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What Different Types of Interpreting Are There?

Oct 2023

Language ,

Interpretation isn’t simple.

It requires an understanding of at least two cultures. The interpreter must be able to think quickly, simultaneously retaining and processing information. They must also be able to creatively communicate ideas that don’t have a straightforward translation in another language.

Those requiring interpretation services have varying and often complex needs. There are multiple different types of interpreting to meet differing requirements.

Here is an outline of some of the main types of interpreting that Global Language Services can offer!

Types of Interpreting

Consecutive Interpreting

This is also known as one-to-one interpreting or ‘listen before talk’ interpreting.

This service allows small groups of people to have an ongoing conversation whilst an interpreter listens and relays what has been said.

The speakers pause to allow the interpreter to repeat what has been said in the desired language.

This method is slower than a traditional conversation but is popular because no special equipment or pre-planning is needed.

It is generally used in smaller meetings or medical appointments where it is easier to coordinate pauses in the conversation. 

Consecutive interpreting can also be used when parties are geographically scattered. Global Language Services offers teleconference interpretation using this method. The interpreter listens in to the call and translates during pauses.

It is not advised where conversations must take place in real-time or are conducted on a large scale, like a conference.


Simultaneous Interpreting

This is a challenging interpretation method requiring a great deal of skill.

The interpreter translates for their client in real-time, with no pauses like those required during consecutive interpreting.

It is tricky for the interpreter since they must translate what has been said at the same time as listening to the continuing conversation.

This is particularly useful in conference-type situations where the conversation is fast-paced and the speakers are unable to pause for the interpreter. You may have even seen it in pop-culture press conferences, as well as politics.

This method can be quite costly because of the level of concentration and skill required of the interpreter. Often, two interpreters are employed in these situations, each one working for a short burst and then alternating.

Special equipment is usually needed like soundproof booths, headsets and microphones. This ensures that the interpreter is set for the intense interpreting process.

It is not recommended for smaller-scale circumstances of a more sensitive nature like medical appointments. Here, speed is not of the essence, but care and empathy must be considered.


Whispered Interpreting

This method is thought to be more discreet than others.

The interpreter sits beside the individual requiring their service. They then whisper what is being said into the individual’s ear. When necessary, the interpreter speaks on the individual’s behalf.

This method is useful when only one or two individuals in a group cannot speak the desired language. It prevents disruption to the group who can then carry on their discussion as normal.

It is recommended that each individual who requires an interpreter has their own specific interpreter. This allows the interpreter to keep their voice low, preventing distracting murmuring for other delegates.

It is generally employed in overseas factory and office visits or for group training courses.

Global Language Services provides liaison interpreting which can follow a combination of simultaneous and whispered interpreting. The interpreter travels and navigates a new location with the client and interprets for them where necessary.

Telephone Interpreting

This style of interpreting is straightforward, and often saves on both time and money.

A translator is made available via phone call and carries out any translations over the phone. More often than not, the phone call is via speakerphone so both parties can participate in the conversation and understand what is being said. 

This method is useful in a variety of situations, particularly if an in-person translation is no longer available. 

Businesses who are looking to expand their business internationally often benefit from telephone interpreting. As they can converse with international customers and associates without having to have a physical translator present. 

Telephone interpreting is also beneficial in medical and personal situations, and even in certain emergencies where a phone call is much faster than waiting on an in person interpreter. 


Conference Interpreting

Conference interpreting operates exactly like simultaneous interpreting does, just on a much larger scale.

Consecutive interpretation is also an option at these larger events, where the interpreter will follow around a person, or people, and will translate as they go.

But essentially, conference interpreting is a method of interpretation that allows for larger events, such as global press conferences, to cater to wider audiences and all varieties of languages and dialects. 

It is an extremely beneficial form of interpretation as it allows you to enable one-way communication and encourages direct conversation. Something which is vital at larger conferences, events and meetings, particularly with politics or business.

Which Interpreting Service Is Right For Me?

You will be able to answer this by thinking about the scale of the interpreting task and considering the following questions.

Is the setting of the situation a large-scale conference or a more intimate business meeting?

How long do you require the service for?

Is the topic of discussion routine business or more sensitive medical matters?

If you need help deciding what interpreting service is best suited to your needs, or you already know what you’d like, please contact Global Language Services.

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