The different forms of interpretation

When we talk about the forms of interpretation, we are referring to the different techniques used in the art of interpretation, which can vary depending on the context or event, the number of participants, and the degree of specialization needed. For example, one of the most typical event that need this kind of service are the conferences.

These are the most important forms of interpretation:


1. Consecutive interpretation

Consecutive interpretation is performed once the speaker has finished speaking or pauses. The interpreter may take notes during the speech in order to transmit the message in the target language. As an advantage, the interpreter has a few minutes to listen and select the best way to express it.

It does not require supporting technology. This is one of the most common forms used for speeches, interviews, press conferences, business meetings, and services. It provides a less invasive and more natural result than simultaneous interpretation.

It requires a good memory, much concentration, and the ability to analyze and interpret the speech. In order to do so, it is important that the interpreter have previous knowledge of the topic at hand — an important basis for developing a coherent discourse in the target language.

Bilingualism is essential for the success of this interpretation technique. The interpreter must completely dominate both their mother tongue and the language they are to translate, as this is key to controlling any turn of phrase, colloquial expressions, and double meanings.

Another important aspect is impartiality. A good professional must never express their opinion on the topic at hand. They must always respect the tone, message, and goal pursued by the orator.


2. Simultaneous Interpretation

Simultaneous interpretation makes it possible to simultaneously translate a speech as it is happening. It is done without interrupting the speaker. It is a highly complex process in which the interpreter translates each segment of speech, one after another, alternating between vocalizing, memorizing, and verifying the translation.

While it can be done in the open without technological resources, it is usually done inside interpretation booths with audio technology. For example, international conferences might even use two interpreters to rotate in and out when translating the different speeches.

Nowadays simultaneous interpreting has had to adapt to new forms of communication. Constant technological advances and the impossibility of arranging face-to-face meetings as a result of the pandemic have boosted a new way of attending common events.


3. Chuchotage, or whispered interpretation

Chuchotage, or whispered interpretation, is a form of simultaneous language interpretation. It is perfect for situations in which only one or two people need a translation. The interpreter stands next to the listener and whispers a translation of everything that is being spoken into the listener’s language.

This system is suited to meetings, negotiations, debates, trips, press conferences, iinterviews, official visits etc. This is two-way interpreting (both direct and back).


4. Liaison interpretation

This is the most common form of interpretation used at meetings with few people. In this scenario, the interpreter plays the role of an intermediary in both directions, translating the entire exchange fluently. Within liaison interpretation we also find sworn interpretation, whose only distinction is that it is performed by a sworn interpreter certified by a government agency. This is the form used by courts, tribunals, and other public administration bodies.

The forms of interpretation are quite different, and each one demands a high degree of specialization from interpreters.

Do you know which one you need?

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