“Diplomatic interpreting” is a special form of conference interpreting. It refers to the type of interpreting performed by conference interpreters when they are employed full-time by a Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is occasionally also performed by freelance interpreters when they are asked to accompany a delegation of diplomats or official representatives of a foreign country.
Diplomatic interpreting can be used in a variety of situations, including official visits, press conferences, formal or informal interviews, working lunches or gala dinners, after-dinner speeches, working meetings, and so on. The interpreters mainly provide consecutive or whispered interpretation, and only rarely simultaneous interpretation. As a general rule they only interpret the words of their own delegation, since the other party has its own interpreter. More than any other form of conference interpreting diplomatic interpreting requires interpreters to exercise the utmost discretion and observe the strictest professional secrecy. In addition, it is crucial for them to have an in-depth knowledge of current affairs and political issues.
Executive interpreting is the term used when a highly qualified interpreter is assigned to shadow a political or business leader during a visit. The interpreter accompanies the client, providing interpretation for the events that form part of the visit, such as official meetings, speeches, interviews, banquets and private conversations. The interpreter may be working in consecutive, taking notes and rendering the speech in the other language once the speaker has finished, in whispered interpretation, or in a combination of both.
Executive interpretation ensures that leaders and VIPs have access to high-quality interpretation at all times, during both formal and informal meetings and events. Unlike community interpreters, who work in national courts, hospitals or police stations, executive interpretation is performed by conference interpreters, who have the necessary qualifications and expertise to ensure that this high-level communication flows smoothly.
- recruit interpreters with the right profile for this type of service (excellent command of at least two languages; in-depth knowledge of current affairs; impeccably presented; discreet and offering good interpersonal skills)
- liaise before the event with the Protocol Office and/or the department which has requested interpretation about all the practicalities (times, accreditation, travel arrangements, meeting documents, etc.)
- brief the interpreter/s on the logistical, security and protocol-related arrangements, as well as on the format and content of the meeting.
Examples from our portfolio
Official visits to Andorra
During her interpreting career, Rosaura Bartumeu, Calliope’s member for Andorra, has had the honour of accompanying all the Presidents of the French Republic and the former UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, on their visits to her home country, interpreting their words from French or English into Catalan, the country’s official language.
G20 meeting of the Ministers for Finance in Australia
During the G20 Meeting of the Ministers for Finance held in Cairns, Australia, Calliope member Bertold Schmitt provided diplomatic interpretation in simultaneous, whispered and consecutive modes for all events involving the French Finance Minister Michel Sapin. During the press conference given by the Minister in the margins of the Summit, Bertold Schmitt was by his side to interpret the questions put to him into French in whispered mode, and to interpret the Minister’s replies into English in consecutive mode.
Welsh settlement in Patagonia: 150th anniversary celebrations
The First Minister of Wales, The Rt Hon. Carwyn Jones AM, visited Argentine Patagonia from 26 to 30 July 2015 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Welsh settlement of Patagonia. His visit included trips to several towns established by the early Welsh settlers, such as Trelew, Gaiman and Trevelyn, but the main event was staged in Puerto Madryn with a re-enactment of the arrival of the Mimosa from Liverpool on 28 July 1865.
Calliope’s member for Spanish-speaking South America, Verónica Perez-Guarnieri, was on hand to provide whispered interpretation into English for the First Minister during his visit, working back into Spanish in consecutive when he took the floor.
Basel Book Fair
When best-selling author Ken Follett visited the Basel Book Fair in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, he needed an interpreter by his side to help him communicate. Calliope’s representative for Switzerland, Christoph Renfer, had the pleasure of supporting Mr Follett throughout the Book Fair: at his publisher’s stand, and during autograph signings, media interviews and public appearances. When German was spoken Christoph whispered the English translation to Mr Follett, and when the author spoke in English Christoph interpreted his words into German for the public, using the consecutive mode of interpretation.
Please contact us to discuss the event you are planning. For a cost-effective and optimal interpreting solution, get a Calliope consultant on board as early as possible in the planning process. We will be happy to respond to all quote requests immediately.
Calliope and its members all belong to the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), which sets standards in the field of conference interpreting.