helpful in moments of writer’s block, just like DeepL helps us in moments of “translator’s block”.

Just make sure you don’t take everything at face value only because it is written in good English – but then the same goes for text written by humans. Personally, the AI writing assistant reminds me a bit of those people with whom you can talk about almost anything based on their common half-knowledge, but who then subtly steer the conversation to their favourite subject.

Ressources (not tested properly – has anyone?) (not tested yet – has anyone?)

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

Synchronous Scrolling in Microsoft Word

Whilst it usually is fancy new apps designed for the benefit of interpreters (or everybody) that get my attention, this time it was boring old Microsoft Word I got excited about. Maybe I am the last one to discover the synchronous scrolling function, but I liked it so much that I wanted to share it.

When interpreting on the basis of a pre-translated manuscript, I like to copy & paste original and translation into a spreadsheet (which then also serves as a great terminology research corpus). But for a quick solution to just read in parallel the two language versions, MS-Word’s synchronous scrolling is a great alternative.

You simply open both documents in Word, click display next to each other (nebeneinander anzeigen, ver en paralelo) in one of them, choose the second document, and activate synchronous scrolling (synchrones Scrollen, desplazamiento síncrono).

Very handy: If the two language versions are of different lengths (as it usually happens with English and German), when the texts get out of sync, you just deactivate synchronous scrolling, re-adjust the text positions, and activate synchronous scrolling again.

Unfortunately, this function is not available for the Mac version. Thanks for pointing this out, Michaela Haller @sprachlicht!

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

How to keep your glossaries as tidy as your kitchen drawer

Once again, the new semester is approaching, and another knowledge management course is about to start at TH Köln’s Master of Conference Interpreting. Now after 15 years of teaching, I find myself wondering what it is that I really really want my students to remember for the rest of their professional lives. Things have changed so much since I wrote my first seminar paper on terminology management back in 1995. But there certainly are some basic principles that apply no matter which tools and devices we use?

Interestingly, I happened to come across the answer this morning when I opened my kitchen drawer (or rather, I knew the answer all along, but I found it confirmed there): It is all about sorting and filtering. No matter if it’s about kitchen stuff or glossaries, what I really want my students to remember is how convenient (and sometimes life-saving, so to say) it is to have your stuff in the right place. The rules are simple:

  • Group by function: All the baking/salad etc. ingredients in one place, all the sweets together, all the loose stuff in a box
  • Group by type: All the Prinzenrollen next to each other (so you don’t buy the fifth one just because your kids keep telling you they are out of stock)
  • Sort by date: First in First out, for obvious reasons
  • Keep a shopping list and note down that you need to buy oil before you run out.
  • Keep the things you use every day on the counter, so you always have them ready. Put them back into the drawer if you don’t really use them regularly.

Terminology-wise, things may not be one hundred percent identical, but the underlying principles are fairly similar:

  • Categorise by customer and subject so that you get the right terms for your dermatology congress or the circulation pump manufacturer with just a few clicks.
  • Sort your terminology alphabetically from time to time to find similar or double entries. This can also be a very enlightening exercise as you sometimes find you translate the same term completely differently in different settings.
  • Sorting by date puts the relevance of your terminology into perspective and helps to avoid using obsolete expressions (especially when you are of a certain age).
  • Make sure you highlight missing terms and discuss them with your colleague or client before you switch on the microphone.
  • Assign priorities to the most crucial expressions and display them prominently so that you don’t have to look for them (rummage in the drawer) when in need.

I suppose there are even more similarities that I am not aware of. Suggestions – especially in terms of kitchen organisation – are more than welcome 🙂

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

The pivot to remote online teaching on the MA in Conference Interpreting in Cologne: Lessons learned from an unexpected experience

This paper describes and critically evaluates the new online setting encountered when the MA in Conference Interpreting at the Institute of Translation and Multilingual Communication at TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences, Cologne, was forced to move completely online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pedagogical and interactional challenges of the pivot to remote online teaching are first contextualised and discussed, before the results of a longitudinal survey of staff and students are presented and analysed. The transition to remote online teaching brought into sharp relief the fact that pedagogical concepts and lesson plans cannot simply be transposed directly from face-to-face to online teaching, particularly regarding issues around interaction between all participants. Peer-to-peer interaction was perceived to suffer most in this context. What was particularly striking about the results of the survey was that the success of remote online teaching in conference interpreting depended on small groups, individualised and personalised learning and feedback, and reliable and user-friendly technical solutions. A strengthened pedagogical focus on remote interpreting proved to be an unintended benefit of the transition.

Read the full article here or the full JoSTrans Issue 36 here.

Many, many thanks to my great co-authors Barbara Ahrens and Morven Beaton-Thome as well to the Jostrans editorial board for their invaluable support.

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

10 or so books every conference interpreter should read

I was told that bucket lists are key to successful blogging – so here is mine.

10 or so books every conference interpreter should read:

  • The Bible (in all your working languages)
  • Maschinenelemente für Dummies (machine parts for dummies)
  • Chemie Kompaktwissen iIntroduction to chemistry)
  • The Times Complete History of the World
  • International Financial Reporting Standards (in English and your working languages)
  • Who is who in Greek mythology
  • Gastronomisches Wörterbuch in 5 Sprachen (or anything that prepares you for translating sophisticated menus)
  • Die Kunst des Klüngelns by Anni Hausladen

I suppose there are about a million more, so any further suggestions are very welcome 🙂

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

Hard consoles – Quick guide to old normal relais interpreting

This blog post is intended for all those students who started their studies of conference interpreting right after the outbreak of Covid-19. More than one year into the pandemic, many of them haven’t entered a physical booth or put their hands on a hard console yet.

In order to not leave them completely unprepared, I have assembled some very basic guidance. There are many different interpreting consoles out there, the ones you see here are just three random ones to give you an idea. Many thanks to Magdalena Lindner-Juhnke and Inés de Chavarría for helping with the pictures and to Tefik Cevikel from Schneider Konferenz Systeme for letting me take a video in their hub in Düsseldorf.

And here is a short video on how to find your relais:


Further reading

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

Gendern eigentlich Dolmetscher*innen?

Beim Dolmetschen gendern – das habe ich bislang eigentlich ganz munter “nach Gefühl” gehandhabt. Klar, wenn die Rednerin oder der Redner der Ausgangssprache gendert, übernehme ich das in der Zielsprache – sofern die sprachlichen Mittel das hergeben. Aber wenn die Originalsprache etwa Englisch ist, ist die Lage häufig alles andere als klar. Viele Benennungen erfordern keine Differenzierung bzw. lassen diese auch nicht erkennen (participant, doctor, president, friend). Das lässt uns beim Dolmetschen mitunter nicht nur graue Haare wachsen, weil wir nur raten oder blitzschnell nachschlagen können, ob the commissioner nun Herr Kommissar oder Frau Kommissarin ist, sondern weil sich auch noch die vertrackte Frage stellt, ob bzw. wie wir in der Zielsprache – wenn diese zum Beispiel Deutsch oder Spanisch ist – gendern.

Zur Frage, ob ich gendere, ist die Antwort dolmetsch-typisch ganz klar: Es kommt auf den Kontext an. Wir dolmetschen für den Moment. Relevant ist, ob die redende Person gendern würde, wenn ihre Sprache die Mittel dafür hergäbe. Es stellt sich also jedes Mal die Frage: Wer redet? Was ist die Intention der vortragenden Person? In welchem Kreis befinden wir uns (Frauenausschuss, Monteurschulung, Fraktionssitzung der Grünen oder Bilanzpressekonferenz)?

Bleibt die Frage, wie ich gendere. Was mache ich zum Beispiel aus dem gender-neutralen englischen Dear participants? Beim Dolmetschen ins Deutsche habe ich hier durchaus die Qual der Wahl zwischen unterschiedlichen Spielarten der Gendersprache. Im Sinne einer schnellen Entscheidungsfindung, wie wir sie beim Simultandolmetschen brauchen, könnte man grob unterscheiden zwischen:

progressiver Gendersprache – Neuschöpfungen wie die gesprochene “Binnen-Lücke” mit Glottisschlag, verschriftlicht als TeilnehmerInnen/Teilnehmer_innen/Teilnehmer:innen/Teilnehmer*innen;

konservativer Gendersprache – Doppelnennung wie Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmer, Schülerinnen und Schüler, Kolleginnen und Kollegen, wie sie schon sehr lange üblich sind;

“vermeidender” Gendersprache – Umgehung des Genderns durch Substantivierung (die Zuhörerschaft, das Publikum), Gerundium (Studierende, Teilnehmende) oder alternative Ausdrücke (verfügt über eine Promotion in statt hat einen Doktor in, Personal/Belegschaft statt Mitarbeiter).

Interessanterweise ist die Auswahl im Spanischen durchaus ähnlich:

Was den Deutschsprachigen das progressive Gendersternchen bzw. die Binnenlücke, ist der spanischsprachigen Welt das neugeschöpfte so genannte dritte linguistische Genus – “el tercer género linguístico”: Statt todos y todas heißt es todes oder gleich todas, todas y todes, entsprechend (queridos, queridas y) querides participantes (im Schriftlichen auch wahlweise lxs participantes, l@s participantes, aber das ist für das Dolmetschen ja nicht relevant). Was beiden Phänomenen gemein ist: Sie sind neu, ungemein praktisch und nicht minder unumstritten. Für den persönlichen Umgang mit der deutschen und spanischen Sprache macht es das vielleicht kompliziert, aber im Dolmetschen kann man zumindest grob davon ausgehen, dass die Freund_innen und les amiges in ihrer Intention und Wirkung ähnlich sind.

Ansonsten gibt es auch hier die “konservative” Doppelnennung (etwa queridas y queridos participantes oder compañeros, compañeras) und die unauffällige Umgehung durch alternative Substantive (estimada audiencia statt estimados auditores, la ciudadanía statt los ciudadanos) oder Adjektive (el desempleo juvenil statt desempleo entre los jóvenes), genderneutrale Pronomina (quienes quieran statt los/las que quieran, cualquiera statt todos/todas) oder Umschreibungen (personas que trabajan aqui statt trabajadores).

Für meine tägliche Arbeit hoffe ich, dass mir eine solche etwas strukturiertere Herangehensweise helfen wird, den richtigen Gender-Ton zu treffen. Danken möchte ich in dem Zusammenhang meinen Studierenden des MA Konferenzdolmetschen an der TH Köln für den angeregten Austausch! Über weitere gute Tipps und Ideen rund um das mehrsprachige Gendern freue ich mich natürlich 🙂

Möchtet Ihr mehr zum Thema lesen?

Zum Gendern im Deutschen: 

Wie schreibe ich divers? Wie spreche ich gendergerecht? 

El lenguaje inclusivo en cuanto al género en espanol: 

Dolmetscherinnen zum Gendern: 

Über die Autorin:
Anja Rütten ist freiberufliche Konferenzdolmetscherin für Deutsch (A), Spanisch (B), Englisch (C) und Französisch (C) in Düsseldorf. Sie widmet sich seit Mitte der 1990er dem Wissensmanagement.

No paper, no travel – can we get any greener these days?

No more traveling, paper coffee cups and the like … instead it’s videoconference interpreting, paperless office, and paperless booth (or no booth at all, for that matter)  … so could we be any more eco-friendly at all? We could indeed – after all, we are generating tons of digital waste in our “new normal” everyday life. Huge amounts of data is stored in data centres and being sent back and forth from “the cloud” to our personal devices every second, all of which requires computing power and drives energy consumption. Just writing and sending an email releases ten grams of CO2 – this is one of the things I learnt from Siegfried Behrendt, head of the “Resources, Economics & Resilience” department at the Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment in Berlin, in this article by Thomas Röbke (link to the German version below). It is a really interesting read about how to reduce our computer- or cloud-related carbon footprint.

Here are some tips I found relevant for conference interpreters (and ordinary human beings):

  • Use climate-neutral email providers, search engines (like Ecosia or Gexsi), streaming platforms (Betterstream), and online shops.
  • When streaming videos, choose standard definition (SD) instead of high definition (HD) or ultra-high definition (UHD).
  • Switch of your camera in videoconferences if there is no need for you to be seen (which, on the other hand, makes meetings less communicative). Consider making phone calls instead of zooming from time to time. Consider using a chat instead of a parallel video connection to stay in touch with your remote boothmate.
  • Avoid sending unnecessary emails and saving them forever on your provider’s server. Empty your sent folder regularly. For example, when organising a large team of interpreters, avoid sending all documents in all languages to the whole team.
  • Don’t send pictures if you can send texts instead (e.g. a link instead of a screenshot of a webpage). Delete pictures you don’t need (Do you really need five versions of the same motive?).
  • Choose a cable or Wifi over a mobile data connection, which is the most energy-intensive option.
  • Don’t duplicate all your data by saving it permanently on your hard drive and in the cloud. However, this makes observing the backup rule of three more difficult. Alternatively, you can start by using external hard drives or USB sticks to backup data you don’t normally need access to (more data on your hard drive requires more computing power).

There are certainly many more things we can do to become greener digital conference interpreters, or citizens. Just drop me a line or leave a comment to share your thoughts!

Further reading on how to be a green conference interpreter:

Grüne Dolmetscherin – Interview mit Sarah King von Caterina Saccani

Make IT Green – Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change by Greenpeace

Digitaler Abfall lässt sich vermeiden –

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

New normal conferences – virtual or in person?

One year into the pandemic, I thought it might be time to think about what our new normal work environment as conference interpreters will look like. Will new normal meetings and conferences return to the “real world”, or will most of them remain virtual?

I very much hope that our new reality brings the best of both worlds together and we can help conference hosts to make wise decisions as to when to meet in person or online. After many, many, many discussions I held and heard in the past year, I have tried to draw up an overview of the pros and cons of organising conferences with interpretation on-site or virtually, using interpreting hubs, or having interpreters work from their own offices. I hope you find it useful!

Did I miss anything? I will be happy to include further aspects, just drop me a line 🙂

On-site Full remote/virtual Hub
Participants and interpreters meet in person at a physical conference/meeting venue Participants and interpreters all work from their own offices relying on their personal equipment and internet connections Meeting can take place physically or virtually, interpreters work from “hubs”, i.e. in booths from a single location, RSI software permanently installed, professional technical support, secure and redundant internet connection
Host’s needs
Confidentiality Full control over attendance Good for open formats with no confidentiality issues Protected server structures and connections – sensitive information is protected
Reliability No connection issues Risk of technical failure is accepted; participants use “standard” equipment/connections too Reliable, redundant connection for events where software/hardware/connection failures would be problematic or costly
Time More time-consuming due to travel time Good for short notice meetings, replacement straightforward (but sound checks etc. need to be factored in) Time-saving if hub is located close to interpreters’ offices
Logistics More logistics required (travel, set-up of sound/interpreting system) Short set-up time, flexible, no travel Time and cost-saving if interpreters are closer to hub than to meeting venue
Technical equipment Professional, state-of-the-art equipment and technical support Reliance on interpreters’ own equipment and expertise in using it Professional, state-of-the-art interpreting equipment and technical support
Software No RSI (Remote Simultaneous Interpreting) software required RSI software to be booked/managed by organiser (or by a designated interpreter) Professional RSI (Remote Simultaneous Interpreting) software support/hosting
Collaboration and personal contact Personal contact, coffee break chats, lively exchanges, spontaneous encounters Less personal contact, screen time more tiring – “Zoom fatigue” (recommended for shorter meetings) Personal contact possible if participants meet in person and interpreters work from hubs (but no direct contact with interpreters)
interpreters’ needs
Sound (transmission) quality Excellent transmission quality (frequency band, latency, lip synchronicity) allowing for trouble-free interpretation Bad sound may affect quality and hearing, USB microphones required for participants! Bad sound may affect quality and hearing, USB microphones required for participants!
Work environment On-site amenities: professional equipment, catering etc.  Comfortable “private” environment Amenities of professionally-equipped booth
Cognitive load Cognitive load OK for full-day meetings Cognitive load significantly higher, OK for 3-4 hours (or larger teams/work in shifts required) Cognitive load significantly higher, OK for 3-4 hours (or larger teams/work in shifts required)
Technical equipment Provided by organiser Interpreter provides headset, ethernet cable, high-speed internet, back-up internet, second device, bigger screen etc. Provided by the hub
Software No RSI (Remote Simultaneous Interpreting) software required RSI (Remote Simultaneous Interpreting) software to be booked/managed by organiser (or by a designated interpreter) Professional RSI (Remote Simultaneous Interpreting) support
Collaboration and personal contact Personal contact, teamwork, smooth handovers, mutual support (terminology, numbers, document management) Teamwork, e.g. handovers and mutual support (terminology, numbers, document management) via chat or additional video connection Teamwork as on-site: smooth handovers, mutual support (terminology, numbers, document management)

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.

How to be boothmates without sharing a booth – My impressions from the #Innov1nt Summit 2021

Just in case you missed out on last week’s Innovation In Interpreting Summit by @adrechsel and @Goldsmith_Josh, aka Techforword, here comes my short and personal recap.

The good news is: If you want to watch all the panels and loads of useful video contributions around how technology can support you in the booth, setting up your own interpreting studio, sim-consec, digital notetaking, remote simultaneous interpreting, remote teaching any many more, it’s not too late! You can still buy the power pack (including access to all videos and lots of bonus material) until midnight on 3 March 2021 here.

This is my video contribution on How to be boothmates without sharing a booth. (which is in German with English subtitles by my dear colleague Leonie Wagener). It is about digitalising – instead of just digitising – collaboration between interpreters.

Most of what’s in this video has also been – at least briefly – mentioned in our collaborative Unfinished Handbook For Remote Simultaneous Interpreters. If you feel there is something missing, please drop me a line!

I also had the honour to moderate a panel on New Frontiers in Interpreting Technology. My four wonderful panellists were Bart Defrancq, Bianca Prandi, Jorn Rijckaert, and Oliver Pouliot. There was interpretation from spoken English into International Sign Language and vice versa provided by Helsa Borinstein and Romy O’Callaghan, and we even had live captions in English by Norma MacHaye. Even without the inspiring discussion, I could have just watched the sign language interpreting and live captioning for ages. But then the discussion as such wasn’t too bad either 🙂

Looking back on the last 25 years, it seems to me like around every five years some innovative technology comes about and changes our professional lives in a way for us to ask “how could we ever …?”

1995 – … write translations on a typewriter?
2000 – … do translations without Google/electronic dictionaries/translation memories?
2005 – … travel and run a business with no mobile internet/ phone?
2010 – … live without linguee?
2015 – … survive without your laptop/tablet in the booth?
2020 – … prepare technical conferences on your own? Live without Zoom?

So I asked my panellist colleagues what they thought the next big thing would be in 2025. For Bart, and also for Bianca, it is definitely ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) that is going to help create a new kind of artificial boothmate, displaying difficult elements like numbers, acronyms, and named entities in real time. Bianca also thinks that the majority of interpreter colleagues will finally embrace computers as a valuable support in the booth. Oliver made me a bit envious when he said that as a sign language interpreter, for a very long time he just brought his physical self to the booth, with no technical support whatsoever (not even pen and paper I suppose). He and Jorn mentioned sign language avatars as a new technology in sign language interpreting. Jorn also explained how ASR could be a good way for deaf sign language interpreters to be able to interpret from spoken language into sign language with automatic live captions being their intermediate language.

We then discussed skills. Are there any skills, like knowing how to read a map or remembering phone numbers for our kids, that will become obsolete for conference interpreters? Won’t we memorise key terminology before each conference in the future?

There was general agreement that interpreters shouldn’t become “lazy” and rely on a virtual boothmate to spit out any terminology needed in real-time. We should rather develop strategies as to best use CAI tools in the booth and in preparation, as Bianca put it. So predicting a “virtual boothmate’s” errors might be a decisive skill in the future. After all, the strengths and weaknesses of humans and machines are quite different and should be used so that they complement each other, as Bart explained. Jorn gave us a very interesting account of how sign language interpreters due to COVID-19 started to do their own recordings and video editing at home instead of relying on a cameraman.

My final question was twofold: What do you wish had never been invented (like built-in laptop microphones), and which piece of hardware (e.g. a rollable 34-inch screen which I can bring to the booth) or software (for me: fully functional abstracting/automatic mind-mapping) is top on your wishlist?

Oliver explained how video auto-focus was a real nightmare for sign language interpreters, something I had never thought about before. It tends to never get the focus right, what with sign language interpreters constantly moving and gesturing. Just like Jorn, he saw perfect ASR as a real opportunity in sign language interpreting. Bart referred to the downsides of data sharing in the remote simultaneous interpreting industry. He saw speaker control as a promising feature of the future so that instead of waving at the speaker to slow down, the system will simply slow down the speech electronically as soon as certain threshold values are reached – very promising indeed! Bianca’s wishes were the nicest ones: computers serving as a “second brain” in the booth, and – most importantly – being able to see our boothmates on RSI platforms. I couldn’t have thought of any better concluding remarks!

About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.