Types of Interpreting

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New to interpreters or interpreting services? Wondering what a simultaneous interpreter does as opposed to a business interpreter? What on-demand phone interpreting is as opposed to whisper interpreting?

Kwintessential is here to tell you all about the various existing types of interpreting on the market!

Simultaneous Interpreting

At a simultaneous interpreting event, the interpreter has to listen to what is being said and translate this into the target language at the same time. Some argue that the term is actually inaccurate as an interpreter cannot translate a sentence until they more or less know what is being said – it is thus never really simultaneous. Simultaneous interpreting is aimed at conveying the exact language instead of paraphrasing and is used for big meetings, conferences and trade shows.

When interpreting simultaneously, the interpreter wears headphones and is located in a booth. He or she talks into a microphone that is connected to the headphones of the target language speakers. As there is no time to overthink translations, simultaneous interpreters must make decisions on the spot. Any translation delays might result in the loss of words or phrases, which might influence the message the targeted listener receives.

Simultaneous interpreting is sometimes also known as conference interpreting.

Consecutive Interpreting

In contrast to simultaneous interpreting, consecutive interpreting does not occur at the same time the source language speaker is talking. It is only when the speaker pauses (usually every 1-5 minutes) that the interpreter repeats what is being said in the target language. This type of interpreting is usually employed in smaller business meetings and court hearings.

One of the most important skills a consecutive interpreter must possess is the ability to take notes. As it is virtually impossible to memorize multiple minutes of speech, note-taking is essential to convey the correct message.

Consecutive interpreting is more than likely what people need when they think of business interpreters.

Escort/Travel Interpreting

Escort/Travel interpreters can almost be regarded as foreign language speaking assistants. They accompany travellers, often business people, on their trips and to meetings. Usually, escort/travel interpreters are not only involved in the interpretation side of the trip, but also act as cultural intermediaries who help their client coping with foreign culture.

This type of interpreting is usually only offered by an agency with interpreters worldwide.

Whisper Interpreting

Whisper interpreting or “chuchotage” interpreting can be compared to simultaneous interpreting, with the only difference that with this type of interpreting, the interpreter is not in a booth wearing headphones, but is sitting next to the person or persons that they interpret for. While the source language speaker is talking, they quietly talk into the target speaker’s ear.

Whisper interpreting puts quite a strain on the interpreter’s voice and is often used for business meetings where only one person is in need of interpreting or in courtrooms where someone sitting in the back does not speak the source language.

Scheduled Telephone Interpreting (OPI/Over-the-Phone Interpretation)

This type of interpreting can be both consecutive and simultaneous. One aspect is fixed, however; the interpreter is not physically present in the room, but translates via telephone. If the participants are OK with only hearing the interpreter’s voice and not the one of the target speaker, OPI can occur simultaneously. If they are not, the interpreting assignment will be conducted in a consecutive manner.

The accuracy of an over-the-phone interpretation is often lower than that of face-to-face interpreting sessions. This has to do with the fact that interpreters conducting OPI cannot pick up on extra-linguistic clues about the speaker’s meaning and context. Moreover, most over-the-phone interpreting assignments are conducted in a consecutive manner.

On-Demand Phone Interpreting

Again, on-demand phone interpreting is conducted over the phone. This service is mainly used by people or organisations that need immediate translations to communicate properly. Someone calls an interpretation service, selects the right language pair is then connected to the right interpreter.

This type of interpreting is often used by customer service call centres and companies and institutions that have to communicate with people that have limited English proficiency. With on-demand phone interpreters, an interpreter can be found within minutes, which can be very useful. However, the interpreter enters the conversation without any knowledge about the parties or the situation; this can affect the interpreting quality.

If you need an interpreter, we provide professional interpreters of all types, in all languages, in all locations. Whether your need is for conference interpretingcourt interpreting or another situation, simply contact us for a quote.

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