Translation or Interpreting?
Translation is the method to transfer a message from one a source language into a target language. The translator has the time to refer to various sources of information to ensure an accurate result.
Interpreting is the method to transfer the spoken word from one language into another. It can happen either simultaneously or consecutively. Simultaneous interpreters translate at the same time as the person giving the speech, while consecutive interpreters start only when the original speaker has finished.
Often, interpreters incorporate a ‘lag’ before starting to relay the translated message to the audience. This processing time is necessary to assimilate the message, and to reorganize the sentences to make them flow naturally.
Other Methods of Interpretation
Whispered or chuchotage interpreting, despite its name, is not actually whispered. The translator uses a normal speaking voice at a lower volume, and stands or sits immediately next to the speaker.
Professional interpreters tend to operate in teams of two or three, each one taking a break every 20 minutes or so. Otherwise, the intense concentration required could lead them to make mistakes and inaccuracies.
Relay interpreting is useful when multiple target languages are involved at the same time. The source interpretertranslates into a language common to the other interpreters, and each of them relays the message to their audience.
This system is commonly used in the type of multilingual meetings held by the UN and EU.
Conference interpreting is any method of interpreting performed for a conference. In the last couple of decades, simultaneous interpretation has been preferred.
The two main markets for conference interpreting are the institutional sector, with international institutions such as the UN and EU, and the privare sector of large businesses.
Judicial, legal or court interpreting takes place in courts and tribunals, but also anywhere legal proceedings are held, from police stations to conference rooms. It can be either remote or simultaneous.
In most countries, anyone who is in a criminal trial and who does not understand the language of the court has the right to an interpreter. A mistrial may be declared as a result of failing to swear in the interpreter or when the interpreter is deemed to be incompetent. Court interpreters must possess an in-depth knowledge of the law and court and legal procedures of the country.
An escort interpreter accompanies an individual or delegation on a visit, tour, meeting or for an interview. Escort interpreting is very similar to liaison interpreting.
Also known as community interpreting, it covers anything relating to the public sector. It includes sector such as healthcare, local government, housing, welfare and environmental services.
In some cases, it can be a high stress and delicate situation, and it may all be down to how accurately the interpreter carries out his or her work.
Medical interpreting facilitates communication between healthcare practitioners, patients and families.
These interpreters are formally educated and qualified to provide such specialised services. They also know common medical procedures and the daily routines of the clinic or hospital in which they works.
Medical interpreters also act as cultural liaison for people who are not familiar or comfortable with hospital settings.
Media interpreting is simultaneous. It is often provided for live television coverage of events such as press conferences and interviews. The interpreter normally works from a soundproof booth.
All the audio equipment needs to be checked out before recording begins. This is especially important with satellite connections, to ensure that the interpreter only hears one channel at a time and no feedback. When an interview is recorded outside the studio, background noise can sometimes be an issue.
When on screen, the media interpreter must look, sound and appear as slick and confident as a TV presenter.
Other Technologies for Interpretation
In addition to on-site, remote and hybrid, interpreting services can be provided over different technical media:
In telephone or tele-interpreting, the interpreter work over the telephone, via a conference call. It replaces on-site interpreting, when no interpreter is available.
Video Relay Services (VRS) or Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) are most used when one of the individuals is hearing impaired. The interpretation flow is usually within the same language. For example French Sign Language to spoken French, Spanish Sign Language to spoken Spanish, and so on. Multilingual sign language interpreters, who are also able to translate across languages, also exist. Sign languages are distinctly separate natural languages, with their own grammar and syntax.
Of course, VRI and VRS interpretation requires all parties to have access to the necessary equipment.
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