The words of the spoken word business

Because not everyone is necessarily familiar with the terms used in simultaneous interpretation contracts or events, we’ve formulated the glossary below for your information.


Team leader:
An interpreter responsible for coordination between the interpretation team and the client, during the meeting.
Consulting interpreter:
The BIP member in charge of your event.
Active language:
Language into which the interpreter works. This is normally the interpreter's mother tongue or its equivalent.
Passive language:
Language from which the interpreter works – the language in which the presenter is speaking.

Interpretation Modes

Interpretation is the oral translation of a message from one language into another, fully conveying the semantic, stylistic and cultural content of the message. There are three modes of interpretation.

Whispered interpretation (no equipment):
Interpretation by speaking or talking softly to one or two listeners sitting beside the interpreter.
Consecutive interpretation (no equipment):
After the fact interpretation of a message. Interpreters normally sitting beside the speakers give the interpretation after a few sentences or several minutes. This type of interpretation is suitable for small meetings.
Simultaneous interpretation (equipment required):
Oral translation of a message while it is being given. The conference discussions are fed into the interpreter's earphones in the booth, she interprets into the microphone and the interpretation is relayed to the delegates through their receivers.

Technical Equipment

Soundproof booth in which the interpreters perform their work.
Sound equipment:
Headsets, microphones, loudspeaker and interpretation receivers for delegates.

Financial terms

Terminal or ground expenses:
Compensation paid to the interpreter to cover taxi costs from the interpreter's home to train, bus and air terminals, and from the destination terminal to the conference venue and back.
Loss of earnings:
1. Payment made to the interpreter for an assignment requiring lengthy travel from his professional domicile to offset loss of income for any day or portion of a day spent in travel.
2. Also applies for work cancelled and not replaced.
Per diem:
Daily subsistence allowance paid to the interpreter for meals when on an out-of-town assignment.