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The history of interpretation
Non verbum de verbo, sed sensum exprimere de sensu.
(Cicero)

Il est incontestable que Babel veut dire confusion, parce que les langues se confondirent, et c'est evidemment depuis ce temps là que les Allemands n'entendent plus les Chinois.
(Voltaire)

Me parece que el traducir de una lengua a otra es como quien mira los tapices flamencos por el revés.
(Cervantes)


The profession of interpreter is as ancient as civilisation itself. We have accounts of officials appointed Head Interpreter in ancient China, India and the Ancient Kingdom of Egypt, as well as in pre-Columbian America.

Who and what is an interpreter?
The Oxford Dictionary defines him or her as "a person who interprets laws, texts, etc., in an official capacity; a person, esp. an official, who translates orally the words of people speaking different languages; a messenger of the gods, spec. Mercury" (The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary).

Simultaneous interpretation is usually said to have been invented at the Nuremberg Trials. The very first simultaneous translation took place, however, several decades earlier, in 1927 during the International Labour Conference in Geneva. Although a setting in which national boundaries are perhaps more easily overcome despite the many languages and wide-ranging attendance, time is nonetheless of the essence. In fact, the well tried technique of consecutive translation proved so laborious that an ingenious system using telephone lines was rigged up and delegates were able to listen to a translation of the speaker's words in real time.

Transmission systems have improved enormously since then and today the headsets worn by conference attendees use sophisticated radio and/or infrared technology. By the same token, today's simultaneous interpreter has developed into a highly specialised professional, trained in the specific technique of contemporaneous translation - a far cry from the heroic efforts of the first interpreters at the 1927 conference.

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