Whispered interpreting is a specific form of simultaneous interpreting. It is only used in certain situations and on rare occasions. During such an assignment, the interpreter sits behind or next to the person requiring the interpreting service and delivers the translation simultaneously by whispering into the person’s ear (often also referred to as ‘chuchotage’).
Provided that the acoustics are suitable, up to two people are able to hear the interpreter. Please note that even if the interpreter whispers very quietly it is likely that others in the room will hear the mumbling in the background.
Whispered interpreting can be aided by a portable interpretation system. Here, the interpreter speaks into a microphone and the listeners receive the interpretation through headphones. This technology allows more than two people to hear the interpretation and the interpreter does not need to sit in the immediate vicinity of the listeners.
Given the inherent mental and physical demands involved in most cases, two alternating interpreters are deployed for whispered interpreting. Often this activity requires greater concentration than when interpreting from a booth as the input does not come cleanly through headphones. It competes with distracting ambient noises such as clattering coffee cups, coughs, doors closing that cannot be filtered out. It is therefore recommended that whispered interpreting only be used for short events or in situations where sound-insulated booths are not practical, such as guided company tours or in restricted spaces.