Ever wondered how those foreign language close captions on live-streamed events get made? It is easy to picture a person frantically pounding away at the keyboard, doing their best to keep up with the speaker’s words. However, the explanation is completely different, and is called “interlingual respeaking”, or “live subtitling”.
A respeaker’s job is to simultaneously interpret a live broadcast in another language, also “speaking” the punctuation marks, into a voice-recognition software which then turns the respeaker’s utterances into live subtitles on the screen, without a major time delay. News programs, sport matches, parliamentary debates, film festivals, university lectures, webinars, international summits, etc. – all such events benefit from the strenuous work of these language professionals.
Interlingual respeaking is part of the growing field of audiovisual/media translation, and is an innovative method for converting translated speech into text in real time thanks to the interaction between a simultaneous interpreter like me and speech recognition technology. This demanding task requires special cognitive skills that especially seasoned simultaneous interpreters are better positioned to master, as they already possess part of the skills needed for live subtitling, amongst which is translating in real time.
Interlingual respeaking is still developing as a field, but major strides are being made, and I’m happy to find myself at the vanguard of these developments. As part of the in-depth research that is being carried out in the field, I am honoured to have been selected to take part in a research project organized by Surrey University and sponsored by the UK Economic and Social Research Council – SMART: Shaping Multilingual Access through Respeaking Technology. As a simultaneous interpreter, I’m proud to provide my contribution to shaping the world of multilingual communication, this time to explore how the real time combination of operating skills and cognitive abilities that only few types of language service professionals can master.
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Contact me for English to Italian and Italian-English live subtitling to bring your event to life on the international stage!