Interpreting. Is it “not rocket science”?

Interpreting is so common, it’s pracically an everyday occurrence. You’ve probably done it in the office yourself, or maybe you’ve helped someone to communicate with staff at the airport. But things are not as simple as they seem. Although it’s “not rocket science,” it’s certainly worth entrusting your interpreting needs to “rocket scientists,” i.e. our interpreters. Can you distinguish between consecutive and simultaneous interpreting? Do you know what it takes for an interpreter to provide you with a flawless service? If you think the job of an interpreter is simple, we recommend you read the full article on our website. This information will not only help you to understand what you can expect from an interpreter, but also how to contribute to a perfect conversation with your audience in other languages.

Simultaneous interpreting

Simultaneous interpreting is interpreting when both the speaker and the interpreter speak at the same time. This involves the use of special equipment: a headset and microphone for the interpreter and a headset for the listener. The interpreters sit in soundproof booths at the back of the room. Can you imagine the speed required for simultaneous interpreting? Interpreters translate the words they hear in their headphones the moment they hear them, repeating the translated version into their microphone. Listening and translating are done at the same time.

The interpreter cannot pause– they must understand the topic they are interpreting. The interpreter does not have the opportunity to interrupt the presentation and ask the speaker to clarify what they meant. This is why simultaneous interpreters usually have one or two specific specialisations. A simultaneous interpreter who is excellent at medical reports will not risk interpreting an economic report without preparation. There are certain untranslatable expressions and professional jargon such as “root apex resection” or “releasing the facial fascia”. If you are not a physiotherapist or an endodontist and you have no interest in these topics, it will be difficult to translate them, even into a language you speak fluently.

Interpreters invest in their knowledge not only by learning languages, but also by studying a specific subject – law, chemistry, finance, etc. It is essential to provide the interpreter with advance preparation material as early as possible before the event so they can go through the presentations and predict in advance any questions that might arise after reading the material. Even if an interpreter is an expert in a particular discipline, they are not surgeons, and at a medical conference, the need to translate with the utmost precision can be crucial both to the success of a surgical operation and to international relations.

You may need simultaneous interpreting

You may need simultaneous interpreting at conferences or other large events, with multilingual audiences, when you need to translate into several languages, during live broadcasts, etc.

Consecutive interpreting

Consecutive interpreting is interpreting where the speaker and interpreter speak in turn. The speech is interpreted while the speaker pauses to take a break in their speech or when they finish speaking. This type of interpreting requires good memory and focus. The interpreter must listen carefully, memorise the highlights (and if possible, take notes) and then reproduce the words in the target language.

Before interpreting begins, the interpreter should be given information about the upcoming speech to facilitate cooperation between the speaker and the interpreter as well as comprehension of the original speech. Ideally, the speaker and the interpreter should agree on the pause interval in advance. Waiting too long for the interpretation makes it difficult for the listener to keep focus on the main idea. The speaker and interpreter work as a team and complement each other. In business meetings, the charisma of the interpreter is just as important as that of the speaker. The speaker and interpreter speak consecutively, the audience hears both the original speech and the interpretation, which is why the presentation in consecutive interpreting takes longer than in simultaneous interpreting.

You may need consecutive interpreting

You may need consecutive interpreting for business meetings and trips, interviews with foreign media, communication with foreign employees, medical consultations (e.g. if a foreigner is in a medical facility and does not understand the instructions given by the medical staff), court hearings, informal meetings, marriage ceremonies, etc.

Any kind of interpreting, whether simultaneous or consecutive, requires a lot of knowledge. Our experienced project managers will advise you on the best service to suit the needs of your event. We work with highly qualified interpreters with a wide range of specializations. We have interpreted in a variety of venues– conferences, marriage ceremonies, business trips and even virtual chats on Skype and other web applications. Contact our nearest office or send us an inquiry. We will get back to you with the best solution.

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