All You Need to Know About Interpreters and Interpreting

Interpreting has been an integral part of business for many years and never more has interpreting been needed as it has in the past two decades with mobility in the world and the need for communication. Interpreting is different from translation as it deals with the spoken word in the here and now, whilst translation deals more predominantly with the written word and takes place over a period of time.

Interpreting therefore has a more specific and crucial time dependency so that the translation of meaning may not always be accurate if the pace of the process is particularly fast. Whilst translation is generally the name used for the conversion of language to language in the written word, the use of translation is used to describe what happens during the course of interpreting i.e. that the interpreter is translating what is being said.

There are various forms of interpreting from telephone interpreting to face to face interpreting.

Telephone interpreting – this is not an ideal means of communication but telephone interpreting can be useful as a matter of urgency. A business link from one country to another may well use translators or travel to either country for important business meetings where they are likely to use a face to face interpreter. However, this costs money and it would not make economical sense for flights and hotel bills to be incurred for something which is a minor detail that can be dealt with on the telephone. The interpreter will be involved in a three way conversation and, certainly, the good listening skills all interpreters should possess will come into play.

Simultaneous interpreting – simultaneous interpreting is usually used for conference interpreting and is being widely used by most large business corporations and other disciplines such as government initiative that require involvement from other countries as in the EU for instance. Conference interpreting also covers medical, legal, environmental engineering fields to name just a few, and therefore, it is important for the interpreter to have a substantial knowledge of each discipline so that he/she will understand and translate the language that is unique to each discipline. It is usual for conference interpreters to work in pairs or in teams, particularly when there is a fast pace involving a fair amount of stress. The attendees of the conference will wear an earpiece or headphones and will listen to the interpreter. This is called simultaneous interpreting meaning exactly what it says, the interpreting is undertaken at the same time as the person speaking and goes along with the pace of the conference. The drawback of this kind of interpreting is that, due to the pace, some meaning may be lost. However, it allows the meeting to travel at pace and does not hinder that pace.

Consecutive interpreting – consecutive interpreting is mostly face to face and involves the interpreter listening to the speaker. He/she then relays what has been said to the listener who will then reply. The interpreter will then relay the answer to the speaker, and so on. It is easy to see that this type of interpreting is time consuming. The listening skills required for any interpreter are crucial, but in addition to this the interpreter must have patience and be prepared for the interview to take some time. Once the interview commences, the interpreter is there for the duration so must take into account the nature of the business to be undertaken. A preliminary discussion should take place to discuss the possible time limits of the interview.