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 Monday, 18 October 2010
A question of interpretation...
What does it take to put on an international meeting for some 2,500 delegates from some 160 countries, working in six different languages?

It’s no mean feat, that’s for sure. ITU’s simultaneous interpretation team, who provide feeds to the multilingual conferencing system in the rooms in each of the Union’s six official languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish – is absolutely indispensable.

PP-10 has a team of 73 interpreters in total, representing many different nationalities and able to handle all six UN languages plus quite a few others too. Some of these talented linguists can even work in four official UN languages or more (but only one at a time!) and 100% attention is vital.

Ensconced in individual booths so that they can focus exclusively on the audio feed coming from the floor with no distractions or interruptions, interpreters for each of the six languages alternate with a colleague handling the same language every 30-minutes, so intense is the level of concentration needed to instantly communicate complex and often quite technical discussions into their assigned language.

“The sheer size and breadth of the team of interpreters on duty at P-10 is a testament to ITU’s reach and strength,” says Ewandro Magalhaes, Head of ITU’s Interpretation Section. “Few organizations can claim to rely on so large a team of interpreters for so long a conference. Plus, ITU interpreters are known to be among the most skilled, given the specialized jargon they have to handle.”