Interpretation of languages means the translation of words uttered by one or more persons, from one language to another. Interpreters work for a wide variety of entities and organizations, including immigration services, courts, hospitals, international companies, universities and public agencies. Interpretation is an ancient human activity, that arose before the invention of writing. However, the profession of interpreter was only made official less than a century ago. There are several types of interpretation:

Consecutive Interpretation

This is the most basic and used type of interpretation, in which the interpreter hears a part of the speech in the source language, can often take notes and, finally, transmits the content that was uttered in the target language, after the first speaker. This type of interpretation is often used in meetings, conferences, speeches, presentations, in which all participants speak, at least, one of the languages. Special equipment is not required for this type of service. Often, the interpreter has a microphone and performs his work behind the scenes and, in some cases, the interpreter may also stand beside the speaker.

When planning an event in which consecutive interpretation services will be used, it is necessary to take into account that speeches and presentations will take twice as long.

It is also important that the speaker and the interpreter meet before the event to decide in advance the intervals in the speech for the performance of the interpretation.

Simultaneous interpretation

In simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter translates the source language into the target language, at the same time the source language is being spoken. Is frequently used in top-notch meetings and events, where several languages are spoken or when the organizers feel the rhythm of communication must not be interrupted. This type of interpretation is most frequently used in the United Nations, European Parliament, European Commission or other meetings, in which the speakers and participants of several nationalities are present, so the audience may hear the speeches in their language, simultaneously. This form of communication is very efficient and may greatly accelerate the communication process.

To perform the Simultaneous Interpretation service, it is necessary to use microphones for the speaker, a soundproof booth with headphones and microphone for the interpreter, and special audio devices for those who are listening. This is a type of service of great intellectual demand for the interpreter and intervals must be performed in order to ensure the quality of the translation. Usually, two interpreters are needed, which take turns, allowing rest periods of 20 to 30 minutes for each one.

In case there is only one or two persons that require interpretation services, the best option is Whispered Interpretation.

Whispered Interpretation

It is a type of service in which the interpreter whispers a simultaneous interpretation of what is being said. This service is frequently used in meetings or events in which few people that require interpretation are present. It may also be used in small meetings in which there’s a time limit and the participants can’t wait for a consecutive interpretation. However, it is a type of service that is exhausting to both interpreter and listener, so it mustn’t be used for long periods of time.

Usually, the whispered interpretation is simultaneous, but, in case of small meetings, the main speaker may divide his speech into smaller parts or take a break for the interpreter to have more time to translate into the target language.

Escort Interpretation

This type of service consists in the interpretation between a small group of people who speaks two different languages, in which the content is translated to and from the source language. This type of interpretation is frequently used in business meetings, negotiations, sightseeing tours, visits to companies or other similar events. The interpretation may also be consecutive or whispered in simultaneous. Often, this type of service is required for several days or weeks. For example, an interpreter may have to follow the client in a business trip or tour, or throughout the workday. It is also frequent the client to provide the interpreter with instructions or extra information to help him prepare.

Apart from the different types of interpretation, it is also possible to perform these services through several means:

In person

Local or face-to-face interpretation

With this method, the interpreter must be physically present for the interpretation to take place. Usually, both the interpreter and the participants have to be in the same space. This is the most widely used in most public and private services.

Over the telephone

As the name itself indicates, the interpretation is performed over the phone. The interpreter is added to a phone call to perform his job. This type of interpretation may replace the local interpretation when there isn’t any interpreter in the local where the services are required. However, it is more frequent in situations which the parties are already communicating over the phone (for example, to send applications for insurances or credit cards over the phone or to answer questions in technical support).

Over video

The interpretation services over video are useful to break linguistic barriers, in which visual and cultural contact are necessary. They are mainly important when one of the parties has hearing or speech difficulties. This activity demands a considerable effort from the translator, since signing languages are different from natural languages and, consequently, have their own construction and syntaxis.

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