Exploring Your Interpretation Demands

The history of interpreting is almost as old as language itself. From the Tower of Babel to Luis de Torres (Christopher Columbus’ official interpreter) and the Aztec slave woman interpreting for the Spanish during their conquest of the Aztec empire. Interpreters have been conduits for communicating everything from religious, legal, business to medical messaging. In more modern times, people and companies who need to convey a verbal message from one language to another confuse “interpretation” with “translation” and often use the two terms interchangeably. Some request translation services when contacting language providers, but actually need an on-site interpreter. Fortunately, this is not a major issue since language providers should be in a position to understand the client’s request. The International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) makes the following distinction between the roles of the interpreter and translator, “Interpreters work with spoken words in a particular context, conveying a message from one language to another, while translation deals with written texts.” Put differently:

“The text has disappeared under the interpretation.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Depending on the need, there are various modes of interpreting that you can use. These include consecutive, simultaneous, whisper, travel/escort and phone interpreting to name a few. It is not necessarily important to know which mode you’ll need, if you are working through a professional interpreter or interpretation service provider, but it would be helpful. Once you have identified the mode of interpreting required for your event, it is important for you to review and confirm some important considerations and logistics for the day. Sharing these considerations with the interpreter or interpreting service provider will ensure that there is no confusion or misunderstanding on the day of the event.

The 2 most common modes of interpreting are:

  • Consecutive Interpreting: In Consecutive Interpreting (CI), the interpreter speaks after the source-language speaker has finished speaking. The speech is divided into segments, and the interpreter sits or stands beside the source-language speaker, listening and taking notes as the speaker progresses through the message. When the speaker pauses or finishes speaking, the interpreter then renders a portion of the message or the entire message in the target language. Consecutive interpretation is rendered as “short CI” or “long CI”. In short CI, the interpreter relies on memory, each message segment being brief enough to memorize. In long CI, the interpreter takes notes of the message to aid rendering long passages. These informal divisions are established with the client before the interpretation is effected, depending upon the subject, its complexity, and the purpose of the interpretation. [Source:]
  • Simultaneous Interpreting: In Simultaneous Interpretation (SI), the interpreter renders the message in the target-language as quickly as he or she can formulate it from the source language, while the source-language speaker continuously speaks; an oral-language SI interpreter, sitting in a sound-proof booth, speaks into a microphone, while clearly seeing and hearing the source-language speaker via earphones. The simultaneous interpretation is rendered to the target-language listeners via their earphones. Moreover, SI is the most common mode used by sign language interpreters, although the person using the source language, the interpreter and the target language recipient (since either the hearing person or the deaf person may be delivering the message) must necessarily be in close proximity. [Source:]

Language interpretation enables the listener to understand the speaker, even when they speak different languages. Through ITC, you have access to over 23,000 professional interpreters covering any conference, meeting or event in the world.

Whether your requirement is a personal, sentence-by-sentence solution or real-time interpreting at a large venue, our well-versed interpreters are capable of effectively conveying the dialogue quickly and accurately.

By Matthew Mokoena | March 29, 2018 | Categories: ITC | No Comments

About the Author: Matthew Mokoena