Although the very best interpreters all share the same degree of professionalism, their everyday tasks and the skillsets required of them differ depending on the type of interpretation they specialise in.
In this article, we look at two of the most common types of interpretation: simultaneous interpretation, and consecutive interpretation. We identify what they involve, how they are similar and how they are different. So if you’re looking to hire an interpretation agency, or are looking to become an interpreter, this should help clear up exactly what is involved.
What is simultaneous interpretation?
Simultaneous interpretation involves sitting in a soundproof booth and listening to speech over headphones. The interpreter will work in real time converting the speaker’s words into another language. Therefore the interpretation process involves no input from the original speaker. This type of work can be mentally taxing for interpreters to do for long periods of time, which is why simultaneous interpreters always work in twos. That way one can have a break whilst the other works.
As a simultaneous interpretation service involves a lot of technical equipment such as headsets, wireless receivers and microphones, as well as at least two interpreters, it is more expensive than consecutive interpretation.
Although simultaneous interpretation is used in everything from conferences to business meetings, it may not be necessary for your business. This type of work is useful for situations in which there is lot of complex and detailed information that needs to be interpreted into multiple languages and where there is only one speaker, rather than a dialogue between two or more people.
What is consecutive interpretation?
Consecutive interpretation involves waiting until the speaker has finished a sentence, then repeating his or her words in a target language. Therefore it involves the collaboration of the original speaker, who will pause after each sentence or point. Consecutive interpreting is often commonly referred to as ‘listen before talk’ interpreting.
Unlike simultaneous interpretation, consecutive interpretation does not usually require any specialist equipment. This makes it easier, quicker and cheaper to organise than simultaneous interpretation.
Consecutive interpretation also doesn’t involve working as a pair, making it considerably cheaper than simultaneous interpretation. Although the work is not as strenuous as simultaneous interpreting, it is demanding and often involves special note-taking and memory techniques.
Should you use simultaneous or consecutive interpretation?
Simultaneous interpreting involves more money, time and effort to organise, however it does mean that the speaker doesn’t have to pause regularly for his or her speech to be interpreted. Therefore it is best suited for larger events such as conferences, and more formal situations.
As well as international conferences, you might also consider using simultaneous interpretation in lectures, large tour groups, international conventions, training sessions and events that involve a large number of people from different countries and backgrounds.
Because of the nature of consecutive interpreting, it is best to use it for small groups or one-on-one conversations. This way it can be informal or formal, performed from any location, and is therefore easier to carry out for your business. Consecutive interpretation can be particularly useful for interviews, business meetings, medical consultations, teleconferences, or any type of one-on-one exchange.
Whichever interpretation service your business needs, it is vital you get interpreters who are professional, reliable, accurate and fast. At London Translations, our interpreters work on a wide range of projects for a whole host of businesses and organisations—the one constant remains the quality of the service. If you’re still in doubt over what service you require, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.