Consecutive interpretation VS simultaneous interpretation

While people often confuse interpretation and translation with each other, they are in fact two different services. The first concerns oral communication, while the second focuses on written communication. Furthermore, within oral communication you find consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation. Today we are going to take a look at both.

What is consecutive interpretation?

This is an oral form of communication in which the interpreter listens to the speaker and takes notes on what they are saying. Once the speaker finishes or takes a long pause, the interpreter relays what was said up to that point to the listener(s).

This type of work usually does not use technological tools, rather the interpreter takes notes directly with paper and pencil in a conventional manner. It is important, however, that the interpreter have a good memory.

This method is typically employed when the concerned parties want a more faithful and precise reflection of the original message in the translated message, as the professional is able to consult their notes and be sure of the information. Accordingly, this modality is required whenever a sworn interpreter is needed.

Because the message is not transmitted immediately, the interpreter has time to eliminate redundancies in the speech and thus improve the quality of the speech and its understanding by the listeners.

What is simultaneous interpretation?

This what you are used to seeing in interviews broadcast on the television. In this case, the oral translation of the speech occurs at the same time the speech is being given.. It is used often for its time-saving characteristics, since the listener receives the message immediately.

Simultaneous interpretation requires the help of technology. The interpreter listens to the message through a headset and translates it in real time, and the listener hears the interpreter's voice through a receiver. In order to avoid distractions, the interpreter typically works inside a soundproof cabin.

What type of interpretation should I choose?

It depends on the desired outcome. If you're looking to relay the message quickly, simultaneous interpretation is your best option. On the other hand, if you're more concerned with transmitting the message as precisely as possible, the consecutive method is best.

While it is true that the consecutive method helps to refine the message by eliminating redundancies, in both cases, the basic information is relayed to the listeners. Special attention is paid to lists and proper names.

While both forms are different, they do share an important aspect: the interpreter is a key player in the communication between speakers whose language and culture are not the same. This is why it is so important to leave consecutive or simultaneous interpretation in the hands of true professionals.