All About Interpreting

All About Interpreting is a new series by SEAtongue to enlighten both fresh and wannabe interpreters.

Episode #1

Interpreting is an ancient human activity that predates the invention of writing. However, the origins of the profession of interpreting date back to less than a century ago.

The most common two modes (types) of interpreting are simultaneous interpreting, which is done at the time of the exposure to the source language, and consecutive interpreting, which is done at breaks to this exposure. But there are four more types of interpreting which you can discover below:

1- Simultaneous Interpreting (SI):

  • Immediacy: In SI, the interpreter renders the speaker’s speech into the target language simultaneously while the speaker is presenting the original text.
  • Common Scenarios: High-profile conferences, large meetings, and live broadcasts.
  • Challenges: Requires skilled interpreters due to the need for real-time accuracy. Technical equipment and soundproof environments are often necessary, adding complexity.

2- Consecutive Interpreting:

  • Sequential: In consecutive interpreting, the interpreter listens to the speaker and then renders the speech into the target language after a pause.
  • Common Scenarios: Legal proceedings, medical consultations, and small meetings.
  • Challenges: Slows down communication, making it less suitable for time-sensitive situations. Memory retention is crucial for accuracy.

3- Sight Interpreting:

  • Immediacy: Immediate translation of written text.
  • Common Scenarios: Reading aloud documents, such as legal contracts or medical reports.
  • Challenges: Requires proficiency in both written and spoken language. Pressure to maintain pace and accuracy.

4- Escort/Travel Interpreting:

  • Immediacy: Immediate language support during travel.
  • Common Scenarios: Business trips, site visits, and international events.
  • Challenges: Adaptability to various settings and spontaneity. Interpreters may need to handle diverse topics.

5- Whispered (Chuchotage) Interpreting:

  • Immediacy: Immediate whispered translation to a small group or an individual.
  • Common Scenarios: private negotiations, interviews, and diplomatic meetings.
  • Challenges: Potential lack of privacy, especially in open environments. Strain on the interpreter’s voice.

6- Sign Language Interpreting:

  • Immediacy: Immediate translation using visual gestural language for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Common Scenarios: Deaf community interactions, educational settings, and public events.
  • Challenges: Limited availability of qualified sign language interpreters. Ensuring accurate conveyance of tone and emotion in a visual language.

Episode #2

The interpreting service has three main modalities that cater to the diverse communication needs in various scenarios. The three main modalities are In-Person Interpreting, Over-the-Phone Interpreting (OPI), and Video Remote Interpreting (VRI).

  1. In-Person Interpreting
  • Description: In-Person Interpreting is a language interpretation service that involves a skilled interpreter physically present at the location where communication is taking place. This traditional method of interpretation ensures direct, immediate language assistance in various scenarios. The interpreter works closely with clients and speakers, utilising linguistic expertise and cultural understanding to facilitate seamless communication.
  • Scenarios: In-Person Interpreting is ideal for diverse scenarios such as business negotiations, legal proceedings, medical appointments, conferences, educational settings, and community events where personal interactions demand a high level of language precision and cultural understanding.
  • Challenges: Potential limitations in availability, especially for rare languages or specialised industries. Factors such as travel logistics, interpreting in noisy environments, and managing the physical presence of the interpreter within confined spaces are considerations.
  • Main Uses: In-Person Interpreting is indispensable in critical situations where nuanced communication is vital. It is widely used in legal settings for courtroom interpretation, medical appointments for accurate patient-doctor communication, and international business meetings to facilitate smooth negotiations. The service ensures real-time, on-site language assistance, fostering effective cross-cultural understanding and contributing to successful outcomes in a myriad of professional and social contexts.

2. Over-the-Phone Interpreting (OPI)

  • Description: Over-the-Phone Interpreting (OPI) is a remote language interpretation service that employs telephone connections to facilitate real-time communication between individuals who speak different languages. Utilising advanced telecommunication technology, OPI offers immediate language support in various scenarios. In this service, a skilled interpreter, often working from a secure and monitored facility, connects with clients over the phone to provide accurate and on-the-spot language assistance.
  • Scenarios: OPI is well-suited for a multitude of scenarios, including customer service calls, medical consultations, legal discussions, and business negotiations. Its versatility allows for rapid language support in situations where in-person interpreters may not be feasible or necessary.
  • Challenges: Potential issues with audio quality, the absence of visual cues, and difficulties in handling complex technical or industry-specific terminology. Additionally, confidentiality concerns arise, emphasising the need for secure and compliant platforms to protect sensitive information.
  • Main Uses: OPI is extensively used in industries such as healthcare, legal, customer service, and business, where instant and accurate language assistance is paramount. It serves as a cost-effective and efficient solution for businesses seeking to break language barriers and provide inclusive communication in a timely manner, contributing to enhanced customer satisfaction and overall operational efficiency.

3. Video Remote Interpreting (VRI)

  • Description: Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is a technologically advanced language interpretation service that facilitates real-time communication between parties who speak different languages through video conferencing platforms. VRI combines the immediacy of in-person interpreting with the flexibility of remote services, offering a visual and interactive solution.
  • Scenarios: VRI is highly effective in scenarios such as medical appointments, legal consultations, business meetings, conferences, and educational settings where visual cues and non-verbal communication are crucial. It accommodates situations where physical presence is challenging or not required, providing a dynamic and immersive language support experience.
  • Challenges: Potential technical issues such as connectivity problems, audio/video lag, and the need for reliable internet access. Ensuring a secure and private environment for confidential discussions is also critical. Additionally, the reliance on technology may pose challenges in settings with limited access to suitable devices or stable internet connections.
  • Main Uses: VRI finds main uses in industries such as healthcare, legal, business, and education, where accurate and immediate language assistance is essential. It is particularly valuable for scenarios involving remote or geographically dispersed participants, fostering effective communication and inclusivity in diverse and dynamic environments.