What is interpretation?
In contrast to translation, which focuses on written information, interpreting deals with oral communication. There are two main types of interpreting you will likely need when searching for language interpretation services.
Most often used at large conferences or meetings, simultaneous interpreting requires the linguist to interpret what the speaker says while they’re talking. This means the interpreter must listen and speak at the same time. It requires intense concentration. Simultaneous interpreters often work as a team, taking breaks every 20 to 30 minutes, on average. This type of interpretation is also recommended when a presentation must be translated into several different languages.
To provide the best working conditions, interpreters are generally located in soundproof booths with a direct view of the speakers. They listen to the speaker through headsets and work into the target language in real time, with only a few seconds of delay. Participants wear headsets tuned to the language of their choice. However, you can also opt for portable equipment called a “portable equipment.” This is a suitcase with a micro-transmitter and receivers for people who need interpretation. This system is similar to those used for museum audio guides and is especially useful for guided tours.
During consecutive interpreting, the speaker talks for several minutes (a few paragraphs), then pauses. The interpreter takes notes, then orally transmits the speaker’s message in another language during the pause. Note-taking is the key to consecutive interpreting. The interpreter must record their ideas and then translate them into the other language.
Consecutive interpreting is the most common of on-site interpreter services and the most appropriate for small group events like training sessions, meetings and negotiations. It is also used for larger events when it is difficult to distribute headsets to everyone. Consecutive interpreting will lengthen an event, something important to consider when you’re choosing the type of interpreting you want.
Other types of interpreting
There are three other less-frequently used types of interpretation available:
Phone or video interpreting: this can be simultaneous or consecutive. If participants on a call are willing to hear just the voice of the interpreter, phone interpreting can be done in simultaneous mode; otherwise, interpretation must be consecutive. But, if the interpreter can’t see the speakers and doesn’t have access to extra-linguistic information about the speaker’s meaning and context, the accuracy of simultaneous interpreting by phone tends to be quite inferior to consecutive interpreting. Therefore, it’s best to opt for video interpreting wherever possible. This type of interpreting service reduces costs and is often used to conclude negotiations with clients or suppliers residing abroad or in medical contexts.
Whisper interpreting (also known as chuchotage): whisper interpreting occurs simultaneously when the interpreter whispers a summary of the words they hear into the ear of one or two people maximum. Chuchotage requires no equipment and is simple to set up. However, it is rarely used because it generates sound disturbance that can be bothersome to other participants and because it can only provide an overview of what’s being said.
Liaison or escort interpreting: the goal of this type of interpreting is to provide a language bridge between people speaking different languages, often in informal meetings. If you are hosting a delegation of visitors from another country, you can work with an escort interpreter to meet clients at the airport and take them on tours and excursions. Escort interpreters generally interpret informal conversations.
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