Conference translation - man reading virtual conference transcript

Multilingual conference translation basics

Nov 11, 2021 | Blog

Holding a multilingual conference used to require a much larger budget, especially since conference translation efforts did not have access to today’s speech recognition technologies. Organizers had to be willing to take on increasingly complex logistics, such as managing multiple interpreters, learning and operating new hardware, and troubleshooting operations during the event.

Today, with better technology and integrations, organizers can use web-based software like spf.io to caption and translate live events with platforms like Zoom, Hopin, YouTube, and Facebook.

Interpretation vs. translation

Did you know? Interpretation and translation are often confused. Interpretation involves spoken language, whereas translation works with written text. It is most important for a translator to write well in the target language (the language they are translating to). However, since interpreters work in a fast-paced environment, they need to be fluent in both the source and target language.

Interpreters and translators often have separate jobs – very few people do both. For both language professionals, it is necessary to have some familiarity with the subject matter. They also need an understanding of idioms, culturally specific expressions, and commonly used phrases.

Conference translation produces subtitles that help you reach an international audience in real time. These subtitles can be used to create transcripts of your event. You can even use text to speech technology to provide audio interpretation, using the text generated by your conference translations.

Consecutive vs simultaneous interpretation

Consecutive interpretation requires a presenter to pause while the interpreter speaks immediately after them in the target language. This method more than doubles the presentation length and often results in less engagement as audience members need to wait during pauses before hearing the speech in their own language.

Simultaneous interpretation (also called conference interpreting) requires interpreters to deliver content in the target language while the presenter is speaking. Since simultaneous interpretation is much more intense, it is common to hire more than one interpreter so they can take breaks every 15-30 minutes or so. Events that are hybrid or virtual require remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI).

Interpretation and translation with AI technology

The main technologies involved with translating international conferences are machine translation (MT), text to speech (TTS), and automatic speech recognition (ASR). They can be found in the tools we might use on a daily basis: Google Translate (MT), built-in “read aloud” tools on phones and laptops (TTS), and Voice Assistants like Google Home, Alexa, and Siri (ASR). A good conference translation/interpretation tool will use these technologies to provide adaptable solutions for international conferences, whether you need tools for interpreters, machine-generated captions, or human-assisted machine translation.

A web-based software like spf.io gives you a way to easily configure and interface with these technologies. For example, you can ask spf.io to provide you with machine-generated translations so your audience can choose to see subtitles in more than one language. You also have the choice to edit these automatic translations manually before they are released. Decide whether you want to train an in-house staff member to check the accuracy of automatic subtitles or whether you want to request professional help from us. Additionally, if you prefer to work with a voice writer, spf.io can use TTS to capture translated words as they are spoken.

It’s best to use a setup that interfaces easily with your translation/interpretation solutions and works for your budget. For example, you could choose to use an interpreter for a more difficult character-based language while also providing budget-friendly machine-generated conference translations in several other languages.

How to improve conference translations and train your AI

What if you could train your speech recognition technology to create better conference translations before your event? With spf.io’s captioner and translator autoreplacements, you can do just that! If your system is picking up incorrect variations of a word or phrase, you can teach it to use the correct version instead.

For example, let’s say you give spf.io a recorded sample of a lecture to caption, and you notice the captioner automatically picks up a speaker’s name as “Benny.” However, you want it spelled as “Beni.” You would then add a captioning correction to your personal Autoreplacement Database (ARDB), so spf.io could automatically correct future instances of this name. This is especially useful if you have unique vocabulary that is specific to your subject matter.

You can add translator autoreplacements to your ARDB as well. This is particularly helpful for localization and custom terminology. As your team continues to make post-edits and corrections, spf.io learns, so future transcripts and translations become increasingly accurate and customized to your organization’s vocabulary. With this workflow, you will save money and time while avoiding the time-consuming manual work required for future content and experiences.

Ideally, your AI solution for conference translation should be human-centered. Human-centered AI improves on the feedback that it receives, making cycles of improvement faster and more effective. With our conference captioning and translation solutions, the more you use spf.io, the better it gets.

Are you ready to start making your conference accessible and multilingual? Get in touch with us here, and we’ll show you how!

Ready for the next step?

Find out how spf.io can help you translate and caption your next event.