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Ingenuity of American Jew Removes Language Barrier at International Meeting

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(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Through the ingenuity of an American Jewish businessman, the delegates to the International Labor Conference which will open here on May 30 under the auspices of the League of Nations will hear the speeches in their own languages, regardless of what language the orator is using.

Edward A. Filene, Boston merchant, submitted his plan for doing away with the former time wasting method whereby addresses were made in French or English, interpreters taking notes and later translating the speech into the various languages of the delegates, to Thomas A. Edison and General John J. Carty, Captain A. Gordon-Finlay perfected the new device, which was financed by Mr. Filene.

Each desk in the auditorium is equipped with earphones of the “stethophone” type and with a dial switch on which several languages are marked, so that each listener can “tune in” on the interpretation in his own language.

The interpreters, one for each language, are seated close to the speaker where they can see and hear him. Each interpreter is equipped with a microphone the unhooking of which brings all parts of the system into operation automatically.

He murmurs his translation into the microphone in a voice so low that it does not disturb the speaker or the other interpreters. The voices of the interpreters are amplified and transmitted to listeners at their desks over a system of telephone wires.

To translate a speech as it is being delivered requires exceptionally quick-thinking and well-trained interpreters. The League interpreters are marvelously efficient as a rule. In order to developmore of them a department for training interpreters in the new technique is maintained.

A trial of the new method was made with about 150 sets at the International Labor Conference last year. It was so effective in reducing confusion and wasted time that it was decided to make a complete installation for this year’s Labor Conference. If it is as successful this year, the new system will be used in the meetings of the League of Nations. Six hundred delegates are expected to attend the Labor conference.

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