NATO Summit in Madrid 2022

The leaders of 50 countries met in Madrid on June 29 and 30 for the NATO summit, an international event with a high level of security and in which translation and interpretation were undoubtedly essential.

NATO Summit in Madrid and translation and interpretation services

First of all, there are two major systems of translation organization, with different ideologies and philosophies, and which meet different needs. These have been established in accordance with the type of organizations that created them, as well as the documents they work with. These are the international organizations (UN, NATO, UNESCO, WHO, FAO, ILO, etc.) and the European Union institutions.

We will address the first block in this article, and in particular we will talk about NATO. Thus, the documents translated in this organization have essentially an informative and orientation value. In addition, it is interesting to note that the English language is becoming more and more important, and is used as the original language of most documents, as well as the working language. Hence, the main language of translation is French, followed by Spanish.

As mentioned above, the main documents translated are essentially political and military, although they often contain references to legal and financial matters as well. Most of them are informative in nature, but there are also organizational charts, which are mandatory. In addition, it is important to mention that the documents worked on at NATO are never published for security reasons.

IFEMA - NATO Summit Madrid 2022

NATO Madrid 2022 Summit: characteristics and the importance of interpretation

The NATO Summit will take place at the IFEMA fairgrounds in Madrid, and coverage of most of the events will be on a pooled basis. The system will cover arrivals, doorsteps, opening speeches, the official photo of the North Atlantic Council meeting, etc. The NATO Secretary General’s press conferences will be accessible to all accredited media.

As is evident, simultaneous interpretation will be provided, the most common method used in this type of event. It will be translated from English into French, Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian, and will be of the NATO Secretary General’s press conferences, his doorsteps and public speeches at the opening of the Summit’s working sessions. Headphones will be available in the press conference room for the Secretary General’s press conferences. The interpretation will also be available during the live webcast on the NATO website.

We have already mentioned that NATO is an international organization and that the most common type of interpretation is simultaneous. Thus, more than anything else, the NATO summit involves people who travel many miles to meet and talk with the other participants. In order to facilitate effective communication, the presence of professionals who can translate between the different languages used is required. This is where conference interpreting comes into play. But what exactly is it?

In the conference interpreting service, the interpreter translates the speech from a booth as they hear it, so that the audience can follow it simultaneously via headphones. Therefore, interpretation becomes extremely important and essential in events of this category, as it makes communication more fluid and allows all participants to understand each other and share their opinions.

How can we prepare an interpretation of this category?

When an interpreter receives an assignment, especially one as important as an international NATO summit, the first thing to do is to know the subject matter and ask the client for all the available material in order to be able to document it properly. In this case, it is relatively straightforward, as these are conferences with speeches that have been drafted and revised in advance.

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Then, after receiving the relevant documentation, we have to prepare a glossary of the specific terminology used to expand the vocabulary and improve the understanding of the terms. We must not forget that these events are attended by high-level guests, so mastering the terminology is essential. However, it is important to know that it is not possible to have total control over the dialogue of the speakers. It is impossible to foresee the entire content, even in the case of a speech that has already been drafted, since improvisation and last-minute changes play an important role.

Once both phases have been completed, it is time to tackle the final work. It is at this stage that the interpreter’s adaptation and observation skills are crucial. With them, you can study the speakers and analyze their way of speaking, to confirm expressions and terms and adapt them to the target language. This requires optimal mental agility and adaptability in order not to lose the rhythm of the interpretation.

In any event, interpreters serve as a bridge between languages and, without them, effective and efficient communication would not be possible. Your work is crucial, and your visibility even more important, so congratulations to all the interpreters who participated in this year’s NATO summit!

Mercedes Pajuelo