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.

Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi

„We would like to record our deep appreciation for the Simultaneous Interpretation services provided by the Vienna Interpreting and Translating Agency (VITA) during the Summit Meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the Group of Fifteen which was held in New Delhi from March 25-30, 1994. The services provided were of an uniformly high standard, and facilitated the smooth conduct of the Summit proceedings."