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Interpreting is as old as the creation of languages themselves, and proof of its existence has been found dating back 100,000 years. There are indications of interpreting work from as far back as Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Nevertheless, very little is known of the history of interpreting in general.

One famous figure, who is known to some but is not usually associated with this field, is Marina, lover and translator of Hernán Cortés. The Spanish conquistador conquered Mexico, relying on Marina's language skills to communicate with the indigenous peoples. Marina is often depicted as a traitor who deceived the native Mexicans and she remains enshrouded in several legends and myths.

By way of example, the need for interpreters is clear in the European diplomatic corps. The sheer variety of languages in Europe often prevents dialogue and requires the use of multilingual mediators.

So-called ‘trade languages’ are another classic example and have long been used in the meetings of heads of state and monarchs. Up until the First World War, French was used for bilateral meetings with the help of interpreters and translators into the respective national languages.

Another example of early interpreting is the former practice of exchanging children between European and Asian countries, allowing them to grow up in their adoptive country and learn the language. They were then used in the court as interpreters.

It was not until the 20th century that the profession of interpreter began to develop into what we know today. Simultaneous interpreting is the most modern form, whilst whispered interpreting (or chuchotage) is the oldest and most classic. The first large-scale use of simultaneous interpreters was at the Nuremberg trials, which is regarded as the birth of modern simultaneous interpreting.

Nowadays, interpreters are used in most large congresses and conferences, particularly when English cannot be used as the common language.

Source: Lektorat.de

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