Translation and interpreting are among the most arduous and stressful professions. The cost of a mistake can be very high. The more you are appreciated as a high-calibre, the more quickly and accurately you can convey the speaker's thought without adding your own assessment to what has been said by the speaker. Without translation, communication in international politics and economics, culture, or sports would be impossible. The 2nd Summer School on Translation and Interpreting at St Petersburg University has focused on the complex and wide-ranging field of translation and interpreting.


The conference brought together about 700 experts in translation and interpreting from 33 countries worldwide. Among them were Belgium, Great Britain, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Georgia, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Moldova, the United Arab Emirates, Poland, and Portugal to name but a few. Moving online enabled us to expand the geography of the conference as many of those who participated in the conference opted for an online format. This year, the organisers decided to expand the range of topics covered and offered sessions in ten languages: English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Finnish, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic. ‘How we organise the work of each session is essential as among what we are aiming to gain during the Summer School is to enable experts in specific fields of translation and interpreting to communicate with each other and discuss what makes translation and interpreting different in their language pairs’, said Svetlana Rubtsova, Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at St Petersburg University.

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The 2nd Summer School on Translation and Interpreting again brings together unique speakers and authors of the workshops. They are the experts with a wealth of experience in education and research. Among them are outstanding translators and interpreters who work at the events of the highest level, scholars, translation theorists, employers, and experts in advanced technologies of the industry.

Svetlana Rubtsova, Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at St Petersburg University

There was a special emphasis on simultaneous interpreting. Simultaneous interpreting, as Tatiana Chernigovskaya put it, is among the most energy-consuming types of cognitive activity and performance.

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'How fast high-calibre and experienced interpreters process a signal and how accurately they produce the result may seem unable to be reached and cannot be achieved without many years of training and incredibly rigorous selection. Little wonder, this complex mental skill has long been in the focus of what researchers have been trying to delve into,' said Tatiana Chernigovskaya, Director of the Institute for Cognitive Studies at St Petersburg University. 'Yet the first attempts to gain an insight into the matter immediately showed that we faced a variety of methodological difficulties. For example, you cannot produce the same text twice during simultaneous interpreting. Each time, an interpreter will translate the same linguistic material differently. How well you know the text can significantly influence how you translate. Theoretically, this process can be decomposed into its component parts. Yet it is difficult to reproduce it in practice from the point of view of the experimental work that is accepted worldwide.' The report focused on how neuroscience delved into: the processes that occurred in the brain during simultaneous interpreting; which zones were most active; and how they were related to how the speech was perceived and decoded.


Today, research mostly focuses on working memory, attention, and set-shifting. A significant role in how this research has been evolving has been played by approaches from psycholinguistics and neuroscience, i.e. observations by using complex devices of encephalographs, methods of functional magnetic resonance and positron emission tomography. The data obtained show that the practice of simultaneous interpreting is not merely about linguistic skills. How successful you are in interpreting potentially can have a positive impact on how your other cognitive skills are developed, said Tatiana Chernigovskaya.