What is whispered interpreting?

This technique is also known by its French name chuchotage. The interpreter sits next to, between or behind the participants and literally whispers a summary of what is being said.

When is whispered interpreting used?

This method is a make-shift solution and should be provided for no more than three participants. It is used whenever the number of people who do not understand the conference language is very small. It is often provided in combination with consecutive interpreting, e.g. if a presentation is translated using consecutive interpreting and the audience's questions are then translated using whispered interpreting. The speaker's answer will then again be translated using consecutive interpreting.

What does whispered interpreting involve?

The foreign participants and their interpreter have to be located close to the speaker so that the interpreter can hear the original well enough to translate it. At the same time it is also advisable to separate them a little from the rest of the audience so as to minimise any disturbance.

Please bear in mind:

  • Whispered interpreting creates an unavoidable murmur which can be distracting to other conference participants.
  • Chuchotage can only give a summary of the proceedings; it is NOT equivalent to simultaneous interpreting without the technical equipment.
  • The maximum number of participants per interpreter is three.

International Press Institute

"All of those who attended the conference widely praised the interpreters for their work, especially during the evening of the speech by Chancellor Schüssel after what must have been an extremely tiring day for them. [...] I would have no hesitation in recommending these interpreters to anybody who should have need of simultaneous translation facilities and, should the need arise, I would be more than willing to provide a glowing report of their work and abilities.
In view of this, I would like to ask you to extend my personal thanks to each interpreter for all their help and hard work, without which our conference would have failed to meet its objectives."