The Different Modes of Interpretation

Although it may not seem so at first, we’re surrounded by interpreters. Radio interviews, sports press conferences, emergency announcements from foreign governments, entertainment shows… 

While watching a sportsperson in an interview who can’t make head or tail of the questions and nor does the journalist understand the answer, how many times have you thought that they could do with a translator? A fair few times, that’s for sure. The outcome of these situations is usually pretty dire, although it doesn’t amount to anything more than an anecdotal misunderstanding. 

But what would happen in a professional setting? 

Would a misunderstanding in a meeting for signing a business contract be an anecdote? Or would it be a mistake that could make a contract void and cause capital loss? 

This is where interpreters come into play. 

What does the role of an interpreter involve? 

Firstly, although this is something that has been said over and over again, we want to make it clear that an interpreter and a translator are not the same. A translator works in written language, while an interpreter works in spoken language. It sounds simple enough, but there are people who still get it wrong! 

The work of an interpreter involves bridging the gap between two or more people who speak different languages. There are several ways to bridge this gap, and by that we mean that there are different types of interpretation. Here’s a short list of the most requested types: 

Consecutive interpretation 

We receive most requests for this type of interpretation. Our clients come to us looking for interpreters to accompany them during tours of facilities, meetings, tastings, fairs, etc. 

In this mode of interpretation, the interpreter first listens to what is said and takes notes, and then, when the speaker has finished, starts to interpret, which involves transmitting what the speaker has said in another language so that the other people can understand what was said. 

Simultaneous interpretation 

It is a mode of interpretation that requires technical resources that are slightly more sophisticated than a notebook for jotting things down. The interpreter speaks at the same time as the speaker (simultaneously), and therefore specific equipment is required so that the voices of the interpreter and the speaker don’t overlap. 

This interpretation equipment tends to be an interpretation booth or a system such as Infoport. 

An interpretation booth is usually found in places such as assembly halls, conference rooms and lecture theatres, normally at the back of the room and separated by glass, and is equipped with a microphone and headphones through which the interpreter can hear the speaker. 

Interpretation booths can also be temporarily set up in conference and presentation venues, etc. 

Infoport, on the other hand, is a portable system with headphones (worn by each of the participants in a meeting) and microphones, through which the interpreter speaks, who is positioned close to the speakers (unlike in the case of interpretation booths). 

Whispered interpretation (or chuchotage) 

This type of interpretation is usually seen on television during state visits between leaders. As the name indicates, the interpreter interprets by whispering at the same time as the speaker. It is very common in formal business dinners and even in business meetings. 

Perhaps you’re looking for interpretation services and after reading this, are still not sure what you need. Don’t worry! We’re here to help answer any of your questions and, most importantly, to adapt to your needs thanks to the flexibility of the different types of interpretation. 

Send us an email or give us a call for more information!