There are various types of interpreting and therefore a variety of different skills involved. The following section explains the three most common forms of interpreting:
Conference interpreting – Simultaneous
The most common form of conference interpreting is simultaneous interpreting. This means that the listener hears the interpreter speaking in his own language at the same time as the speaker is speaking in another language – usually via headphones or interpreting equipment. One of the most important advantages is that the audience hears the content almost immediately and can therefore, e.g. respond with questions. Another advantage is that interpreting can take place into many languages at the same time without disturbing other listeners. This form places special demands on simultaneous interpreters: as well as outstanding language skills and concentration, they also need a clear voice and an outstanding feel for language. Preparation materials must be provided at an early stage to allow the interpreter to familiarise him/herself with the subject.
Conference interpreting - Consecutive
Another form of conference interpreting is consecutive interpreting, i.e. the interpreter takes notes during the speech using a special notation technique based on symbols, abbreviations and diagrams, not a specific language. This is a technique the interpreter learns during his/her degree studies. The speech is usually interpreted into the other language in blocks according to the content. As a result only one person speaks at any time – either the speaker or the interpreter. The method requires less technology – no interpreting equipment – but takes longer because the speech is effectively being made twice. This form is only recommended when simultaneity is not very important and only one combination of languages is required.
This form is often found in courts or during business negotiations. The individual sentences spoken by the negotiators are interpreted back and forth between the languages. This is only recommended where there are a limited number of participants and only two languages in use.
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