The United Nations employs about 120 interpreters – not to be confused with translators who translate text – who are considered the best in their profession. No training is required, but about 70 percent of members of the American Translators Association have a university degree. The interpreter divides the languages they know into three categories: A, B and C. Your so-called “A” language is your native language, which you speak perfectly. A “B-language” is a language that you master – of life in your country, say – but that you cannot speak with total fluidity. A “C language” is a language that is only well known, perhaps from study or travel. Interpreters can translate all languages inside and outside with different knowledge. But the United Nations will only hire interpreters to translate into their A-language, and only at the highest level. The United Nations uses simultaneous translation, which means that it is translated spontaneously without pauses (unlike the consequential interpretation in which speakers and translators succeeded each other). At any given moment, the interpreter service has a dozen interpreters working on six booths, one for each official language. The pair of interpreters in the English booth translated into English, the French stand translated into French, etc. Participants can then listen to the interpretations on headphones and click on channels for different languages.
The work is exhausting, so interpreters usually turn off every 20 minutes. You can also take breaks if the speech is in your language, as no translation is required. UN interpreters do not need to know all official languages. On the contrary, the United Nations employs interpreters capable of translating into their native language from at least two other languages. For example, a Russian interpreter may also know English and French. But he may not know Chinese. In this case, if the spokesperson is Chinese, the interpreters use what is called a “relay system.” The interpreters in the Chinese booth translate the original speech into English or French, and the rest of the interpreters translate this version into their own language. In the relay system, the final interpretation is translated twice from the original speech. This method leads to inaccuracies, which is why someone must then verify the interpretations and correct them for the official record. This is also the reason why the United Nations only allows an intermediate language in the relay system – more, and there is too much room for error.
one of these events affects the true value of translators` compensation.