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By: Mark On: September 07, 2016 In: Interpreting Comments: 0

Chuchotage is a form of interpreting where the linguist stands or sits alongside a small target audience and whispers a simultaneous interpretation of what’s being said.

The term chuchotage is French for “whispering”.

When is Chuchotage Beneficial?

Chuchotage is best suited to situations where only a small number of people require the interpretation. Chuchotage is ideal for single person audiences, but it can also be used for audiences of several people, if they’re grouped close to the interpreter. The technique is ineffective for audiences greater than four.

The benefits of chuchotage:

  • It usually doesn’t require special technology (although equipment may be used to enhance delivery).
  • It is a form of simultaneous interpreting, so it takes less time than consecutive interpreting.
  • It is usually performed by a single interpreter, which can make it more economical than other techniques

Limitations of Chuchotage

Chuchotage does have several limitations:

  • It’s not appropriate for larger audiences.
  • The interpreter must listen, translate and speak at the same time (a skill required in all simultaneous interpreting). This can be mentally taxing for the interpreter.
  • The target audience has to concentrate closely too; ambient noise and the voice of the speaker can be distracting. 

Chuchotage: Further Information

  • Interpreters whisper at a low volume. Their pronunciation will often be devoiced meaning the interpreter will purposefully reduce the resonance of vowels and certain consonants.
  • Interpreters will sometimes use a technique called “murmuring,” whereby the interpreting maintains standard voicing, at a reduced volume.
  • All chuchotage is “simultaneous” in the sense that the interpreter will whisper while the speaker is talking. However, some interpreters will stick closely behind the speaker and whisper continuously, while others will interpret in short, intermittent bursts

Chuchotage services from ALS

Chuchotage is still used in a variety of settings, including conference interpreting, court interpreting and liaison interpreting. If you require chuchotage or any other type of interpreting, contact Accredited Language Services.

We have experience interpreting for all types of clients: from Fortune 500 companies to high profile government bodies. And we offer chuchotage (as well as a wide variety of other interpreting services) in 150+ languages and dialects.

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