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Which interpretation service do I need?
Which interpretation service do I need?
What is interpretation / interpreting?
Just to remind ourselves, interpretation or interpreting consists of rendering the message of oral communication or sign language in another language. It must be done in a natural and fluent way, adopting the delivery, tone and convictions of the speaker.
There are different interpretation services to choose from depending on your needs. In this post, we will go through the most relevant features of each one.
Consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting
The most common interpreting services are consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting.
Consecutive interpretation consists of interpreting once the speaker has finished speaking. The interpreter takes notes while the speaker is talking and once they have finished, interprets the message into another language. We recommend that you contract this service for short sessions, events or meetings. If you are still unclear as to what consecutive interpretation is, in this video from the Directorate General of Interpretation of the European Commission, you can see how a consecutive interpretation from English into Spanish is carried out.
Simultaneous interpretation consists of interpreting while the speaker is talking. The interpreter usually works in a soundproofed booth with at least one other colleague. In the meeting room, the speaker talks into a microphone while the interpreter receives the sound through a headset and renders the message into another microphone almost simultaneously. The attendees simply have to select the language in which they wish to hear the interpretation. In this link from the Directorate General of Interpretation of the European Commission, you can also see how a simultaneous interpretation from English into Spanish is carried out.
This interpretation service can be carried out in three different ways: simultaneous interpretation in booths, whispered simultaneous interpretation or simultaneous interpretation using the Infoport system.
Simultaneous interpretation in booths requires a soundproofed booth and involves specific technical requirements. The booths can be fixed or mobile. It must be established whether the event venue has the necessary equipment or whether mobile booths must be installed. The booths must comply with the ISO standard that regulates aspects such as the dimensions, soundproofing, visibility, etc. If you are organising a conference, symposium or workshop, this is the interpretation service best suited to your needs.
Whispered simultaneous interpretation consists of the interpreter sitting or standing among the participants and simultaneously interpreting the original speech, whispering directly into the ear of the person. It is important to take into account that this is not recommended for meetings with more than three participants and that it can also disturb other listeners. We recommend that you contract this service if you are going to organise a short interview, visit or meeting.
Simultaneous interpretation using the Infoport system requires a portable and wireless simultaneous interpretation system. This device includes a simple transmitter with a small microphone for the speaker and receivers for the listeners. We recommend that you contract this service if you are planning to hold small meetings with a maximum of twenty participants, guided visits or sessions in factories or plants, whereby the use of an interpretation booth and the presence of a technician is not possible.
Other interpreting services
There are also other interpretation services that are not as common, but that are worth mentioning, such as relay, cheval, retour, telephone or audiovisual interpretation.
Relay consists of interpreting from one language into another via a pivot language. There is a slight time lag as the interpreter has to wait for another colleague to interpret from the original language into the pivot language in order to carry out their work. This service may be necessary, for example, when holding a conference in Spain and no interpreters are found for German into Arabic; in such a case, the interpretation could be done from German into Spanish and Spanish into Arabic.
Cheval refers to an interpreter that has sufficient command of a second language in order to be able to interpret into two languages. In this case, the interpreter works alternatively in two booths in the same meeting.
Retour consists of interpreting from the mother tongue of the interpreter into the target language. This interpretation service is commonly used for rounds of questions in sessions, meetings, etc. It may be the case that a meeting is held in which an interpretation from English into Spanish is carried out. When it comes to the question round, the interpreters would need to interpret the questions of the attendees from Spanish into English, the language of the speaker.
Telephone and audiovisual interpretation are two services that are experiencing a certain boom. In both cases, the interpreters are not in the same place. These services require a technological infrastructure and audio and video equipment of the highest quality to ensure that the service is delivered correctly.
Telephone interpretation is effective for conversations between a small number of users that do not require visual support or the visualization of files. It is used very commonly in the US health service.
Audiovisual interpretation consists of carrying out the service via videoconference. It is usually contracted when one or several speakers are not at the event location. The image and voice of the speaker are transmitted via audiovisual means at the location and are received via a special system that comprises a large screen and a sound reception system.
Contracting an interpreting service
Firstly, it is essential to finalize and define the event information with your interpretation services provider. The provider should be given as much information as possible with regards to the event venue, the technical resources available, the event schedule, travel arrangements, etc. It is also important that you send all material available pertaining to the event to the provider prior to the event: the subject matter, presentations, informative leaflets, work documents, written speeches, etc. The interpreter will therefore be able to prepare the sessions in advance, which will positively influence the quality of the presentations.