One might think that the world of translation only revolves around classic written translation services, no matter whether the field is technical or legal. However, one of the core areas of translation is interpreting.
The number of employees in the translation and interpreting sector has doubled in the last seven years, and is expected to grow by 29% by 2024. Pandemic or not, interpreting is indispensable.
What is interpreting
Interpreting is a system of oral or sign language communication between people who do not speak the same language or have the same language codes.
The interpreter performs his or her function in real time, in close contact with the sender and the receiver. He or she has a very short period of time in which to reflect and transmit the message accurately and in the most appropriate style.
What are the different types of interpretation?
I – Simultaneous interpretation
Simultaneous interpretation is interpretation that takes place at the same time as the speaker is speaking. The interpreter renders the speaker’s words into the target language as quickly as possible. In order to hear the interpreter, the participants wear headsets. Thus, the interpreter is usually seated in a soundproof booth, where he or she can see and hear the speaker clearly with headphones, and speaks into a microphone. The interpretation then arrives simultaneously in the target language into the ears of the participants via their headsets.
Simultaneous interpretation is often used at congresses and conferences, as was the case at the last United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP26). It was also used for the first time during the Nuremberg Trials in 1945 and 1946 by the Allied Powers of the Second World War before several military tribunals.
This type of interpretation is a very intense exercise for professional interpreters. The interpreter works live: as he or she speaks, he or she must be able to hear the rest of the speech in order to report it.
II – Consecutive interpreting
Consecutive interpreting consists of rephrasing the speaker’s speech after the speaker has concluded it. While the speaker is speaking, the interpreter takes information from the notes. If the speaker’s speech is long enough, the speaker may pause to facilitate the interpreter’s work. This can also help the audience to understand the speech better. Consecutive interpreting therefore allows the meaning of the speaker’s speech to be better understood by retaining only the essential character of the speech.
Consecutive interpreting is often used in the medical field for communication between doctor and patient, or in business negotiations.
The interpreter can control the situation better than with simultaneous interpreting: he or she can point out ambiguities, have the speaker repeat or clarify the meaning of terms that may cause problems.
III – Whispered interpreting or chuchotage
Whispered interpreting, or chuchotage, is a variant of simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. The interpreter stands next to the listeners and interprets the speaker’s speech in a low voice as he or she goes along.
However, whispered interpretation is only possible in the presence of a small audience (usually two or three people).
IV – Liaison interpreting
Liaison interpreting is similar to consecutive interpreting. The interpreter will memorise brief exchanges in the source language and then render them into the target language.
Liaison interpreting is often used in small groups, for example in business meetings, guided tours, contract stipulations and business negotiations.
Depending on the type of interpreting required, equipment is sometimes needed to enable the professional interpreter to perform his or her job optimally.
For example, simultaneous interpreting is the type of interpreting that requires the most equipment. Simultaneous interpreters work in soundproof booths, which may be fixed or portable, depending on the configuration of the venue. Inside the booths, interpreters need interpreting consoles, headphones and a desk lamp. Outside the booth, there is a public address system with speakers, microphones for the chairperson, speakers and delegates, and receivers to allow the delegates to listen to the interpretation.
Consecutive interpretation, on the other hand, usually requires no special equipment. All the consecutive interpreter needs is a notebook and a pen. But this requires special note-taking skills.
The type of interpretation you need depends on the event you wish to translate, the number of people present and the time you have available.
Every event is unique, so please contact us if you need help in choosing the type of interpretation you need!