Presence of a hieroglyph signifying ‘’interpreter’’ or ‘’interpreting’’.
Earliest references to interpreters.
Aramaic was the diplomatic language. The Jewish faith relied on interpreters.
Consecutive interpreting of the Torah
This practice became obligatory in the synagogue. It was read in public in both languages, verse by verse. Initially in Aramaic, then into Greek and Arabic. It's still obligatory for the Jemenite.
West Africa relations with the Arab
These regions began to make connections due to cultural, commercial and political reasons. Interpreters facilitated the spread of Islam by translating preachers’ speeches into the local languages.
Europeans started conquering the world
Christian missionaries used interpreters to win converts, so they made contact between Europeans and Indigenous peoples in the Americas. They needed to communicate due to cultural reasons, commercial exchange, conquest and conflict resolution.
European kidnapped natives
They taught them the language and used them for interpreting (although many escaped). Besides, slaves learned the language by what is called ‘immersion’ today and were sold with that ability.
Famous Interpreters: Malinche
Native interpreter who served conqueror Cortéz (She spoke the language of Aztecs and Mayas, also Spanish) from 1519 to 1524.
Decline of Latin
Until this time, Latin was used as a lingua franca, a medium of communication between people speaking different languages. It was the language of the church, science, letters, diplomacy in Europe. Interpreting is mentioned in Late Latin literature.
French as the principal language of European diplomacy
The prestige of the French court of Louis XIV contributed to this fact.
The president proceeded into the wilderness to establish contact with Indians and relied on a number of interpreters.
Beginning of Industrial Revolution
This period gave rise to international organizations in such fields as railroads and telecommunications. Consecutive interpreting emerged as a distinct activity performed by a body of professionals who were visible to larger international groups.
Interpreting in Napoleon Campaign in Egipt and Palestine
The French expedition to the Middle East contains numerous references to the work of translators and interpreters (French and Arabic) Jean-Michel Venture de Paradis was one of the most iconic ones.
Official languages became acceptable
It became acceptable for the representative of a nation to use the official language of that nation.
Famous Interpreters: Sacajawea
She was a well-known figure who served as the interpreter to the Lewis and Clark expedition and spoke the language of Indian tribes and English.
Teaching of interpreting techniques
In the early part of the 20th century, the teaching of interpreting techniques as a different discipline apart from language training began to be taken seriously.
Famous Interpreters: Paul Manteoux
He spoke English and French. He was among the best interpreters of the Paris Peace Talks who served as an interpreter between the British and French. He was gifted with an exceptional memory and could interpret whole discourses without taking notes.
Negotiations end of World War I
Interpreters played a critical role in these negotiations, beginning with armistice talks culminating in Paris Conference of 1919.
Decline of French as the language of diplomacy
French lost the privileged status as the language of diplomacy. Victors of the war made accommodations with respect to language because English was increasingly supplanting it. Both English and French became the official languages of the conference itself and the documents emanating from it.
Special equipment for simultaneous interpreting developed by the IBM
Consecutive interpreting began to be considered too difficult, especially when more than two languages were involved. Special equipment for simultaneous interpreting (a system of earphones and microphones) was developed by the International Business Machines (IBM) and introduced to the League of Nations.
The Filene-Finlay-IBM system
The first system for simultanoeus interpreting was first put into use in 1927 (in combination with consecutive interpreting).
First time simultaneous interpreting was used for a conference
It was at the International Congress of Physiology in Leningrad. The inaugural address was given by Nobel laureate Ivan Pavlov.
Simultaneous interpreting temporally vanished
This happened in the sphere of international relations during World War II because the activities of the League of Nations (used English, French and Spanish) were curtailed.
University programs started aiming at training professional interpreters
Universities: Genova, Vienna, Mainz/Germersheim, Saarland, Georgetown, Heidelberg). The development of formal interpreting training had led to the emergence of a field of studies in its own right.
IMB’s simultaneous interpreting equipment surfaced again
The equipment was used again at a conference. However, conditions were far from ideal. Interpreters sat in a basement beneath the speakers’ platform and the shuffling of feet overhead.
United Nations came into existence
After the end of World War II, requirements for interpretation grew more complex as the number of languages increased (six official languages).
Famous Interpreters: Colonel Léon Dostert
He served as a simultaneous interpreter and was the chief of interpreting and translation services at Nuremberg Trials and World War II.
Simultaneous interpretating became a permanent service (U.N. resolution)
To be used as an alternative or in combination with consecutive interpretation.
Simultaneous interpreting was fully accepted
Equipment significantly improved.
Language combinations began to multiply significantly
It began mainly with the enlargement of the European Community (now the European Union).
Current status of interpreting
Today, consecutive interpreting is still used in the context of court and community interpreting. On the other hand, simultaneous interpreting, greatly enhanced by sophisticated technology, is now widespread in most intergovernmental agencies and at multilingual conferences around the world.