Types of Interpretation

Since I mentioned about interpretation in the last post, might as well talk about it now. There are several types of interpretation skills/services but among them, three of the most common ones are consecutive, simultaneous, and whispering.

Sometimes, you may hear the term “whispering simultaneous” interpreting but it simply refers to whispering. And to make things less confusing, I shall use “whispering” to refer to the third kind of interpreting mentioned above.

Consecutive, as its name implies, is consecutive (ahbuden? ← Singlish for “what else?”). The interpreter starts interpreting only when the speaker stops. So, the speaker can say a few sentences before pausing for the interpreter to start speaking. In this form of interpretation, note-taking is common since not many of us have eidetic memory and details can be lost the longer the speaker goes on.

Simultaneous, as its name implies, is simultaneous (ahbuden? ← Singlish for “what else?”). The interpreter typically sits in a separate soundproof room to shut out outside noise and puts on a headphone to listen to the speaker. As soon as they have enough information to start interpreting, they will begin speaking into a mic that is played into the headphones of all other participants at the event. Both the speaker and interpreter will speak almost simultaneously and it is not necessary for the speaker to pause. This form of communication hardly involves the speaker’s direct interaction with the listeners except perhaps visually.

Whispering, as its name implies, is whispered (ahbuden? ← now you know what this means!). It’s pretty much simultaneous interpretation except that the interpreter no longer sits in a separate room nor speaks into a mic. The interpreter sits right behind the person or people they are supposed to interpret for and whispers the interpreted language into their ears. Like simultaneous interpreting, this form of communication also hardly involves the speaker’s direct interaction with the listeners except perhaps visually.

Other forms of interpreting are less common so I shall not talk about them.

Some people may think interpretation is more difficult while others may think translation is more difficult. They are both easy and difficult in their own ways. For example, interpreting is difficult in the sense that you have to come up with the words on the spot since there is no time for you to look up the right word. However, it is easy because since the main point is to get the message across, no consistency is required. Meaning, you do not have to use the same terms for the same words, especially since interpretation jobs are done when they are done. No one can track back what words you used.

On the other hand, translation is difficult because you have to be consistent throughout, especially if the clients are particular about what words/phrases you use. For example, some clients may not want you to use the words “employees” and insist you use “staff” or “associates.” Since translation jobs are typically documents meant for distribution or publishing, every single mistake can become quite serious. Even more so since they are typed or written, the words you write remain for a long time after the job is complete. However, translations are easy because you can take your time to look up the right word or the best word to use.

Now you see how translation and interpretation require different skill sets.

On a separate note, no one left any comments about wanting to write for this blog anymore. It must’ve been the previous sudden cancellation that lost me my potential writers. But since I caused it, I have to accept the result.

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