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  • Writer's pictureNadine Hegmanns

Slow-down button

The slow-down button is a relic of old times, I find. It is said that, back in the day, when simultaneous interpreting equipment was first used at the Nuremberg Trials, there was a small light attached to the prosecution table that allowed the interpreters sitting in the booths to communicate with the speakers directly. Legend has it, that at the press of a button, the light went on and they could signal them to speak more slowly.

Today, that‘s no longer how it‘s done. No matter how strong an accent or dialect, or how fast a speech is delivered, we interpreters adjust. If it gets too strenuous, the co-interpreters step in, jot down names and numbers, give an encouraging smile and two thumbs up, and we take turns more quickly to keep up. But here’s a fun fact for you: you will still find the slow-down button on some of the modern interpreting consoles today. But when asked, the sound technician revealed to us that, unfortunately, it is no longer connected to the podium ...

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